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Florence Knight’s perfect Christmas lunch: the best roast turkey recipe

DEBBY LEWIS-HARRISON. FOOD STYLING: EMILY JONZEN. PROP STYLING: TONIA SHUTTLEWORTH
The Sunday Times, 

Simple food is made easier by careful choice of ingredients and preparation, so that as little as possible needs to be done at the last minute: exactly as Christmas should be. It’s a good opportunity to stock up on carefully sourced vinegar, chutney and cheese — indulgences that might be overlooked at another time of year.

Cotechino, a rich pork sausage found in Italian delis, is the perfect antidote to a potentially dry turkey. Brining the bird, either dry or wet, needs no specialist equipment and keeps meat tender and flavourful (but isn’t essential if you’re short of time).

For roast potatoes, try getting hold of golden wonder or yukon gold. A few russet apples or a handful of fresh rosemary will make a welcome addition before they go into the oven. A glug of port gives depth to spiced red cabbage, though I always seem to manage to find the only whole clove left in the bowl — a pungent version of the traditional sixpence.

Get ahead: December 24

Dry-brine your turkey and make the turkey-stock base from the giblets.

2 Prepare and cook the red cabbage.

3 Prepare and cook the lentil stuffing (without the apples and fresh herbs).

4 Peel and parboil the potatoes and place evenly over a cake rack in the fridge overnight.

5 Cook and prepare the cotechino.

Let’s go! December 25

10.30am Clean and halve any larger sprouts. Clean the carrots, leaving 1cm green tops.

11.20am Heat the oven to 150C (170C non-fan). Take the turkey, cabbage, potatoes and stuffing out of the fridge.

11.50am Stuff and baste the turkey, then place in the oven.

1.45pm Caramelise the apples and chop the dill and parsley.

2pm Turn the oven up to 200C (220C non-fan). Heat the oil on trays in the oven.

2.10pm Place the potatoes in the oil and roast for 15 minutes. Turn and cook for a further 15 minutes.

2.30pm Remove the turkey and wrap it loosely with foil.

2.35pm Blanch the carrots for 5 minutes and cut larger ones in half. Reduce the oven to 190C (210C non-fan) and cook for 15 minutes.

2.40pm Remove the potatoes and place them in a warm oven.

2.45pm Put the sprouts in the oven at 220C (240C non-fan) for 10-15 minutes. Make the tray gravy and finish with the premade stock.

2.50pm Add the butter, treacle and walnuts to the carrots and cook for further 5 minutes. Heat the red cabbage and lentil stuffing on the hob. Stir the apples and fresh herbs through the stuffing. Once hot, cover and set aside.

3pm Add the butter, lemon zest and juice to the sprouts. Bring everything to the table and carve the turkey.

The best roast turkey

Norfolk bronze or black are some of the best-flavoured birds and are worth seeking out as a festive centrepiece. It’s very important the turkey is at room temperature before you start cooking it; a meat probe will give you peace of mind. As a general guide, allow 40 minutes’ cooking time per kg. If you can’t find cotechino, use any fresh Italian seasoned sausage with a high fat content.

Serves 6 people

INGREDIENTS

  • 20g baking powder
  • 60g fine sea salt
  • 1 x 4kg turkey, at room temperature
  • 1kg cotechino (in bags)
  • 3 white onions, peeled and halved
  • 1 bulb of garlic, halved horizontally

01 Mix the baking powder and salt and rub the mixture all over the turkey skin. Leave in the fridge, uncovered, overnight or for up to 24 hours.

02 Heat the oven to 150C (170C non-fan). Lower the cotechino in its bags into a large pan and cover with cold water. Set over a medium heat and bring to the boil, simmering for 30 minutes. Remove the cotechino and set aside to cool in a bowl.

03 Open the bags and slit down the length of each sausage, removing and discarding the skins. Mash the sausage meat and, if preparing in advance, leave in the fridge overnight.

04 Remove the turkey from the fridge and, starting at the neck, loosen the skin with your hand. Spread the fat (it will have separated) of the cotechino beneath and over the skin, covering it well. Stuff the cotechino meat into the neck cavity, then the body cavity, leaving room for some air to circulate.

