Creamy Bacon and Red Onion Pasta

Creamy Bacon and Red Onion Pasta

This pasta dish is wonderfully creamy and indulgent, with 4 of my very favourite ingredients; bacon, garlic, cheese and a good splash of alcohol. The sauce, while no friend to your waistline is very versatile, and works equally well over some grilled chicken breasts with griddled asparagus.

Serves 4


450g of pasta such as fusili or rigatoni

8 rashers of smoked back bacon, diced

1 large red onion, finely sliced

3 cloves of garlic, crushed

200ml of cream

100ml of chicken stock

100ml of white wine

50g grated Parmesan

15g of butter

1 tbsp. of plain flour

1 tsp. dried parsley

1 tsp. of sugar

Olive Oil

Black pepper

First of all, heat a medium sized frying pan with 1 tbsp. of olive oil, before adding the bacon. Gently fry for a minute before adding half the onion, stirring gently for another minute. at this point you want to turn the heat down a bit before adding a tsp. of sugar. This is just to very lightly caramelise the mixture. add some black pepper and stir occasionally. Meanwhile add the pasta to a large pan, a pinch of salt and a quick drizzle of olive oil. Then add boiling water until the pasta is covered and put on a medium heat. After this, take the bacon and onions off the heat and leave to one side.

Now onto the sauce. Firstly melt the butter in a medium saucepan before adding the garlic, 1 tbsp. of olive oil and a pinch of black pepper. stir vigorously for 30 seconds before adding the flour, again mixing vigorously to create a roux. then add the chicken stock, cream and the wine. For the best results, use a nice dry white wine, and remember, never use a wine you would not drink. lower the heat and stir gently for 2 minutes. Then, slowly add the parmesan and finally the parsley, stirring all the while.

The next thing you need to do is bring the bacon back on a high heat for a minute, adding the rest of the onions, which you want to retain a bit of bite. By this time the pasta should be cooked, so drain and put to the side. Then add the bacon and onions to the sauce and reduce down over a high heat. Then mix in with the pasta and serve. Add some black pepper and serve with some nice peppery rocket.


Five artists who have defied gender norms

Many artists over the years have challenged gender norms, whether by their actions or appearance. In some cases, it could be purely for the sake of theatricality, or simply as a way to express themselves further. These five artists have broken down the barriers of gender on numerous occasions, some having a lasting effect for time to come.

Marilyn MansonMarilyn MA

Marilyn Manson has always been one to enjoy theatricality, and his particular brand of gothic androgyny has become so instantly recognisable that few people have seen him without his signature makeup and milky contacts. His public image is so bizarre and sometimes downright confusing, and he revels in it. His androgynous appearance is most evident on the front cover of Mechanical Animals, where he is shown to have a virtually featureless naked body. A true born entertainer, never afraid to do his own thing.


Brian Molko. brian-molko-profile

With the heavy makeup, painted nails and occasional crop top, Brian Molko really went against the current in the 90s, wading through Britpop and indie bands to show the world the sheer brilliance of Placebo. He is most notable for his openness on topics such as sexual fluidity, mental health and cross dressing. He is sometimes linked to the resurgence of Goth in the 90s and with great songs like Nancy Boy, he brought a fantastic new sound to accompany his eye catching appearance.

Pete Burns


Pete Burns

Pete Burns, former frontman of pop group Dead or Alive (best known for the massive hit You Spin Me Round), is well known in the media for his androgynous appearance, heavily altered by cosmetic surgery over the years. He has undergone many procedures in recent years, which has often caused controversy, in addition to his various appearances on reality tv shows such as Celebrity Big Brother 2006.


Little Richard.Little-Richard-beautiful-001

Little Richard is seen by some as the first androgynous Rock’n’Roll star, often wearing dresses and makeup during live performances. This coupled with his (often censored) sexually explicit lyrics on huge hits such as ‘Tutti Frutti’ garnered him a great deal of attention throughout his career, cementing him as one of the first androgynous icons to appear in popular music. He is often seen as having issues finding his identity, however he was still fairly influential to later artists.


