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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!!

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