Chairman Miaow

Chairman Miaow

Monday, 9 April 2012


Hello sentients. I thought I should plug my forthcoming ep which will probably be available on Bandcamp as soon as it's finished. Its tentative title is OUR HAUNTED KINGDOM and the track here will probably appear on it, maybe in a slightly different version, maybe as it is here. It's good to be back writing music - actually making stuff up - I can't write music and the best sounds of all come from the music of chance.


Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Roasted Parsnip and Parmesan Soup

I cook this at Christmas and it's a belter. You'll need:

450g parsnips
50g parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
15g butter
1 medium sized onion
1 tablespoon plain flour
1.3 litres chicken stock
salt and pepper
4 tablespoons double cream

Ok, start by heating the oven to 200c/gas mark 6. Peel the parsnips and cut them into lengths (halved and halved again is fine). Bring a pan of salted water to the boil and cook the parsnips in the water for about three minutes until they're just starting to soften (check by inserting the tip of a knife into one of them) - don't overcook, you want your parsnips to remain looking like parsnips! While they're cooking, grate the parmesan, and, when the oven is hot, pour the olive oil into a roasting tray and put in the oven for about 4 mins to heat up.

Drain the parsnips and tip them into the heated roasting tray, ensuring the parsnips all get covered in the hot oil. Sprinkle the parmesan over the parsnips, dot with butter, then roast for about 45 mins, basting frequently. While they're cooking, peel and finely chop the onion.

Take out the parsnips at the end of the cooking time, and spoon off the oil in the roasting tray into a heavy based large pan (there should be enough oil to fry the onion, but if it looks a bit meagre add a tiny bit more oil). Put in the chopped onion and cook, gently, until the onion is softened (about 5 mins). While that's cooking, make up the chicken stock (I use Kallo cubes). Don't make the stock too strong, one cube is easily enough for the amount of liquid needed.

When the onion has softened, stir in the flour and cooking, stirring constantly, for about a minute, then, slowly at first, add the hot stock, again stirring all the time. The flour will make the stock thicken at first, which is what you want. Add the rest of the stock, then all the parsnips from the roasting tray, bring to the boil, then simmer gently for about ten minutes.

Turn off the heat and leave to cool slightly. Finely liquidise the parsnips and stock (you don't want your soup to be full of crunchy bits of parsnip, so really blitz it), add the cream and some seasoning to taste (be careful not to oversalt as the parmesan is already quite salty, but this soup is good with generous amounts of freshly milled black pepper), then serve.

Worth the effort, I'm sure you'll agree!

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Scrolling Vision Dreams

Haven't been around here much. Back at work which is good for the mortgage but bad for the creative thinking. Anyhows...

I like to take a nap in the afternoon at weekends. I'm not getting any younger and I've been doing it for years, and as I'm an early riser it kind of goes with the territory. And daytime sleeping's good for dreams. However, I have a common dream which has developed over the years. Basically it's not what's happening that's important, but the fact the in my dream I'm suddenly unable to walk, function etc because what I'm seeing ahead of me is like a rolling picture on an old TV set (scrolling top to bottom), which causes a loss of balance and inability to get up from where, in my dream, I am sitting, lying etc.

Ok, so this isn't a good feeling and brings on mild panic in the dream. What's really interesting is that over the years the dream has developed. I'm now so used to this that in my dreams I alert other people to what's happening to me, and ask them to look at my eyes to see if they can see anything. So while I haven't progressed to knowing that it is a dream (and therefore waking myself up) I have at least acknowledged in my dream state that this isn't 'right' and that it's something that's happened many times before. These dreams are so real that when I wake up and realise it was a dream the divison between dream state and waking state is almost interchangeable, except that when I wake up I have no lingering 'scrolling vision' issues.

Isn't the human brain a wonderful thing?

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Three Depictions of Coming to Terms with Art (after Hogarth)

Twombly, Poussin and the Dulwich Picture Gallery Staff

Nicolas Poussin
Cy Twombly
The Dulwich Picture Gallery has finally given punters something to get excited about as part of its 200th Anniversary. In a rare example of contrasting styles thrown together to elicit a common response, the Gallery has mounted a rich exhibition of the Arcadian dreams of artists Nicolas Poussin and Cy Twombly, and has skilfully combined them with the more secular concerns voiced by the DPG staff. This careful balance of the 17th, 20th and 21st centuries is a stunning achievement. In Room 1 for example, the mind leaps between the rounded forms of Poussin's classical figures and the urgent bursts of colour striding across Twombly's canvasses, anchored by the more immediate and stridently voiced concerns of the staff about "who does he think he is, telling me what my job is?" Elsewhere, Arcadian dreams fill the Gallery space, but lest you enter an unchecked reverie of thought and emotion, here are the staff again, lingering in archways and bickering about "who dreams up these lunch rotas?" I left the exhibition slightly tearful, very moved, and determined to visit again to see if this performance can be kept up during the remainder of the exhibition's stay. Truly Poussin and Twombly would be stunned.

Friday, 24 June 2011

Spaghetti and Courgettes

Menu time again - look at me doing food styling photos. Anyway, TV chefs bleating on about how things are so 'simple' are thankfully in the descendant, so it leaves more room for me to tell you about a really quick (and pretty cheap) pasta dish that I make a lot. So you'll need, to serve 2 (increase amounts for more):

4 medium or 3 large courgettes (not the really big ones disguised as marrows, they're too watery - smaller is better for this recipe)
2 lemons
1 big fat clove of garlic (peeled)
1 red chili (not the tiny shrivelled ones, a bigger fat one)
A  handful of chives (finely chopped)
A  big handful of pine nuts
8 oz (about 250g) spaghetti (dried or fresh, depending on budget)
1 generous tablespoon olive oil
A splash of extra virgin olive oil
About 6-7 slices parmesan cheese (I use a cheese slicer to do this, but you can use a knife - just make sure the slices are thin).

You'll also need a big non stick pan with quite high sides (you can use a non stick frying pan, but you'll have to assemble the food on a plate, which kind of misses the point, as it's one of those dishes where everything is thrown together at the end).

First slice the courgettes, discarding the end bits. Cut them thinly (about the width of a 10 pence piece). Then zest the lemon (you'll probably know this but zesting is basically grating the lemon skin in a fine grater so you get a big pile of shavings), de-seed the chilli (or leave them in if that's your bag and you want it more gutsy) and finely chop, then thinly slice the garlic clove.

Cut the de-zested lemons in half and squeeze them to get all the juice out (without the pips). Reserve the liquid.

Ok, heat the pan you're using to a high heat on the hob and, when hot, add the pine nuts - dry fry them quickly until they toast - don't burn them otherwise they take on a bitter taste.

When you've done that take them out of the pan and reserve, add the olive oil (don't be tempted to add more oil, because you want the courgettes to be coated in the oil, not drowning in it and limp), then add the courgettes, lemon zest, chili and garlic. Stir frequently to start so everything gets covered in the oil, then less so, to get the courgettes colouring - you want them browned but not blackened. This should take about 10-12 minutes, more if you're using larger quantities. When cooked, turn the heat down but not off.

While this is happening, cook the spaghetti according to packet instructions. You want the spaghetti to be ready at the same time as the courgettes so plan ahead.

When you're ready to assemble, drain the spaghetti and add the lemon juice, parmesan slices, toasted pine nuts and chives to the courgettes, then the drained spaghetti. Mix this all together, turning up the heat a little so the parmesan melts, adding a splash of extra virgin oil at the end (not essential but if you've got it use it) then serve onto plates while still hot.

Et voila - good food which doesn't cost much and is really filling.