Are Tattoos Still a Taboo in the Workplace?

I recently made a short podcast about tattoo acceptance in the workplace, and the issues that can arise for an inked individual when it comes to both securing, and keeping a job. Please, give it a listen and leave any comments, feedback or even your own experiences with any of the issues outlined in the podcast.

Thank you

 

Source: Are Tattoos Still a Taboo in the Workplace?

The Stranglers Interview

The Stranglers Interview

I recently had the chance to sit down and talk to Baz Warne, guitarist and co-lead vocalist of legendary punk band The Stranglers, to chat about their upcoming UK tour and the possibility of some new music.

 

So you have a pretty big UK tour starting in March, are you looking forward to that?

Always, always do, yeah. It’s the first thing we do of the year now. We sort of hit on to the idea of touring in March about ten years ago, and we tour this time of the year every year now. You would think it would tend to get a bit old now, but it doesn’t. There is still a great buzz, people still come to the gigs, they still sell out, and we are down here, rehearsing, playing the songs we love, and it is exciting. We have over forty years’ worth of songs to pick through, which is always great fun, [I] love it.

Several dates on the tour are already sold out, with still 6 weeks to go before the tour actually starts, how does this make you feel as a band?

It’s amazing. We get the figures sent through to us, and when you see that it’s amazing. I mean it really is a privilege to get to do what we do, we consider it a privilege to still be able to make a living and be appreciated for what we do, even after all this time.

Is there anywhere you are looking forward to playing in particular?

Well I personally really like playing in Scotland. We usually start in Scotland, last year or the year before we finished the tour there, but I absolutely love playing Glasgow. There is something about it, it is a proper rock ‘n’ roll town. So many great albums and bands come from there, so I always look forward to it. I like to play Newcastle, being a Sunderland lad, my family come, my children and my mates and things, and I get to take the piss, what with football and everything, bit of Newcastle/Sunderland banter. To be honest I love playing them all, but you always have ones that have more significance to you as a person.

So 2017 is the 40th Anniversary of  both your debut album Rattus Norvegicus as well as second album No More Heroes, should fans expect to hear plenty from those albums on this tour?

Yeah, always. Not necessarily for nostalgic reasons, just that they are still fantastic songs. Those albums were recorded pretty much together, so [No More Heroes] was released only six months later. There are gems on both that we will be playing, as well as some stuff that we haven’t played in thirty-odd years. With as many song as we have you can never please everyone, but we try, and during the first three or four gigs we iron the wrinkles out, and you soon get a feel for what works and what doesn’t. Because while something might work fine in rehearsals, once you get in front of 3000 mad Glaswegians, will it still work? So that is always interesting. I always have two mental folders, the please everyone, and the please your f****** self one. I mean some of that stuff is pretty obscure, which doesn’t mean it is good, but you want stuff that is both interesting to play, and please your audiences, without becoming too self-indulgent. Although that does happen sometimes. It’s a fine line, a balancing act.

 

With such a large back catalogue, are there ever any disagreements when it comes to the set list?

Not really, I mean if one person really, really wants to play a particular song we’ll take a look at it, but not all of us live in the UK now, so a lot of planning has to go into this, I mean we do what we do, we play together and then go our separate ways again. We keep in touch mainly via email, and those have been flying about since September, so by that process alone, we have it all pretty much agreed well in advance. Although there are a couple of times where you are like ‘God do we really have to play this one? Does everyone feel the same way I do?’ or ‘We haven’t played this one in years, shall we have a go?’ Its things like that which make the first two or three weeks of rehearsals so exciting really, its great fun.

Is there anything new we will be hearing on this tour?

Probably not to be honest, but we never say never. There are a lot of new ideas flying about. We used to road test songs on tour before we recorded them, and when we stay here down in the West Country we rent a cottage that has amps and guitars, so we can go back on an evening with a glass of wine and see what comes out, and in fact we have done that the past couple of nights, so whether or not any of it will be in good enough shape to play in March is another thing, but there should definitely be something new coming to light this year.

