Sunday, 30 September 2012

C & H

Calvin and Hobbes

Hi Viz Fuzz

UK Plod on the beat are to cast off their dark blue jackets in favour of a high-visibility versions for the first time.  Bosses believe the outfit will make them easier to spot on the streets, especially during protests and riots, and if it is adopted across the country it will make for a more unified image.  The waterproof coat would be worn throughout shifts by officers on duty.

Currently hi-vis is only worn routinely by teams responding to road accidents or those who ride bicycles and motorbikes, with PCs able to put on a bright yellow vest over their normal coat.

More at TTel

Utter Nonesense

Using sophisticated maths and a process known as "data mining", scientists have uncovered a statistical relationship between a person's character, lifestyle and social class and whether they like their eggs boiled, fried, scrambled or as an omelette.
In the new "study", the research team found that poached egg eaters are outgoing, listen to upbeat music and are happier, boiled egg consumers are disorganised, fried egg fans have a high sex drive, scrambled egg aficionados are guarded and omelette eaters are self-disciplined.
It was discovered that the average poached egg-eater is likely to have two children and no more than one sibling and is more likely to be a woman than a man.
Boiled egg-eaters had a tendency to be careless and impulsive.
Fried egg-eaters are most likely to be younger and male and most frequently found among the skilled working classes.
Scrambled egg-eaters are more likely than other types to be in managerial or senior-level jobs and also to own their own home, and omelette eaters are likely to have a tidy home.
What shitey drivel.

Japanese Mobs


End of the bloodline

The reign of the yakuza could finally be at an end. Jon Axworthy investigates the bloody battle to preserve 400 years of Japanese criminal tradition.
The men didn’t know what had hit them. It was 2.30am when the hand grenades started to rain down on their fortress-like headquarters. Before the smoke had cleared the attackers had already sped off on high-powered motorbikes, leaving behind a scene of utter devastation.
Welcome to everyday life in Japan’s Kyushu region. A place where vicious fighting between rival yakuza clans the Seido-kai and Dojin-kai has been intensifying. This August attack was a retaliatory strike for the killing of a Seido-kai boss and his brother by someone tossing a grenade into their car as it idled at a red light. Hand grenades are now as essential to yakuza life as shortened fingers and ornate tattoos.
As befits a criminal organisation that has been around since the 17th century, the yakuza moves with the times to survive. Just as the Samurai sword made way for the handgun as its weapon of choice, so the gun has now made way for the grenade. In fact ”pineapples” (to give them their yakuza slang nickname) have become so widespread that cash rewards are offered for them by the police in Kyushu’s biggest city Fukuoka.
The main reason for this upsurge in violence? A rash of new legal constraints that are trying to topple organised crime in Japan once and for all. However, with indolent police and unhelpful members of the public standing in the way, it’s not going to be easy. And as the shrapnel-strewn Kyushu streets show, the yakuza’s mobsters aren’t ready to go quietly.

