Chicken and Chorizo Paella

I can’t claim this dish is authentic and if you are Spanish I sincerely apologise, but it is very quick, easy, and tasty. Summery and light without having to totally give up stodge- hurrah!

Ingredients to generously serve 4:

  • Chicken thighs (or breast but the meat can get drier)
  • Chorizo (150g)
  • Paella rice (350g)
  • Chicken stock (as much as will absorb)
  • A pinch of saffron strands
  • A juicy garlic clove (crushed)
  • White onion or onion granules
  • A tablespoon of smoked paprika
  • Frozen peas (200g) *Peppers also work well*
  • A lemon
  • A handful of fresh parsley and a teeny bit of completely inauthentic thyme

Method:

  1. Heat the oil in a heavy-based pan over a high heat. I used a casserole dish so I could save on washing up and make it a one-pot recipe. Add the chicken and brown all over – do not cook completely. Once browned, remove. Reduce the heat, add the onions and cook slowly until  translucent and softened. If using onion granules, add these later as they would burn now.
  2. Add in the garlic, stir for about a minute then put in the chorizo and fry until it releases its oils. Stir in the spices and the tiny bit of inauthentic thyme and then tip in the rice. Stir to coat the rice in the oils and spices for about two minutes and then pour in the hot stock. Bring the whole dish to the boil and return the chicken to the pan before turning the head down to a simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes. Stir occasionally, but be aware that the rice can catch and stick at the bottom rather easily.
  3. Add the peas ( and/or peppers) into the dish and simmer  until the rice and chicken are cooked. The rice should be soft.
  4. Serve with a fresh parsley garnish and a lemon wedge.

Dior ‘Star’ Foundation review.

I have used this foundation now for approximately two years having seen it in John Lewis instead of my then favourite Guerlain ‘Lingerie’ foundation (which I also really rate). In between my use of this product I’ve tried samples of Estée Lauder ‘Double Wear, Elizabeth Arden, YSL, and Dermacol.

This product has an SPF of 30 which is unusual for a foundation and means that I do not have to wear sunscreen under it, which can make my skin greasy and affect a flawless finish.  It comes in approximately 19 colours ranging from very light to very dark, these also span both warm and cool tones. I wear 032 ‘rosy beige’ which is a bit lighter than the name might suggest and has a warm tone.

According to Dior ‘The complexion is instantly more luminous and visibly evener. A new generation of hollow silica beads captures and diffuses light in a correcting halo with no shine. At the same time, colour filter pigments neutralise colour imbalances to recreate the perfect light. The complexion is clarified with a purer, more dazzling and long lasting light’. Although I am normally sceptical of such bold claims, the foundation does have a radiant dewy finish and photographs very well without any flashback which is normally a worry for foundations that contain SPF.

This foundation lasts long days with no touching up, and does not rub off or go greasy. I often wear it from approximately 6:00am until 22:00pm with no retouches. I use primer and moisturiser underneath it and set it with pressed powder and ‘bake’ with loose powder under my eyes and along my jaw.

I have fair skin with a lot of dark freckles and some redness and uneven skin tone on my cheeks which it covers well – in fact making even my freckles invisible. I am fortunate in that I do not have spotty or acne prone skin, nor is it greasy or dry. I have no doubt that it would cover spots or acne scarring. With the moisturiser, primer, and powder I also imagine it would cover and last well on oily or dry skin. I do not use any other Dior Skin products alongside this.

I admit this product does have a high price point (£35) but it lasts well- each bottle lasts me about six to eight months as a little goes a long way. I wear it every time I wear make-up, but it would work well as a special occasions only make-up. I know it is popular in bridal make-up because it photographs beautifully.

 

The packaging is simple and classy.

Without and with foundation.

Make-up ‘holy grail’ items

These are items I really really rate and use most days when I have make-up on.

Moisturiser: I have Estée Lauder moisturiser for when I feel fancy, but Garnier Day Cream is what I mainly use.

Primer: Guerlain L’or

Beauty Blender:  I have one, I don’t use it.