05 Place the onions and garlic into a roasting tin and sit a rack over them. Place the turkey on the rack, then into the oven for 2 hours.

06 Turn the oven up to 200C (220C non-fan) and roast for a further 30-40 minutes. The meat probe should read 75C. The juices should run clear when the thickest part of the thigh is pierced.

07 Take the turkey out of the oven, cover with foil and leave to rest for 30 minutes before carving.

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Tintin, the subject of 200 million comics sold, was likely based on a real 15-year-old …

 

In the overcrowded world of fictional characters, there are few faces as adorable as Tintin’s. Unlike Batman, Superman, or Wonder Woman, Tintin, the young investigative reporter, is not a household name in America, but he is definitely one of the most beloved figures in Europe.

With no specific magic powers, he is the antithesis of a superhero, but that didn’t prevent him from being widely admired by both children and adults. Charles de Gaulle once declared that Tintin is his only international rival, saying that “nobody notices, because of my height. We are both little fellows who won’t be got at by big fellows.”

Tintin and his fox terrier, Snowy, appeared for the first time on January 10, 1929, in the children’s supplement of the Belgian newspaper Le Vingtième Siecle. What started as the subject of a supplement went on to become a symbol of the 20th century, appearing in an inde­pen­dent comic book, on television, and even on the big screen in Steven Spiel­berg’s animated movie The Adven­tures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn.

Tintin is one of the most beloved figures in the comic book world.Author: Joi/Flickr-CC By 2.0

Georges Prosper Remi, known by the pen name Hergé, is the man behind the creation of Tintin. With almost no formal training, Hergé began drawing the legendary comic-book character in 1929, but little did he know that by doing so he would give birth to an entire European comics publishing industry.

Tintin and his fox terrier Snowy appeared for the first time in 1929. Author: karrikas/Flickr CC By 2.0

Since 1929, Tintin comics have sold more than 200 million copies, and over the years, this beloved character served as an inspiration for many people and influenced the ways comic book readers perceive the world around them. But what actually inspired Hergé to create the iconic character?

Debate still exists on what exactly inspired Hergé to come up with the snub-nosed teenage reporter, but most people agree that it was a real life person known by the name Palle Huld. It is one of the most original of origin stories in the comic book world.

Less than a year before Tintin made his first appearance, in the children’s supplement of  Le Vingtième Siecle, a 15-year-old Danish Boy Scout named Palle Huld won a competition organized by a Danish newspaper to mark the centennial of Jules Verne.

 

Palle Huld, during his trip around the world in 1928, almost certainly influenced Hergé to create Tintin.

The winner of the competition would re-enact Phileas Fogg’s voyage from Verne’s famous novel Around the World in Eighty Days. Strangely enough, only teenage boys were allowed to take part in the competition, and the 15-year-old was the perfect match. There was another twist: The winner had to complete the journey within 46 days, without any company and without using planes.

Hundreds of Danish teenagers applied to participate in the competition, and Palle was lucky enough to be chosen. He started his journey on March 1, 1928, from Copenhagen and traveled by rail and steamship through England, Scotland, Canada, Japan, the Soviet Union, Poland, and Germany.

His journey made the headlines at the time and when he arrived in Denmark, he was already a celebrity. Over 20,000 admirers greeted their hero when he came back home.

The next thing he did was write a book about his journey, which was quite popular among his admirers, and published in several languages. That book also came into the hands of a Belgian cartoonist known by the name of Hergé and that same year, when Huld’s book was published, Tintin made his debut.

Huld himself suggested on several occasions that he was the inspiration for Tintin. However, others believe that the inspiration behind the character was actually the French travel photojournalist Robert Sexe, whose journeys were exactly in the same order as Tintin’s first three books.

With no specific superpowers, Tintin is the antithesis of a superhero. Author: Hicham Souilmi CC By 2.0

Nonetheless, true Tintin fans couldn’t care less. For them it is all about the character, a hero they all know and love, representing something that others don’t have: uncompromising vigilance and the need to succeed no matter what the cost.

Tintin proves that a hero doesn’t need to be big or strong, he or she just needs to be tenacious and stubborn enough to do what needs to be done.