The current carnage is a departure for the usually low-profile yakuza, which has run Japan’s underworld with ruthless efficiency for more than a century. Its origins go as far back as the sword-wielding vigilantes of the Edo era, 400 years ago.
The world may have changed, but the organisation’s strict code of conduct remains intact, protecting the public from any overspill from its violent world. In fact, the yakuza has co-existed openly with civilian life, with many clans having named headquarters in major cities. Ironically, the public perception of yakuza territories is that they are well-ordered and crime-free – some clans having even been known to work in tandem with the police.
“The Kudokai Godfather has gone on record to say that they were responsible for stemming the tide of illegal Chinese immigrant gangs,” reveals Atsushi Mizoguchi, Japan’s foremost yakuza expert. “The police [even] congratulated them on a job well done.”
However, the introduction of new fiscal laws that attempt to sever the gangs from their earnings have made the yakuza desperate – causing an upsurge in violence that has rocked Japan.
The Organised Crime Exclusion Ordinance means that any individual with proven business links to yakuza groups can be prosecuted and named publicly. And as Mizoguchi points out, “In Japan, reputation is everything.”
The government is also pressuring banks to scrutinise their books and identify money-laundering operations. “It’s been the most hard-hitting anti-gang ordinance since a 1992 law that made yakuza godfathers personally responsible for any crimes committed by their underlings,” explains Mizoguchi.
But there are dangerous side effects to squeezing the yakuza’s finances. “The yakuza is no different to the American mafia. Revenue flows upward, and if those at the bottom of the pyramid can’t pay their dues, it affects the senior figures too,” says Mizoguchi. “That explains the 44 gang-related shootings last year, 18 of which occurred in Kyushu. Lean times mean that yakuza factions are becoming desperate to survive as there isn’t enough money to go round to keep everyone happy.” What’s more, construction bosses who have refused to do business with the organisation in light of the recent laws have been shot dead in front of their homes and local mayors have received death threats for pursuing the law.
So, after years of engaging in white-collar crime during Japan’s ‘bubble economy’ period, the yakuza has had to revert to its more traditional forms of income – prostitution, drug smuggling, extortion and gambling.
It recently emerged that in Tokyo’s red light and entertainment district of Kabukicho (traditionally the territory of the Yamaguchi-gumi syndicate), customers were being charged a 15 per cent processing fee if they paid with a credit card, compared to the usual three per cent average.
“It’s the perfect scam,” says Akihiko Shiba, a former superintendent in Japan’s National Police Agency. 
“No one complains when they get their credit card statement as businessmen don’t want to advertise the fact that they have spent money in Kabukicho. And there are hundreds of pleasure quarters all over Japan, which translates to millions of yen for the organisation.”
There is also evidence that the yakuza is moving its operations into other Southeast Asian countries, including Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar and Cambodia. But many commentators believe that, even in light of the new fiscal laws, the will to remove the yakuza and directly target its estimated 80,000 active members just isn’t there.
“There’s nothing directly outlawing yakuza membership,” says Tatsuya Shindo, a former member of Sumiyoshi-kai, the yakuza’s second largest family. “Japan still recognises their right to exist because the weight of history is on their side.”
But there are also those who feel that there is an ulterior motive as to why the police don’t pressure the government to make membership illegal. “For years, corporate Japan has employed retired policemen as consultants for negotiations with companies that may be fronts for yakuza operations,” says Mizoguchi. “And the ex-policemen are paid well for it.”
Meanwhile, the hand grenade attacks continue and the Seido-kai is establishing a presence in the capital to profit from the vice trade. Inevitably, the public are starting to get caught up in the violence.
Hiroshi Miyamoto was one such victim. A 34-year-old father of two, he was admitted to hospital in 2007 with a rugby injury and unknowingly exchanged rooms with a Seido-kai gangster recovering from an attempted assassination.
Miyamoto, a sheet-metal worker, was shot dead in his hospital bed by a Dojin-kai assassin who thought he was finishing the botched job.
There was mass outrage at Miyamoto’s death, and even though the Dojin-kai went to his family home to pay their respects (and offered the family £600k in compensation), for the first time there was revulsion throughout Japan for the yakuza way of life.
And this is where the new laws may have an impact, with the authorities almost stepping back in their role to police the yakuza; it falls on the public’s conscious to stop tolerating their presence.
However, widespread corruption, four centuries of mythic tradition and an almost admirably adaptable criminal network may prove more difficult to thwart. “Yakuza is like a blood stain,” warns former gangster Shindo, “the longer you leave it, the harder it is to get rid of.”


Filthy Filth

Nearly 50 Metropolitan Plod officers were suspended for corruption over a three year period, it has emerged following a FoI act request.  Figures show that 49 officers were suspended over the allegation, with 15 cases proven, 18 unproven and 16 ongoing.  

