And now for something completely different (other than cooking).
I decided to spend my quarterly bonus upgrading my somewhat tired gaming PC, and splashed out on a new graphics card, new RAM, a quality PSU and an SSD.
The SSD isn’t arriving until Monday, but this system is already putting the PS4 to shame with the new graphics card.
Here’s what the spec will look like once I get the SSD installed:
- AMD Phenom X4 955 Black Edition CPU @ 3.2GHz
- 16GB (4x4GB) Corsair DDR3 1600Mhz RAM
- Gigabyte motherboard with AMD 770 chipset
- NVidia GTX 560Ti 448 core graphics card
- Samsung 840 Pro 256GB SSD
- 1TB HD for games, 2TB HD for media (e.g. music and video files)
- Corsair 760i, 760W modular PSU
- Xbox 360 controller
- Iiyama E2407HDS 1080p HD 24″ monitor
Gaming on that lot is amazing. Crysis 2 and Grid 2 are a stunning experience.
So I fancied some lamb yesterday and had a good hunt around the interwebs to see what I could find. This sounded amazing, so I went ahead and made a slightly different version.
I don’t really like combining sweet and savoury flavours, so the cranberry sauce had to go. Instead, I replaced it with fresh, chopped rosemary taken from my own herb garden that I have growing outside.
I decided to make it with creamy mashed potatoes and peas with fresh mint.
I made a mistake where I could have used the pan that I browned the lamb in to make a pan gravy with red wine, but I’d already thrown it into the sink. It turned out fine without it. Not a huge loss.
Without further ado, here’s how you make the entire dish. It needs some careful timing, but otherwise it’s pretty straightforward.
Here’s what you are going to need:
- Lamb Leg Steaks, 1 per person
- Pre-rolled puff pastry, 1 sheet (about 350G or more)
- Maris Piper potatoes, or anything suitable for mashing
- Butter (salted is preferable)
- Fresh mint
- Fresh rosemary
- 1 egg
- Coarse-ground black pepper
- Crème fraîche or whipping cream
- A good quality red wine if you’re making a pan sauce. I recommend a nice Shiraz or Cabernet Sauvignon.
- Garlic (optional, for making a pan sauce)
How to make it:
- Season the lamb with salt and pepper on both sides.
- In a pan with a little oil on high heat, sear the lamb on both sides for a minute or two.
- Place the steaks onto a plate to cool. A kitchen cloth or paper should be used to soak up any excess oil so the pastry doesn’t get too mushy.
- Roll out your pastry into a fairly thin sheet and cut into four rough squares.
- Next, place the lamb steaks onto each square and some fresh, chopped rosemary on top.
- Mix one egg together using a brush to make an egg wash.
- Wrap each lamb steak up and brush each with the egg over the top. Place on a baking tray lined with baking paper that has been greased with butter.
- Put the entire tray of goodness into the fridge for 20-30 minutes to firm the pastry up. I find that this is a good time to have a clean up of the kitchen because we’ve probably made a bit of a mess by now!
- About 10 minutes before the lamb steaks are ready to come out of the fridge, peel and start boiling some potatoes in salted water and pre-heat your oven to 200.C.
- When the steaks are ready, put them into the oven for 20-25 minutes. The middle of the oven is probably best.
- When about 5 minutes of cooking time is left, turn the heat off on the potatoes, drain the water out using the saucepan lid, and mash them using some butter and cream.
- In a small pan, add some butter and about 1cm or less of water. Turn up to a low-medium heat, put the peas in and put the lid back on. This will gently steam them and they’ll be done in about 2 minutes.
- The lamb should be done by now. If the pastry is lovely and golden in colour and the internal temperature is 60.C then it’s cooked perfectly.
- A nice Shiraz goes well with this.
- The lamb was perfect. Lovely and moist.
As I mentioned earlier, this would probably be better with a pan sauce/gravy.
There are plenty of recipes around the net, but the basics are:
- Heat the pan used to cook the meat.
- Scrape all that meaty goodness from the bottom of the pan.
- Chop garlic, and onions if you like, then brown them in the pan.
- Add half a cup of the appropriate kind of stock, and an equal amount of red wine (white for chicken/fish).
- Simmer and reduce until you’re happy with it. Taste it often, and add a light dusting of flour every so often if you want it to thicken up faster.
I recently watched a fantastic Raymond Blanc cooking episode that is currently on BBC iPlayer that inspired me to try one of the recipes myself.
I had to transcribe the recipe as I watched, but it turned out to be one of the best dishes that I’ve ever experienced. It was incredible, and here’s how you make it.
I’ll leave the amount of ingredients up to you, but the ingredients in the photo posted immediately below should be enough for two people.