So a follow up to [2012 album] Giants is definitely on the cards?

Well we have no deadlines, no time constraints on us at the minute, such is the nature of the business, but I would say this band definitely has at least one last great album in it. At least one, you never know.

 

The Stranglers embark on their UK tour on the 7th of March, starting at the Engine Shed in Lincoln.

 

P Money ‘Live & Direct’ – Album Review

P Money ‘Live & Direct’ – Album Review

 

After being in the grime scene for almost a decade, and producing over 15 mixtapes, EPs and singles, P Money has finally released his first full length album, Live & Direct. With appearances from Boy Better Know members Wiley, JME and Solo 45, in addition to grime powerhouse Stormzy, this record has some big names featured, and yet P Money still manages to shine through, showcasing his abilities in both production and vocal performance.

On this record, P Money really shows his vocal prowess, experimenting with different forms of delivery, displaying a steely, driving style on Fake Fans and title track Gunfingers that is reminiscent of Wiley and Skepta, whereas tracks such as Conspiracy Don have a more relaxed flow, in a style similar to that employed by P Money’s contemporary KSI.

The piano led introduction of opening track Intro complements the brutally honest lyrics, which document P Money’s childhood and teenage years, causing the listener to have an instant emotional investment in this record, something that carries on throughout. The mixed, raw emotions he is quite clearly trying to convey are particularly poignant on The Credits and interlude Carter which features a short segment of a phone call with his infant daughter.

In contrast to this, tracks Gunfingers and Keepin’ it Real display aggressive masculinity and machismo, and P Money’s no nonsense lyrics, coupled with some glorious production by Skepta and himself respectively, make these the highlights of the album, with JME’s verse on Gunfingers being a real standout moment on the record. Third track Welcome to England is sheer South London fury, with featured artist Solo 45’s snarling delivery making this track sound like the trap-inspired soundtrack of a mass brawl.

Track Contagious has a more R&B influenced sound, perhaps due to the gentle, soothing vocals of Rubylee; with elements of dubstep also making their way in there. The drastic change in tone makes the track feel somewhat out of place, and feels like it was shoehorned in to the album to appeal to the less initiated, when all it really manages is to be another lacklustre piece of filler.

Similarly, transatlantic trap tune Don’t Holla at Me doesn’t quite convince, seeming a little juvenile at times in terms of lyrical content. However The Credits takes a more minimalistic, almost experimental approach with the beat, having the heated, passionate lyrics at the forefront, paying tribute to all the artists who helped him get to where he is today.

While several tracks are less than stellar, mostly due to having a bit much going on and therefore seeming a bit messy, P Money’s achingly honest autobiographical lyrics and varied production, combined with the clear passion of his vocals make for an intriguing listen. However it is the more direct (and safe) grime tracks on this album that really impress. Despite having some big names accompanying him on his first album, P Money shows he has something interesting enough to still be heard.

7/10

A Guide to the Venues of Huddersfield

A Guide to the Venues of Huddersfield

Unbeknownst to many a fresher, Huddersfield is actually home to several great little music venues, that often fly under the radar of many a music aficionado. As many of you will know, Huddersfield is ideally located fairly close to Leeds, Manchester and Sheffield, all great cities for live music, however you don’t always have to travel to get your gig fix. Here are some live music venues in Huddersfield that any fan of live music needs to check out.

Wood Street

Wood Street is a delightfully quirky little bar and craft beer shop situated on, you guessed it, Wood Street in the town centre. In addition to its astronomical collection of beer, Wood Street also plays host to numerous live acts of varying descriptions, from folk musicians to reggae artists, everyone is welcome at Wood Street. Certainly a good spot if you are wanting to discover new music, or have a taste for something a little more obscure. Make sure to check out the open mic night on a Thursday, you will not be disappointed.

Look out for: Boo Sutcliffe Band, Rattle & Thud: Battle of the Bands, Taj Abbott

 

Otso

A vibrant, interesting venue situated under the railway arches, Otso (Previously called Little Buddha Bar) is one to explore, with numerous events featured throughout the week. The genres of music you will find here are numerous, but with a large focus on drum & bass, dub and reggae as well as various other fantastic sounds for you to experience, you will never get bored at Otso. This is a great place to discover some fairly underground artists, as well as meet some great people in the incredibly welcoming and friendly atmosphere it provides.

