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Monday
Mar042013

Episode 31: Fleet Street Pies

Back again for more punishment! Let's get started.

Notes:

This is the part where I admit I was wrong. 

You see, this recipe had very specific measurements of both top and bottom dough-pieces to make up the pies. I slavishly kept to those sizes, even after buying ramekins that were a little bit bigger than said measurements. So when my pies came out of the ramekins, they were, well, they were little frisbees. But they were delicious little frisbees. This recipe might have started life as a minced pie recipe, but the switched to roast pork as the main ingredient made it from school tuckshop fare to proper gourmet stuff. Seriously. They are very very good. I think part of the secret is the lack of vents in the dough, which keeps the juices in and keeps your pie from getting dry. So anyhow, do yourself a favour. Measure the dough to your ramekins. Fill them up completely. The second time I made the recipe, I used the same ramekins, and still made 4 biggish pies and a dozen small ones easily.

I also realise that I've now made two recipes on here for dealing with roast pork leftovers. Maybe I need to do an episode of basic roast pork so you guys can see the before as well as the after.

As for the name, pork --> long pig --> cannbalism --> Sweeney Todd -->pies. That worked out well.

Music Notes, by Joel AKA @Gingerexplosion

Möbius Band - "Subterranean Homesick Alien"

Vampire Weekend - "Exit Music (For A Film)"

both from "Stereogum presents OKX: A Tribute To Ok Computer", 2007

Radiohead's OK Computer might be the last of a dying breed, the last of the Classic Albums. For an album of claustrophobic art-rock, it was a staggering success, selling over 1.8 million copies in the UK, and going triple-platinum in the famously insular US. Heavy on the diminished chords and weird progressions, it's hard for a 21st century audience to imagine it on the radio, but songs like Karma Police charted in the UK, and were amongst the most-played on American radio in 1997. The band's name became a by-word for 'miserable' (see this Father Ted scene for proof - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fnZDI1slxMI). Though that might have been a bit of a generalisation to begin with, it certainly became more and more accurate as the strain of being rockstars began to take its toll; Thom Yorke, in particular, struggled with the burden of being a frontman, like a nerdier Kurt Cobain.

That level of success complicates matters for the audience, too. For a new listener, there’s the weight of history, the baggage they bring with them to the record; we’ve all been let down by an album (or book, or movie) that has been crushed by expectation before it had a chance. For long-time fans, it’s more difficult again ‒ how can you see OK Computer as merely an album, without bringing all your memories and associations along for the ride? That’s the problem with Classic Albums (apart from the rockist insistence on them): perspective. It can be difficult to see them as anything other than culturally-enforced monoliths, untouchable and immune to critical challenge. OK Computer is a terrific album, one that the years have done little to dull; its (yes) paranoid air and constant, buzzing grey anxiety feels as relevant now as it did then. Most people over 20 have lived with this album for 15-odd years (the anniversary is May 21st this year for those playing at home); how can you honestly evaluate something so close to you?

Stereogum had a great solution. In 2007, they rounded up a diverse bunch of indie acts and had them cover OK Computer track by track. This kind of tribute album has its flaws, usually in the form of too-reverent covers that offer no insight on the source material. OKX isn’t immune to that (Cold War Kids’ tuneless and achingly dull cover of Electioneering; David Bazan’s nice but largely identical version of Let Down), but there’s enough inventiveness on hand to make this an interesting listen.

Mixing in a healthy dose of Kraftwerk and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, Möbius Band’s cover of Subterranean Homesick Alien replaces the original’s eerie-U2 vibe with pneumatic krautrock rhythms and dissonant synths, pushing Thom Yorke’s sci-fi metaphor to the front. It feels genuinely unsettling, though it sheds subtlety for impact; when it shifts into Dungen-ish psych-rock, it loses its way altogether, but manages to stay compelling. 

