Friday, August 31, 2007

Hello Old Thing, Hello New Thing: 23

Gene Vincent: Crazy Beat (Capitol, 1963)
I think it's safe to say that poor old Gene was familiar with this when recording this little beauty in 1963. In 1:58 seconds he takes the Otis Blackwell and Eddie Cooley tune to a whole new level, stripping away whole sections of jazz-bo niceness and inserting fresh teen-rock blood. I stole this wholesale from this excellent compilation put together by Andrew Weatherall, of putting records on, playing them, then taking them off while putting another one on, fame.

Dooley O: I Don't Want To Lose You (Lewis Recordings, 2007)
Now we're on the subject of drawing inspiration, I would stick my neck out and suggest that Dooley O has, in his whole life, run into not only this (and, by the way, how amazing does that still sound?), but this ker-lassic too. But that's a good thing, right, as what Dooley's done here is produce the sort of hip hop record that you thought no one was making any more - ie lyrically pointed, genuinely witty and hip-threateningly rambunctious. The good people at Lewis clearly know what they're doing.


Thursday, August 30, 2007

Le Chandelier

Have you seen what's happened to that old antiques shop on Lordship Lane? You know, next door to Cafe Noodle. Well they've kept the name, all the chandeliers and some of the furniture and turned it into a proper, wonderful French-style Salon de Thé. Me and Scrap popped in after work yesterday at about 6pm and had a delightful time. He had a chocolate tart (£3.15), a glass of bubbly water (£1.20) and I had a pot of lovely Yellow Gold Oolong tea (£4). There's a choice of about 30 teas and a good selection of pastries, cakes and fresh tarts and cream cakes. They also do sandwiches (William Rose's bacon sandwich in their own sourdough bread!) and some salads and best of all, they are open until 10pm. I was very pleased with our choices until a women walked through the door a few minutes later with a similar aged son. "I'll have a glass of Champagne", she said, "and a glass of juice for him". Yes, they also have a licensed bar. I missed an opportunity there didn't I with my fancy pot of tea. And they gave her a little dish of salty nuts too. Sigh.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Hang-Over Cures

Yesterday, I cured my bank-holiday hang-over with chocolate cheesecake. My usual remedy is an icy can of Coke and a soft white bacon sandwich. Fraser at Blogjam says his best cures are ice-cream or Pepto Bismol. Here he combines the two with a remarkably unique recipe. Not quite sure I could cope with this one myself.

Any other cures? Not that I am planning to drink white wine from lunchtime to bedtime again anytime soon, you understand.

Bibimbap (Korean rice pot)

After our trip to Happy Hens at the weekend, I've got a lot of eggs to use up. This is a lovely way to get rid of two of them.

Serves 2
1 thick steak
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
200 g fragrant rice
half cucumber, cut into fine matchsticks
1 carrot, cut into fine matchsticks
1 tbps sunflower oil
2 larg eggs
4 spring onions, shredded
1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
2 tbsp soy
1 tbsp vinegar
2 tbsp thick chilli sauce
1 crushed garlic clove
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp sesame oil

1 Marinate the steak in the the soy sauce and sesame oil.

2 Place the rice in a pan with 400ml of water and bring to the boil. Cover and cook gently for 20 minutes until tender.

3 Cook the steak for a few minutes on each side until crusty but still fairly rare in the centre. Transfer to a plate and leave to rest for 5 minutes.

4 Mix together the sauce ingredients.

5 Fry the eggs.

6 Spoon the rice into large bowls then top with the carrots and cucumber. Slice the steak and place on top along with the fried eggs. Finish with the sauce and spring onions, sesame seeds. Eat straightaway.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Chocolate Cheesecake

Yes, I have a hangover. Yes, I have made a pudding for my lunch.

Serves 8
200 g pack stem ginger biscuits
50 g butter, melted
150g bar Green & Blacks Organic Cooking chocolate
3 x 250g tubs mascarpone
125 g light brown muscovado sugar
2 tbsp cornflour
3 large eggs
extra thick single cream, to serve

1 Preheat the oven to 180C, gas mark 4. Place the cookies in a strong plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin. Tip into a large bowl and stir in the melted butter until evenly mixed.

2 Tip the crumb mixture into a 23cm non-stick, spring-form cake tin, pressing down firmly with the back of a spoon. Place in the fridge to chill for 5 or 10 minutes.

3 Meanwhile, gently melt the chocolate over a pan of simmering water or in a microwave then leave to cool a little.

4 Place the mascarpone, sugar, cornflour and eggs in a large bowl and beat with an electric whisk until smooth. Whisk in the cooled melted chocolate. Pour into the prepared tin, level the surface and place on a baking sheet and cook for 45 minutes until risen – it will still feel a little wobbly but will set as it cools.