Look out for: DJ Woody, Sawfinger, Philfee

 

Holmfirth Picturedrome

The biggest venue in the Huddersfield area with a capacity of 650, The Picturedrome still feels fairly intimate and welcoming, something which many people agree on, as it placed 2nd in NME’s Britain’s Best Small Venue competition back in 2014. It is a popular venue with some acts, with The Stranglers, Wilko Johnson and The Darkness playing with some frequency. As well as putting on some great acts, The Picturedrome also hosts film nights, and is one of the main venues for the Holmfirth Film Festival. Keep an eye on their events page, some of the acts are certainly worth the short bus ride out there.

Look out for: The Skids, Peter Hook & The Light, Skindred

 

Small Seeds

Formerly known as Bar 1:22, Small Seeds has been a staple of the local music scene for many years, showcasing a variety of acts, with everything from indie, funk and soul, right up to world brass and Balkan folk music. In addition to playing host to local bands, the venue has attracted artists from all over the globe, giving it a really inclusive, welcoming atmosphere, and showing Huddersfield a wider range of music than ever before. Small Seeds also hosts an acoustic club on a Tuesday night which is well worth a visit.

Look out for: Nu Popes, Dana Ali Band, Klonk!

 

The Parish

The Parish is a great little venue that has played host to some fantastic acts, such as While She Sleeps, Sonic Boom Six and Modern Baseball. Despite the relatively small size of The Venue (which is situated in an outbuilding that is actually called ‘The Venue’), it has booked many artists that could attract a crowd much bigger than the 200 person capacity of The Parish, but they come back for the same reasons we do: the guarantee of an intimate show with a great atmosphere. Watch out for acoustic nights featuring local musicians as well as jazz evenings and poetry slam events, all which prove very entertaining. The Parish also features many local bands who are often worth checking out: you never know, you may find your new favourite band.

Look out for: Counterparts/Expire, The Mouse Outfit, Krokodil

Winter Warmer Pea & Ham Soup

Winter Warmer Pea & Ham Soup

As the leaves fall to the ground and the wind blows colder, we start to long for comfort; trading in nights spent stumbling around the pubs and clubs in an inebriated state for being snuggled under a blanket in front of the fire with a good book. The same applies with food. Goodbye delicate, artisan dishes and other tasty morsels intended to tantalise the palate, hello soups, stews pies and puddings.

This is a recipe I made on a whim last year to use up some leftover ham from a Christmas party. My flatmate loved it so much I decided to make it again to a slightly more exact recipe.

Serves 4

Ingredients: 

400g Garden peas (drained)

300g Petit pois (drained)

300ml Vegetable stock

250g Diced ham

1 Large red chilli  (finely chopped)

4 tbsp. Creme Frâiche

1 tbsp. Mint sauce

1 tsp. of Marjoram (dried)

1 tsp. of Sage (dried)

1/2 a tsp. of Thyme (dried)

Salt and pepper to taste

This can either be prepared in a slow cooker or a decent sized saucepan. I opted for the slow cooker this time around, because it shortens cooking time by around 10 minutes.

First, set your slow cooker or hob on relatively high, and add the peas, chopped chilli, mint sauce and the dried herbs. stir gently for 30 seconds before slowly adding in the stock, stirring all the time. When all the stock is in, leave to simmer for 10 minutes, stirring infrequently. If cooking on the hob, you may need to turn the heat down to ensure you don’t boil over.

After you have finished simmering the peas, stir in the creme frâiche. You will need either a food processor or a hand blender for this next part. I used a blender attachment in my food processor as I found it gave a smoother consistency, but using a hand bender will still yield delicious results. Transfer the mixture into a blender and blitz until smooth. Then transfer back to the pan/slow cooker and add the ham. Add salt and pepper to taste and simmer for a further 5-6 minutes.

