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Archive for November, 2012

For a while I kept seeing variations of this recipe and thinking ‘ohh that looks pretty good’ and then completely  forgetting about it. When I did get round to it I was slightly underwhelmed… Overtime I’ve tweaked it, and now when I do get round to making it I really enjoy it. It’s also dead easy to make.

Fry off some onion and garlic in a pan, when they’re soft and translucent add puy lentils (I’ve seen it’s meant to be around 50 grams per person but I’m greedy and probably have more than that) then add some stock, I use chicken but beef would probably be tasty too. I cover them with a fair bit of stock as you can drain these lentils easily. Let them boil for 15/20 odd minutes until they are tender but before they start to get too soft.

Whilst they are cooking, take some good quality sausages, whatever happens to be your favorite and put them under the grill.

When it’s all cooked, drain the lentils and pour them onto place and have the sausages on top.

I also have a quick red pepper side. It’s sort of like a cheats chutney without being left to mature.

Gently fry off the red pepper (and chili if you fancy), when its starting to soften add some paprika, stir for a few seconds to avoid it catching then add red wine vinegar and a small bit of red wine. Add some tomato puree and let it boil away until it’s a consistency you like. I like it to be pretty thick. Season to taste and have this dolloped on top of the dish and a little bit of grated Parmesan cheese if you fancy.

 

 

 

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I’m a big fan of miserable music. There is always a risk of sounding like an angsty teenager saying that and it’s also not the only music I like by any means, but I do love a well done down beat record.

I like most records that create some sort of emotional response (unless it is mild confusion, wondering what all the fuss is). I think it may be that sadness is easier to get across through music than other emotions. This does make it particularly good when a song effectively gets across other emotions, although this particular post isn’t about those songs…

I recently got the album by Aidan Moffat and Bill Wells, Everything’s Getting Older. I’ve not actually got any Arab Strap which is probably something I should correct, although I do have ‘I Can Hear Your Heart’ by Moffat which is a fascinating glimpse into a life (real or imaginary, I’m not too sure). Everything’s Getting Older came out last year and was critically very well received, winning Scottish Album Of the Year in June this year.

I gather that most of the music is created by Wells and played with a few other band members, with Moffat writing the lyrics and providing the vocals, mainly consisting of spoken word rather than singing.

I think the most famous track is Copper Top, a lonely monologue mediating about death and our journey towards it. Sounds like a laugh eh? It is however a really interesting piece of music / poetry that is as beautiful as it is bleak.

Another standout track is Glasgow Jubiliee. This is a brilliant song about characters from various walks of life, all linked together though seedy encounters and filthy infidelities, with Moffat himself cropping up during the sordid story.

Aidan Moffat and Bills Wells are performing in the Dundee Contemporary Arts at the end of this month so I’ve got my ticket and I’m gonna head down to see how the album translates to a live performance. I’m really looking forward to it and I’ll post my own little review about it after I’ve been!

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A week and a bit ago I had a weekend to myself so in an effort to avoid boredom/madness I decided to be super productive and take foody photos (the pizza in my most recent post) and also have a go at making some Christmas presents, which I will not post about until after Christmas, for fairly obvious reasons…

All in all it was a success but I wanted to get out of the flat as I was going stir crazy so I wandered down to the Dundee Contemporary Arts to have a look at some indie game developers showing off their latest creations. Oh yeah, I am that cool.

Some people may find wandering around a video game exhibition on their lonesome a faintly embarrassing experience. It turns out I may be one one of those people.

After the initial embarrassment dispersed I did get chatting to some of the developers and it turned out to be quite an interesting couple of hours. I love video games and have done since I was a kid so I find the current climate really interesting. The rise of independent game developers creating low budget but often innovative games is, I think, a good thing for an industry over saturated with generic war shooters.

I’m sure this is something I will discuss more in the future but at the moment I think people should check out Pippin Barr’s selection of games and ‘games’. They are at times funny, frustrating, clever, confusing and often downright bizarre.

One that Pippin demonstrated at the event was Safety Instructions. This is effectively a typing game, where you have 10 seconds to type out the safety instructions on the screen. Sounds basic but it is actually entertaining. Pippin said that his aim was to create a sense of panic in the player, and oddly this does work. I like this idea of using very simple game play mechanics to create specific emotions within the player. I’m a fairly clumsy typer so I ended seeing this screen a fair bit.

He also has games which made me laugh, partly down to how daft they are but that just makes them more enjoyable. Epic Sax Game and Zorba are two examples of these.

There are lots of games on his site here which are all very simple but they are worth investigating. Often these sort of things can be seen as pretentious and I guess I can sometimes see why, but they are also definitely interesting. I think experimental and/or indie game developers are important as they can try things out that bigger developers would see as too much of a risk. A small indie company do not have to ensure they get a metacritic rating of 85 or over to get a bonus or even keep their jobs, so they can create content that may split the audience. These experiments and even the mistakes are useful for future developers (larger and small) as they can see what is a good idea, or where something went wrong and hopefully create more interesting and unique content in the future.

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I first made a pizza from scratch a while ago but always enjoy trying different toppings (with varying degrees of success). I sometimes struggle with baking things as I can be a bit slapdash when it comes to weights and measurements but I try and follow dough recipes closely as I don’t know enough about it yet to start messing around too much. I’m sure that will come in time though.

This particular dough was from Jamie Oliver, the reason simply being that the book was close to hand. I made sure I kneaded it for quite a while until it was nice and smooth and stretchy. I also made sure I gave it enough time to prove as I think my patience normally gets the better of me.

I do however feel more confident about trying lots of different toppings and I really think I’ve got a nice combination here.

First things first is the sauce. It turns out I love béchamel sauce on pizza. You need butter, flour, milk and because I wanted a bit more flavour, some Parmesan.

I popped some butter in a pan and when it’s melted put in a little flour and stir until smooth then slowly but surely add milk until the whole thing is nice and smooth at this time I also add a whole garlic clove to give a mild garlic flavour and remove it at the end. Then I grated some Parmesan in to give a bit more flavour.

Season with salt and pepper to taste (I like pepper but if you like a ‘clean’ looking sauce use white pepper or leave it out. I personally don’t mind about the black dots. Make sure the sauce is pretty thick to as it will need to stay secure on the pizza.

After the dough has risen you roll it out into whatever shape you want and then either bake for a few minutes (you can then freeze any spare bases) or just spread the sauce straight on. If you are doing this make sure you will be able to move the base easily onto whatever you’re cooking it on.

Now for the first three ingredients! Pear, Courgette and Mozzarella.

Put bits of the Mozzarella around the base and then very thinly slice the pear and courgette. I actually used a peeler for mine but if you have a mandoline then even better I imagine.

Chuck these onto the pizza and then what I think really helps make the dish is roasted garlic and home made pesto. The sweetness of the garlic is lovely and then the pesto cuts through the sauce.

Pour a bit of olive oil onto the garlic bulb, wrap in foil and roast for 30-40 minutes on a medium heat (maybe, I didn’t actually time this…). For the home made pesto see this!

Squeeze bits of the now soft garlic over the pizza and add a few dollops of pesto then whack it in the oven, high heat and near the top for 10 minutes or until it’s bubbling everywhere and starting to crisp up at the edges.

After all that you should end up with what I think is a very nice and slightly different  pizza!

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