Thursday, December 29, 2011

Happy New Year!

A very Happy New year to you and all your family and friends!

Crab pithiviers

For those of you who are looking for a fishy feast post Christmas. I recommend these crab pithiviers.

Makes 6

500g puff pastry
200g tinned/fresh white crab meat
2 shallots, chopped
1 carrot, grated
30g breadcrumbs
6 teaspoons sour cream
1 egg
50g butter

Divide the pastry into 2 triangles & roll them into 40 x 30cm triangles & cool in the fridge for an hour. Fry the shallots and carrot for 5 minutes in the melted butter. Add the crab and fry for another minute. Take off the heat, stir in the breadcrumbs and leave to cool.
After an hour, set the oven to 200 degrees. Remove the pastry triangles from the fridge and mark (but don't cut out yet) each into 6 circles, 3 along the base, 2 above and 1 at the top. The circles on one of the triangles are the bases and on the other the lids so you should make the lid circles larger than those of the bases. Divide the crab mixture between the 6 bases and add a teaspoon of sour cream to the top of each one. Place the triangle indented with the lids over the top and cut around each pithivier, using water to attach and seal each lid to each base. Brush with the beaten egg and bake for 20 minutes.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Merry Christmas!

The Lighthouse of Hope

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Bankruptcy tourism

There's an interesting article in today's FT about the differences in the bankruptcy laws of Ireland and the UK. It takes 12 years to be discharged from bankruptcy in Ireland compared to just one year in the UK. As a consequence, Irish people are relocating to the UK simply to free themselves from debt. The most prominent example is Sean Quinn, three years ago Ireland's richest man with $6bn, who declared bankruptcy in Belfast rather than in Dublin. This will enable him to be discharged in a year and to hold on to his pension. Under Irish law, pensions can be used to pay off creditors. Not surprisingly, Mr Quinn's bankruptcy is being challenged in a Belfast court by Anglo Irish Bank to which he owes E2bn. The FT also ggives the example of a couple who couldn't repay their E300,000 mortgage. They moved to Wales, cdeclared bankruptcy there and are now back in Ireland debt-free. Their verdict? "We don't have the stress of the debts and, even though we can't get a bank account, it is not the end of the world."

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Fare thee well

Off on hols. Back 20 December.

Monday, December 05, 2011


My colleague asked me to give a practice interview to his son who's applying to Cambridge to read Natural Sciences. This was quite a challenge as I'm not a scientist and would have no idea whether the boy's answers were correct. Anyway I managed to get hold of some real interview questions and went to see the boy. He answered the first question well: "How would you go about weighing your own head?" Of course I knew the answer in advance: completely immerse yourself in the bath and measure how much water is displaced, then immerse yourself but not your head, subtract the difference and apply the ratio to your weight.
The second question was trickier: "If you were sending a package to Australia, would it be quicker to drop it through a hole through the earth or to fire it into low earth orbit with a cannon?" The boy was grappling with the problems of friction, air resistance, the angle of the cannon etc, coming up with various equations. I pointed out to him afterwards that it didn't really matter what his conclusion was, it was the methodology which mattered. He must state his assumptions and then reach his conclusion. I am told that if you assume no friction, no air resistance, that the earth is a perfect sphere of equal density, the time of each method will be equal. (Of course I can't prove that!)
Meanwhile my colleague had to give a mock interview to his godson who's applying to Oxford to read Philosophy and Theology. The godson is a "nihilistic objectivist." When I asked my colleague what that meant, a long discussion ensued which concluded with him labelling me "a pathetic empathiser". Charming!

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Fame conquering Time

This was painted by Ippolito Scarsella in 1610. Quite fun, don't you think?