Vampire Weekend make for a counter-intuitive choice to cover Exit Music (For a Film). The original, heavy with slow-burning dread, seems at odds with the peppy, preppy stylings of a band known for Afrobeat rhythms and wearing really nice vests. And it is a very strange cover, melding the two distinct styles into something deeply unsettling. Ezra Koening tends to sing in staccato syllables, spitting and popping sharply observed social commentary at high speed, so it’s disconcerting to hear him drawing out his vowels in imitation of Thom. Chris Tomson’s percussion sounds more familiar, skittering along with more familiar energy; that is, until the climax, when the rhythm becomes erratic and confusing.

That none of the versions on OKX approach the majesty of the originals is, well, OK. By taking a smaller element and drawing it out, both Vampire Weekend and Möbius Band have given us a chance to approach these capital-C Classic songs, and appreciate them from a different perspective. For that reason alone, these versions are well worth a listen (make sure you check out My Brightest Diamond’s cover of Lucky, too).

You can find the OKX album here: http://stereogum.com/okx

Recipe:

Fleet Street Pork & Braised Cabbage Pies
a heavily adapted recipe by CoverVersions.tv

makes 4 individual dinner-sized pies, and about a dozen little ones.

ingredients:

500g roast pork
2 cloves garlic
1 onion
200g red cabbage
2 Granny Smith apples
1 egg
1 tbsp flour
1 small bunch fresh sage
1 packet shortcrust pastry (5 sheets)
verjuice (optional)

 

  • Preheat your oven to 200 degrees.
  • Take the dough out of the freezer to thaw.
  • Crush, peel & mince the garlic.
  • Peel & dice the onion. Use the technique in the video to ensure the pieces are all the same size & cook evenly.
  • Core the apples, leaving the peel on.
  • Slice the apples into matchsticks, using a v-slicer, mandolin, grater or julienne peeler.
  • Shred 200g of red cabbage, using a similar method.
  • Cut the roast pork into bite-sized pieces. Don't be too dainty, it'll come apart as it cooks.
  • Get a big deep pan on medium heat with some oil.
  • When it's hot, throw in the onion & garlic & cook for 5 minutes.
  • Once the veg is softened, add the pork to the pan and let cook for 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • While the meat's cooking, pick the leaves off the sage & finely slice 2 tbsp's worth.
  • Add the flour to the meat-onion-garlic mix, stir & let cook for another 5 minutes. 
  • Once that's done, add the sage, apples, and cabbage, and stir it all together, cooking for yet another 5 minutes, then take the pan off the heat & allow to cool.
  • Take out 4 big ramekins & spray them with olive oil or other non-stick spray.
  • Take your thawed dough, and cut out sheets that will cover the bottom and sides of your ramekins. Do NOT believe any arbitrary measurements.
  • Line the ramekins with the dough, then load them up with the pork mixture.
  • Cap each pie with more dough, then seal the edges with your fingers.
  • Crack an egg into a bowl, beat it, then brush it onto the pie tops.
  • The pies go in the oven for 35 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before taking them out of the ramekins.
  • You'll have plenty left over, so I made mini pies in a muffin tin using the same method & random leftover scraps of dough. These little ones are great for lunchboxes!
  • Serve with red wine, seize, and consume!

Saturday
Jan262013

Episode 30: Parmesan Jacket'd Salmon & Couscous.

 

Hey look, a new episode of CoverVersions! Now if only I can remember how to do this…

 

Notes:

Yes. It was a long time between updates. Again. But a lot of things have been going on! I went to Germany! There was Christmas! I went back to work! Things were busy! But anyway, enough excuses. I told myself that I was going to be more regular with my updates this year, and I mean it. So! Recipe. This is one that I have only made once, when I made the video. I haven't made it since, but every time I look back at it, I say "Wow, I need to make that again." It's extremely tasty, and for all that there's a lot going on, it's not that difficult or time-consuming. 

Another note: watercress. I had never had or used watercress before. I only knew it because of a joke made in an Archie comic where Archie took Veronica to a fancy restaurant, but couldn't afford anything, so he ordered two watercress sandwiches & tap water. Well, my ignorance shows because today I saw watercress at the green grocer and it does NOT look like what I used in the video. So I guess any salad leaf will do.

