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Angela Hartnett: Watercress and goat’s cheese tart

Posted in Food with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 16, 2012 by Robin Gosnall

(Source: Grauniad)

Celebrate the fact that spring has sprung with some fresh watercress, which is just coming into season. If goat’s cheese is not your thing, a good cheddar or blue will work just as well. The most important thing to get right with a tart is the pastry – too often it’s soggy and the ruin of any good filling.

300g ready-rolled shortcrust pastry
2 bunches watercress minus the large stalks, torn roughly
125g goat’s cheese, rind removed
3 free-range eggs
200ml double cream
salt and pepper

You will need a tart ring of around 8in in diameter – use one with a loose bottom, or put it on a baking tray.

Roll the pastry out to overlap the edges of the tin. Blind bake the pastry – prick the base with a fork, add some baking beans (or dried pulses or rice) to preserve the shape. Bake for 15 minutes at 180ºC.

Remove the baking beans and cook the pastry for a further five minutes, until golden brown, then allow to cool.

Beat the eggs and cream together and season.

Steam the watercress to wilt it, dice the cheese roughly, then scatter both around the tart base and pour over enough of the egg mix to cover (we’re binding the filling, not aiming for an eggy tart).

Bake in the oven at 180ºC for 15-20 minutes until set. Allow to cool, trim the excess pastry and serve with a green salad.

• Angela Hartnett is chef patron at Murano restaurant and consults at the Whitechapel Gallery and Dining Room, London.

Angela Hartnett’s midweek suppers

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Meeting Tracey Emin

Posted in Culture with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 2, 2012 by Robin Gosnall

I Kiss You Neon Sign by Tracey Emin

Natasha Garnett for the Wall Street Journal talks to Tracey Emin: Reformed Bad-Girl Artist Tracey Emin

“You know, what I thought was love maybe wasn’t,” Emin says. “I understand that now. Maybe it was something else and I got it really wrong or misunderstood it. This is the kind of stuff I’m drawing, this is what I am thinking about when I am making art. What is love? I judged love against how I received it, and what I should have done is judged it on what I gave. Because that’s what I truly know. I’ve never been that successful with relationships. I have with friendships. So that means I have to put a big question mark over myself.”

In person, Emin is slighter and prettier than photographs suggest. She has a gentle manner that at times borders on vulnerability, and she is incredibly soft-spoken, despite her Estuary accent. When I arrived at her house this afternoon, her first priority was to introduce me to her mother, who was sitting by the fire in an upstairs drawing room. As I leave and make my way out into the cold, I struggle to connect Emin’s past with the woman she is now. I can’t help but think that the kind of girl who makes a point of introducing you to her mother is exactly the kind you would want to introduce to your own.

What’s at the back of your kitchen cupboards?

Posted in Culture, Food with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 31, 2011 by Robin Gosnall

(Source: Grauniad)

Photographer James Kendall was rooting through his wife’s 90-year-old grandmother’s larder when he discovered packaged foods dating back to the 1950s. Some canned items were covered in rust.

“She doesn’t really believe in sell-by dates,” explains Kendall. “She holds on to everything, and sees it all as eventually having a use. I think it comes from her living through the war, and being used to rationing.” Among the ageing items were dried onions, smoked cod liver, canned corn, a jar of tartare sauce, and a pack of KP nuts, complete with vintage logos.

Kendall was so excited by the hoard that he took it back to his studio to be photographed – and hopes to exhibit the resulting series at next year’s Brighton Photo Biennial.

“I still daren’t open them,” says Kendall. “They’ve been wrapped in cellophane over the summer, so they’ve had a bit of a baking. I’m not exactly sure what state they’re in now. Probably worse than ever.”

Observer Food Monthly awards 2011

Posted in Food with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 24, 2011 by Robin Gosnall

Well done to Niamh over on Eat Like a Girl for winning the Observer Food Monthly award for best food blog. My Blog of the Month (not for the first time).

Observer Food Monthly awards 2011 winners

Brown Bread: Miriam Karlin

Posted in Books, Culture, Obituaries with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 13, 2011 by Robin Gosnall

“The sequinned grande dame of British theatre, a Jewish legend and Equity terrorist.” Anthony Sher

“I can’t imagine being anything but left-wing. I was brought up in a home where justice was the most important quality. I’m part of a race that has survived 2,000 years of persecution. I think, if I’d had any ambition at all, I would like to have been the first female British Prime Minister. I would have been a rather lovely English Golda Meir, a benevolent dictator. I am, shall I say, a Utopian socialist. I have an idealistic dream of a wondrous socialist world where there will be a real brotherhood of man. I know it will never happen, but it doesn’t hurt to have such belief, and it keeps me going.” Miriam Karlin

Miriam Karlin, who has died of cancer aged 85, was a pillar of the British acting establishment who was also a fully paid-up member of the awkward squad. During sixty workaholic years, she acted in every area of the performing arts except ballet and the circus, and is fondly remembered as the truculent, whistle-blowing shop steward Paddy (complete with her catchphrase “Everybody out!”) in the classic TV sitcom The Rag Trade. Parallel to her life as a performer, she was a dedicated political activist, spurred on by her lifelong socialist beliefs and an unerring sense of justice, promoting broadly leftwing causes as a member of the council of the actors’ union Equity, and as a campaigner for the Anti-Nazi League, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and Soviet Jewry.

She had been unwell for a number of years, suffering from peripheral neuropathy for a decade.