A total of 258 were Rozzers suspended between 2009-11 for offences including sexual assault, harassment and neglect or failure in duty.  Of these, 88 of the claims turned out to be proven or substantiated and 33 officers were dismissed from the force.  Nearly half of those suspended were special constables, who are unpaid.

According to Fuzz regulations, officers can only be suspended under two circumstances- if they are likely to interfere with the course of an investigation or if it is in the public interest.  Therefore most suspensions occur when an officer is subject to a serious criminal investigation or a serious internal misconduct investigation.  A lawyer who handles complaints against police officers, described the figures as "shocking".

"In my experience when members of the public complain about police officers it is very rare for those officers to be suspended.  However, even if they are, investigations can take far too long leading to victims of police misconduct suffering delayed justice."

A Met Copper spokesman responded with: 

"Whilst we aim to investigate allegations of misconduct as quickly as possible, the length of an investigation is often determined by the complex nature of some allegations which can be beyond the control of the MPS as we may need to allow the judicial system or IPCC to complete their proceedings before the force can conclude an investigation.

While our aim is always to carry out this work in the quickest and most efficient way possible, we also have to ensure investigations are thorough and robust for the benefit of the complainant, the general public, the force as a whole and the officer under investigation."

Finger Points Firmly at BLiar

In an interview to promote his memoirs, Interventions - a Life in War and Peace, Kofi Anan , former United Nations secretary general bod, claimed the UN had been powerless to stop President Bush pushing ahead with his plans to take military action against Saddam Hussein's regime in March 2003.  Instead, he suggested the BLiar, former British prime minister was the only person who could have influenced the American government's decision.

"I think I will for ever wonder what would have happened if, without a second [UN] resolution… Blair had said, 'George, this is where we part company. You're on your own'.

I really think it could have stopped the war… It would have given the Americans a pause.  It would have given them a very serious pause to think it through… All this would have raised a question: 'Do we go this alone?'"

He admitted he could not be certain what would have happened had the then Labour leader threatened to bring an end to the special relationship, but insisted there was a strong possibility it would have made a difference.  He claimed that even if he had resigned, or US secretary of state Colin Powell had threatened to step down, Bush would have pressed ahead with the invasion of Iraq.  BLiar was the only person with the capability to influence the US leader's thinking, he added.

"Because of the special relationship and also the fact that… when you think of the big countries, Britain was the only one that teamed up with him."

The US and UK governments justified their decision to go to war largely on claims that the Hussein regime had stockpiled weapons of mass destruction.  No evidence was found to back those assertions and it is thought more than 100 000 people were killed during the invasion and the sectarian violence that followed.


All the blinking in just one day equates to having your eyes closed for 30 full minutes.

But Why?

Eating at the Big Boys' Table

In restaurants around the world, there's one dish you won't find on the menu – the staff meal before service. What do top chefs feed their team?
I wonder what's in store for the McDonald's team?

The Fat Duck, Bray, Berkshire, England: head chef Jonny Lake

What is the one meal of the week your staff most looks forward to? Saturday lunch, which normally consists of BLTs, scrambled or fried eggs, and croissants and chocolatines made by our pastry team. Also, the Lab's famous potato salad.