Another thing I'd like to point out: after 30 episodes, it's getting tougher & tougher to come up with new and interesting music, so I've decided to outsource/ask for help. And on that note, I present Joel, aka @gingerexplosion on Twitter, who is going to be helping me with the music side of things for the foreseeable future. Welcome Joel! As a starting point, I had chosen some music that were not actual covers, but instead evoked a certain sound, much like when I used the Raveonnettes in the Bikkits episode. Come to think of it, I had Joel's help with that one too! Go figure.

 

Music notes, by Joel:

The Last Shadow Puppets - "In My Room", "My Mistakes Were Made For You", "Separate And Ever Deadly", all from The Age of the Understatement, 2008

Adele's theme for Skyfall, like the film itself, remixes James Bond's history into a more modern form. The John Barry brass, the Matt Monro/Nancy Sinatra coo, the Shirley Bassey drama; all its elements are as iconic as the shaken-not-stirred martini, or the Walther PPK. Bond themes are a genre unto themselves, and 'Skyfall' Frankensteins its conventions into something that sounds simultaneously retro and contemporary.

Alex Turner and Miles Kane did something very similar on The Age of the Understatement, the only album to date of their project The Last of the Shadow Puppets. All sixties melodrama and twanging guitars, songs like 'In My Room' are Bond themes in waiting. With arrangements by Owen Pallett (the artist formerly known as Final Fantasy) performed by the London Metropolitan Orchestra, the only thing separating 'Skyfall' and 'My Mistakes Were Made For You' is the film to legitimise the latter. Turner's heart-worn and sentimental lyrics aren't exactly a natural fit with Daniel Craig's stiff upper lip, 'I'm not not crying' version of Bond, but, as Adele's 'Skyfall' proves, lyrics aren't everything.

Recipe:

Parmesan Jacket'd Salmon with Tomato Couscous & Cress Salad

serves 2

ingredients:

400g salmon fillet, skin on

100g parmesan cheese

150g couscous

1 egg

1 bunch basil

1 clove garlic

1 bunch watercress or salad leaves

1 tomato

1 lemon

50g flour

olive oil

salt & pepper

 

 

  • Fill the kettle & get it boiling.
  • Get a pot (one with a lid) and put it on medium heat.
  • Peel & chop up the garlic, and put it in the pot with a bit of oil.
  • Pick most of the leaves off the basil, but keep the stems.
  • Chop the stems finely, put them in the pot with the garlic (once the garlic is coloured) and AGITATE. 
  • Cut the tomato into chunks, and add that to the pot as well.
  • Add the couscous and 225 ml of water, mix it all up, put the lid on, and take it off the heat.
  • Get a decent-sized frying pan on medium-high heat, with some oil.
  • Crack the egg, into a biggish bowl, and beat it until combined.
  • Get out two plate-accomplices. In one, spread out the flour. In the other, grate the parmesan cheese. 
  • Arrange the bowl and two plate accomplices into a little assembly line, flour-egg-cheese.
  • If your salmon is in one piece, cut it lengthwise into two long pieces. 
  • Take each piece and dunk it in the flour, coating it completely, and shake off the excess. Then dunk the fillet into the egg, coating again, then finally into the cheese, so it sticks. You want nice even coverage.
  • Put the fish into the hot pan & cook for 2 minutes per side (I did it for 8 minutes total).
  • While that's happening, bifurcate the lemon. Squeeze the juice of half into a big salad bowl.
  • Add three times as much olive oil as you have lemon juice. Yes, really. 
  • Pinch of salt, a bit of pepper, then taste it to see if it's alright. Adjust if you need more of anything.
  • Wash the watercress & tear it up. Add the torn cress to the salad bowl & toss to coat.
  • When the fish it done cooking, lay it out on paper towel.
  • Take the lid off the couscous, fluff it up with a fork, then stir the basil leaves through, and season with salt and pepper.
  • Arrange the fish, couscous & salad on a plate, seize, and consume!

 

 

Saturday
Nov242012

Mini-Episode: Spiced Rhubarb Jalousies

Totally not created out of spite. Nope. Not a bit.