David Bowie. Ziggy Stardust

David Bowie was the ultimate icon, an absolute trailblazing trendsetter for the music world, and while his music is still as iconic as ever, that is not the only legacy he has left behind. His contribution to the world in terms of showcasing gender fluidity and rebelling against all gender stereotypes, ultimately paved the way for so many others to embrace their identity, and to be whoever they wanted to be. This is particularly well shown on albums such as Aladdin Sane and The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. He showed the world not just that it was okay to be different, but that we should celebrate our differences.

Hoi Sin Glazed Belly Pork

Hoi Sin Glazed Belly Pork

A great dish that is really easy to make and although it is not the quickest dish to make in the world, it is really worth the wait.

Serves 2

600g of Pork Belly

6 tbsp. of Hoi Sin Sauce

3 tbsp. of Clear Honey

3 tbsp. Dark Soy Sauce

1 tbsp. Rice Vinegar

1 tsp. Black Pepper

1/2 tsp. Five Spice

2.5cm (1 Inch) Piece of Ginger, finely grated

First of all, mix all your ingredients, except the pork, together in a large bowl. Then, if your butcher has not already done it for you, carefully cut your pork belly into 6 100g slices. After you have done this, place the pork into the bowl and gently massage the marinade into the meat for several minutes. Then cover the bowl with clingfilm and place it into the fridge to marinate.

Ideally, the pork should be marinated overnight, however if you are pushed for time. 2-3 hours will do. Get a good sized roasting tin and cover in tin foil. Preheat the oven to 160C/140C fan/Gas mark 3 and place the pork in the roasting tin, pouring the remainder of the marinade over the top. Add a small amount of water (around 50ml) before covering in tin foil and adding to the oven.

Roast for 2 hours, basting the pork in the marinade every 30 minutes. When the pork is nice and tender, remove the foil and turn the heat up to 200C/180C fan/gas mark 6. Remove the excess marinade and meat juices and transfer to a small pan, and stir frequently on a high  heat to reduce down. Pour half of the reduction back onto the meat before putting it back in the oven uncovered for 25 minutes. When the meat has finished cooking, transfer to a chopping board or large plate and leave to rest for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, add cooked egg noodles and edamame beans to the remainder of the reduction and stir through thoroughly, coating the noodles in the sauce before serving into bowls, then add the pork on top.

A great alternative to this recipe would be to add 1 tbsp. more honey and a chopped chilli, while replacing the belly pork with ribs and coating in sesame seeds for a great starter.

My Top 10 Covers of All Time

10. I Fought the Law – The Clash the_clash.jpg

Originally by The Crickets, and later covered by the Bobby Fuller Four, The Clash got hold of this song and added some attitude and it became one of their most popular tracks. It also made it more relatable for their fans, as it encapsulated a lot of the feelings of the Punk movement. Listen here:


9. Walk – Avenged Sevenfold


The brutal intensity of Walk by Pantera has never been captured as perfectly as it was by these guys, who are, it is safe to say, Pantera’s biggest fans. While their last album certainly left something to be desired, their cover of Walk is absolutely on point. Check it out:


8. Express Yourself – N.W.A


OG West Coast Hip Hop group N.W.A took the signature tune of Charles Wright and the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band and added some serious attitude. One of the few N.W.A tracks that Dr Dre. takes the lead on and actually pulls off, this song is notable for having significantly less profanity than most of their work, and is no worse for it. Give it a listen here:


7. Sweet Dreams – Marilyn Manson


Marilyn Manson took the Eurythmics super popular synthpop single Sweet Dreams (are made of this) and turned it into a dark alt. rock anthem that would remain one of their most popular tracks, which is still getting airplay almost two decades later. Chck it out here:


6. Respect – Aretha Franklin

Aretha Franklin.jpg

Otis Redding absolutely brought the house down with the original version, but there is a reason Aretha Franklin is better known for the song. While Otis’ version is the tale of a desperate man trying to please his woman, Franklin’s version garnered new meaning with the Civil Rights movement, as well as bringing the image of a strong independent woman to the masses, a step in the right direction concerning women’s rights. Listen here:


