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Wednesday 30 November 2016

Recipe Experiment: Stuffed Pheasant Thighs w/ Quince & Prosecco Red Cabbage, Leek Verbena Puree & Creamy Mash

I fancied something a little different for a special dinner the other day so when I came across some pheasant thighs at the market I snapped them up, with no idea what I would do with them.  I wanted something tasty & comforting, so I was pretty happy when I pulled this little number together to make a lovely celebratory winter dinner!!

The cabbage is cooked in prosecco, quince and juniper berries, and the cooking liquor is the base for the sauce. Quince juniper & pheasant go very well together and when you add in the fragrance from the leek and verbena puree, it makes for a rather nice bite to eat! With a bit of bacon and creamy mash sneaked in it’s a winner!!! : )

See note at the bottom on lemon verbena.

ingredients (serves 4) 
8 stuffed pheasant thighs
200g leek verbena puree
600g  creamy mash
500g red cabbage in quince jelly sauce
300ml quince & cider reduction

for the stuffed pheasant thighs
8 pheasant thighs (skinned & boned)
120g pancetta
180g mushroom stuffing (recipe here)
Put a heavy gauge baking tray in the oven and turn it up to 240C.
Lay a sheet of clingfilm on the table, and a slice or two of pancetta on top.
Place a pheasant thigh on top of that and add a little stuffing.
Lift the cling film from the edge nearest you to roll the thigh and stuffing to wrap them in pancetta.
Place the meaty package to one side and repeat until they’re all done.
Take the baking tray out of the oven and place them onto it. 
They should sizzle when they touch the tray.
Put them straight back in the oven for 8 minutes. Then take them out and leave to rest for 4 minutes.
They dry out if they’re in too long!

for the leek verbena puree (makes ~500g)
500g  leek (cleaned & diced)
1 onion (diced)
50g olive oil
100g  dry white wine
1/2 lemon (juice)
3g lemon verbena (4g on the stalk)
25g butter (cubes)
Cook the leek and onion with the olive oil on a medium heat.
Keep the lid on, and cook them until they are soft, about 30-40 minutes. 
Remove the lid and add the wine and lemon and reduce until the liquid had gone.
Pick was and finely chop the lemon verbena and add it and the butter cubes. 
Using stick blender blend until smooth.

for the red cabbage in quince jelly sauce w/ beetroot (makes ~500g)
500g (1/2) red cabbage (coarsely  shredded)
large beetroot (medium dice - 1/2 to 1cm)
450ml  prosecco
150ml  OJ
juniper berries (crushed)
2 tbsp  quince jelly
25ml  sherry vinegar
Prep the ingredients, and add them all except the cabbage to a saucepan.
Stirring until the jelly is dissolved and the whole mix has come to the boil.
Set to a gentle simmer and cook with the lid on for about 15minutes, then add the cabbage. 
Cook for a further 15-20mins untli the cabbage is soft. (to taste)
Drain off the liquor, add a knob of butter and season if it needs it.

for the quince & cider reduction
liquid from the cooked cabbage
touch of lemon
weigh 1/3 weight butter
The liquor from the cabbage should have a syrupy consistency. Reduce it until it does if not!
Zero a small pan on a set of scales and weigh the sauce.
Weigh a third the weight of butter and cut into small cubes.
Just before serving, bring the sauce to the boil and add the butter string constantly until it’s completely dissolved and the sauce is rich and glossy.

to serve
Place a ring old off centre on each plate and fill with cabbage, pipe on the mash potato, then the lemon verbena. Slice the pheasant thighs into halves and place 4 halves inside each cabbage ring. Garnish each plate with lemon verbena. Lift the rings just before serving and serve with some sauce on the side. Don’t forget a nice red wine to go with it!!

One thing that worked particularly well with this dish was the lemon verbena puree. I’d not really used lemon verbena before so when I came across some in that garden I thought I’d give it a test run! It’s quite fragrant and has a lovely flavour with a decent amount of punch! Definitely worth a go if you can find it! (Garden centre!)

