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Friday 25 March 2016

Recipe (Experiment): Half Pound Smoked Paprika Beef Burger

It’s not often I have a burger for dinner. I think it’s because I associate them with Elvis and toilets. My weight’s always been a bit, well . . .  all over the place really so they’re in the guilty pleasure category!!! Anyway I put this one together after spending most of the day in ‘the zone’ writing. I’d not really got around to eating and I’d decided to crack open a bottle of wine around 9PM by the time I’d finished the first glass, I decided to hit the kitchen!! I’d heard rumours of a 4 layer burger that had been made the night before by one of the housemates. So when I hit the kitchen, I did so possessed by raging burger envy!! 

This was the result . . . 

On the drawing board!
ingredients (serves 2 animals or makes 4 1/4 pounders)

for the burger (makes 2 half pounders)
500g of minced beef (20% fat)
10g / 2 tsp smoked paprika salt (50/50 salt/smoked paprika)
2 brown cap / shiitake mushroom (fine dice)
1 medium onion (fine dice)
3 cloves garlic (minced)
25g butter
50ml oil
2 tsp porridge oats
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 egg (optional - see notes)

for the bun, extras & garnish
2 large soft burger buns (brioche with sesame if you can get them!!!)
2 large gherkins
1 really ripe beef tomato (sliced)
150g brie (skin off)
4 slices thick cut smoked bacon (streaky if you prefer)
100g mayonaise
20g coriander (fine chop)
30g fried shallots (thai style)

apparatus / equipment
Steamer with a plate on top (optional - keep things warm before assembly)

Add the butter and oil to a pan on a medium heat, once the butter has melted and started to brown slightly add the onions and cook until translucent. Then add the mushroom and garlic and cook until the onions are caramelised and the mushroom is reduced. It’ll look similar to a duxelles. That it the most complicated step done!

Mix the rest of the burger ingredients together and check the seasoning by frying a tiny piece of the mix, once your happy with it
put the mix aside for 20 mins, while you collect the other ingredients together.

Mix the mayo and coriander, and set aside. Then prep the rest of the ingredients, the tomato and gherkins should be at room temperature, as should the burger mix!

For the best results it’s important to keep all your ingredients warm once they’re cooked so your burger is hot and juicy when it’s assembled! I use a plate sat on top of a steamer, specially if I’m making a lot of these for friends!

Shape burgers and cook those first on a medium high heat. These are BIG ***king BURGERS *** so slowly does it!
Once ready pop them onto the steamer plate to keep warm.

Then the bacon. Add the cheese on top of the bacon after it’s been turned. Put it with the burgers once ready.

Deglaze the pan with a touch of white wine (about 75ml) and add a knob of butter (25g) reduce this and dip the top of each bun in the sauce, then add the bottoms and toast insides of the buns in the pan until brown.

Time to assemble, quickly and accurately . . .  err . . . .sorta!

what could go wrong? (notes) 
You could get caught eating it, and get a right *ollocking from the other half for not sharing! ; )
You eat more than one of these during any 6 month period and put on 40lbs!! Yikes.

to serve
Assemble and serve on hot plates. (with napkins it’s messy)

A touch of sriracha chilli sauce mixed with the coriander mayo layer is pretty good!
Next time I make this I think I’ll try it without the egg mixed in. 
Better with shitake mushrooms, but they were out at the store.
Brie is an unusual choice for a burger but it worked really well, nothing to stop you from using the cheese of your choice. It’s got to be one that melts nicely!!
Beetroot & horseradish sauce goes really well with beef, switching the coriander mayo for it makes for such a good burger.

Friday 18 March 2016

Belly Supper Club London - Recipe: Mushroom Pate (w/ advice from Prue Leith)

A couple of months back I was invited to work with the Belly Supper Club to deliver a fabulous 3 course dinner to guests in support of Only Connect (a big shout out to Edible Experiences for putting us in touch)

Only Connect is an organisation that uses innovation to reduce re-offending, working with Londoners aged 16+ to cultivate the necessary skills, attributes and positive networks to develop and pursue their life goals without harm. (More about Only Connect here) In this instance that innovation was in the shape of a supper club married with a little theatre! Don’t mind if I do sir!!! : )

I followed up the invite and went to visit Only connect at their base near Kings Cross. Having done a quick recce of the kitchen I sat down with Louise Maddy (organiser) to discuss the menu and event. We knocked a few ideas about over a coffee and quickly came up with something suitable for the evening!

Food is all about timing and preparation, specially when you’re serving 40 people at the same time!!

photo courtesy Charlie
For the Belly there was food and a performance which meant interleaving our service with the performance, so we’d need good (and accurate) communication between FoH and BoH!

Now it’s not uncommon - especially when working in an unfamiliar kitchen - to come up against a few surprises so I like to include a little extra time in my plans to be able to deal with them. 

This was no exception. We’d already had a couple of delivery issues the day of the event and  as usual I had quite a lot of bits to deliver to the venue so I’d ordered a cab (with a company that shall remain nameless) the driver, actually pulled up outside the kitchen and when I went to start loading told me that I need to order another cab. When I asked why, he said he was going for lunch! I was already running late! Words cannot describe the emotion that I wanted to express when I heard this . . . I think it was the “am I bovered?” attitude that really, really, *^$*&^!&*!*’d me off! Any way when I arrived at Only Connect it turned out they’d been having a little drama of their own (and I’m not talking about the rehearsal that was in full swing as I wondered through the main hall) a couple of equipment failures the evening before had left us without a dessert or a starter ready as planned. Making pate without a food processor? I think we’ll be making the rustic version!!