So, as explained in the video, I had made a video of my making Jalousies, and was waiting for AlphaBakes to get to J. They got to T, and I got cold feet. I submitted the video as Turnovers, and that was a thing. Now 3 months later, they have J. It was suggested that I recut the original episode, but I don't do two takes /Calculon. So I got more pastry & more fancy market jam, and I made them again. 

So yes. AlphaBakes, run by Ros (The More Than Occasional Baker) & Caroline (Caroline Makes).

The letter this month is J. Dagnabbit.

 

Music Notes:

"Immigrant Song" by Trent Reznor, Karen O & Atticus Ross, from "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack", 2011

I did not see The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, either version. Tanja read the books, but I had no interest. I did, however, see this INCREDIBLE fake trailer for an Ender's Game movie. I was hooked on the song and grabbed it right away from iTunes. As I learned later that week, if you're sprinting after the bus with it playing in your headphones, you feel like you're in a Tony Scott action movie.

And also, Ender's Game was so good of a book that as a teenager I stole it from a kindly English teacher who lent it to me. I did not like the sequels, or the Shadow series, more's the pity.

What about you, oh reader? What work of fiction affected YOU so much that you'd steal it from an educator?

Recipe:

See here.

 

Also I am planning some big changes for the blog in the near future, so stay tuned!

Sunday
Nov182012

Episode 29: Anni's Chilli Choc Cookies

Hey, Lucas, lately you've been really bad at this whole "regular updates" thing. Yeah, yeah, I know but hey! New one!

Notes:

The making of these cookies and posting of this recipe comes from my friend Anni & Joel (or @annisugar and @gingerexplosion on Twitter). They are cool folk & are full of lovely knowledge and recommendations of things, but as Anni is intolerant to gluten & lactose, and Joel is a vegetarian, they are the very devil to cook for. In looking for something to bring to a pot luck brunch that everyone could enjoy, I stumbled across My Darling Lemon Thyme, which is a great blog full of gluten & dairy-free recipes, and these cookies. I'm working up to trying their medjool date chocolate slice one day. The resulting cookies were given the Anni seal of approval (she has declared that she would skip a meal & eat nothing but these, which is high praise).

Music Notes:

As with the last few times I got a guest to assist with the inspiration, I had Anni choose the music:

"Deceptacon" - Le Tigre, from "Le Tigre", 1999
"Wishbone" - Architecture In Helsinki, from "
In Case We Die", 2005
"California English" - Vampire Weekend, from "
Contra", 2010
"Why Can't I Be You?" - The Cure, from "
Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me", 1987 

The real surprise for me was how well The Cure's track fit into the rest of the thoroughly modern songs. Well, there you go. My young teenage self who wrote the Cure off as one-hit wonders & bleeding-heart-love-song-writers has been proven wrong, as he so often has been. Don't worry. Adult Lucas knows better.

Recipe:

Anni's Chilli Choc Cookies
makes 8-10 good-sized biscuits 

ingredients:

  • 55g ground almonds
  • 60g rice flour
  • 25g cornflour
  • 55g cocoa
  • 55g brown sugar
  • 50g raw sugar
  • 1 tsp gluten-free baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tsp chipotle chilli
  • 65g slivered almonds
  • 60g dark chocolate
  • 60ml olive oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1-2 tbsp rice or soy milk, or skim milk if you don't mind the dairy

 

  1. Sift the rice and corn flours, the cocoa, the ground almonds, the baking powder, the cinnamon, and the chilli into a bowl. 
  2. Add the salt, then the almonds, and stir to combine.
  3. Using whatever you feel like, bash the chocolate into little pieces then add it to mix.
  4. In a second bowl, whisk together the egg, olive oil, vanilla extract & soy milk.
  5. Add the eggy-oily mixture to the floury-chocolatey mixture, get a wooden spoon (not a whisk) and mix it all together. You're going to get a damp mixture, like in the video.
  6. Using about two tablespoon of the mix, make a little pattie with your hands, like a felafel. Make sure it's flattish and smooth the outside with your fingers so it stays together. Make 8-10 of these patties & transfer them to a tray lined with baking paper.
  7. Bake at 180 degrees for 15 minutes.
  8. Allow to cool, seize, and consume!