Tuesday 29 November 2016

Recipe: Orange Syrup

To make some orange syrup:

get some oranges 
a little orange zest
as little pith as possible
remove skin
repeat 6 times
make a stock syrup
lob in the orange segments
bring to the boil then turn off and leave 
pass it
bottle once its cooled
job done!


Orange goes with a lot of things, here are just a few:
cardamom, thyme, star anise, ginger, chilli, passion fruit, cinnamon, clove, cumin, nutmeg, vanilla, honey, maple . . . and then there’s the booze . . . 

Wednesday 16 November 2016

Recipe: Mushroom Spread (Stuffing)

We’re well into game season now, and the other I came across some pheasant thighs, so I snagged them to do some testing. There were 8 rather small skinless deboned thighs, so I decided to stuff them, and ended up making a rather passable mushroom spread!! 

ingredients (makes ~600g)

for the mushroom spread
225g chestnut mushrooms
150g stale bread (blended to a fine crumb)
10g sage (picked)
125g (1) leek (finely chopped)
40g sunflower seeds (toasted)
10g butter (for toasting)
2 large free range eggs

apparatus / equipment
food processor

Add a knob of butter to a frying pan on medium heat and toast the sunflower seeds.
Once golden brown put them into a mixing bowl.
Pick the sage and chop it up. 
Chop up mushroom and leek and cook them all on a medium heat in the same pan as the sunflower seeds. Cook them until they have started to brown.
Meanwhile blend the bread in a food processor until there are no large lumps left.
Add the cooked leek & mushroom mix and the eggs, and blend until smooth.
Transfer the mix to the mixing bowl and mix the nuts in. 
Season with salt & pepper, and it’s ready to spread on your toast or crackers.

thinking ahead
This will last a couple of weeks in he fridge problem! Ready for those canapés whenever you need it! 

If you’re making stuffed pheasant thighs, you can make them in the afternoon and put them in the fridge until you need them.

I’ll add link to pheasant thighs when I put up the post on Friday.


Monday 7 November 2016

Recipe: Tabl 2.0 & Leek Verbena Mac & Cheese (slippin’ in 1 of your 5 a day!!)

If you’r thinking of joining us at the ferdiesfoodlab banquet one place you can grab a seat is tabl!!  The Tabl platform was a great place to find a fabulous collection of supper clubs but things having been changing, great things have been brewing in the tabl pot . . . presenting . . .

tabl 2.0! - without evolution we are nothing!  A huge array of producers with fantastic products for you to sink your teeth into!! (and supper clubs too!! : )

To celebrate the launch of tabl 2.0 they threw a we gathering to which I was invited. Having just cycled for 35mins with usual google goose chase (fun with GPS) en route, it was great to be greeted & treated to a wonderfully refreshing Nix & Kix! Which is a no additives mixed fruit drink with a touch of chilli. Really good! It didn’t stick at the back of the palette the way a lot of these fruit drinks do - really nice!

I also met a fantastically bubbly, salt of the earth fella named Luka who imports top notch Sardinian fair, and introduced me some lovely red wine. I met Sarah Brocklehurst form the Superfood supper club who’s menu sounds very interesting indeed, I love trying new things. 

Something else Iike trying is vodka, oh yes sir-ee! So I was pleased as punch when I got to try a lemon grass and raspberry vodka from Graham Abbott of the Fine Cocktail Company? Now that definitely hit the spot!! I like a bit of vodka and to have mixed in with lemon grass and raspberry was a nice surprise! Not at all mean with the measure of vodka either!!!

Just to keep things real I bumped into another interesting contact from Impossible or is it Possible? (The ‘Im’ on his card was crossed out!).
I had a very stimulating conversation Kwame a connector of sorts between capital and food ventures, about various projects that made me instantly think of Green9 who we have the good fortune to work with on occasion! (quick aside I couldn’t help it - also check out Wires Glasses rather cool!)