Here’s what you need:
- Dried wild mushrooms. I bought mine from Waitrose, but Tesco, M&S and most other big stores stock them. Look for Morel Mushrooms if you can afford them, but Porcini or a mix will do otherwise.
- Two Chicken breasts (or more, depending on how many people – one per person). No skin.
- Fresh button mushrooms
- Fresh leeks
- Double cream
- Salted butter
- Coarse-ground black pepper
- A good quality white wine
How to make it:
- Pour warm water over the mushrooms in a bowl so they become hydrated but leave their delicious juice behind. This process takes about 10-15 minutes.
- Season the chicken on both sides with salt and a small amount of coarse-ground black pepper
- Next, brown the chicken gently in foaming butter on a medium heat. Avoid burning the butter because it will become bitter in taste otherwise.
- While that’s cooking, boil a few cups of the white wine (1 cup/mug per person) in a separate pan to burn the alcohol off on a medium-high heat
- Squeeze the water from the soaked mushrooms, keeping the liquid aside, and place into a new medium-sized pan.
- Chop the button mushrooms in half – these will be important for texture.
- Place the button mushrooms into the pan along with the wild mushrooms.
- Warm them through, stirring often. Don’t brown them! They just need to be cooked gently.
- The chicken should be nicely browned by now on the outside but still uncooked in the middle.
- In the same pan that you used to brown the chicken, add the reduced wine, mushroom juice that we saved from earlier and 200G of double cream (use 100-150G per person)
- Ensure that the chicken breasts are mostly covered by the sauce and on a low heat, we need to poach the chicken gently, ensuring that it doesn’t boil or simmer – we want a low wet heat to slowly cook the meat all the way through which will leave it succulent.
- Once the chicken is 60 degrees celsius (use a meat thermometer) in the middle, take them out and rest on a plate for 5 minutes or so. This will be the centerpiece of our stunning dish.
- Reduce the sauce on a medium-high heat with vigorous bubbling
- Don’t forget to taste it!
- Slice fresh leeks and place in a pan on medium heat with a good sized chunk of butter and no more than 0.5-1cm of water – this will steam the leeks and create an emulsion at the same time. Put the lid on. Takes 3 minutes.
- Place the chicken breasts onto plates (in the center), and spoon the reduced sauce with mushrooms over the top with the leeks around the outer edges of the plate.
- Here’s a close-up of this delicious dish.
- When cutting into the chicken, it should be moist and perfectly cooked.
- Don’t season the final dish – it really doesn’t need it. Trust me!
With the recent news that Five Guys had opened in London on July 4th, I simply had to pay a visit this weekend and it was everything that I thought it would be. The burger was juicy, delicious and very moreish. The cheese was perfectly oozing out between the huge patties (I ordered a double) with the occasional drip of oily goodness onto the foil below.
I didn’t particularly like the fries because they left the skins on, and one wonders if this is something they did to test the waters on trying a new time/labour-saving method. I’ll tell you right now that it doesn’t work with fast food. We don’t visit a burger joint for any “rustic” feel. They were well seasoned so that’s a plus point.
Kudos for providing a genuine American dining experience though with the big smiles, lovely staff and free drink refills. It’s the only restaurant I’ve been to in the UK which does this and it needs to be more common.
Want a video review of Five Guys? Check this out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zGkHRa64sDY
Anyway, let’s not get sidetracked for too long, here’s how you make a proper burger from scratch…
Serves 4-6 people.
Here’s what you’re going to need:
- Peanut oil, rapeseed oil, grapeseed oil, or anything made from animal fat such as lard. Don’t use olive oil or butter because it will burn and make your burger taste horrible. Vegetable oil is fine.
- 500G of steak/beef mince. If you can afford the “Tesco Finest” Scottish stuff you’re in for a treat. Tesco has this on offer this weekend – £3 for 500G of Scottish steak mince. Avoid anything that has the word “lean” on the packet though because fat is what gives meat it’s delicious flavour.
- Burger buns – any regular white bread buns will do
- Medium to mild strength cheddar. Anything too strong will be too mature and won’t melt properly.
- 1 White onion (optional)
- Pepper – I prefer course-ground black pepper.
- Heat up a large frying pan/skillet to medium-high heat with a tablespoon of oil. Bring it to smoking point but try not to set off the smoke alarm.
- In a large mixing bowl, mix the mince with your hands with a large pinch of salt and about a teaspoon of pepper.
- Form the mince/salt/pepper mixture into patties with your hands. Be aware that they will expand during cooking so make them fairly thin.
- Place into the heated pan and cook for 3 minutes each side. The ferociously hot oil will give you a lovely sear but with a juicy middle.