Concealer: NYX ‘dark circles’ concealer, YSL Touche Èclat, and the lightest shade from my De’lanci contour palette for highlighting.

Foundation: Dior Star

Powder: Rimmel Stay Matte for my face generally, and Technic’s white powder for baking.

Brow product: Anastasia Beverley Hills ‘Dip Brow Pomade’ and a Dior eyebrow pencil.

Eye primer: Make-Up Revolution.

Eyeshadow palette: De’lanci neutrals pallete or Urban Decay Naked 3 generally.

Mascara: Guerlain ‘Maxi Lash So Volume’ and Shiseido ‘Full Lash Volume’

Liner: A white pencil for my waterline, it’s so old I don’t know where it is from. Liquid: one from Amazon with no name.

Lashes: Eyelure.

Contour: De’lanci

Bronzer: Benefit ‘Hoola’

Blush: A very pink Dior one

Highlight: Makeup Revolution

Lipbalm: EOS sweet mint (tingly!)

Liner:  Many from Amazon (unbranded)

Lipstick: I love Limecrime for matte, and Chanel and Estée Lauder for normal lipstick. My go-to is Limecrime’s ‘bleached’.

Make up brush: My oval brushes for foundation and contour, and my Estée Lauder and Real Techniques ones for face powder.

Setting spray : Barry M dewy finish.

Witch blemish stick review

This product purports to ‘help break down excessive oil and fight the bacteria that causes spots’. It retails for between £2 and £4 generally and, according to Witch’s website, has won awards.

Usage is simple: dab it on blemishes as often as required. Being witch hazel, it has a strong scent reminiscent of alcohol and as such can sting your eyes a little when dabbing it on blemishes that are near them, but this goes almost instantly as it dries.

It feels light on the skin and glides on with a ‘wet’ feel which is strangely tingly and refreshing.

I do not have oil or blemish-prone skin but bought it when I developed a rare spot. Dabbing it did not seem to make this one angry spot go, but it has since made small bumps without a ‘head’ disappear overnight. 

I am glad I only paid £1.99 for this product at Sainsbury, but even at £4 it is worth having. I would not pay more than that, as I am not certain of how effective it is. You do get a lot of product for your money, though.

3/5

Finn’s Law- an interview with PC Dave Wardell.

Finn’s Law is a petition for legal change regarding the status of working animals, in particular service animals injured in the line of duty. Currently the legal position is that if a service animal is attacked, the attacker is charged under the Criminal Damage Act 1971 for effectively damaging the ‘property’ of the police or fire brigade, with a penalty no more severe than that of kicking in a door or smashing a window. This unique petition aims to bring the status of emergency service animals in line with the French position of a service animal being a sentient being, which is also mirrored in some American states. There seems to be real scope for change as interestingly, under current law attacking a guide dog presents a high penalty, as it is seen as representing ‘an extension of the person whom they are assisting’.

In the early hours of the fifth of October 2016 PC Dave Wardell (@DaveWardell on Twitter) was out on duty with his 8-year-old police dog, Finn.  Whilst attending a botched robbery PC Wardell was stabbed in the hand, and in trying to save his handler Finn endured life-threatening stab wounds to the head and chest requiring urgent veterinary care.  The incident and Finn’s recovery were blogged about firsthand at finnsstoryblog.wordpress.com. The case surrounding this is currently ongoing with a junior defendant, and as such some updates are sensitive and cannot be provided at this time.

A petition was set up in the days following the incident, aiming to ensure that police animals ‘be given protection that reflects their status if assaulted in the line of duty’. To date it has amassed a whopping 127,502 signatures, and was debated in Parliament in November last year.

PC Wardell kindly took some time out of his busy schedule to let me interview him about Finn’s Law and policing:

JSP: I note that the petition to give police dogs higher legal status has amassed 127,50 signatures, and was debated in parliament in November. What is next for the campaign?

DW: This now sits with the Government who are in the process of reviewing this. We have had one positive in that the Sentencing Council have for the first time recognised service animals in law and have made harm to them an aggravating factor.