Mixed in at the end of the evening was talk of coffee and fine chocolate and my very own sauce & fine cub-abs with a rather bemused Darren of Cocoba and friend. It took me a little while to break through the giggles & guffaws to convince them that cub-abs were a good thing, maybe even the next big thing!!!! Even then I’m not sure they were totally convinced!!  One bite and they won’t need any more convincing!!! : )

I had a great evening and couldn’t possible have made it around all of the producers. As the evening drew to a close I was in a position to intercept a large chunk of Red Leicester and a pack of pancetta wrapped prunes. To be fair it was more like a “lets not waste anything” scenario. Being a great believer in not wasting food I happily accepted my impromptu goodie bag and went on my merry way.

Great night! I had loads of fun, and this is what I made with my pancetta wrapped prunes & Red Leicester . . . 

It’s actually a really healthy version of the classic mac ’n’ cheese, made from reduced leeks and lifted with beautifully fragrant lemon verbena. (Which grows very happily in the back yard don’t you know!)

ingredients (serves ) 180C / 20mins
for the leek & lemon verbena sauce (1L)
800g leeks 
                 (cleaned, trimmed, coarsely chopped)
20g (5) garlic (5 cloves, peeled & crushed)
1 medium onion (diced & caramelised)
20g extra virgin olive oil
300g vegetable / chicken stock
5g lemon verbena (chopped at last minute)
1/2 lemon (zest & juice)
2g salt
35g cornflour (mixed w/ 50g water)
Prep the ingredients.
Caramelise the onions in a pot big enough for everything.
Then add the rest of the ingredients. 
Bring to the boil and simmer for 45m with the lid on.
Use a stick blender to turn it into a smooth soup.
Add the cornflour and water mix and thicken to a smooth sauce (see notes below if you’re unsure)
Pass it if you’re feeling a bit an4l!

for the pasta
500g rigatone / penne
1.5L water
15g salt
In a separate pan add 1.5L water and 1tbsp of table salt and bring to the boil. Once the water’s  boiling add the rigatoni and boil for 7mins. It’s worth pointing out here that this is undercooked. If the rigatoni was for meatballs for example, or another sauce to be served immediately 7mins wouldn't be enough!!  9mins would be al dente and 11mins would be soft. We want it undercooked because it's going to be in the oven for 20mins in sauce cooking more!! : )

for the topping
250g red leicester cheese (grated)
12 pancetta wrapped prunes (optional)
(totally optional, I’d probably leave them out next time!)
Pour everything into your favourite baking dish (providing it’s big enough) top with cheese and bake 180C / 20m, until golden brown and luscious! Serve immediately

what could go wrong? (notes)
“My sauce is all lumpy maaaan, your recipe blows!”, when adding the corn flour/water mix make sure it’s loose when it goes into the sauce. (well mixed with no cornflour at the bottom of the mug) Stir constantly as soon as it goes in, and use a flat tipped spatula to move the quickly thickening sauce from the bottom surface of the pan!! Keep swiping the bottom until the sauce stops thickening and the cornflour has cooked out. (sauce isn’t grainy anymore but nice smooth!)

145g of cornflour will thicken 2L milk to custard consistency. The sauce base will already be pretty thick since it’s based on a soup, so if you don’t want the sauce too thick start by adding 25g mixed w/ 25g water to start. Thicken the sauce. If it’s not thick enough after a couple of minutes, repeat! 

Golden ratio, as important as your meat to bun ratio in a burger!! (or your naan to donner ratio . . . isn’t it? Of course it is!! 

Pasta v Sauce ratio - 1 :  2 - you want a saucy mac ’n’ cheese don’t you!! : )

That’s me, all done happy mac ’n’ cheesing!!

links & variations

Teriyaki Mac 'n' Cheese

Mac (n Cheese) Daddy

Next week - Stuffed Pheasant w/ Lemon Verbena Puree, Red Cabbage & Creamy Mash served w/ Gin & Quince - OMG!!

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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