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Wednesday 31 December 2014

Recipe (leftovers): Turkey Pie, Celeriac and Potato Rösti, and Avocado Salad

I think my memories of Christmas are probably some of the oldest that I can recall. One of the core ingredients in every Christmas were my mums sausage rolls! Bloody hell pure bliss!!! Pork sausage sometimes with herbs in, some times not, but me mum always made the pastry. Pastry and meat is a winning combo!! Specially after you’ve spent all day unwrapping presents, and running around terrorising granny’s dog, making stupid noises running into walls tipsy on bailies or vermouth that we’d nicked from the drinks cabinet! (or that granny had given us) Anyway Christmas wouldn’t be up to scratch without those awesome home made sausage rolls!

Excuse the digression! Some years later . . . . 

I’m not one to waste food, so if I see a little pastry leftover at the end of a sausage roll making session I’ll snag it and either freeze it or pop it into the fridge, for the making of pies, yes sir. 

What follows is a testament to what you can do with left overs!!

ingredients (serves 4-6)

for the turkey pie - 200C / 20min
300-400g pastry off cuts are fine. (pastry how to)
450g left over turkey (coarse dice)
2/3 large aubergine (large dice) or 1 medium aubergine
100ml olive oil
2 spring onions (chopped into rings)
1 red onion (medium dice)
1 tomato (chopped)
1 egg (beaten)

for the cheese roux
250g cheddar cheese (grated)
60g plain flower
250ml chicken stock
250ml milk

for the accompaniments
some potato and celeriac rösti recipe here 
juniper and cranberry cabbage recipe here 
and a simple avocado tomato salad

apparatus / equipment
pie dish (18cm x 26cm)
pastry brush

cheese roux
For a nice sauce with substance a roux is essential, and really simple. 
On a medium heat melt the butter in a pan and add the flour. Use a wooden spoon to work it into a smooth paste then add the liquids and whisk into a homogenous liquid, keep stirring on a medium high heat until it’s thickened and the flour case cooked out. Add the cheese and stir until it all melted and made a smooth sauce.

turkey pie
Pre-heat your oven to 200C. Dice the aubergine and toss it in oil. 
Add the chopped onion and pop them into a pan on a medium heat, turning occasionally until the aubergine has started to brown an the onions are translucent.
Add the rest of the ingredients (except the pastry obviously) and mix together. Leave them to warm through.
Then put the in the pie

I like pastry! Did I mention that? 

It’s nice to have a generous amount and for it to be crunchy, flakey and shiny!!!! Oooh yes!

So once it’s rolled out, roll the rolling pin underneath to lift it onto the pie. 
Trim the pastry where it needs it, use the trimmings to add extra crunchiness to the pastry topping.

Brush with beaten egg to make it all shiny and lovely looking then into the oven it goes for 20minutes!!

thinking ahead
If you want to make the pie in the morning, you can: Just let the filling go cold before you put the pastry on, cover in cling film and put in the fridge until needed to feed the starving masses!

Don’t forget to take the cling film off, and put the egg wash on just before you bake it.

The cranberry and red cabbage concoction will keep for 3-5days in the fridge no problem.

what could go wrong? 
When working with pastry it’s important to keep it as cold as you can. Which is why pastry sections in professional kitchens have marble work surfaces. So work quickly and don’t let your pastry get warm. 

to serve
Make the rösti while the pie’s in the oven, grab a helper to make the salad. If you give them some random bits and tell them to improvise you can often learn a thing or two about different flavour combinations. (So I’ve found!!)  Risky business! ; )

You can fill a pie with all manner of things: Oxtail Pie, Apple Tart Tatin, Banana Tatin & Passion Fruit Sorbet and, coming soon . . . Duck & Date Pie & Quiche. 

Only limited by your imagination!

Friday 3 October 2014

Recipe (for a knees up): Private Birthday Party @ Nineteen

by Simon Fernandez of ferdiesfoodlab

Just recently we had a bit of swift manoeuvring to do as our regular venue evaporated in a puff of, what? no!? don’t know what your talking about! Needless to say there was no way I was going to let our guests down especially since they had supported us on numerous occasions before. So I went on a venue hunt!! (I’ve got nothing else to do with my time so it was the perfect way to burn some of it!!!) 

After a bit of asking around, a couple of venue hunting cycling missions, head scratching and the like Grubclub came to the rescue. Quick aside here Grubclub has all sort of events just like ours listed on their website!! I recommend taking a look!

