Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Garlic Flat Bread

There's a great programme that BBC2 run on Saturday mornings if I'm unlucky enough to be up that's half cookery show, half documentary about the food. So not only do you get great recipes, you learn about the food that goes into it.

A few weeks ago, the show was about garlic and the obvious side dish was garlic bread. It looked delicious and I couldn't wait to try it out which I did but I forgot to photograph it until I remade it last night so here's the recipe and picture of my flat breaded garlic.



* 250 g strong flour
* 28 g yeast
* 1 tablespoon (15 ml) soft brown sugar
* 150 ml water
* 30 ml olive oil.
Garlic butter

* 110 g unsalted butter
* 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
* Cracked black pepper
* Rock salt.



1. Mix the flour, yeast, sugar, water and olive oil together to form the dough. This works best if you have a mixer.
2. Using your hands, knead the dough well for about 10 minutes. Set aside in a bowl and cover loosely with cling-film. Leave to prove for approximately 20 minutes at room temperature. The dough should almost double in size. The cling film prevents a skin forming on the surface of the dough.
3. Knock back the dough. To do this, push some of the air out of the dough by gently punching the dough in the bowl a few times. Put the dough onto a lightly floured surface and roll it out to form a thin base. Dust your fingers with flour and then lightly press them into the dough to make dimples that will hold some of the garlic butter while it cooks.
4. Allow this to prove again (approx 20 minutes) – if you want to keep a thin base do this slowly in the fridge.
Garlic butter

1. Melt the butter in a pan and add the chopped garlic.
2. Remove the pan from the heat and add the salt and pepper.

Garlic bread

1. Place a baking tray in the oven and pre-heat the oven to 220°C/Gas Mark 7 (this will help create a crispy base to the garlic bread).
2. Paint the surface of the proven flat bread with a little of the garlic butter.
3. Carefully slide the bread onto the tray in the oven and bake it for approximately 10 minutes, until cooked through and looking golden.
4. Remove it from the oven and immediately pour over the remaining garlic butter. Serve warm.


Monday, July 30, 2007

Duke's Bar

After what seemed like the slowest working week this summer, we headed out to lunch at Duke's, on the corner of University Street and Botanic Avenue. It's slightly ahead of the game when it comes to outdoor seating with picnic benches hidden under awnings with heat bars attached to the wall above for colder evenings. We were here a few weeks ago for lunch and the food was reasonably priced and perfectly amiable for pub grub.

Our return visit, however, was not as successful. Just like before, there was no one at the bar and we had to wait five minutes before someone showed up. We asked for a menu and were told that it was being written up. This would have been understandable if it was an hour earlier but it was 12.45 and the menu should have been ready well before we arrived.

We ordered drinks and moved outside and chatted away and our drinks were nearly finished and there was still no sign of a waiter. The weather had turned somewhat windy and we moved inside to update ourselves on the menu's progress. Another five minutes passed before it arrived and it looked like it had been rushed and there was nothing on the menu that wasn't run of the mill: burger, lasagna, etc.

We ordered our food and another round of drinks. Fifteen minutes passed before it arrived but I don't mind this time frame because you suspect it is being made from scratch - at least you hope it is. Also worth noting that in all this time, not a single other person entered the bar for food or drink. Perhaps a sign that people don't like it or they think it's a student hang-out and avoid it even in the summer sojourns from University.

As a man of habit when it comes to bar food, I normally end up ordering the burger unless there is something on there that jumps out at me but this is certainly not the place. It was average on the whole and that was when the place was dead I'd hate to order food when it's busy.

This is a bar to have a few pints at under the eaves in the summer sun, not to eat at and that's a shame. As far as food, there's nothing special about this Duke.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Gamespot #72

Game Game

Quite a bizarre game emailed to me by Don. You must move your "thing" to the door on each level avoiding other "things" that might get in your way.