5 Turn off the oven, open the door and leave the cheesecake until completely cool. Chill until ready to eat it then turn out of the tin, cut into wedges and serve with cream.

Monday, August 27, 2007

The Diet

Not going so well today. Again :(

A weekend of pasta at mum's followed by Brownies at The Herne Tavern

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Hello Old Thing, Hello Even Older Thing: 3

Consortium: Copper Coloured Years (Trend, 1970)
You probably know this as the B-Side to Melanie Cries Alone, right? Except you probably don't. I didn't. Well, like you, I've been busy with stuff. Anyway, Consortium were once West Coast Consortium and - as you can see - it was faux-Edwardian psychedelia a-go-go. But this is something quite different - a piece of lush, highly ambitious pop music that clearly had a fair wodge of cash thrown at the production. I've stolen it wholesale from Bob Stanley's fantastic new compilation of what he has dubbed the English Baroque sound. It's lovely. You'll like it.

Little Junior's Blue Flames: Feelin' Good (Sun, 1953)
Brilliant factoid alert: Junior Parker's Sun single before Feelin' Good was called Feelin' Bad. You have to love him for that, no? Anyway, this is a lovely record with a spoken intro bit, some insanely wonderful (and rather lascivious) hollering from a 21 year-old Parker and a stripped-to-the-bone rockabilly-blues shuffle backing it all up. In 1953. I can't imagine what 1953 felt like, but this would suggest people were thinking similar thoughts and planning similar deviations from the righteous path as they are now. Which is good, isn't it?

I think this is a different Bob Stanley.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Revolution At No. 9 (I Mean 4)

Look over there, on the left, at number nine. That's right, The Word Podcast is the ninth most popular music podcast in the entire country! Surely it can't be all down to my innate hilariousness?*

*"No, it can't": The World

EDIT: We're now up to No. 4! This is truly wonderful news...

Friday, August 24, 2007

Chilli-Ginger Greengage Chutney

This is yummy. If you can face it, halve the greengages and take the stones out, otherwise, just leave them in and warn people not to swallow them. Leave at least a couple of months before eating. With cheese.

Makes 12 jars

1.75kg greengages
3 Bramley apples, cored and chopped
large hand of ginger, peeled and chopped
3 onions, chopped
500g small sultanas or raisins
6 garlic cloves, crushed
6 red chillies, chopped, seeds and all
2 tbsp of mixed whole spices, eg mustard, coriander, cumin, allspice, cinnamon stick, star anise, cardamom pods
1 tsp peppercorns
1 tsp sea salt
1.5litres white wine vinegar
1.2 kg sugar

Place all in a large pan and bring to the boil. Simmer gently for 2 hours or so until the liquid has evaporated. Pot into warm sterilised jars and seal.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Amazing Gossip Just In (Two Days Ago)

Parents of under-fives: this will make your hair stand on end.


I’ve been having trouble getting to sleep lately. I lie there in the dark watching rubbish films like Stigmata and Femme Fatale on Channel 5 as Robert’s snoring rattles the window panes.
So, I thought, I’ll go on the internet and get some nice, soothing teas, called ‘Sleepy Time’ or something like that. Only instead of that I found, this, the most exciting tea on earth! Pu Erh it is called. Speeds up the metabolism and makes you lose loads of weight, apparently. Drink it with your meal and it gets rid of all the fat in your dinner whilst lowering your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Smells like a farmyard and keeps you wide awake when you should be fast asleep but still, small price to pay!

Tonight I will be watching Main Khiladi Tu Anari, an action film staring Shilpa Shetty, Channel 4, 12.25.
Any sleep / snoring remedies gratefully received.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

There Goes My Better Judgement Then

The Scotland Yard Gospel Choir: I Never Thought I Could Feel This Way For A Boy (Bloodshot, 2007)
I have spent years developing and refining a deep-seated dislike of Belle And Sebastian and everything they stand for. So you can imagine my mixed feelings on receiving this new album from some young shavers from Chicago who clearly think B&S are ace. This is proper, rattley indie-pop like how they used to make in the olden days and it makes me feel glad to be alive every time I hear it.

Bloody bastards...

Crab Apple Jelly

My brother gave me a load of organic crab apples and greengages from the trees in his garden yesterday so I had a go at making jelly. It was a grey, drizzly day but the smell of apples bubbling away on the stove and finally, the sight of my row of crystal-clear, ruby-red jars lined up on the kitchen counter really lifted my spirits. Though simple, as usual, it took longer than I thought it would and Scrap soon grew bored of picking off the leaves deciding that "apple jam is yuk" and instead settled down in the lounge in front of this week's favourite film Herbie - The Love Bug, regularly summoning me by yelling "it's tum off!!" at the top of his voice every time there was an ad break.