Serve with a spoonful of creme frâiche stirred in and some crusty bread.

Marsden Jazz Festival – Review

Marsden Jazz Festival – Review

It is a cold yet clear Saturday afternoon in the relatively large, yet undeniably quaint village of Marsden. Nestled comfortably in the Colne Valley area of Huddersfield, this delightful community is usually filled with the standard hustle and bustle of a typical West Yorkshire village; but not today. Instead of the usual sights, a tractor gently ambling down the road and families taking in the beauty of rural life, rather we are met by the wondrous experience of three brass bands battling it out right on the main street, surrounded by a crowd of such diversity it is staggering, from small children clad in parkas and wellies, to elderly farmers in tweed jackets and flat caps, But that is Marsden Jazz Festival for you.

The festival was originally conceived by Mikron Theatre Company founder, Mike Lucas as a way to make use of the newly refurbished Mechanic’s Hall. Since then it has become a resounding success, today being a testament to that. Everywhere you look, there is a performance of some description, or a stall selling their wares, which today ranges from homemade jams and chutneys to records, right through to photo frames and blackboards crafted from repurposed wood.

After perusing the various stalls, the Greenhead College Big Band came within earshot. Having been drawn closer by the sound of some great swing classics, witnessing these talented youngsters blast through a set featuring such names as Duke Ellington and Nina Simone was incredibly fun and entertaining, and the amassed crowds seemed to think so too, with thunderous applause meeting the band at the end of every tune.

Following such timeless classics, it was time for something a little more off the wall, and Spilt Milk sounded just the thing. Supposedly a jazz trio with hip hop and drum & bass influences, we were instead met with smooth jazz, featuring some rather frantic bass playing. Having forced our way into the very packed Riverhead Tap, it was a little too much to be both uncomfortable and disappointed. However the mesmerising bossa nova and smooth jazz blend exhibited by the fabulous Lee Jones Duo more than made up for it, with Tim France holding down the low end while Lee Jones showed us what a true virtuoso he is.

Meandering through Marsden, the unmistakeable sound of gypsy jazz catches our attention, and after navigating the crowds to the Peel One tapas bar from which those elegant and complex rhythms were emanating, we were met with the incredible Samuel C Lees Gypsy Jazz Trio. While they had an amazing sound, the experience was somewhat tainted by the fact they remained entirely unseen, due to the sheer size of the audience rammed into this tiny tapas bar.

There is one band however, who today absolutely stole the show. And that was The Black Sheikhs. Bringing that great jazz swagger, the entire five piece seemed timelessly cool, with Lead vocalist Lord Acton dressed in a tuxedo, complete with tails and spats on his brogues and Clarinetist Diane Hammond adorned in a dress that wouldn’t have looked out of place in 1925. They captivate the audience with their jazz renditions of well-known pop and rock tunes, doing everything from Abba’s ‘Dancing Queen’ to Motorhead’s ‘Ace of Spades’. A small group of children dance away to the former, before it turns into what can only be described as a mosh pit, before finally devolving into UFC under 6’s. Following a spot at Glastonbury earlier this eccentric troupe are certainly on the up.

All the captivating sights, sounds and smells of this wonderfully eclectic festival really shows how much a small village in the middle of West Yorkshire can achieve, by allowing such creativity to flow through this small, yet strong community, and inviting the rest of the world to join in.

Chicken & Bacon Lasagne

Chicken & Bacon Lasagne

This is just something I decided to make the other week when my younger sister was around for dinner, she is not particularly fond of minced beef so i decided to do a twist on the classic lasagne.

