Traditional Scottish recipe: Ecclefechan tart

Named after a village in Dumfries and Galloway, this wonderful recipe for Ecclefechan Tart comes from top Scottish chef Neil Forbes.

This is a wonderful recipe which I adapted from one given to me by a dear friend of mine, John Webber, who is now teaching at Nick Nairn’s Cook School, but was once the head chef at Kinnaird House in Perthshire

Ecclefechan tart

1 Prepare a blind-baked sweet pastry 10in tart shell and leave it in the mould. I use bottomless tins.

2 Beat the soft butter and brown sugar together until well combined and creamed. Then trickle the eggs in slowly, a little at a time.

3 Add the cinnamon, lemon juice and zest and mix well. Fold in the raisins and walnuts and give it a good mix.

4 Scoop the mix into the prepared pastry case and smooth out with a wet palette knife.

5 Bake at 160C/Gas Mark 4 for roughly 45 minutes, checking and spreading the mix flat as you go.

6 Allow to cool slightly before cutting into slices and serving with lots of crème fraîche.

Ecclefechan Tart

Neil with his creation. Picture: Neil Forbes

Read More at: Traditional Scottish recipe: Ecclefechan tart – Scotsman Food and Drink

‘Stunning’ sight draws gathering of birders to York city walls

Catch them while you can!

They only head to our shores every few years, and not often in the numbers being seen now.Rob Chapman, of York Birding and the regional rep for the British Trust for Ornithology, was among those watching from the walls today (Friday).“Every few years, you get a big influx of waxwings, when the berry crop fails in the Nordic countries, Scandinavia and the like, and and they come over to the UK,” he told YorkMix.

“Here in York two days ago, there were up to 42 on the corner of Nunnery Lane and Bishy Road.”

Birdwatchers on the city walls study the waxwings in the tree. Photograph: YorkMix

If you’ve seen groups of people with binoculars and long camera lenses gathered around York city walls this week, here’s the reason why.
They are birdwatchers who have come to see the uncommon site of a group of waxwings visiting the city.
Bohemian waxwings, to give them their full name, have a large crest and colourful plumage. As one birdwatcher put it, they are ‘stunning birds’. [ . . . ]

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Belle and Sebastian star in Scottish episode of The Simpsons

Belle and Sebastian
Belle and Sebastian feature as the wedding band in the latest episode of The Simpsons

Belle and Sebastian were asked to write a ballad for Groundskeeper Willie’s wedding in the hit US show.

By James Delaney | BBC Scotland News

Their output has featured 12 studio albums, dozens of festival appearances and a slew of critically acclaimed songs.

But renowned indie band Belle and Sebastian have now embarked on their most challenging project yet – providing the soundtrack for The Simpsons’ trip to Scotland.

America’s most infamous family crossed the Atlantic in the latest episode of the long-running cartoon for the wedding of Groundskeeper Willie.

The gruff school caretaker’s marriage to Maisie – voiced by Inverness-born actor Karen Gillan – features a performance by “The Belle and Sebastian Experience”.

The song, entitled Willie and the dream of Peat Bogs, bears striking similarities to their 1996 hit Judy and the Dream of Horses.

The band also performs If You Find Yourself Caught In Love at the ceremony itself.

Singer Stuart Murdoch revealed creator Matt Groening was a long-term fan.

And he said the band were only too happy to lend their song writing talents to the episode, Ae Bonny Romance, which features the voice of David Tennant.

band on stage
Simpsons creator Matt Groening is a fan of the band

He told BBC Radio Scotland’s Drivetime programme: “The Simpsons people got in touch and they gave us an outline of the show..

“We have a song called Judy and the Dream of Horses and they said: ‘Can you write us a song like that, except we’ll give you a summary of the story and you can work it into the song?’

“We were like, ‘come on, Belle and Sebastian, it’s not our first picnic, we can do anything’.

“But it’s cool. Matt Groening has always been a fan of the band. We went to a table read of The Simpsons about 15 years ago.

“I think when he thought of Scotland, he thought of us, incredibly”

‘Proclaimers dentist’

While the episode is yet to air in the UK, it was broadcast in the United States on Sunday.

Fearing Willie to have been kidnapped, Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie travel to Scotland – on a Francis Begbie-inspired Planespotting Airlines flight – in order to investigate.