Weird but fun. Have a great weekend and see you on Monday!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Links #41

Fonejacker: Pigeon in Your Bank Account

A clip from the show following a fictional man simply called the Fonejacker, played by actor Kayvan Novak, who is a masked prank caller who calls unsuspecting members of the public as various characters, accompanied by on-screen animations, consisting of pictures of people with their mouths moving, in a similar style to Monty Python animations.

Candy Midas Touch

An office worker with the candy version of the Midas touch recounts the misery that is his daily life.

Wikipedia - Midas Touch

Lewis Black: Fossils, The Devils Handywork

Lewis Black would love to love to have the faith that the world was created in seven days, but... he has thoughts...

Wikipedia - Lewis Black

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Head In A Book

Summer looks as if it's trying to make a reappearance on the scene like it's been summarily removed following bad behaviour and is trying to fit in again although it still shows signs of not knowing whether it's really worth it with days starting sunny and ending with downpours or vice versa. I'm sure we all feel that way after a day in the office (or whatever it is that you do) and my only real concern is whether or not I will see a BBQ before it's all too late.

Unfortunately for me, my runny nose and bouts of sneezing has transgressed to a sore throat and itchy eyes which makes me look very tired, which I am as I can't sleep because of my throat. I could blame a lot of things on it but I'll throw my lot in with the airport. Re-cycled air on the plane and also being surrounded by thousands of other people, a hundred or so of which could have passed it on. Forget hospitals, I reckon airports are far more contaminated places as children roll around on the floor, are picked up by their parents who all pass it on in one form or another.

Thank you for the book recommendations yesterday and I will certainly be checking them out. In the meantime I've started to read the only online book by Knut Hamsun that I haven't read, Wanderers. Hamsun himself, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1920, was unfortunately a Nazi sympathiser and met with both Goebbels and Hitler. Despite this, his books are magnificent and bear no hallmarks of such political thinking, instead his "prose often contains rapturous depictions of the natural world, with intimate reflections on the Norwegian woodlands and coastline." I highly recommend Hunger, Pan or Growth of the Soil.

Indeed, there's a great resource where you can find thousands more literary works called Project Gutenberg where the books copyright has expired, allowing free and legal access to old classics which would otherwise go unnoticed. I've read over a dozen books on the site and I'm sure there remains at least a hundred books that I would love to read but have no idea they exist so I highly recommend having a look. So, if you can find anything worth reading, again let me know.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Hiding Behind A Cold

I will have to apologise again with regards to writing up details of the stag weekend and postponement of photographs because simply, I have none to show and I think that's the best way to look at such events - pictures and short descriptions. As my own camera is an old clunky brick of a Sony Cybershot, I had nowhere to store it when out and about and, as such, would no doubt have lost it along the way. So I simply didn't bring it with me. I really should buy a new one for New Zealand so if anyone has recommendations, please let me know.

I've also been coming down with the cold which started to hit me on Sunday morning and I spent my time in the departure lounge sniffling behind a the Times and slow pint of Guinness. My internal system seems to have flip-flopped over the last few years and I now find myself with colds in summer (what summer I hear you ask).

Yesterday was great though and I spent the afternoon and early evening sitting on a rug in the garden reading The Virgin Suicides after finishing Tesseract by Alex Garland, which is a book to avoid. Three quite uninteresting stories loosely come together at the end in a massive anti-climax finalé. I haven't read The Beach yet so I'm willing to give his first novel a chance before I write him off. The Virgin Suicides is interesting but lacking that hook to make it really exciting. I haven't read a great book since The Time Traveler's Wife so, again, any recommendations, please let me know.

I hope you all had an interesting weekend - see you tomorrow for more if the same if I can't chase up some photographs. Thanks for stopping by.

Monday, July 23, 2007


Due to the fact that I am shattered this morning and I haven't collated any photographs, I'm holding out until tomorrow before I post anything.

That said, Chris's stag weekend was excellent and we all had a (drunkenly) great time.

Bring on the wedding!