Here is the last page of her 2007 autobiography Some Sort of a Life, based on conversations with writer and director Jan Sargent:

I don’t think I’ll last much longer. I have to say that the contemplation of my own death only frightens me if I think it’s going to be painful and if I can’t control how I go. The idea of not being here only frightens me in terms of my vanity: I hope that I die looking good with my teeth in and that people won’t say awful things about me. I hope that the obituaries will be nice. Perhaps what I am writing now is my own; that’s what it feels like, some sort of a life story.

I don’t want another 20 years in pain; I can’t contemplate very much more of it. I want to say that’s enough, thank you, been there, done that, got all the T-shirts, let’s now finish it in a dignified fashion. I don’t want to die throwing up everywhere; I would just like to die nice and quietly. If only I hadn’t given that damn “Do It Yourself” book to somebody who never gave it back …

I love conversations and talking on the phone, but it’s probably because I have always lived alone. I’d miss gossip, not being here. I’d miss going to wonderful concerts listening to beautiful music. I don’t believe any longer in heaven; I don’t think I am going to hear beautiful harps in a mystical place. I think this is all there is. I’d miss music and my friends. I’ve got some wonderful friends that I’ve had for a very long time, and of course I’d miss my brother, my sister-in-law and my niece Vivien. I can’t really say “I’d miss” because I’d be dead, so I wouldn’t know how to; but if one could, those are the things I’d miss.

R.I.P. Miriam Karlin (Miriam Samuels) 1925-2011

1911 No. 2: W.S. Gilbert

Posted in 1911, Culture, Music with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 29, 2011 by Robin Gosnall

W.S. Gilbert died 100 years ago. Here is part of a letter he wrote to Sir Arthur Sullivan in May 1884, following Sullivan’s rejection of his latest plot for a Savoy opera – Richard D’Oyly Carte had given them six months to come up with another one.

They patched up their differences, however, and Gilbert, the story goes, was inspired by a Japanese sword falling off the wall of his study to come up with The Mikado.

After the lapse of a week during which I wrote three lyrics and a considerable amount of dialogue, I received a letter from you to the effect that you could not bring yourself to like the plot, and that you wished me to construct a story in which there would be no supernatural or improbable element. This specification of your wishes, expressed as it was, for the first time, some four months after the production of Princess Ida, seemed to me to be so wholly unreasonable that I had no alternative but to express my regret that it was impossible for me to agree to your suggestion. Upon this you wrote to me that you felt convinced that my decision was final, and that therefore further discussion was useless. And so ends a musical and literary association of seven years’ standing – an association of exceptional reputation – an association unequalled in its monetary results, and hitherto undisturbed by a single jarring or discordant element. In justification of the course that I adopted in declining to construct a new libretto, I must point out to you that your own course of action in desiring me to do so, can only be justified on the assumption that, by the terms of our agreement, I am bound to go on constructing new libretti until I hit upon one which meets your views as to what a libretto should be. That you regard my relation towards yourself as of this servile nature, I do not for one moment believe. As reasonably might I suppose that a composer of your distinction is bound to set to music any words with which I might think fit to supply him. You must remember that we are not absolutely free agents – that I am not in the position of an author who comes to a composer with a suggestion which the composer is at entire liberty to reject – this would be our relation to one another if no agreement existed. But as a matter of fact, an agreement does exist – an agreement entered into presumably on the assumption that we have sufficient confidence in each other – you to accept my plots as belief to be good enough for your purpose, I to accept your musical setting as adding an invaluable element of attraction to my libretto. That my duty is to supply you with a series of pieces ‘on approval’ I cannot for one moment admit.

If you desired to devote a year to the composition of (say) a grand opera, I should, with Carte’s consent, have been most willing to forgo, for such a period, the agreement by which we are bound. I would even have accepted the subordinate position which the librettist of such an opera must necessarily occupy, if you considered that a work of such an ambitious class would, in any way, be furthered by my co-operation. But I need hardly remind you that such a work would be wholly and ridiculously out of place at the Savoy Theatre.

Tracey Emin: “Art in Britain has never been better”

Posted in Culture with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 16, 2011 by Robin Gosnall

The artist opened her first major London retrospective today, and called it the “defining moment of her career”.

(Source: Telegraph)

Renowned for her controversial and often explicit work, she has spent a large part of her artistic career defending herself to the public. Yet today, as she opened her new show at London’s Hayward Gallery, Tracey Emin appeared markedly mellowed and presented her work with subdued confidence:

“This is the biggest defining moment of my art career. I am really proud of the exhibition. I don’t feel I have to defend it, I’m comfortable in it,” she said.

Talking about contemporary British art, she said that she was heartened that she and her fellow YBAs were “now finally getting recognition” – and added that art in Britain has never been better.

The exhibition is said to introduce the public to Emin’s lesser-known works – and self. Spanning the course of her career, the exhibition includes a series of photographs of the artist running naked down an East London street, as well as personal documents: love letters, the ashes from a shop she co-owned in 1993, archived paraphernalia and diary entries from the time of her abortion, and a blown-up photograph of her family at a village wrestling tournament on holiday in Turkey.

Her seminal work, The Tent (also called Everyone I Have Ever Slept With 1963–1995) in which she famously embroidered the names of all her lovers on the inside walls is not in the show. Today Emin expressed some remorse for the work, saying that she no longer uses names in any work:

“I know the repercussions of these works … I’m still very open but I now keep a little bit to myself.”

Tracey Emin: Love Is What You Want is at the Hayward Gallery until 29 August

Tracey Emin retrospective: in pictures

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