They introduced us to a lovely couple of girls who run a venue in Queenspark called Nineteen:

Gladioli flowers of the gladiators!

How well dressed it that!!?  : )

After being shown around and getting a feel for the place, (I was made very welcome) I passed on the good news to the birthday boy and got down to designing a 6 course snork-up suitable for the venue and our guests!!

One of the great thing about Nineteen is that it has a bar/restaurant next door, Hugo’s - perfect for a couple of pre-dinner pints.

I reckon it was a cracking party . . .

Birthday sing song sir?!!

 ~ ferdiesfoodlab - menu ~

morcilla & apple tart
based on a classic french boudin noir tart, 
w/ braeburn apples and home made spanish morcilla
served w/ a champagne, vanilla & orange sauce
(contains: pork, gluten)

roast vegetable & shrimp cous cous dressed w/ rocket & blushed tomatoes
autumn vegetables, nuts and olives mixed w/ shrimp, chorizo and a lime coriander sauce
topped w/ fragrant arugula dressed in a light vinaigrette
(contains: nuts, gluten free)

sustainable white fish ceviche w/ sugar snaps
fresh sustainable white fish cured with citrus fruits is mixed with a sauce made up of
coconut milk, coriander, ginger, and chives and seasoned with fish sauce 
served w/ sugar snaps dressed in extra virgin olive oil and a touch of vinegar
(contains: fish, fermented anchovy)

roast ribeye of beef w/ roasties & green leaf salad
roasted 28day aged best end of ribeye of beef w/ tarragon sauce 
served w/ thyme infused roasties, and a light salad
(contains: beef, gluten free)

twice baked croissants w/ salted caramel & whisky & white chocolate sauce
croissants with whiskey soaked sultanas and a salted caramel centre
baked in a luscious white chocolate and whiskey enriched creme anglaise
(contains: alcohol & calories enjoy!)

cheese board
epoisses, manchego, chaource & roquefort
served w/ a selection of biscuits & fruit in season
(contains: a desire for port)

Applause all round!! Of course . . . 


Thanks again to 


for helping us make this event happen.
Happy birthday Steve!!

Saturday 16 August 2014

Experiment - Recipe: Salted Sardines (Preserved like Anchovies)

Not long ago I moved into new digs and was given a challenge of doing something with 2kg of sardines!! Err, OK!? It’s the only way I could get any freezer space!! 2 kilos of frozen sardines takes up a lot of freezer space! Specially when they’re pointing in all sorts  of different directions!! 

I’ve been getting into my curing recently, so I saw the perfect opportunity to test what I’d learnt. Here’s how they came out!

ingredients (makes ~1kg)
for the salted sardines
2kg sardines
500g salt
1 tbsp smoked paprika
4 cloves garlic (crushed)

apparatus / equipment
2 tupperware boxes with lids 
One that fits inside the other - usually buy them like that!! 
Need the box from the larger and the lid from the smaller.

scale & fillet: You can get the fishmonger to do this, make sure he’s thorough they’re a bit fiddly to scale once they’ve been filleted.
If you’re doing it yourself use a fish scaler. Or, if you haven’t got one of those, the back of the knife to scrape them off. Rinse the fish and feel using your knife to see if there are any left.

layer in salt: Mix the salt, paprika and garlic together and put a layer of the mix in the bottom of the larger box. About 1mm thick is fine. Put the first layer of fillets in skin side down. Then give them a generous dusting of salt, remember, you want to use all the salt mix up by the time all the fillets are in the box. Put the next layer of fillets in, and do the same again. Press them down with your hands to make sure they are tightly packed (without damaging them of course). Keep going until all the fillets are packed in, and the final layer of salt goes on the top. Cover with cling film. 

press: Place smaller tupperware box lid on top of the fish inside the box. The lid will even the pressure of whatever you use as a weight.

cover with foil & fridge: Cover the whole thing in foil to keep things tidy and place in fridge with weight on top. The weight will keep the fish submerged, as the sardine fillets give up water. Leave them like that for 4-5weeks.

cover with oil: After the curing period unwrap the box, drain the brine that will have built up and replace it completely with oil. The oil acts as a seal, keeping the air (an oxidant) away from the fish and preserving them, in combination with the reduced water content.

thinking ahead
They take 4-5wks. So what every you plan to do with them, think at least a month in advance! Good thing is, done properly they’ll last 12months! 

what could go wrong? (notes)
“Ooooh, there’s the odd really hard transparent disc thingy, chewy little thing sticks to the inside of my mouth!!”