Crab apples contain so much pectin that unless you really add too much water, the jelly will always set and you'll have something delicious to show for your efforts. Tomorrow I'm going to have a go at greengage jam (or maybe chutney).

Wash the crab apples well, removing the leaves and stalks. Place in a large pan and just cover with water. Bring to the boil and simmer on the lowest heat for one hour until the apples are very, very soft. Line a large sieve or colander with a muslin cloth and tip in the mixture. Leave the liquid to drip through for a couple of hours - if you push it with a wooden spoon, you will get more out but the finished jelly will be cloudy. Measure the apple liquid and pour into a very large clean pan. Add roughly three quarters of the same volume of granulated sugar ( I had 2.5 litres liquid, added 1.8 litres sugar and got 9 jars of jelly) and gently bring to the boil, stirring from time to time until the sugar has completely dissolved. Boil hard for 10 minutes then cool a little, pour into jars and seal.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Why Modern Music Is Good

Mixtapes & Cellmates: Like Something Worth Remembering (Tangled Up!, 2007)
Fifteen years ago, shoegazing indie-pop bands would have fought to the death to prove they were neither shoegazing nor indie, nor pop. These days - clearly a more enlightened age - they set up a MySpace page to advertise the fact. I think this is a good thing.

Anyway, Mixtapes & Cellmates are from Sweden and - as we can all see - (largely) have good hair. They have also made a respectable album album that doesn't really exist on the internet yet. But it will.


Sitting Comfortably?

This is the 1968 directorial debut of Monty Python's Terry Gilliam. It's very nice. You might want to make a cup of tea and have a relax for a bit...

Friday, August 17, 2007

Out and A Scout

I’ve been out in the countryside this week as a ‘scout’, interview-ing Local Food Heroes for UKTV food. As a Derbeian, I was given The Midlands as my region. I met farmers, day-old piglets, pure breed Hereford cattle, a woman who made chutney and the best butcher in the world ever (got his own smoke house).

I started my journey in Much Marcle near Ledbury at a great place called the The Scrumpy House which is on the site of a cider mill. I drank 7 different ciders and a delicious perry at 9.30am and got fed fantastic local ham, egg and chips for my lunch. Ledbury is a beautiful place to visit. The Midlands has got a lot: scenery and fresh air, my parents and lots of other family, Stilton, Melton Mowbray Pork Pies, Buxton Water and Bakewell Pudding but still, I felt my pulse settle and life feel right again as my train pulled into dirty old Kings Cross just in time for the rush hour.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Poor Old Elvis...

30 years dead this very day. Still, never mind, eh? I never really liked Elvis that much, apart from this one song. And, to be honest, I only really like this one because it was sampled on Chill Out and my memories of that record are so all-encompassingly positive that anything it touched remains gilt-edged and bathed in the warm glow of post-rave nostalgia.


Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Jamie Oliver & His Sexy Salad

It seems 'indifferent' is the best way to explain the results of our latest visitor poll.
Jamie Oliver: Yes or No?
Not many votes but the yeses just about have it. Personally, I like Jamie but I am a bit confused by his sudden swing from Dinner Lady to Lord of the Manor on his latest and let's face it, a bit boring, new tv show. The new book of the series, Jamie at Home however, is very, very lovely. I did hope to steal a recipe from it for Landcroft House but it's not out until next month so I'd probably get sent to prison. Here's a modest old salad of his instead.

The Easiest, Sexiest Salad in The World
"... I love this salad. Apart from being a great combination, it always seems unbelievably effortless, which is the kind of recipe I like. The constant success of this is due to the common-sense marriage of salty Parma ham, milky buffalo mozzarella and sweet figs, which obviously need to be of a good quality. The best figs to use are Italian and the best time to buy them is June to August when they are in season. Greek figs are a good second-best and are in season from September to November. The best figs always seem to be those that are about to split their skins. Use green or black figs - it doesn't really matter.

One thing I do is to criss-cross the figs but not quite to the bottom - 1 fig per person is always a good start. Then, using your thumbs and forefingers, squeeze the base of the fig to expose the inside. At this point you'll think, 'Oooh, that looks nice, I think I'm quite clever ...' or at least I do. More importantly, it allows your dressing to get right into the middle of the fig. All these little things really help to make a salad special. Simply place the figs in a dish, weave around 1 slice of Parma ham or prosciutto per fig, throw in some slices of buffalo mozzarella and rip over some green or purple basil. Mix 6 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, 3 tablespoons of lemon juice, a tablespoon of good honey and some sea salt and freshly ground black pepper together in a bowl and drizzle everything with this dressing. As far as salads go, it's pretty damn sexy.