Serves 4 

Ingredients 

3 chicken breasts

3 large rashers of smoked back bacon

1 tin chopped tomatoes

2 tbsp. Tomato puree

1 small red onion

bechamél sauce

lasagne sheets

dried parsley

2 tsp. dried basil

2 tbsp. garlic powder

25 g Parmigiano Reggiano

olive oil

 

Start off dicing your chicken and 2 and a half rashers of bacon, as well as thinly slicing your onion. While doing this, gently heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a large frying pan. Then finely dice the remaining bacon before adding that to the pan. you want this bacon to be really crispy to top the lasagne at the end. when this bacon is cooked, remove from the pan and pat dry with kitchen towels. then add the remaining bacon and onions, frying just til the bacon starts to brown. while this is frying, add 1 tbsp. of garlic powder and around 1/2 a tbsp. to a bowl, before adding the diced chicken and mixing thoroughly.

when it is cooked take the bacon from the pan ad put to the side. then add another tbsp. of olive oil to the pan and slowly add the chicken, making sure not to overcrowd the pan. fry until golden brown, stirring occasionally to ensure it is cooked evenly. when the chicken is cooked, add the chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, a tsp. of basil and the rest of the garlic, stirring thoroughly. then simmer for 5 minutes after adding the bacon and onions.

While this is simmering away, finely grate the parmesan to go on top of the lasagne, and preheat the oven to 175c/350f/Gas Mark 4. Then add a small amount of olive oil to an oven proof dish and rub it around  with kitchen paper to prevent sticking. Then add the chicken and bacon mixture to the dish until there is a relatively thin but even layer before topping with some bechamél sauce. I used shop bought to save time, but feel free to make your own.then layer with the lasagne sheets until the mixture is covered and repeat the process until the dish is almost full, then add a final layer of bechamél sauce before adding the parmesan. then sprinkle the remaining basil and the crispy bacon on top before adding to the oven for 25 minutes. Then, put under the grill for a further 5 just to get that nice bubbly cheese on top. let the lasagne rest for five minutes before serving. Best served with crusty homemade garlic bread and some fresh rocket dressed with a little basil vinaigrette.

Slam Dunk Festival – The Review

Slam Dunk Festival – The Review

As I queue up to collect my wristband outside Leeds Art Gallery on a sunny Saturday afternoon, I can barely contain my excitement. I am in one of my favourite cities in the north of England, well away from the mundane repetitiveness that comes with working on a weekend, about to see as many great bands as I possibly can. I stand in the line, going over my day plan for who I want to see, and where they are all playing.

As I head through into the festival, me and the group of friends I am with part ways. Three of them go off to see pop punk tinged alt-rockers Moose Blood, while the other member of our group goes off to see Bethan Leadley for some reason. I however, have a different plan. I start off towards Leeds Beckett SU, which is housing the Impericon Stage this year, and the first band of the day, is The One Hundred. In terms of genre, this band are so hard to pin down, mixing elements of rap, electronica, punk and metalcore to create an incredibly unique sound. As I make my way through to the stage, I notice that the room is much fuller than I had anticipated, with well over 400 people in attendance, far more than you would expect for a relatively small, unsigned band from London at 13.30 in the afternoon.

I first saw this band supporting Hacktivist (who we will talk about later) at the tiny venue that is Sheffield Corporation, and they are just as electrifying as they were then. They open with ‘Downfall’ and then go into fan favourite ‘Breed’, which gets the pits going and everybody jumping. Their set is only 7 songs long, but they put everything they have into it, with vocalist Jacob Field displaying his expert showmanship all while going through every vocal style imaginable (bar Mongolian throat singing, which he can probably do) without ever missing a beat.

7/10

I walk out of Leeds Beckett SU and head towards the Atlas Stage, hoping for more of the quality of performance I have just seen from The One Hundred, and I was not disappointed. By the time I get to the stage, I have missed the first two songs of The Word Alive’s set, however I was not missing out too much, as they launched into ‘Trapped’ off latest album Dark Matter. Telle Smith’s vocals have certainly improved in the last couple of years, and on record they really do not do themselves justice, because live they are INSANE. Smith broke his back and fractured several of his ribs in November last year, but as he leaps around on stage the thought doesn’t even cross my mind. The delivery of his clean vocals is quite astounding, as is his stage presence, which is absolutely riveting.