I see you weren’t listening when I said make sure you scale them properly! I wasn’t kidding about this. When you think you’ve finished scaling, rinse the sardine, and stroke the blade of you knife over the fish. It will be smooth and silent unless it runs over a scale, where it sort of rasps audibly. 
Remove the little blighter!

to serve
Remove a sardine or 2 from oil, pat dry and chop up, or leave whole. Serve with sliced tomatoes, chives and olive oil and chunk of bread or naan (for a bit of a culture remix).

techniques used
Curing. The aim of this process is to reduce the water content to a level that is inhospitable for nasties (bacteria). The salt draws water from the fish doing exactly that. The oil inhibits oxidation.

These are very much like giant anchovies, the difference being that anchovy are £30/kg and these are more like £10/kg! Great with a salad nicoise for example or in and sardine mayo.

Sunday 29 June 2014

Recipe: Cherry Pie, Chocolate Tart, Super Simple 5 ingredient BLISS!

This is the kind of recipe that’s I love writing about, those little triumphs in the kitchen that can really take the edge off a crappy day. Not just the relaxation and distraction of creating, but the “phoenix from the ashes moment” of having created something really very nice out of leftovers (and bits and things).

After the the supper club last week we had some left over cherries, I’d bought a box to go with the petit fours:

I new I’d have a busy week ahead, and I could just imagine them, the following Saturday, in the same bowl on the kitchen table, with a giant bloom of mould growing on them. So I had a look around the kitchen this is what I found: mascarpone cheese, a roll of flaky pastry, and a lemon.

Well pastry screams PIE (and smiles!) so I hunted around for a tart tin but the only thing I could find was this dingy sized pyrex dish which would have made a half decent glass bottomed boat! Kept looking . . . muffin tray? Maybe, could make 12 mini pies . . . kept looking and found a rather dinky pyrex dish, not exactly the tart tin I was looking for but about the right size, the sides were too high but, mheh, yeah, I reckon it’d do, so I rolled with it.

Found some sugar for a stock syrup, and an egg . . . right ready for action!

ingredients (serves 6-8)
for the cherry pie
375g flaky pastry (1 pack / pre rolled)
400g cherries (stoned)
400g stock syrup (200g sugar & 200g water)
250g mascarpone cheese
300g chocolate spread
1 egg
4 sheets (gelatine)
1/2 lemon (juiced)
3 star anise (optional)
pinch of cinnamon

for the garnish
soured cream (something sharp, to complement the sweet tart).

apparatus / equipment
22cm pyrex dish
pastry brush (or a bit of kitchen towel works well)

method - quick version 
Blind bake the pastry @ 180C for 20min. Seal it with beaten egg.
Mix the chocolate spread and mascarpone cheese until smooth and spread it onto the pastry for the bottom layer.
Soften the stoned the cherries in a stock syrup and infuse with star anise and cinnamon for at least an hour.
Once infused, strain, and place the cherries on top of the chocolate to create the middle layer. 
Add gelatine to the syrup, reduce by 1/2. cool and pour over the cherries. Allow to set.

This is so simple! That’s what makes this cherry and chocolate tart even better. Turn the oven on to 180C.

Butter the pyrex dish, and unroll the pastry onto it. Lift the edges so the pastry can be pushed right to the bottom without tearing. (specially if it’s deep) I reckon a loaf tin would would work too. It would result in more of a terrine style pie.

At this point I’d normally line it with baking paper, and add some ceramic balls to blind bake the pastry. But, as I said, I was doing a bit of free styling in an unfamiliar kitchen. So no baking balls!! I did brush the pastry with a beaten egg though to water proof it from the filling. Bake for 20mins @ 180C

While the pastry is in the oven, put the water and sugar into a sauce pan and put it on full on the hob. Add the star anise and the cinnamon. While that comes to the boil, wash and stone the cherries. Add them to the boiling syrup (taking care not to splash yourself) and as soon as it’s back up to the boil take it off the heat.

Put the gelatine into some cold water, leave it for 5 mins then squeeze it of excess water and add it to the syrup.

Next, mix the mascarpone and the chocolate until you have a smooth and creamy chocolate pate.