By Goran Blazeski

The mystery of the Octavius: An 18th-century ghost ship was discovered with the captain’s body found frozen at his desk, still holding his pen

Maritime lore abounds with stories of ghost ships, those ships that sail the world’s oceans manned by a ghostly crew and destined never to make port. The most well known of these tales is that of the Mary Celeste. But one of the eeriest stories has to be the mystery of the Octavius.

The story opens in 1761 with the Octavius docked in the port of London to take on a cargo destined for China. This majestic sailing ship left port with a full crew, the skipper, and his wife and son. They arrived safely in China and unloaded their cargo. They headed back to sea once she was loaded with goods destined for British shores, but as the weather was unusually warm, the captain decided to sail home via the Northwest Passage, a voyage that at the time had not been accomplished. This was the last that anyone heard of the vessel, her crew, or her cargo. Octavius was declared lost.

“Rising full moon.” From the series “Ghost Ship.”

On October 11, 1775, the whaling ship Herald was working the frigid waters off Greenland when it spotted a sailing ship. On nearing the ship, the crew saw that the ship was weather beaten–the sails were tattered and torn and hanging limply on the masts.

The captain of the Herald ordered a boarding party to search the vessel, which they had determined was the Octavius. The boarding party arrived on deck to find it deserted. They broke open the ship’s hatch and scrambled down the ladder into the semi-darkness below, where a terrifying sight met their eyes. They found the entire 28-man crew frozen to death in their quarters. In the captain’s cabin, they found the captain seated at his desk, pen in hand, with the ship’s logbook open on the desk in front of him. The inkwell and other everyday items were still in their place on the desk. Turning around, they saw a woman wrapped in a blanket on the bunk, frozen to death, along with the body of a young boy.

The boarding party was terrified; grabbing the ship’s log, they fled from the Octavius. In their mad flight, they lost the middle pages of the logbook that were frozen solid and came loose from the bookbinding. They arrived back on the Herald with just the first and last pages of the logbook, which were enough for the master of the Herald to determine at least a part of the story of the voyage. The captain of the Octavius had tried to navigate the Northwest Passage, but his ship had become imprisoned in the ice of the Arctic, and the entire crew had perished. The ship’s last recorded position was 75N 160W, which placed the Octavius 250 miles north of Barrow, Alaska.

As the Octavius had been found off the coast of Greenland, it must have broken loose from the ice at some stage and completed its voyage through the passage to come out on the other side, where it met the Herald.  The crew of the Herald were frightened of the Octavius and feared that it was cursed, so they simply left it adrift. To this day, it has never been sighted again.

Author: Hannes Grobe/AWI.CC by 3.0

Author David Meyer has tried to track down the story of the Octavius. In his blog, he considers the idea that the Octavius could be the same ship as the Gloriana, which was boarded in 1775 by the captain of the Try Again, John Warrens. He recorded that he found a frozen crew that had been dead for 13 years and the date of the discovery was spookily similar–November 11, 1762. Are these tales of the same vessel? In the Gloriana story, there is no mention of the Northwest Passage, which remains even today a place of mystery and magic but that adds just that little bit of spice to the tale ofOctavius.

This makes an excellent ghost story for around the campfire. Did the Octavius eventually run aground and sink, or does she still sail the high seas with a crew of skeletons at the wheel?

By Ian Harvey

The Neo-Gothic Santa Justa lift in Lisbon, inaugurated by royalty in 1901, elevates its visitors to a gorgeous vista

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In the last decade, Lisbon has become one of the most popular cities in Europe. It takes only one visit to this European gem to understand why: pleasant climate, delicious food and wine, enjoyable music evenings, and a myriad of sights.

Moreover, this so-called City of Seven Hills offers spectacular panoramic views over its picturesque architectural structures. Lisbon’s seven hills have had a crucial influence on the urbanization and intra-city transportation systems.

The viewpoints, or miradouros in Portuguese, can be found in lots of places around Lisbon, however, there is one popular tourist hotspot which takes visitors to a unique belvedere–the ornate elevator Santa Justa or Elevador de Santa Justa (Port.)