First things first, even with the 2 hours of leeway, we needed to get the 5hour slow roast lamb into the oven and sharpish!!! 

pastry swirls - sans bacon! from fair hands of Louise
Once we had that in, it was time for a bit of regroup! A quick huddle and we’d worked out exactly what we had ready, and what we needed to get done before service started. Once a wee shopping list was assembled we cracked on with it, making the caramel, salad ingredients, dressings, tarts and sauces . . .  the works.

the menu . . .

About half an hour before we were about to start service Louise mentions - in passing - that one of the guests is Prue Leith (of Leiths School of Food & Wine & Judge on Great British Menu fame amongst a lot of other achievements!) - “so no pressure” she said with a wry smile and a wink!

Despite a couple of hairy moments in the kitchen Charlie & Bradley did a great job!!

Quick scan of the room . . . looks like a content crowd . . always good to see!

After we’d got everything out of the door I thought it was only fair to reward the kitchen with a timeout!! So while everyone front of house enjoyed their fabulous banoffee pie we popped out back for a breath of fresh air! While we were out there Prue came looking for us to say thanks. Quite impressed actually because we were quite well hidden away! She seemed to have liked dinner (always nice to hear), we did however get some advice on how to make pate!! I’ve incorporated it in to the recipe below of course - when some one like Prue Leith gives you advice I reckon it’s best to be quiet and listen!!

After all the guests have gone the job goes on, everyone pitched in to break down, many hands make light work . . . of the dishes & the banoffee tart!

I take my hat off to all involved for producing such a fantastic event:

FoH team: Louise Maddy (organiser extraordinaire), Jayne, Savi, Tim & Deborah
Entertainment team (who also helped with service): Liz Bacon, Dani Baker, Frankie & Gabby
Kitchen (ahem clearly the most important team):  Charlie & Bradley

Great event for a great cause.

As usual I’m posting a recipe, this time it’s mushroom pate! Tips included of course : )

ingredients (makes ~1.4kg - allow 40g pp)
for the mushroom pate
1kg white mushrooms 
5g salt
750g butter
250ml noilly prat / dry white wine
20g sage (picked & coarsely chopped)
400g onions (2 large - fine dice)
250ml of vegetable stock
75g dijon mustard
1 lemon (juiced)

for the garnish
pickled shimeji mushrooms
fried sage
salt flakes

for the accompaniment
crusty bread

apparatus / equipment

To cut a long story short this recipe is basically mushrooms beurre noisette, blended with sage infused butter!

Bullet points version:
1/4 the mushrooms & cook until brown in a beurre noisette (use 1/3 the butter)
deglaze with noilly prat 
cook onions until translucent
mix the above with white stock 
reduce until liquid gone
season with lemon mustard & touch of mushroom ketchup
leave to set
infuse the other half of the butter with sage
set both then blend and add pickled shimeji mushrooms (whole) and reset
serve with warm crusty bread and charcuterie init! ; )

In depth:
Put the onions on and cook on a medium high heat to cook until starting to brown.
While they’re cooking brush the mushrooms to remove any earth, remove the stalks and cut them into quarters lengthways.
Cut the mushroom heads into sixths.
Melt half of the butter in a saucepan and heat it up to 90C (this will kill any bacteria that might be on the sage)
Pick and chop the sage, add it to the butter and stir it in. Take off the heat and put to one side to infuse and cool.
Cut the other half of the butter into small chunks ready for the next step.
In a large frying pan add 4 or 5 knobs of butter and let them melt, let the butter start to turn brown to produce a wonderful nutty flavour, (this is our beurre noisette) then add the mushrooms.
Don’t overcrowd the pan, or you will end up with steamed mushrooms! 
We want to get them nice and brown (get a bit of that maillard reaction going!) to really bring out the flavour of the mushrooms.
Once they’re brown all over add another knob of butter, let it melt and deglaze with a slug of dry white wine or dry vermouth, which will leave you with a luxurious sauce.
Put these in a pot with the onions and 250ml of vegetable stock.
Repeat this process until you’ve used up all the mushrooms, butter and vermouth. 
(Took me 3 runs using 2 large pans at the same time)
Reduce the mushroom and onion mix until there’s no liquid left and the fat starts to split out.
Blitz the mix in a food processor for 4mins (Running a blender this long feels like forever!! But you want it smooth!)
Transfer to another container, mix in the mustard and lemon and leave to cool with the butter in the fridge.
Once set cut the mix and the sage butter into chunks return to the food processor, run it until you have a homogenous paste.
Note: the longer you run the motor the hotter the mix gets and the higher the risk that it splits, stop as soon as the mix is even.
Mix in the pickled mushrooms, knock the tin a few time to get rid of any big air bubble and allow to set.

Serve with warm crusty bread, a little salad if you like, a few more pickles, some charcuterie, you get the picture . . . happy days!

thinking ahead
This can be made days in advance and stored in the fridge. If you’re going to keep it, best to vac pack it, cover with cling film, or old school stylee, pour melted butter or jelly onto the top to seal it into the container!

You could use chicken livers and madeira instead check this beauty out! 

Wednesday 16 March 2016

ferdiesfoodlab - London Supper Club - Battersea

We had a cracking evening last weekend with a lovely crowd!! It’s always nice to mingle at the end of the evening and get a little feedback from folk about the food, service the venue, the music the vibe in general really!! I remember one evening a little while ago in Queens Park I was accused of fishing for compliments - outrageous!! - while I was asking what our guests favourites were. I ask folk what their favourites are in the interest weeding out the week courses. If a course doesn’t get a mention then you know it’s time for an adaption or removal! That way the menu develops in an organic and seasonal way as new coursing make their debut.

The problem with this menu is that every course is holding it’s own, so it’s a tricky decision which one to bump next!! Behind the scenes in the development kitchen we have a number of courses that are twitching to see action!!! 

In the mean time here are the comments about the current menu form last weeks event!!

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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