 

 

 

Monday
Oct012012

Episode 28: Buzzsaw Pork Ragu

After a month-long hiatus (that totally wasn't a hiatus, more of an inability to focus and get anything done until I realised "Oh crap, it's been like a month, I better do something!"), we are back! 

 

Notes:

Phew, it's been a while! Look, not much to say on this recipe, apart from the fact that it came from a popular weight loss cookbook before I changed a few things. Pork neck is not the fattiest of cuts (certainly not when compared to pork belly, for instance) but it benefits greatly from a slow cook like it gets here. The actual pulling of the pulled pork was a bit tricky - I probably should have used a bigger bowl.

 

Also, I had trouble coming up with a synonym for "shred" to use at I tore up the pork with forks. I put out the word on Twitter, and received much help, but the suggestion that got my attention prompted this exchange:

 

And thus I got a name for this episode.

 

Music Notes:

Le Tigre - I'm So Excited, from "This Island", 2004

Franz Ferdinand - What You Waiting For?, from "Best of 86/06", which came with Q Magazine May 2006 

The xx - Teardrops, from "The xx [Bonus Disc Edition]", 2008

Alright guys, I will admit: musically, I hit a wall this episode. I cycled through the usual suspects, but none of them felt right. So I threw the question out to Joel (@gingerexplosion), a friend and resident fellow music nerd. He suggested a whole bunch of absolutely beautiful, moving, and haunting covers by Mark Kozelek of Modest Mouse & AC/DC songs, and M. Ward's cover of Bowie's Let's Dance. I couldn't use Let's Dance, as I used the Futureheads' version before. The other went directly into my playlists of choice, but didn't fit with the fast-paced nature of the video. It was Joel's feline companion & all-around cool person Anni (@annisugar) who suddenly suggested El Tigre's cover of the unsinkable Pointer Sisters track, which fit nicely with all the fast motion. I threw in Franz Ferdiand's utterly silly Gwen Stefani cover (complete with break-into-White-Wedding moment), and tacked on another of Joel's suggestions, The xx's version of Womack & Womack's "Teardrops" and voila! Crowdsourced creativity.

 

Recipe:

Buzzsaw Pork Ragu
serves 6, or 4 hungry folk

ingredients:

900g of pork neck, in 1 piece

2 capsicums

1 brown onion

2 carrots (I used purple, but orange is okay)

2 cloves garlic

1 400g tin diced tomatoes

1 chicken stock cube

1 tsp chilli powder

1 tsp ground coriander seed

1 tsp cumin

rice, to serve

fresh coriander, to serve

lime wedges, to serve

 

  1. Get a great big pan (that has a lid) on medium heat with some oil. When the oil is hot, drop in your bit of pork. make sure every side gets a turn over 5 minutes or so.
  2. Lobotomise and chop your capsicum, peel and chop your onion, crush, peel and chop your garlic, and peel and chop your carrots. No need to be fiddly about it, either.
  3. When the pork is seared on all sides, take it out of the pan and immediately drop in the vegetables. Don't you dare clean the pan, either. Let the veg cook in the pork oil for 5 minutes.
  4. Add all your spices and mix it all together.
  5. Put the pork back on top of the veg, and pour over the tomatoes.
  6. Add the stock cube, and 500mL of water.
  7. Bring the whole mess to a boil, then reduce the heat down to medium low and cover for an hour.
  8. After that hour, take off the lid and let it keep doing its thing for another 45 minutes.
  9. Use tongs to fish out the pork onto a cutting board. Get two forks and shred that sucker into little bits. Use a knife for any stubborn pieces.
  10. Taste the sauce, and add salt & pepper (it'll need it).
  11. Return the pork shreds to the pan, mix it all together.
  12. Serve on a bed of rice, with fresh coriander sprinkled over & lime wedges on the side.
  13. Seize, and consume!