Why is the staff meal important? Making a big deal of staff food helps build team morale and raises standards. From a chef's perspective, if you don't care enough to put up good-quality staff food, what does that say about you?
Cream-baked cod with dill and olive oil smashed potatoes with rocket
Serves four.
For the cod
Four 170g skinless cod fillets
Salt and freshly ground white pepper, to taste
187ml heavy cream
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh dill
1 lemon, cut into wedges
For the potatoes
118ml extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra to serve
2 large white onions, peeled and thinly sliced
2 tsp sea salt
680g Maris Piper potatoes, scrubbed clean
57g rocket
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Staff meals: the Fat Duck's cream-baked codThe Fat Duck's cream-baked cod: 'If you don't care enough to put up good-quality staff food, what does that say about you?' says head chef Jonny Lake. Photograph: Jason Lowe
For the potatoes, in a large skillet, heat half the oil over medium heat. When hot, add the onions and caramelise, stirring occasionally, until deep golden brown, about 55 minutes. (If you don't have time for this, add a tablespoon of honey to the onions once they've softened to help speed up the process.) Set aside.
Bring a pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Add the potatoes, whole and unpeeled. Boil until a paring knife pierces cleanly through without resistance – about 40 minutes. Drain the potatoes and cut each in half. (This is a hot job, so use an oven mitt.) Put the potatoes back in the pot, along with the onions and their oil. Using a potato masher, smash quickly – they should be more lumpy than smooth – then stir in the rest of the oil and the rocket until wilted. Add oil to taste, season generously and serve straight from the pot.
Heat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Season the cod, and arrange snugly in a single layer in a 23cm x 29cm baking dish. Pour in enough cream to creep one-third of the way up the fillets. Bake until the cream has reduced slightly and the fish flakes easily with a fork – 16 to 20 minutes. Baste the fish midway through cooking to break up any skin that forms on the cream.
Remove from the oven, sprinkle with dill, and serve immediately, spooning the cooked cream over the top of the fillets and with lemon wedges on the side.

Arzak, San Sebastián, Spain: chef Elena Arzak

What are some staff favourites? Fish soup with potato in the summer. Steaks with breadcrumbs and eggs. And lentils; I like lentils very much.
Anything that would not be served at the staff meal? Basques don't like coriander. Why? I have no idea. We like ginger, but not raw, just the powder. We also don't like coconut very much.
Duck and prawn paella
Serves six.
60ml Spanish olive oil
500g skin-on duck breasts, cut into 1-1.5cm cubes 
115g green beans, trimmed and diced
4 large artichoke hearts in water, drained and coarsely chopped
1 medium tomato, coarsely chopped
1 large garlic clove, peeled and thinly sliced
60g coarsely chopped roasted red peppers
Around 2 litres chicken stock (you may need a little more)
540g bomba paella rice (use arborio if need be)
1 pinch saffron threads
2 tsp salt
500g large prawns, peeled
70g frozen peas
Lemon wedges, for serving
In a 12-inch paella pan or high-sided skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat until smoking. Add the duck and fry until browned, about six minutes. Add the beans, artichokes, tomato, garlic and chopped roasted pepper (this is the sofrito), and cook until the vegetables are tender, about three minutes. Add the stock (it should fill the pan with 5cm of liquid) and leave to bubble away for 30 minutes, creating a flavourful stock. There should be at least 2.5cm of liquid left in the skillet after boiling; if it has over-reduced, add more stock to accommodate the loss.
Stir in the rice, saffron and salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to maintain a brisk simmer. Do not stir the rice again – this is important for the development of the socarrat, the caramelised crust at the bottom of the pan. Simmer uncovered for 20 minutes, until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender but not mushy. If it is still undercooked after 20 minutes, add more liquid (but do not stir) and continue to cook until tender.
Scatter the prawns and peas on top of the rice, cover the skillet with a lid (or tin foil) and steam the prawns for five minutes. During this time, monitor the heat – it should be high enough to develop the socarrat, but not so high as to allow it to burn. When you can smell a pervasive toastiness, your socarrat is forming. Use a fork to poke into the rice at the bottom of the pan: if it meets with slight nubby resistance, your flavourful crust has been formed. After five minutes, turn off the heat, flip over the prawns and cover the skillet with a kitchen towel. Leave to rest for five to 10 minutes before serving.

