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Archive for the ‘UK’ Category

Making scones is a weekend tradition for us. I’m a big fan of the British scone. Cooks Illustrated has the nerve to say this:

The British original is lean, dry, and barely sweetened. Spoonfuls of jam and clotted cream are a must.

Bollocks! I know I’ve mentioned before how Cooks Illustrated recipes annoy me with their ridiculous obsessive compulsive details. Here they ask us to freeze the butter then grate it. Screw that!

And the Cooks Illustrated recipe has blueberries. Blueberries (insert shocked reaction). What is it with Americans and their fear of raisins? I know so many people who don’t like raisins. Or if they do they only like them alone but not cooked in stuff. I remember being a kid in kindergarten and having little boxes of Sun Maid raisins as a treat. When did everyone develop a complex about raisins?

We pulled out Jake’s British Good Housekeeping cookbook and here is my slight modification┬áto the recipe.

1. First we make our own cultured butter. The culture is added to some heavy whipping cream (double cream) then sits in a dark cabinet for a few days. We then take a sample to freeze and shake the jar until butter forms. Afterwards you get cultured buttermilk and cultured butter. Making your own butter is obviously not part of either recipe but this is part of our weekend tradition.

2. Thank god for my John Lewis scale. It weighs grams and ounces and the top part doubles as a liquid measurer with millilitres. So I put 225 grams of flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, a pinch of salt and 2 tablespoons of sugar in a bowl and mix it up. I’m adding a half teaspoon of baking powder than in the British recipe because they use self-raising flour. And the two tablespoons of sugar is my addition too. I do light a slightly sweeter scone.

3. I cut in 40 grams of my newly made cultured butter with a pastry blender. Then I add about a 1/2 to 3/4 cups of raisins to that.

Next is 150ml plus of the newly created cultured buttermilk even though the British recipe asks for just plain milk. Stir it into the flour mixture until it starts to pull together. Add more buttermilk if needed.

4. Here’s where Cooks Illustrated has me. I drop the scones onto a baking sheet into amorphous blobs. I just don’t care enough to roll them into pretty uniform circles. And another American touch is to top them with a little sprinkle of raw sugar.

Finally bake at 425 degrees(220 C) for 12-15 minutes.

5. Cut open and eat with the newly made butter, which ahem, Cooks Illustrated, is the whole point. And cultured butter is the best. Yum.

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You wouldn’t think it to look at him, but on some level Jake is afraid of this man. Who is he? The owner of Gorgeous George’s Mediterranean Restaurant in Greenwood. We had heard good things about this restaurant, and so had planned to go sometime in that way where you say to yourself “we should really try that place sometime.”

Then I read a reader review on some restaurant rating site that said “George doesn’t just cook for you. He sings and dances and comes to your table.” This information I relayed to Jake who was completely horrified. When we passed the restaurant one day on an evening stroll we peeked in and saw George with his signature hat out in the dining room talking to guests. “We are never ever going there,” Jake said.

Dare I make a cultural observation here? Feel free to offer your thoughts too. Is it that Americans really like the gimmick of the stranger who is your best friend? Do we know no boundaries between strangers and ourselves? Are the British just uptight? Why can they not enjoy the company of a dancing and singing chef?

In America, there is always the pretense of extreme friendliness even if that friendliness is so obviously false. Ever been asked by a salesperson how your day was and then you told them something other than it’s going well? Usually, their faces change as if to say “oh how interesting” in a I’m-not-really-interested sort of way. I was once in that same predicament. I was at my service job and I asked a customer how she was. Not so good, she said, I had two toes removed yesterday. I didn’t really know what to do with that information.

In Britain, everyone is extremely polite. I like how when making a request either as provider or consumer, you always end your phrase with please. I’ll have a pint of Guinness please. There you are, two quid please. Yet, and perhaps I’m wrong but I seem to recall, that you are never asked how you are if the person doesn’t really want to know the answer. Is it rude? Well, it’s honest, isn’t it? But I digress.

Here are some more scary tidbits from Gorgeous George’s. And Jake, feel free to weigh in here and tell me if I’m misinterpreting your discomfort.

You’re the only chef I know who sits at customer’s tables. Do you have a fetish for watching people eat your food?

No, it’s just nice. I try to sit at the tables so everyone will feel at home here. But I don’t come out to sit when I’m in a bad mood. I can’t fake my face, I can’t be two-faced. If I’m nervous or mad, I’ll just stay in the back and cook.

What do you learn about people from watching them eat?