5. Hurt – Johnny Cash Cash Hurt

While the original by Nine Inch Nails is a great track in it’s own right, this is the one that steals our hearts. By the time he recorded his version, Cash had been around for such a long time, seen and done so much, that the lyrics just had more meaning coming from him. This song is enough to bring the hardest man to tears, and there is nothing to be ashamed in that, because it is a truly hauntingly beautiful song. Give it a listen:


4. Where Did You Sleep Last Night – Nirvana

Nirvana MTV

A traditional American folk song first brought to prominence by Lead Belly, Nirvana really brought this song to a wider audience, and Kurt Cobain’s raw vocal really brings the pain and sorrow behind this song to the forefront, in a way that has not been done since Lead Belly himself. Listen here:


3. Feeling Good – Muse

Muse FG

Originally written for a musical in 1964, Feeling Good rose to popularity when it was recorded by Nina Simone a year later. Nobody saw it coming when Muse recorded it as a single for 2001 album Origin of Symmetry, and I doubt anyone expected it to be as good as it was. But not many have taken an already iconic song and truly made it their own, while still retaining the soul and beauty of it quite like Muse did with this monumental track. Check it out here:


2. Hallelujah – Jeff Buckley JeffBuckley

While Leonard Cohen did the original, and it has been covered time and time again, Jeff Buckley’s version is the one that has garnered the most critical acclaim, and rightly so. While the original is fairly dispassionate and monotonous, Buckley adds real soul and feeling to the track, immersing us in the emotion and feelings he was going through. Sadly Buckley would not live to see its success, as he died while swimming in the Mississippi aged 30. Check it out:


  1. All Along The Watchtower – The Jimi Hendrix Experience

While Bob Dylan is undoubtedly one of the best Jimi Hsongwriters this world has ever seen, Jimi took this song, strapped on that upside down Strat and turned it up to 11. He made this song reach its potential, so much so that I didn’t even know this was a Dylan song til I was 12, I was convinced it was Jimi. Listen here:


Mediterranean Vegi Wraps

Mediterranean Vegi Wraps

This is a great alternative to a boring cheese sandwich, that makes an ideal lunch and can add a bit of freshness and flavour to your day, especially appreciated in these warmer days on the run up to BBQ season.

The Chickpea salad in this recipe also makes a great side that can accompany many dishes, particularly Moroccan Spiced Lamb, a recipe I will cover later on.

Serves 4

8 White Tortillas

400g Halloumi, Sliced

1 Green Pepper, Sliced

1 Yellow Pepper, Sliced

1 Large Red Onion, Sliced

2 Cloves of Garlic, Finely Chopped

Olive Oil

For the Chickpea Salad:

250g Chickpeas (drained)

2 Red Chillies, Finely Diced

2 Cloves of Garlic, Finely Chopped

Olive Oil

2 tsp. Dried Mint

11/2 tsp. Dried Coriander

150g Feta Cheese, Cubed


First of all, make the chickpea salad by gently heating the chickpeas for 3-4 minutes on the hob, stirring occasionally. prep all the other ingredients for the salad. When the Chickpeas are cooked, mix them with around 3 tbsp. of olive oil and all the ingredients other than the feta, which will be added just prior to serving.

For the wraps, gently fry the onions, peppers and garlic in 1 tbsp. of olive oil for 4-5 minutes. The halloumi can either be cooked in a griddle pan or fried, for around 4 minutes on a medium heat. Make sure to turn the halloumi for consistent texture. After cooking the halloumi, add the feta to your chickpea salad. In your tortilla, add the onions and peppers and then the halloumi, followed by the chickpea salad.

If you require a slightly meatier option, you can substitute the Halloumi for sliced grilled chicken breast or pulled pork for an american twist.

Crooks (UK) – Live Review

Crooks (UK) – Live Review


 The Parish in Huddersfield is a venue accustomed to virtually every type of audience imaginable, from a handful of quiet, unresponsive parents at their child’s first gig to several hundred rage fueled youths beating the living daylights out of each other while being accompanied by the raucous noise that is Cancer Bats. The audience on this particularly chilly Thursday night was neither of these, instead it was a photographer, about eight lads in their early twenties, the other bands playing that night, and me. Not exactly the turnout I think anyone was expecting for Cheltenham based melodic Hardcore band Crooks, who are headlining the show tonight.