Au Pied de Cochon, Montreal, Canada: chef/patron Martin Picard

What is your staff meal philosophy? Don't throw anything away.
Anything odd that has made it on to the staff meal table? Cod heads.
A menu leftover that always appears in the staff meal? Au Pied de Cochon mashed potatoes – with butter, garlic-infused cream and cheese curds.
Mushroom, onion and spring onion pizza
Staff meals: Au Pied CochonAu Pied Cochon in Montreal is one of Canada's most lauded restaurants. Yet the staff might sit down to something as simple as pizza. Photograph: Ken Goodman
Makes six pizzas.
For the dough
10g instant yeast
2 tsp granulated sugar
625g all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
1 tbsp fine sea salt
1 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for proving
For the tomato sauce
One 794g tin (or two small tins) whole peeled tomatoes, drained
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced 
1 tbsp olive oil
4 sprigs fresh thyme
4 large basil leaves
1 tsp sea salt
For the topping
1 medium onion, peeled and thinly sliced
340g assorted mushrooms, thinly sliced
570g mozzarella, sliced, grated or torn
2 bunches spring onions (green and white parts), cut into 5cm pieces
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Olive oil, as needed
70g coarse cornmeal
For the dough, stir together the yeast and sugar with 475ml warm water, and leave to stand at room temperature until tiny bubbles form at the surface – about two minutes. (If bubbles do not emerge, your yeast is dead and needs replacing.)
Combine the flour and salt in the bowl of a food mixer with a dough hook. Add the yeast mixture and oil, and knead on a low speed for five minutes. Lightly flour a work surface. Remove the slightly sticky dough from the bowl and knead by hand until smooth and elastic, about five minutes. Brush the bowl with oil, return the dough to it and cover with clingfilm. Set the bowl aside at room temperature until the dough has doubled in size – about an hour.
Divide the dough into six balls, put these on a parchment paper-lined flat oven tray and cover loosely with clingfilm. Leave the balls to double in size – about an hour. (If need be, after this second rise, wrap the dough balls in clingfilm and keep overnight in the fridge. If so, let them sit at room temperature for at least an hour before proceeding.)
For the sauce: pulse the tomatoes in a food processor for about 30 seconds, to make a chunky sauce. Transfer to a jar and add the garlic, olive oil, thyme, basil and salt. Cover tightly and sake hard for 30 seconds.
Put a pizza stone or upturned 25cm cast-iron skillet on the middle rack of the oven and heat the oven to as high as it will register. Dust a flat oven sheet generously with cornmeal and on it gently shape one dough ball by hand into a 20cm pizza round. Spread a thin layer of sauce all the way to the edges, top with onion, mushrooms, cheese and spring onions, season and drizzle lightly with oil. Transfer the pizza from the tray on to the pizza stone (or upturned skillet) with a flick of the wrist – if you've used enough cornmeal, it'll slide off easily.
Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, until the crust on the sides and base is slightly charred and the cheese is beginning to bubble and brown. Transfer to a cutting board and serve piping hot. Repeat with the remaining dough, sauce and topping.