Light post in Lisbon, beside the “Elevador de Santa Justa”.

In Lisbon, there are four historic elevators that are national monuments-the Lift of Glory (1885), the Ascensor de Bica (1892), and Ascensor de Lavra (1884), although the Santa Justa, a 45-meter construction in Neo-Gothic style, is the most attractive. This lift was built in the 19th century and opened in 1902 when wrought iron was considered both a construction material and art form. The work began two years prior to the opening in order to replace the initial animal-powered inclined rail lift with a vertical elevator. In 1901, King Carlos inaugurated the lift, which became fully operational the following year.

Lisbon, Portugal – May 14: The Santa Justa Lift in Lisbon on May 14, 2014. Elevador di Santa Justa – an elevator lift in Lisbon,

The construction of the Santa Justa was funded by the royal house, and on the opening day over 3,000 tickets were sold. By the end of the first year after its opening, over half a million passengers were estimated to have been in the lift, so its popularity flourished and kept on rising.

Santa Justa elevator in Lisbon Portugal during day of autumn

The elevator Santa Justa’s structure is embellished with appealing Neo-Gothic arches and geometrical patterns, while its inside includes two wooden carriages that transport passengers up the steep hill in the Baixa district to the ruins of the Carmo convent and church through the exit at the upper level. In the past, this lift was a very useful service, which eased the difficulty in climbing up the steep Carmo Hill. However, nowadays it’s one of the most valuable landmarks in Lisbon.

Close up on Santa Justa elevator in Lisbon Portugal during day of autumn

Elevador de Santa Justa was designed by the architect Raoul Mesnier de Ponsard, the former apprentice and civil engineer of the now celebrity architect Gustav Eiffel, the designer of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. When Ponsard finished his studies, he returned to his hometown and decided to put his knowledge into practice.

Famous Santa Justa elevator in the Baixa District in Lisbon, Portugal, 19th century project by Raul Mesnier de Ponsard

This fact explains the similarities concluded between the Elevador de Santa Justa and the Eiffel Tower and the epithet “the Eiffel Tower of Portugal.” The lift includes two cabins which can carry 25 people at once, both decorated with wood panels and brass fittings that take off every morning early at around 7 AM and finish work at 11 PM.

Famous Iron Santa Justa Lift (or Carmo Elevator) in Lisbon, Portugal

Initially, the elevator was powered by steam, but since 1907 it has been using electricity with a safer and cleaner motor which still powers the lift. When visitors reach the top, they step on the platform which can be reached by a spiral case, and relax with a coffee in the cafe while drifting away into the magnificent view of the Baixa neighborhood, the Rossio square or the castle on the opposite hill. At night, the Santa Justa belvedere becomes a real romantic oasis in the crowded urban Portuguese jungle.

Lisbon, Santa Justa Elevator at night

In 1973, the Elevador de Santa Justa came under public ownership and was taken over by the Carris Corporation, the executive manager of Lisbon’s tram network. This act has integrated the elevator in the public network of the city, thus, today, a ride on the lift can be obtained with the 24-hour public transport ticket purchased at any metro station. The Santa Justa is open seven days a week and works around 16 hours a day. In 2002, Elevador de Santa Justa, along with the Gloria, Bica, and Lavra cable railways, were all recognized as national monuments.

The authentic ambiance of Santa Justa continues even after its closing hours in the summer with street music bands that perform in front of the lift’s entrance, entertaining the late night audience who enthusiastically enjoys the colorful vibes and sensations of Lisbon.

By Magda Origjanska

Seventeenth-Century Shopping List Discovered Under Floorboards of Historic English Home

400 year old shopping listAmong other necessary items, the list includes “greenfish,” a “fireshovel” and two dozen pewter spoons.(Image courtesy of the National Trust)

 

Pewter spoons, a frying pan and “greenfish”—these must-have items were scribbled on a shopping list 400 years ago. The scrap of paper was recently discovered under the floorboards of Knole, a historic country home in Kent, England.

As Oliver Porritt reports for Kent Live, Jim Parker, a volunteer working with the archaeology team at Knole, discovered the 1633 note during a multi-million dollar project to restore the house. The team also found two other 17th century letters nearby. One, like the shopping list, was located under the attic floorboards; another was stuffed into a ceiling void.