7.5/10

As the crowds disperse, I realise I have no bands planned for the next hour or so, and one of my group suggests we go and see Astroid Boys, a Welsh Rap Collective from Cardiff, who are playing on the Uprawr Stage, which is being held in an underground car park.You know that scene in Fast & Furious: Tokyo Drift where that guy who isn’t Paul Walker or Vin Diesel (So you don’t really care, let’s be honest) drives down into that underground car park and everyone is dancing and revving their Supras and Evos? throw in a few hundred pissed up northerners, some MDMA and a lot of strobe lights and it was kinda like that. But without the cars. Astroid Boys start their set, their blend of grime and rap mixed with a bit of hardcore goes down a treat, one minute you are skanking with the best of them, next you are throwing down in the pits. Tracks ‘Dusted’ and ‘Minging’ are played as a bit of fan service after much chanting and clapping, and they go down a treat, followed by another fan favourite ‘Taylor Swift’. Astroid Boys entire shtick is chaotic music with very few boundaries, and that is exactly how the entire experience can be described. And it was one of the most entertaining performances I have ever witnessed, be sure to check them out if you can.

7.5/10

After a slight break from it all, we headed over to see what would turn out to be the best performance of the festival: Northlane. Some bands are best suited to record, others to playing live. And then there are some you think would be better on record, then you see them live and they hit you like a juggernaut and completely melt your face and destroy your eardrums. Northlane are one of those bands. I entered the stage with some trepidation, as I had preferred their work while former vocalist Adrian Fitipaldes was a member, and while new vocalist Marcus Bridge had the voice of an angel, His unclean vocals were no match for the raw power possessed by Fitipaldes, at least on record. As I settled in for an enjoyable yet fairly tame performance, I was immediately (and pleasantly) proven wrong. They open with my favourite track, ‘Dispossession’ and I am immediately on board. Marcus Bridge’ unclean vocals have come on leaps and bounds, and I instantly forget all preconceptions and enjoy the ride. Their live performance injects new life into tracks ‘Rot’ and ‘Obelisk’ while ‘Quantum Flux’ has all the crushing power it does on record. Certainly the best band of the day, and I will not hesitate to go see them again.

9/10

Next on our list is Hacktivist, a band I hold near and dear. Their curious blend of djent and grime gets everyone moving as they open with ‘Hate’ before going into the slightly more melodic ‘False Idols’. Rou Reynolds of Enter Shikari makes an appearance on ‘Taken’ while guitarist Timfy James’ former bandmate Jamie Graham takes to the stage during ‘Deceive and Defy’, which certainly gives the set some colour, however over all I am slightly disappointed. While Hacktivist are a great band, this time around, there seems to be something missing. Jay Hurley is not in time on occasion and Timfy seems to forget that Rou doesn’t come into the song until the second chorus. This really took me out of the performance, and these small yet noticeable mistakes slightly tarnish it. A good set, but could be a lot better.

6.5/10

We stick around for Cancer Bats, who deliver their own brand of hardcore punk in spectacular fashion, with ‘Hail Destroyer’ and their strange mashup of ‘Sabotage’ by the Beastie Boys and ‘Children of the Grave’ by Black Sabbath being the highlights of the set. Liam Cormier is his usual crazy self and jumps and leaps around like a man possessed, and his banterous remarks between songs are always sure to induce at least a mild chuckle. His impression of a Yorkshire accent was both hilarious and dreadful, and it all added to the show. Despite being a bit older than most of the bands we see, they prove they are just as young and crazy at heart, if not more so.

8/10

We make our final pilgrimage back to the Atlas Stage to see the headliners: Of Mice & Men. This is the band we had been waiting for. They open with ‘Bones Exposed’ which no doubt will cause many sore necks in the morning, as will next track ‘Feels Like Forever’. Sadly, the band are plagued by sound issues, the speakers cutting out constantly. But they power through it, and when the issues are eventually resolved, they absolutely tear the place down. Old fan faves ‘Second & Sebring’ and ‘The Depths’ go down as you would imagine, with thunderous applause and the sound of several thousand people singing along. Vocalist Austin Carlisle goes from intimidating presence to smiley singer in seconds, showing that as well as a fantastic vocalist and lyricist, he has the showmanship to go with it.