The first support act of the night are Half Sight, a Leeds based melodic Hardcore band. They start with the barnstorming Strength in Us, which gets little more than small nods of approval from the meagre crowd, however this does not stop them from performing as well as they would to thousands, Vocalist Jordan Widdowson is in his element on stage, but with a musical resume that includes being the former frontman of the hugely popular While She Sleeps, high standards of showmanship are to be expected. Lead single from their as yet untitled first album Picket Lines gets a slightly more promising reaction from those present and despite several songs in their set being remarkably similar to one another, they put on a good show.

As the next support act Autumn Ghost takes to the stage, the first thing I notice is their age. While Half Sight seem to be of a similar age to the ‘crowd’, tack another decade at least on to the age of our next performers. As their diminutive guitarist unveils a metal monster of a guitar, complete with seven strings and a kill switch, I fully expect this to be a bunch of middle aged men breaking out a tirade of repetitive lifeless Djent; how wrong I was.

Their set begins with some unnerving atmospheric music playing from a laptop shoved in the corner of the stage, and then they start playing. And wow did they play. Their sound was a blend of mid ‘00s Metalcore and Alt Metal taking several cues from bands such as Underoath and Killswitch Engage, peppered with Deftones and Tool. While the majority of Brett Pedantic’s vocals sound like they came straight out of Jesse Leach, however the vocal tricks he had up his proverbial sleeve were astonishing, which even  included a bit of rapping on the very Nu Metal inspired Revelry. Despite the general lack of audience interaction and showmanship, the tracks Subjects of Violence and Broken Hands showcased a vibrant mix of sounds that make for an interesting listen, clearly other people agree as they were signed to Broken Road Records just last week. While a few things in their repertoire need to stay in 2006 (Inhaled vocals and pinched harmonics are not a thing anymore, are they?) they defy all expectations and preconceptions I had and were thoroughly entertaining.

However the band we are all here to see, sadly just do not measure up to the bands that preceded them. While Crooks are a fantastic band on record, live they do not measure up to their potential. While it must be taken into account that vocalist Josh has been very Ill recently and they have had to cancel a number of shows, their set was just so lacklustre I was quite glad their set was only around six songs. Josh’s vocals simply did not carry and were drowned out by the rest of the band. Although the band themselves played reasonably well, their sound has so much emphasis on the vocals that they simply sound boring if he is not performing at his best. The only real saving grace of the set was closing track A Few Peaceful Days, if the power and emotion in this track had been present in the rest of their short set, it could possibly have been salvaged from the mediocre barrage of sound that it was.

A Day To Remember – Paranoia single review

A Day To Remember – Paranoia single review

A Day To Remember recently dropped their new single Paranoia, the first track they have released since 2013’s Common Courtesy. As a fan of much of their work, I was pretty excited when this was put out, and listened to it the first chance I got. But I was not expecting what came out of my speakers when I hit play. First of all, I thought Stick To Your Guns had started playing by accident, because the opening riff is virtually identical to What Choice Did You Give Us. As the song progresses, it is quite clear that ADTR are taking a lot of influences from Hardcore, but there is so much Stick To Your Guns here, stick Jesse Barnett on vocals and you would think it was them on first listen.

Despite these similarities, it makes quite a lot of sense that they have brought this sound into their music. Common Courtesy brought back more of the Metalcore featured on their first album, so it only makes sense to bring back some of their old Hardcore Punk influences as well. While the riff is pretty standard Hardcore fare, their is still that signature ADTR big chorus and great breakdown, although that is straight out of the Hardcore handbook.

All in all, while this change in sound is perfectly fine, I hope this is not a sign that they are completely abandoning their ‘easycore’ sound that put them on the map. Hardcore as a genre itself is becoming saturated with bands that sound very similar as it is, we don’t need an already great band such as ADTR to turn into another generic Hardcore band. Despite this, it is actually a fairly good song, with a pounding riff and a catchy chorus which retains all the goodness in Jeremy McKinnon’s voice that separates him from every other Pop Punk vocalist.