Spread the mix into the bottom of the pastry lined dish. Then sieve the cherries, keeping the syrup, and place them on top of the chocolate. Then put the whole tart in the fridge to set. (Best to cover it in cling film so it does’t take up any weird flavours like kippers or blue cheese)

Reduce the the syrup by half, then add the lemon juice, allow to cool and pour onto the tart. (after removing the cling film obviously) Return to the fridge to set.

to serve
Once set, cut into slices and serve as is, or with a scoop of soured cream, or maybe a lemon ice cream

Sooo good! So so good!

thinking ahead
You can make this a few days in advance and keep it in the fridge no problem.

what could go wrong? (notes)
“I tried to warm up my portion of tart” - DO NOT do that unless you want a pool of chocolate sauce with a bunch of angry cherries looking up at you!! Last thing you want!

“My gelatine turned into gloop and I could’t get it out if the water!” - Soak the gelatine in COLD water NOT warm water.

techniques used
Patience (required for the setting of the tart)

I reckon this would be pretty good with a mix of soft fruits, strawberries, blueberries etc
Use agar to make the veggie version of this, or reduce the sauce a little more and don’t use a setting agent at all!!


Saturday 24 May 2014

Recipe: Coconut & Cointreau Sorbet

This is one of those recipes that makes you look good, for very little work indeed! It has an amazing combination of flavours, and it's a really light finish to a meal.

Extract from the Movember Cook book which
you can get here: Cook Like A Man - Movember

ingredients (serves 8 x 70ml)
for the sorbet
130g caster
250ml coconut milk
150ml coconut juice
1/2  lime (juice & zest)
50ml cointreau

for the garnish
small mint leaves (tip of mint plant)
lime zest

apparatus / equipment
ice cream machine or 
food processor

Put all the ingredients except the lime and the cointreau into a pot on the hob. 
Turn on to a medium/high heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved.
Take off the heat and allow to cool completely. Then add the lime juice and the cointreau, and mix them in thoroughly. 
Put the mix into an ice cream machine and follow its instructions. 
If like me you don't have an ice cream machine, freeze the liquid in a couple of ice cube trays. It will separate into 2 layers, pop out the sorbet cubes and put them into a food processor, run the motor until you have a slush puppy consistency. Refreeze immediately, in a tupperware box.

to serve
Serve in a decorative cup or a martini glass, put a couple of good sized scoops in.
Sprinkle a few zest strands onto the sorbet.
Pick the small leaves from a mint plant and place one in the centre of each sorbet.
Serve immediately!

thinking ahead
Best to make this in advance; at least one day in advance! It takes quite a while to cool and longer to freeze!

Why not try it with a raspberry liqueur

Saturday 26 April 2014

Experiment Recipe: Shin of Veal

After 6 months being bounced around from one place to another, I've finally found somewhere I can cook!! You have no idea how much that means to me!! I didn't until this week! To be able to cook in a kitchen without being frowned at for one reason or another, gorgeous aromas emanating form my sauce pan or stock pot . . . hmmmmm; I have to say, it's nice to be able to get back to experimenting in the kitchen, vey nice indeed!! 

On that note here's and experiment I did the other day, with what looked like a rather large lamb shank, actually veal.

As you can see from the components (carrots, cabbage, potatoes), there's lots of very standard things in this experiment. It's is really about the veal shin, and how is comes out after braising. I've treated the rest of the accompaniments very simply. So if worst come to the worst, we've got some nice veggies and things to eat, think I might make a giant yorkshire pudding too, you know, just in case!! He he . . . 

Now that's a yorkshire pudding!! (The pyrex dish is 12" long)

ingredients (serves 4) 
for the veal & gravy
2 shin of veal (seasoned and seared brown)
3 onions (charred)
1 leek (cleaned and cut unto 2cm lengths)
2 star anise
2 chicken stock cubes
2L water
4g flavoured salt

for the carrots
4 carrots (pealed, and cut into 1/3's)
50g butter
1 tsp flavoured salt 
2 star anise

flavoured salt
300g salt
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp garlic powder

for the savoy cabbage
1 savoy cabbage (outer leaves off, but into 1/4's)

for the potatoes
8 medium desiree potatoes (cleaned, 1/4's skin on)
or jersey royals at this time of year

apparatus / equipment
Frying pan.
Large braising pot.