Sometimes people just need to put the food in their mouths. Like the baklava can go straight into your mouth, no forks needed. It’s not cake. Sometimes people don’t know what they just ordered. It’s Mediterranean food, with spices from the Holy Land. I say Holy Land, not Israel or Palestine, because I want both Jews and Palestinians to feel comfortable eating here.

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upstaging Michael Jackson at the 1996 Brit Awards? While Jackson’s death is certainly a shock to anyone in my generation, I can’t say that have a lot of fond feelings for the guy. He was very likely a child molester. Sure he was completely nuts also, but… I will speak no more ill of the dead.

I love Jarvis Cocker.

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Picture of the day

Just what could the Duke of Edinburgh be thinking right now? I’d love to know.

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And apparently it’s true that they are reuniting.

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Zardoz

No doubt this film isn’t Sean Connery or John Boorman’s finest moment.

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When the story about Bernard Madoff first broke, I immediately thought of the Nineteenth Century Playwright Harley Granville Barker. His play The Voysey Inheritance begins with a son finding out from his father that the family business is no more than a Ponzi scheme. The son is asked by the father to inherit the business and perpetuate the ruse. If you have the time to read the rather long excerpt from the first act, I highly recommend it. You can find it below. If not, here is the link to Google Books. Print it out and take it home. It’s worth it and very timely. It’s a comedy, I think.

I haven’t used block quotes in order to put more text on the page. I’ve done some editing to make it easier to read than what I copied and pasted it from. The scene begins in Mr. Voysey’s office.

Just after Act I begins:

———————————————————
MR. VOYSEY. Good morning, my dear boy.

EDWARD has little of his father in him and that little
is undermost. It is a refined face but self-conscious-
ness takes the place in it of imagination and in
suppressing traits of brutality in his character it
looks as if the young man had suppressed his sense
of humour too. But whether or no, that would not
be much in evidence now, for EDWARD is obviously
going through some experience which is scaring
him (there is no better word). He looks not to
have slept for a night or two, and his standing there,
clutching and unclutching the bundle of papers he
carries, his eyes on his father, half appealingly but
half accusingly too, his whole being altogether so un-
strung and desperate, makes MR. VOYSEY ‘s uninter-
rupted arranging of the flowers seem very calculated
indeed. At last the little tension of silence is broken.

EDWARD. Father . .

MR. VOYSEY. Well?

EDWARD. I’m glad to see you.

This is a statement of fact. He doesn’t know that
the commonplace phrase sounds ridiculous at such
a moment.

MR. VOYSEY. I see you’ve the papers there.

EDWARD. Yes.

MR. VOYSEY. You’ve been through them ?

EDWARD. As you wished me . .

MR. VOYSEY. Well ? [EDWARD doesn’t answer. Refer-
ence to the papers seems to overwhelm him with shame. MR.
VOYSEY goes on with cheerful impatience.] Come, come,
my dear boy, you mustn’t take it like this. You’re puzzled
and worried, of course. But why didn’t you come down
to me on Saturday night? I expected you . . I told you
to come. Then your mother was wondering, of course,
why you weren’t with us for dinner yesterday.

EDWARD. I went through all the papers twice. I
wanted to make quite sure.

MR. VOYSEY. Sure of what? I told you to come
to me.

EDWARD, [he is very near crying.] Oh, father.

MR. VOYSEY. Now look here, Edward, I’m going to
ring’ and dispose of these letters. Please pull yourself
together. [He pushes the little button on his table.]
EDWARD. I didn’t leave my rooms all day yesterday.

MR. VOYSEY. A pleasant Sunday! You must learn
whatever the business may be to leave it behind
you at the Office. Why, life’s not worth living else.

PEACEY comes in to find MR. VOYSEY before the fire
ostentatiously warming and rubbing his hands.

MR. VOYSEY. Oh, there isn’t much else, Peacey. Tell Simmons that if
he satisfies you about the details of this lease it’ll be all
right. Make a note for me of Mr. Grainger’s address at
Mentone. I shall have several letters to dictate to At-
kinson. I’ll whistle for him.

PEACEY. Mr. Burnett . . Burnett v Marks had just
come in, Mr. Edward.

EDWARD, [without turning.} It’s only fresh instruc-
tions. Will you take them?

PEACEY. All right.

PEACEY goes, lifting his eyebrow at the queerness of
EDWARD’S manner. This MR. VOYSEY sees, re-
turning to his table with a little scowl.

MR. VOYSEY. Now sit down. I’ve given you a bad
forty-eight hours, it seems. Well, I’ve been anxious about
you. Never mind, we’ll thresh the thing out now. Go
through the two accounts. Mrs. Murberry’s first . . how
do you find it stands?

EDWARD, [his feelings choking him.] I hoped you
were playing some trick on me.
(more…)

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