- If you’ve chosen to include onions, just slice one up now but we’re gonna add it as is. We don’t need to cook it.
- After you’ve flipped your patties and they’ve been in the pan for 6 minutes, take a slice of cheddar and place it on top of each pattie.
- Turn your grill on to max – I prefer to use the setting marked “hotter than the sun”.
- Place your burger buns under it for 30 seconds so they get lightly toasted.
- The cheese should be melting by now, so put the patties onto your buns, add the onion slices and congratulate yourself on making a burger, the proper way.
DJ Missrepresent, one half of the dynamic duo Silent Code, has been making stunning progress over the last couple of years.
She’s had tracks of hers such as “Dutty Gal” played on BBC 1Xtra and she has also played to huge crowds when supporting artists such as Pendulum as well as headlining her own nights.
She now manages her own record label, Sliced Note Recordings.
We had the opportunity to catch up with her to find out how things were going. The full interview is below. Enjoy!
Hi Missrepresent, and thanks for taking the time to do this interview.
Firstly, how did you discover Drum & Bass and what attracted you to this particular sound?
I used to listen to Hardcore, and went to lots of free parties. I stumbled into the Jungle rooms at The Sanctuary (RIP). I got engrossed in the big warm basslines and intricate drum patterns, and it went from there. I’ll never forget the day I heard it.
You’ve started using CDs instead of vinyl in your sets. What are the biggest challenges that you’ve come across by doing so? Are CD decks more difficult to work with or easier?
I think CDJs are easier. Music is getting switched up more and CDJs are easier to use, and convenient for music which is mostly sold online now. I still play vinyl, and still prefer it – I also think abroad people love to see it. I always take it with me when i’m out, and try and drop a few classics. I’ve had a few CDJS conk out halfway through sets, like at Jayfest I remember the tent was so heaving, there was literally sweat dripping off the tent roof onto the CDJ which tripped it out. Thankful for vinyl on those occasions.
You are very active on social media, such as Twitter and Facebook. How do you attract new fans? I personally found you many years ago by doing a Youtube search.
I don’t really try to attract new fans, but more try to keep the current ones happy. People are really cool, if I haven’t posted a mix for a while someone pops up and reminds me, and I love that. Some people have been following me since I started mixing, and even if their music taste has changed, they still link me in posts – and I guess that’s what keeps me going.
Which is the biggest club night that you’ve ever played and can you describe how the night went and how you felt playing to that many people?
Bedlam Valve Sound System nights which were held in Bristol Academy and Swindon Brunel Rooms. Every night was heaving, wall to wall and vibes were wicked. The sound system itself is one of the easiest systems to mix on, Dillinja and Lemon D seriously know how to get it right. The promoters always used to stand there with a smile, watching people having a good time – all the right people doing it for the right reasons, and that in itself makes you feel good. Being able to play there was life changing for me.
Have you ever felt that a mix wasn’t working out and changed the entire tracklist in the middle of it?
I guess I did when I started out, I used to plan sets. Bad move! I got more confident after a while and now can pick up any tune and play them. You need to be able to read a dancefloor and adapt. Planning sets is ok for Radio, but in a live environment, it doesn’t work for me.
In relation to that question, have you ever entered some kind of “panic mode” when mixing two tracks together where the timing wasn’t right and how did you overcome it?
Again I guess I used to, but it hasn’t happened for years now. Most people won’t notice it anyway unless you make a major 3 minute clang-a-lang. You can hear a mix going out after a few beats, either fade it out, get it back in time or switch the track. If you’re new at mixing, and you’re trying to overcome these moments – just make sure the next tune you play is a banger and most of the time you’ll be forgiven!
What are your views on the recent Dubstep movement, and what do you imagine will be the “next big thing”?
I have a lot of friends that switched from DNB to Dubstep and are doing really well. Because of that, Dubstep to me is DNB’s little sister. I guess Trap is currently getting really popular, but in terms to DNB, I would like to see a future jungle revolution – only because i’m a bit selfish and want that warm subby sound back. I don’t have a crystal ball, and just go with the flow. Move with the times or stay put, both works if you’re playing good music.
You’ve started your own record label, how are things working out?
Dean and myself (Silent Code) set it up in 2012 – Sliced Note Recordings if you don’t know. We’re just on the 2nd release. (March 11th 2013). It’s going great, but it’s still early days. I have a great friend (Pascal True Playaz) doing the distribution, the man is a legend, helpful, inspiring and really cool – I couldn’t ask for anything more, and thank you to everyone who is buying and supporting our new music.
Thanks for your time, Missrepresent!
You can keep up to date on all her latest tracks by following Missrepresent on Soundcloud.