Cross with the BBC

I am very cross with the BBC for disabling the indispensable (to me) iplayer-dl which allowed you to rip radio programmes on Iplayer to MP3 format. I used this a lot, most notably for re-runs of programmes on 6 music. There seems to be no viable alternative (update: Radio Downloader still works). For example today I really wanted to listen to Adam and Joe’s Christmas programme. It wasn’t possible to download via iplayer-dl. I downloaded it on my iPhone and tried to play in the car but it wouldn’t cache the file. I tried to stream it over 3G whilst travelling but this is not permitted by iPlayer. I tried to download the podcast but you cannot download anything over 20Mb on 3G.

Giving up on the whole programme, I decided to get the podcast instead. Stopping at a service station I logged into “The Cloud” Wifi, free for O2 customers. This wouldn’t let me download MP3s from “The Cloud”. Switching to free Wifi offered by the services let me stream MP3s but there’s no option to download podcasts for offline listening. I did have a good wee at the services though.

The best I can do now is download the podcast via my PC and sync it to my iPod. Or find a torrent of the Adam and Joe MP3 and do the same. While I’m on the subject, why do iPlayer only keep programmes for 2 weeks? This seems unnecessarily restrictive.

I do fear that the future is less open, trapped by a three-way lock-in of media providers like the BBC, desperate control freaks like Apple and the increasingly squeezed Internet providers. Considering we pay for the BBC’s output through the license fee, this does all seem unnecessary. And just let the bloody iPhone have a file system so we can offline stuff with ease.


Moro mezze notes

Z+G came round for dinner last night. We’d had our work Xmas party at lunchtime so I was pleasantly squiffy. Cooking a bit drunk is enjoyable and the results seem improved. All the dishes were from Moro, my favourite cookbook. I have neglected it in recent past but have fallen in love with it over again.

To whet the appetite:

  • Roast almonds with paprika and salt. We got the East End variety with skins on, and these were nice.
  • Arbequina olives. These are my favourite olives these days, tiny brown ones with bags of flavour. Got them from Capling & Co.
  • Berkswell with membrillo. The quince jelly works as well, or even better with our local ewes milk cheese than manchego.

Followed by:

  • Tortilla. One of the best ones I have made, with deeply caramelised onions. I cooked the omelette longer than I would normally so it was quite firm. It had a nice fluffy texture (I use Maris Pipers which are briefly rinsed, rather than a waxy variety).
  • Braised chicory with gorgonzola. Moro recommend Picos cheese but that’s a bit hard to find. It worked very well with a decent gorgonzola piccante from Waitrose, the bit of nutmeg in the sauce gives this an unusual and interesting lift and the bitter chicory and lemon juice cuts through the richness.

Followed by:

  • Crab brik. This is a classic Moro recipe that I’ve never tried before. Crab meat is mixed with coriander, mint, parsley, lemon, chilli and cumin and the resulting filling is delicious. Warka pastry is available ready made. Unfortunately the parcels split open towards the end of cooking, which was disappointing although not a disaster. I think this was a combination of starting with too-cool oil and filling the parcels in advance which may have made the pastry a little wet and fragile. Perhaps three layers of warka would be useful too.

And then:

  • Garbanzos con espinacas. I had some old sourdough which made this nicer. I don’t understand why the recipe specifically calls for red wine vinegar instead of sherry vinegar, I will use the latter next time. I soaked my chickpeas overnight and cooked for 90 minutes but they were still slightly al dente.
  • Turlu turlu (aubergine and peppers). Despite the snow I cracked open the BBQ to roast the aubergines and peppers, and why not? Topped with caramelised butter (essentially beurre noisette).
  • Pickled turnips. This involves “hot pickling” in red wine vinegar and garlic. The turnips were very turnippy!

And, finally:

  • Tarta de santiago – Hannah’s contribution and am amazing bit of baking. Beautiful sweet butter pastry, topped with membrillo for sweetness and almonds.

We served the dishes over about 4 hours taking breaks between courses and we were satisfied but not overfull at the end. Clearly a civilised way to eat.

Through one of Hannah’s friends from work we were very fortunate to be invited to a Burmese

Through one of Hannah’s friends from work we were very fortunate to be invited to a Burmese Food Fair this weekend. The fair was held at the Dhammatalaka Peace Pagoda, apparently the largest Burmese temple in Europe. There we sampled some of the diverse cuisine which is representative of Burma, incorporating influences from bordering India, China and Thailand. Dishes we sampled included a lovely, thick restorative vermicelli chicken soup which had dried fungus, strips of tofu and lily flowers in. Just the thing to build strength up when getting over a fluey cold. A very sweet dessert had tapioca balls, a dark sugary sauce made from muscovado sugar topped with grated coconut. But the highlight dish was mohinga, comprising a fish broth made from fish paste and catfish with a deep sweet-sour flavour (familiar from Thai food) with vermicelli noodles, a hard-boiled egg, deep fried marrow fritters and something I couldn’t identify at the time but which might have been banana stem. This was topped with more fish sauce, lemon juice, coriander and chilli. Just the thing to clear the sinuses. We took away an excellent, spicy chicken biryani cooked with whole chicken pieces in to have for our tea. Thank you very much to the Kyi family for inviting us to this special event!

Korean BBQ Recipes

An aide-memoire tumble:

  • Marinated hanger steak – I managed to source 1kg of hanger steak  from Aubrey Allen in Leamington Spa for a tenner. They also threw in about 5 ox knees for my soup for free. After being marinated and cooked rare on the BBQ (over oak chips) it is very tender. It’s the new pork belly! I didn’t bother with David Chang’s “ghetto sous vide” method and I don’t think it would add much.
  • Ginger and spring onion sauce
  • Roasted onions
  • Pureed kimchi – I got some kimchi from Sing Fat in Birmingham, it tasted a bit artificial but I didn’t have time to ferment my own. Made on an industrial estate in Taiwan no less. I pureed this up.
  • Ssam sauce 
  • Gochujang
  • Grey salt
  • Lettuce for ssam wrapping
  • Short-grain rice with sushi vinegar
  • Tare – chicken wings, sake, mirin, soy.
  • Ramen broth – one sheet konbu, shiitakes, 1kg of beef shin, 5kg of ox knees (elbows would also work), 500g smoked black ham, onions, carrots, leeks, spring onions, ramen noodles, flavoured with tare.
  • Pickled shiitakes, made from the mushrooms which went into the stock – soy, sherry vinegar, sugar

I was generally quite happy with the results. It certainly tasted “authentic” like some of the food we had in Korea. Next time I will make my own kimchi and some more banchan as per Paulo.