Coat the meat in a thin film of oil - so the salt sticks - then sear it in a pan to brown the outside.
Once browned put it in the pot where it will be braised.
Peal and halve the onions, then add a little olive oil to the same pan and put the onions in flat side down, cook on a medium high heat until the flat sides are charred, then add them to the pot.
Add 2L water, bring to the boil and set to simmer 3hrs

Put all the ingredients in to a small pan, bring to the boil then set to simmer for 30-40mins

flavoured salt
Measure the ingredients and then mix well until a evenly distributed seasoning is created! Job done!

savoy cabbage
Boil in salted water, drain, leaving it as dry as possible, allow it to let off steam on a tea towel. The leaves of  a savoy cabbage will are all crinkly and will carry a lot of water, you want that to be lovely gravy instead of water, so get them as dry as possible.
You don't want lots of water diluting the gravy . . . . eeeeuuuwh!!

Boil them in salted water, a 1.5inch diced potatoes take approx. 6-8mins (after the water starts boiling) to cook. Depending on the size of course!

thinking ahead
Put it on at lunch time, it'll be ready for tea time with very little effort!

to serve
Put each thing into serving trays and let people help themselves!!

verdict - ahem I mean conclusion:
Gorgeous!! The the meat falling off the bone and the tendon was super soft and unctuous! I bought 1 shin to experiment with, but 2 would be better for 4 people. 


Friday 25 April 2014

Recipe: Yorkshire Pudding (Giant and Beautiful)

Yorkshire pudding is very high ranking in the comfort food arsenal. We are talking big big guns! It's a corker, it goes well with gravy, sausages, roasts and with jam!!

Super versatile and hot and cold!! 

Making a really good yorkie pud has always been a bit of a hit and miss affair for me so you can imagine my delight when I perfected this . . . . 

ingredients (serves 4-6)
for the yorkshire pudding
4 large free range eggs
4 tbsp of flour
200ml milk
salt & pepper
100ml veg oil or duck fat

apparatus / equipment
baking dish 20cm x 25cm should be at least 4cm deep. (made of pyrex or heavy gauge metal)


Turn the oven on to 230C - quite often that's max!! Crank it all the way to the top!!!!

I work in centigrade but often I'm trying recipes written in fahrenheit so I've created a table I keep it as a bookmark on my phone for use in the kitchen. I thought it might be handy so I put it up!!!

Put the fat into the baking dish and put it into the oven straight away!

Put the rest of the ingredients into a mixing jug and whisk until you have a smooth batter.

Wait until the oven has reached full temperature. 

Pull out the shelf with the baking tray on it, taking care not to spill the fat, and pour the batter into the centre of the tray.

Shelf at an angle, mix all in one end!!
Could be worse!
As it spreads out, the dish, and oil, should be hot enough so the batter starts to bubble straight away.

Pour in enough batter so that it's at least 1/2cm thick at the bottom.

Slide the shelf back in and close the door. 

DON'T open the door for at least 20min. 25-30mins really! 

Or until it's bulging out of the top of the oven!

Serve immediately!!

thinking ahead
If you making a roast the perfect time to rest your meat is while the yorkshire pudding is on!
Plate up the roast and serve the yorkshire pudding as soon as it's out!!

what could go wrong?
Hmmm, a few things: 

FAIL! Got stuck to the top of the oven!
Make sure you are at least on shelf from the top!

FAIL! Way too much batter, and tray not hot enough.
Make sure the batter starts to bubble when it hits the oil.

FAIL! Right amount of batter still not hot enough!
Make sure the sausages are heating up in the oven with the dish!

FAIL! Right amount of batter, not hot enough heat, and not enough thermal momentum in the tray . . .
place silicone on solid metal tray.

FAIL! result being a thick plank-cake! Sticky, not so bad if you like sticky!

This a core ingredient for all sorts of things: Serving with a ribeye joint of beefMini Toads - Picnic Toad in the Hole, Yorkshire pudding sausage hats! (giant yorkies filled with Sunday dinner!! Hmmmm!)

RESULT! Mini yorkshires!

RESULT! Hot dog toad in the hole!

RESULT! Roast vegetable bake.

RESULT! Roast vegetable bake and beef and mushroom stew . . brilliant winter fare.

RESULT! Yorkies & Roast Beef with Horseradish 

RESULT! Brunch w/ Egg Yolk Yorkie

RESULT! Yorkies w/ Sausage and Gravy and . . . . oooh shivers of delight Roasties

ROAR!!!! 1ft Yorkie Bliss - Extreme Yorkie!

How To Book / Attend

How To Book / Attend
Fancy getting stuck in? Click on the image above and to see how : ) . . . hope to see you soon.

More Techniques, Basics and Corker Recipes

More Techniques, Basics and Corker Recipes
If there's something you've tried at ferdiesfoodlab or a technique you want to know about drop us a line at and I'll put up a post about it!!


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