Dill, Reykjavik, Iceland: co-owners Gunnar Karl Gíslason and Ólafur Örn Ólafsson

What is Icelandic cuisine? Oli: Up until about 50 years ago, Icelandic cuisine was about surviving; taste and flavour was not a consideration. It's only in the past 20 years that restaurants have really started doing interesting things. It feels like a renaissance.
Gunnar: As for ingredients, herring is important. Dill, cod, lamb, rye and barley, too. Horse is popular. Seal and puffin are not as popular as they used to be, but they still show up occasionally.
What makes a staff meal so special? Oli: We are a family and want our guests to feel like they're part of our family, too.
Spice-studded crisp pork belly and pickled red cabbage in redcurrant juice
Staff meals: DillRoast pork belly hits the spot before the Dill team take to the floor for the evening. Photograph: Jason Lowe
Serves six.
For the pork belly
2.7kg pork belly
144g sea salt
20 cloves
16 bay leaves, preferably fresh
4 sticks cinnamon, broken or cut into shards
For the cabbage
1 tbsp unsalted butter
70g granulated sugar
1 small red cabbage, outer leaves discarded, cored, quartered and shredded
300ml white vinegar
475ml redcurrant juice 
1 stick cinnamon
3 cloves
3 juniper berries
Heat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6. With a very sharp knife, score the pork skin all over about 6mm apart (go deep into the fat but not so far as to cut into the flesh). Cut the belly into two long strips, and arrange skin-side down in a roasting pan. Add enough water just to cover the skin, and roast for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven, transfer the meatto a plate, tip out the water and dry the pan.
Pat the pork dry and rub salt over the skin, ensuring that it gets into the score marks. Push the cloves into the skin and stick the bay leaves and cinnamon shards into the scored slits. Return the two pieces of pork belly to the pan skin-side up, and roast until the skin is crackling and crisp and the meat pulls apart easily – about two hours. Let the belly rest, uncovered, for 15 minutes, before carving and serving.
Meanwhile, make the cabbage. In a sauté pan melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the sugar and cook, stirring constantly, until lightly caramelised – about six minutes. Add the cabbage to the pan and cook for about five minutes, until just tender. Add the vinegar, redcurrant juice, cinnamon, cloves and juniper, and bring to a simmer. Turn the heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the cabbage is very tender and the liquid has reduced slightly, about 30 minutes. Season with salt and leave to cool to room temperature. Remove and discard the cinnamon, cloves and juniper berries, and refrigerate until chilled. Serve chilled or reheat just before serving. Any leftovers can be stored in a covered container in the fridge for up to a week.

WD-50, New York: chef/patron Wylie Dufresne

Why is the staff meal important? I don't think everyone here is the best of friends, but for the most part I think they're friendly. So if you can't make good food for your friends, how can you make good food for strangers?
Grilled hanger steak with classic béarnaise sauce
Staff meals: WD-50Steak with béarnaise sauce is on the menu for the staff dinner at WD-50 in New York As chef/owner Wylie Dufresne says, 'If you can't make good food for your friends, how can you make good food for strangers?' Photograph: Evan Sung
Serves six.
2 680g hanger steaks (also known as onglet or skirt)
475ml red wine
6 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
10 sprigs fresh thyme
2 tsp black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
2 tbsp canola oil (or olive or sunflower oil)
For the sauce
3 shallots, peeled and minced
60ml champagne vinegar
30ml white wine
2 sprigs fresh tarragon, tied together with string
255g egg yolks (ie, from about 14 large eggs)
1 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus extra if required
225g cold unsalted butter, cut into 2.5cm cubes
1 tbsp tarragon leaves, chopped fine
Sea salt, to taste
Start on the steak a day ahead. With a small, sharp knife, remove any excess fat and silver skin (the slightly opaque tissue that's "shrink-wrapped" on to the meat). Put the steaks in a resealable container and add the wine, garlic, thyme, peppercorns and bay, making sure both steaks are completely covered in liquid, and refrigerate overnight or for up to 24 hours.
About an hour before serving, remove the steaks from their marinade, pat dry with kitchen towel and leave to come to room temperature. Heat a griddle or plancha to high (if you don't have one, heat a large cast-iron pan over high heat and heat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6).
While the steaks are coming to room temperature, make a start on the sauce. Combine the shallots, vinegar, wine and tarragon in a small pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and barely simmer until the shallots are meltingly tender and all the liquid evaporated, about 45 minutes. Leave to cool to room temperature, then remove and discard the tarragon.
In a bain-marie, over gently simmering water, combine the egg yolks and lemon juice, and whisk until the mixture thickens to the consistency of thick pancake batter – about five minutes. Keep the liquid moving and the bowl just above the simmering water, not sitting right in it.
When the egg mixture has thickened, add the cold butter a few cubes at a time, whisking until it's melted and completely incorporated before adding the next few cubes. After the butter is incorporated, add the shallot mixture, minced tarragon and salt to taste. If you want, brighten the sauce by adding a little extra lemon juice. Béarnaise splits if reheated, so use as soon as possible, before it gets too cool.
To cook the steaks, season all over with salt and pepper and brush all over with oil. For medium-rare steaks, griddle them over medium-high heat for six to eight minutes a side. To cook the steaks without a griddle, sear the steaks on both sides in the cast-iron skillet over high heat until a dark brown crust has formed – about three minutes on each side – then transfer the skillet to the oven until the steaks are done medium-rare, about 12 minutes.
Let the steaks rest for 10 minutes, then slice against the grain into 1cm-wide strips. Serve with the sauce on the side.