JSP: Does the use of a police dog or horse intimidate people, and thus make them get more violent in retaliation?

DW: Police animals have a huge deterrent factor. If that means that during the course of a police dogs career that many thousands of people go home safely or many millions of pounds of property and assets are protected, surely that’s a good thing? Their presence tends to lower violence between people and towards Police officers.

JSP: Do you feel that normal pet animals should also receive higher legal status?

DW: As they do in France where they have been classed as beings for some time? Why not? We are said to be a nation of animal lovers. What’s not to like about that?

JSP: Do you feel the same way emotionally about Finn as you would a pet dog?

DW: Yep. Although the bond between my pet and me and between Finn and me where he has saved my life and I his is totally different. We are a double act. My pet doesn’t see me like that.

JSP: Do police dogs live in the family home like any other pet and enjoy typical family life?

DW: That usually depends on local rules. They have a kennel in the garden of the handler.

JSP: How much deployment does the average police dog get a week, and to what events?

DW: We cover all normal aspects of day to day policing. We are also the most effective search team police currently have and have had for well over 100 years. We exploit a dog’s 750,000 years of evolution through positive training to allow us to effectively search huge areas for suspects and missing persons – usually to great success. Finn and I would on average attend 10 jobs per shift. That can be reduced if we have to spend several hours on one search.

JSP: Had Finn ever been attacked prior to his stabbing?

DW: Most police dogs will be kicked or punched during their career. Finn is no different.

JSP: Are police dogs often injured in the line of duty?

DW: It’s not often they are as seriously injured as Finn.  Finn isn’t the first dog in recent years to have been stabbed in this country. During the riots a Police Dog and his handler were attacked with a brick. Dogs have been shot, kicked, and punched. A dog recently received internal bruising from an attack in the UK.

JSP: Does PD Finn enjoy working?

DW: Finn loves nothing more than coming to work with me.

JSP: What can a police dog do that an officer cannot?

DW: Dogs see the world through scent. Finn has tracked the route of an offender four hours after the offence, found all his discarded loot and taken us to his hideout where we arrested him. No modern technology or robot can currently do that. They also never complain about work. They are  always happy to be working and don’t bring their troubles to work with them.

JSP: Would you say attacks on police dogs and horses are rising?

DW: As [the attacks] have never been officially recorded there is no way of knowing for sure. But I’d say they are.

JSP: Are police dogs helpful on the front line to prevent further terror attacks?

DW: If you ask a police officer on the street what they would like to see more of between armed police, helicopters, Senior Officers or dogs, the answer will always be dogs! As for wether they help in the fight against terror, they already are and already do! In fact if budgets weren’t so tight they’d be doing more.

JSP: Do you support the idea of all police officers being issued with a body-worn camera?

DW: I wear one every day. I see no reason why I would not wear one as I have nothing to hide. Once faced with the evidence most complaints against police are dropped by the complainant once they are shown their behaviour.

Finn now,  and Finn’s injuries. Photo credit @DaveWardell

It remains to be said that PD Finn did an excellent job, hanging on despite his severe injuries until the attacker could be apprehended. He has since returned to operational duty and even apprehended a suspect on his first day back at work. If you are interested in signing the petition, please find it here.

Turkish inspired lamb koftes

As we’ve sprung into Spring, it feels rather the time to reluctantly retire the stew pot and stodge in favour of lighter, more zingy food. This is a twist on the lamb kofte. A twist inspired mainly by my lack of Turkish Pepper.

Ingredients:

  • 500g minced lamb
  • A bunch of flat leaved parsley (or any parsley)
  • Natural yoghurt
  • Chilli flakes
  • A lemon
  • Crushed garlic
  • An onion, or onion granules
  • A tin of tomatoes
  • An egg
  • Pitta or naan bread, toasted.