8/10

Chilli Peanut Butter Chicken

Chilli Peanut Butter Chicken

This delicious dish has become one of my go to meals in the past few weeks, it is really tasty and filling, and is an absolute doddle to prepare. I recently decided to start going back to the gym and being a little more health conscious, and this great little protein booster is one of my favourite dishes that I have been making since.

Serves 2 

Ingredients

2 large chicken breasts, scored

200 g crunchy peanut butter

2 red chillies, deseeded and chopped finely

150 ml chicken stock

1 1/4 tbsp. dark soy sauce

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

1/2 tsp. sugar

Handful of chopped Spring Onions (Garnish)

Salt

Pepper

Sesame Oil

Firstly, preheat your oven to 200C/180C fan/350f/Gas Mark 6, then add around a tbsp. of sesame oil to a medium sized frying pan on a high heat. Rub a little salt and pepper into the scored chicken breasts before adding to the pan. Fry for no longer than 2 minutes on each side, This gives the chicken a nice golden colour and helps retain flavour, while scoring the chicken speeds up the cooking time. After frying, add the chicken to a small roasting tin and place in the oven for approximately 20 minutes.

While the chicken is in the oven, add the soy sauce, sugar, garlic powder and 1 1/2 chillies into a small saucepan on a low heat, stirring gently. do this until the sugar has dissiolved and the chillies are lightly caramelised, before adding the peanut butter. continue to stir gently and then start adding the stock. add slowly, all the while stirring with the peanut butter to create a thick sauce.

When the chicken is cooked, serve onto plates before pouring the peanut butter sauce over the top, garnishing with the remaining chillies and spring onions. There are many side dishes which complement this, I tend to serve it with brown rice and roasted sweet potato, However it works equally well with noodles (particularly Udon) and Butternut squash.

Easy Cheesy Daupinois Potatoes

Easy Cheesy Daupinois Potatoes

Ah the noble potato. Possibly the most versatile little tuber to ever appear on a menu, it is a common accompaniment to many meals around the globe, and rightly so: the possibilities are endless. But many people’s use of potatoes is very limited, which is a shame, because most people only, to quote Samwise Gamgee: “Boil ’em, mash ’em, stick ’em in a stew”. It is far easier to get frozen chips and roast potatoes, so many people don’t even consider making those themselves. So here is a recipe that takes around 30 minutes to prep and takes no longer in the oven than a tray of oven chips.

Serves 4 

Ingredients

6 large washed and peeled potatoes

125 g sharp cheddar cheese

25 g butter

1 tbsp. plain flour

1/4 tsp. garlic powder

200 ml milk

Salt

Black pepper

Firstly, halve your peeled and washed potatoes before adding to a large pan of boiling, salted water and put the lid on. Boil these for around 20 minutes while you prep your other ingredients. Finely grate all your cheese and place to the side. Then get a suitably sized oven proof dish and grease it thoroughly. Then, in a small saucepan, add your butter, flour and garlic powder before stirring vigorously on a medium heat, creating a nice roux. Add your milk and stir slowly for a minute. Then slowly start adding around 50 g of the cheddar, stirring the whole time. Add salt and pepper to taste.

By this time the potatoes should be ready. Drain them and add a small amount of cold water to the pan, before draining this too and setting them aside for a couple of minutes. This helps the potatoes cool slightly quicker. This would be a good time to preheat the oven to around 180c/350f. When they are sufficiently cooled, thinly slice them, before adding to the dish evenly. between every layer of potato, add a sprinkle of cheddar, ensuring you have at least 25 g left over for the top. Then add the cheese sauce over the top and add the last of the cheese. Place the Potato Dauphinois in the centre of the oven and cook for about 20 minutes, before whacking under the grill for 5 minutes to brown on top.

Leave to settle for 5 minutes before serving. This is a great accompaniment to many dishes, particularly roast lamb and chicken wrapped in bacon. A nice alternative is to substitute the potato for celeriac, and add a little paprika to the sauce.