Villa9Trois, Montreuil, France: chef/patron Stéphane Reynaud

What is your staff meal philosophy? I always have a lot of food. Sometimes you are in a hurry, and when you are in a hurry, you do something very quick. But we always have the staff meal before lunch and dinner service.
Are there any favourite staff meals?
Cheese and eggs – we love that. Or a French hamburger with onions and fries. Or fresh vegetables with pasta.
Strawberry vacherin
Staff meals: Villa9Trois, FranceStraawberry vacherin is a sweet treat for the staff at Villa9Trois in Montreuil, France. Chef Stephane Reynaud insists his team sit down to eat together before every service, even if only for something very quick. Photograph: Owen Franken
Serves four.
900g ripe strawberries, hulled, cut in half and thinly sliced
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp granulated sugar
2 tbsp St-Germain liqueur 
8 small meringue shells
300ml heavy whipping cream
35g confectioners' sugar
475ml strawberry sorbet
Purée half the strawberries with the lemon juice, sugar and liqueur to create a smooth, pourable sauce. Break the meringues into bite-sized pieces. Whisk the cream and confectioners' sugar to stiff peaks.
Into four tall glasses wide enough for spoons to easily dig into, put alternating layers of sliced strawberry, strawberry sauce, meringue pieces and whipped cream. Finish with a scoop of sorbet and serve at once.

St John, London, England: chef/patron Fergus Henderson

What should every staff meal include? Care and love. Never try to feed them slops.
Crème fraîche, cucumber and cabbage salad with nigella seeds
Staff meals: St John cabbage saladCucumber and cabbage salad, St John-stlye. 'Care and love,' are the essential ingredients of any staff meal, says chef/patron Fergus Henderson. Photograph: Jason Lowe
Serves four.
180ml crème fraîche 
1 tsp stone-ground mustard 
1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus more as needed 
120ml canola oil (or olive oil) 
1 large cucumber, cut in half lengthways and then into thin half-moons 
1 small head green cabbage, quartered, cored and shredded 
35g coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley 
1 tbsp nigella seeds (optional) 
Sea salt and black pepper
In a blender, combine the crème fraîche, mustard and lemon juice, then purée while adding oil in a slow stream until emulsified. Pour into a bowl, add the cucumber, cabbage and parsley, and stir to coat. Season with nigella seeds, salt, pepper and additional lemon juice, if desired. Refrigerate until chilled, then serve.
Curried rice with chickpeas
Staff meals: St John curried riceWhat, no meat? St John may be famed for nose-to-tail eating, but today's staff meal is a veggie-friendly curried rice with chickpeas. Photograph: Jason Lowe
Serves four.
1 tbsp unsalted butter 
1 small white onion, peeled and finely chopped 
1 celery stalk, thinly sliced 
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced 
1 tbsp curry powder 
185g basmati rice 
120g drained canned chickpeas 
425ml vegetable stock 
40g golden raisins (optional) 
25g toasted almond slivers (optional)
2 tbsp coarsely chopped chervil 
Sea salt and black pepper 
Lemon wedges, for serving
Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat, and sauté the onion, celery and garlic until the onion is translucent; about six minutes. Add the curry powder, stir for a minute, then add the rice, chickpeas and stock, as well as the raisins and almonds, if using, and bring to a boil. Cover, turn the heat to medium-low, and simmer gently until the rice is tender and all the liquid absorbed; 15 to 20 minutes.
Remove from the heat, stir in the chervil, season and set aside, covered, for five minutes. Fluff with a fork, then heap on to platters bordered with lemon wedges.

The Guardian