 

Method:

  1. Combine the egg, salt,pepper, garlic,chopped up parsley, onion, a small amount of lemon zest and some chilli flakes in a large-ish mixing bowl. Add the mince and combine with your hands.
  2. Form the mince mixture into sausage-like shapes. You could form them around a stick to barbecue them, but as I was using a griddle pan I did not.
  3. Fry (or barbecue) your koftes on a high heat at first making sure they do not catch- this gives the ‘charred’ element. Turn the heat down if you can and let them continue to cook. Turn occasionally until done. (This took me 15 minutes in a heavy cast iron griddle pan)
  4. Meanwhile, combine crushed garlic with plain yoghurt to your desired strength. Mint also works well if you are not a fan of garlic.
  5. Warm a tin of tomatoes on the stove with a pinch of salt and pepper.
  6. Toast your bread of choice.
  7. Assemble and garnish with parsley and side salad.

image1

 

 

 

An attack on London, but not humanity.


Chocolate Mousse

 

Firstly, sorry for the hiatus, I’ve been busy with exams and very, very boring stuff.

 

I was going to write an introduction but who doesn’t like chocolate mousse?

IMG_4362.JPG

 

Ingredients:

  • 200g dark chocolate
  • 100g milk chocolate
  • a capful of coconut rum (Jack Daniels works well tool, or any other whisky – ditto amaretto)
  • 8 eggs
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 300ml double cream
  • a pinch o’ cocoa powder
  • whatever fruit you wish (or freeze a chilli and bash it up over the top if you’re feeling hard)

Method

  • Break up the chocolate and put in a bowl above a simmering pan of water, stir occasionally until it is melted. Don’t burn it.
  • Whisk the living hell out of the cream… Had a bad day at work? the cream is the person who annoyed you. You want it to look like whipped cream.
  • Separate the white and yolks of your eggs. Keep both.
  • Whisk the eggs whites until you get soft peaks. For stiffer peaks, add a tiny bit of salt
  • Mix the yolks and sugar together (your wrists will probably hurt now, if you don’t have an electric whisk) Oh, and there’s quite a bit of washing up due to multiple bowls.
  • Fold everything together and refrigerate or freeze depending on how solid you’d like it. In the fridge it takes about two hours.
  • Garnish however you like.

 

Now, relax, and leave the washing up for someone else… You made dessert, after all…

Spice Up Your Life

In 1997 The Spice Girls had a hit with the song “Spice Up Your Life”, and whilst I’m not suggesting you don a PVC Union Flag dress to create this soup, I think it’s a motto everyone should live by.

There’s no denying it’s cold, dark, and gloomy at the moment, so here is a little winter warmer I trialled last week:

Curried Parsnip Soup.

IMG_3666.JPGIngredients:

  • Four/five parsnips
  • 1 red onion (or 3 tablespoons of onion granules)
  • 1 litre vegetable stock  (can use store bought in liquid or cube form, but I used some I had made earlier)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3 tablespoons curry powder/paste of your choice
  • a chopped up red chilli
  • 4 tablespoons creme fraiche
  • 1 clove garlic
  • seasoning to taste

 

Method

  1. Fry the onion, garlic and chilli together until the onion has softened and is golden (2-5 minutes)
  2. Peel and chop the parsnips into small chunks
  3. Make up the stock
  4. Add all of the other ingredients into the pan (but not the creme fraiche)
  5. Cook on a medium heat for 30 minutes, or until the parsnip cubes are soft
  6. Blend like your life depends on it
  7. Strain if you want super-smooth soup, leave if not
  8. Swirl in the creme fraiche, or any other cream-like product, into a pretty design of your choice.

I like this soup with crusty sourdough bread, but that’s totally up to you! It’s easy to tone up or down the spice by adding or removing the chilli.

Operation Cotton, what does it really mean for the Criminal Bar?

Legal Aid cuts protest, photo courtesy of the BBC

DISCLAIMER: This is essentially old news now, though the principle that Legal Aid should not be cut and is a highly important feature of our justice system remains. I wrote this for More Law earlier in the year, so I am posting it here to my personal blog.

Case: R v Scott Crawley and Others (unreported).