However it later emerges that it was a ploy by the groom to have Springfield’s first family at his wedding.

They are soon drawn to exploring some of the country’s most famous locations, including the Old Course at St Andrews.

A viral clip of Lisa discovering the array of unique shows available at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe has already tickled Scottish audiences on social media.

But Stuart said there was plenty more for eagle-eyed viewers to spot when the episode makes it to UK screens.

He said: “There’s a lot of Scottish Easter eggs in the actual show itself. Lisa goes to the Edinburgh festival, there’s a dentist called ‘Proclaimers dentist’ and the sign says ‘I would fix 500 smiles’.

“They definitely know Scotland. When I read the script, one of the funniest bits is Lisa going to the Festival.”

The band’s music has featured in a number of Hollywood productions before.

Seymour Stein had a cameo in High Fidelity, Expectations starred in 2007 hit Juno and The Boy with the Arab Strap, arguably the band’s most famous work, featured on the soundtrack to (500) Days of Summer.

Stuart was impressed with the way the song had been incorporated into the story of the episode.

He revealed an animated music video by the show’s artists was also on the way.

He said: “We’ve been in films before. I love it when they use the music well.

“The best thing is the writers actually come to you and say ‘here’s what we want’, rather than someone just plonking it into the middle of something.

“I think it works. We haven’t actually seen the whole show. It has only just come out in the States.

“I’ve seen a clip of the finishing credits and it works really well.”

Source: Belle and Sebastian star in Scottish episode of The Simpsons

Peeping Tom: The 1960 British flop that invented the slasher movie

Michael Powell’s daring 1960 British horror Peeping Tom disgusted critics and ended his career for nearly 20 years. It’s often credited with inspiring the all-American “slasher” movie.

The setting is unremarkable, most often an unassuming American suburbia. The villain is a blade-wielding, unapologetic killer, warped by past trauma into luring strangers to their (preferably bloody) deaths. The protagonists, typically young and horny, are all at risk, except perhaps for one: a “final girl” who may be resilient and morally pure enough to survive.

Even only casual viewers of horror will recognise this as the common outline of a slasher movie. Cemented in hit “Golden Age” slashers like Halloween (1978), Friday the 13th (1980) and A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) (not to mention the many sequels to and imitators of each), the tropes of the slasher subgenre have been laid bare and then parodied and deconstructed in horror movies ever since Wes Craven’s Scream (1996) kicked off its own self-aware slasher genre.

Alamy Peeping Tom was met with revulsion by critics at the time: its British distribution was cancelled and the film and its director were forgotten for nearly 20 years (Credit: Alamy)

Those tropes that are now so familiar, however, have their origins in a film made almost two decades before the so-called Golden Age of the slasher began – and by a Brit, no less. But though hailed today as one of cinema’s best and most groundbreaking horrors, Peeping Tom found no such adulation when it was released back in 1960.

The film’s director, Michael Powell, had recently parted ways with his creative partner of nearly two decades, screenwriter Emeric Pressburger, with whom he had made some of Britain’s most spellbinding pictures, among them The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943), A Matter of Life and Death (1946) and Black Narcissus (1947) – humanistic, romantic, fantastical works that tested cinema’s then-limits in photography and optical effects. For Peeping Tom, Powell had a new partner-in-crime, World War Two codebreaker-turned-screenwriter Leo Marks, and together they had in mind a different kind of innovation.

Noir in the 50s suddenly becomes a lot more brutal and more willing to follow protagonists who are pretty loathsome – Dr Matthew Asprey Gear

By the late 1950s, the relaxation of film censorship, society’s evolving relationship with the taboo and cinema’s competition with the increasingly popular medium of television were changing films, in Hollywood and the UK. Dr Matthew Asprey Gear, tutor at the Edinburgh College of Art, tells BBC Culture that films at this time would become “more lurid and titillating and dwell in the murk a little bit, to pull the audience in”. This meant more sex and violence, says Gear; it also meant less moral certainty when it came to depictions of crime. “Noir in the 50s suddenly becomes a lot more brutal and more willing to follow protagonists who are pretty loathsome… Even if they do get their comeuppance, the focus on their immorality feels like something new,” he says.

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