The shopping list was penned by Robert Draper and addressed to one Mr. Bilby. According to the UK’s National Trust, the note was “beautifully written,” suggesting that Draper was a high-ranking servant. In addition to the aforementioned kitchenware and greenfish (unsalted cod), Draper asks Mr. Bilby to send a “fireshovel” and “lights” to Copt Hall (also known as Copped Hall), an estate in Essex. The full text reads:

Mr Bilby, I pray p[ro]vide to be sent too morrow in ye Cart some Greenfish, The Lights from my Lady Cranfeild[es] Cham[ber] 2 dozen of Pewter spoon[es]: one greate fireshovell for ye nursery; and ye o[t]hers which were sent to be exchanged for some of a better fashion, a new frying pan together with a note of ye prises of such Commoditie for ye rest.

Your loving friend

Robert Draper

Octobre 1633

Copthall

Discovering the letterJim Parker, a volunteer working with the archaeology team at Knole, discovered the 1633 note during a multi-million dollar project to restore the house. (Image courtesy of the National Trust)

How did this rather mundane domestic letter come to be stashed in an attic at Knole, which is some 36 miles away from Copt Hall?  As the National Trust explains, Copt Hall and Knole merged when Frances Cranfield married Richard Sackville in 1637. Cranfield was the daughter of the Earl of Middlesex, who owned Copt Hall; Sackville, the 5th Earl of Dorset, had inherited Knole, his family’s home.

Household records indicate that large trunks filled with domestic items—including various papers—were moved from Copt Hall to Knole at the time of the marriage, and subsequently stored in the attic. Draper’s note may have slipped under the floorboards.

The marriage of Cranfield and Sackville was important for Knole, according to the National Trust Collections, because Cranfield inherited a trove of expensive paintings and furniture from her father. Draper’s letter certainly was not among the more prized items that Cranfield brought to the marriage, but for modern-day historians, it is exceptionally valuable.

“It’s extremely rare to uncover letters dating back to the 17th century, let alone those that give us an insight into the management of the households of the wealthy, and the movement of items from one place to another,” Nathalie Cohen, regional archaeologist for the National Trust, tells Porritt. She added that the good condition of both the list and the two other letters found at Knole “makes this a particularly exciting discovery.”

By Brigit Katz

 

A different view of history through art

The Fighting Temeraire by JMW TurnerThe Fighting Temeraire by JMW Turner
GETTY IMAGES

The Fighting Temeraire (1839) by JMW Turner stirs extraordinary passions (Thunderer, November 9; Letters, November 11 and 13), showing the final voyage of the 98-gun sailing warship that played a distinguished role in the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. It is being towed upriver in the Thames by a steam-driven tug in a scene often interpreted as a sense of loss, the nostalgic sunset representing the end of the age of sail.

However, this may be wrong. Although the sky in the picture has often been assumed to show a sunset, it is more likely to have been a sunrise, which might symbolise the dawn of the exciting new age of steam.

From a meteorological point of view the spectacular colour of the sky is fascinating. During the day, sunlight is scattered by gas molecules in the atmosphere, resulting in a blue sky. During sunrise or sunset, the sun’s rays have to pass through a much larger chunk of the atmosphere and most of the blue light is scattered, leaving amber and red light.

The colours of sunset or sunrise can be more complex. If the air contains pollutants and small dust particles of the right size, the sun and the sky can turn intensely orange, red and purple.

These pollutants and particles
can come from wildfires and dust storms, which is what we saw with the bizarre sight of a red sun during the day in October, when ex-Hurricane Ophelia swept up Saharan dust and smoke from wildfires in Portugal.

During Turner’s artistic career there was coal smoke polluting the atmosphere and a great deal of volcanic activity in the world, when the atmosphere was filled with the dust of violent eruptions. That pollution and dust helped to create some lurid and surreal-coloured sunrises and sunsets. As one woman commented to Turner: “I never see your skies in nature, Mr Turner.” To which Turner replied: “Then God help you, ma’am.”

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