The legal aid row has been making headlines recently, with barristers and solicitors protesting in the streets of London, and at courts all over the country. The Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition had proposed cuts an incredible £220 million pound cut to the £2.2 billion pound legal aid budget; further restricting both who and what type of cases are eligible for legal aid (legal aid has almost ceased to exist in family proceedings). This has created a justice gap.

The Facts

Operation Cotton was an investigation into an alleged fraud. Due to its size and complexity the Legal Aid Authority designated the subsequent trial as a Very High Costs Case (VHCC). Due to a 30% cut in fees paid to barristers who conduct such cases, which has resulted in a decline in those advocates willing to undertake such work, the solicitors defending the accused were unable to find suitably qualified barristers to conduct the case. The Ministry of Justice, through its creation of the Public Defender Service (PDS), had attempted to prevent such an occurrence. The idea was that the PDS could field advocates to undertake such cases. But hardly any barristers joined. As a consequence of these cuts and the inability of the PDS to provide enough advocates of the requisite standard it became clear that the instant case was not going to be trial ready and would have to be adjourned.

The defendants argued that due to the impasse reached over the question of barrister’s fees and the lack of advocates recruited by the PDS the case should be stayed as an abuse of process rather than adjourned. The defendants were represented (for the purpose of this argument) by Alexander Cameron QC (the Prime Minister’s older brother). His Honour Judge Leonard QC granted a stay following Mr Cameron QC’s submission that “it would be unfair to try the defendants if they wished to be represented, and, through no fault of their own, they were not”.

HHJ Leonard QC also noted that the pool of PDS advocates, who it was suggested by some could handle the case, were grossly inadequate and to let them take the case would be manifestly unfair. He said: “I am compelled to conclude that, to allow the State an adjournment to put right its failure to provide the necessary resources to permit a fair trial to take place now amounts to a violation of the process of this court… Even if I am wrong about that, I further find that there is no realistic prospect that sufficient advocates would be available for this case to be tried in January 2015, from any of the sources available to the defence, including the PDS. Whatever reason is put forward by the party applying, the court does not ordinarily grant adjournments on a speculative basis.”

The Court of Appeal

The Financial Conduct Authority appealed His Honour Judge Leonard QC’s ruling to the Court of Appeal. Following submissions the stay was lifted. The judgment handed down on the 21st of May by the President of the Queen’s Bench Division Sir Brian Leveson (sitting with Treacy and Davis LJJ) stated that the time for a stay of proceedings had not yet come. Advocates employed by the Public Defender Service were indeed available, and (in a reactionary measure during the appeal) the Ministry of Justice was actively trying to recruit more PDS adovactes.

The judgment also pointed out that Lord Chancellor Chris Grayling “undeniably” was responsible to sort out the defendant’s representation of the defendants. Sir Brian Leveson, summing up, said “on our analysis, there was a sufficient prospect of a sufficient number of PDS advocates who were then available who would enable a trial to proceed in January 2015. That pool included a sufficient number of advocates of the rank of QC”.

The Political and Legal Significance

This case has shifted responsibility directly to the Ministry of Justice to get their house in order. Even when this case does go to trial, the wider problems within the justice system will remain unsolved. There is a very real and apparent threat to the criminal bar, and to those who appear before the courts.

A long term deal needs to be made between barristers and the government. As Leveson LJ pointed out in his judgment, “it is of fundamental importance that the Ministry of Justice, led by the Lord Chancellor, and the professions continue to try to resolve the impasse that presently stands in the way of the delivery of justice in the most complex cases… The maintenance of a criminal justice system of which we can be proud depends on a sensible resolution.”

The proposed £220 million pound legal aid cuts, and the 30% fee reduction for barristers in VHCCs is something that desperately needs to be solved, not only in the interests of justice, but also to encourage talented young advocates to the Criminal Bar. Unless the Chancellor wants more complex cases such as this to be held up, progress will have to be made, or the most complex cases could go unrepresented, or represented by underqualified advocates.