Thursday, July 19, 2007


I'm off to Cardiff/Bristol today for Chris's last stretch of freedom before being shackled to the leash of marriage so there is no post tomorrow (and this flimsy excuse for one today!).

See you on Monday for (a most likely less than) full update of the weekends activities!!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Banana Loaf

After being cooped up in the house over my "summer" vacation due to the constant rain, I turned to indoor activities to keep me occupied which inevitably led me to baking again which hasn't been undertaken since the closing down of the weekly food gatherings. This is such a simple recipe to put together that can become a great dessert or snack depending what you do with it.


3 large ripe bananas
225g self-raising flour
175g Castor sugar
100g unsalted butter
2 eggs
2 tbsp syrup
Pinch of salt


Pre-heat the oven to 160C and grease a 450g (2lb) loaf tin. Peel then mash the bananas in a bowl and add the rest of the ingredients. Beat vigourously until they are well combined.

You might also like to add other ingredients into the mix to make this recipe your own such as spices, walnuts or raisins to add flavour and texture.

Spoon the mixture into the loaf tin and bake in the oven for 75 minutes until risen and firm to the touch. Leave to cool for 15 minutes and then turn on a cooling rack.

This can be served cold or warm as pudding alongside some (double) cream to make it moreish.
Simple and delicious and a great way to use up any left-over bananas.



Tuesday, July 17, 2007


This has been a long awaited film from hot-shot director David Fincher (Fight Club, Se7en) and features an all-star cast about a real life serial killer who terrorized San Fransisco during the 1960's and 70's and based on Robert Graysmith's novel of the same name who plays a central role in the film adaptation.

Graysmith, played by Jake Gyllenhaal, is a cartoonist from a major newspaper in San Fransisco who becomes pulled into the crazed drama that is unfolding in front of him as his editors are sent crptic messages from the serial killer and he sinks into a downward spiral of obsession in his search for the truth - just who is Zodiac?

As one can expect from such a cast, the acting is superb all-round and it perhaps wont be long before the Oscar comes knocking for Gyllenhaal and Downey Jr, who plays a fantastic role as journalist who can't seem to let the story of the Zodiac, or the bottle from his hand, free. Fincher's hand at the thriller genre stands up once again which stand alongside excellent set pieces set against a dark and foreboding storyline.

However, at three hours long, the film over-extends itself a little too much and I feel that with a little cutting here and there of the less important scenes, the film would pick up the slack and be better paced.

Nevertheless, Zodiac is a very enjoyable film worth catching in the cinema or perhaps on DVD where you can lounge on the couch and not worry about barnacles growing on your backside with the odd break or two.

I would give this movie 7.1 cryptic clues out of 10


Monday, July 16, 2007

Total Washout

I was reading the Sunday Times half-way through my fortnight vacation and there was an article about the weather which is the most blase thing one can write about but it pretty much sums up the metaphorical equivilent of my first week off. Grey clouds looking to overcast their grey dull existence on a week planned for outdoor events and relaxation.

We had planned day trips to the Marble Arch Caves in Fermanagh, picnics atop Cavehill overlooking Belfast and a cycle along Shaw's Bridge to Lisburn for a long lunch before following the meandering river back towards home.

Instead I've been mostly cooped up inside, the back garden looks like a safari park, I finished the book I was going to leisurely read over two weeks in an evenings sitting and I've been told that we're in a cyclical weather pattern which means this awful weather is going to last another 5-6 weeks with the Met Office stating that "the cool and unsettled weather looks like continuing for the foreseeable future".

June has been the wettest month since 1914 and if you're looking to point the finger, you could jab it in the direction of La Niña, El Niño's sister. It's also been the hottest and this is where people have been mistakenly ill-informed that hot equals sunny. In all likelihood, hot summers from now will be more of the same the climate warms and the atmosphere becomes moister. So if you're looking for that idyllic summer it's time to start looking for that second house in Spain.

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