PS It's a good idea to have some spare bread on the table to mop up the juices - always a treat..."

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

This Record Is Quite Nice, Actually: 2

Young Galaxy: The Alchemy Between Us (Arts & Crafts, 2007)
Let's hear it for Nu-Gazing. I put the Young Galaxy album on this morning and immediately liked it. This is a good sign as I was beginning to think I would only ever like epic45 for the rest of my life. Anyway, YG have clearly been listening to some Slowdive and Pink Floyd records. This - while hardly groundbreaking - has meant they make the sort of music that makes you feel good about stuff. And we all need to feel good about stuff, right?


Monday, August 13, 2007

Basement Crates: 24

Cyril Ornadel:
Love At First Sight (Je T'aime Moi Non Plus)
Both Sides Now
(CBS, 1970)

I bought this Cyril Ornadel LP a decade ago for three reasons.

1. It was cheap - less than a quid.
2. It looked right - two utterly fake post Summer Of Love hippie-chicks lounging in a field rendered purple and pink by off-the-shelf, 10 shillings a yard, acid-wash photography.
3. It has a version of Je T'aime Moi Non Plus on it and then, like now, I just can't resist that record. I think it might be the greatest record ever made. Having said that, I tend to think a lot of records are the greatest records ever made.

Anyway, like all great junk-shop records, a lot of this is nonsense, but these two tracks are odd and lovely and back-lit with quiet invention. I don't think I even knew Both Sides Now when I bought it and , if I had, I might have been thrown by the perversity of getting what sounds like a sousaphone to harumph across Joni Mitchell's melody, leaving it mercury heavy and molasses slow where, say, Davy Graham had thrown himself at it full-tilt and made it pie-eyed and feather-light (while, inevitably, singing it a quarter tone out).

Anyway, my band partner Ronnie and I loved this record so much it hurt. In the pre-internet days of 1997 (well, it was pretty much pre-internet for us) we wondered who Cyril Ornadel actually was. Then Ronnie got a gig making music with Sasha. His manager was Guy Ornadel, who turned out to be Cyril's son. We couldn't quite believe it. Neither of us ever met Cyril, but we sampled his version of Portrait Of My Love for a tune we made called Theme From A Lazy Life. I, much later, spent a very, very weird weekend with Sasha in Las Vegas where much craziness and bad, bad behaviour ensued. So, it all worked out nicely in the end.

Thanks Cyril. For everything.

Nice Shorts

New Order live at Radio 1 in 1984. Barney's got great pins...

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Chicken Biriyani

When I think of making a quick curry, a biriyani is one of the first things that comes to mind. I love all one-pot dishes and a biriyani can always be made from ingredients I've already got in and it's on the table in under half an hour. It owes it success to a decent curry paste of which there are now loads, my current favouite is Veeraswamy's Hot Madras.

Serves 4
2 tbsp sunflower oil
2 carrots, peeled and diced or frozen peas
2 red onions, peeled and sliced
600g cubed chicken or lamb
600 g basmati rice
1.2 litres hot chicken stock
2 tbsp good curry paste.
juice of 1 lime
handful fresh coriander, roughly chopped

1 Heat the oil in a large pan. Add the carrots, onions and chicken (or lamb) and cook for 10 minutes until the onions are softened and golden.

2 Stir in the rice then pour over the stock. Mix in the curry paste then bring to the boil, reduce the heat then cover and simmer gently for 15 minutes until the rice is tender and liquid has been absorbed. Check the seasoning and add lime juice to taste.

3 Stir in the chopped coriander then divide between serving bowls. Serve with poppadoms and chutney.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Rescued From The Bargain Bins Of History: 3

Mort Garson's Electronic Hair Pieces:
Walking In Space
(A&M, 1969)

A general rule of thumb when buying junk shop LPs: if the record was made between 1966 and 1973 and the cover is interesting, buy it. If the cover features a crazily made-up woman / mannequin character with wires coming out of her head, really buy it. If the LP features envelope-pushing cover versions of hits of the day played by a balding man in thick spectacles playing a synthesizer bigger than your own house, run to the counter with your money and get it in the bag quick.

I got this little gem in the Scope shop on the Goldhawk Road. I can't pretend I was a huge Mort Garson fan because I wasn't - I'm still not - but when you see a sleeve like the one for his Moog experiments upon the soundtrack to hippie musical Hair then the only sensible thing to do is to get your 25 pence ready and invest. Not because the record is amazing from beginning to end - it isn't - but because your pennies are buying you a brilliant piece of history. Released the same year I was born, this LP comes from a time when so many millions of people bought so many millions of LPs that ridiculous, utterly un-commercial nonsense like this could get recorded and released by otherwise quite sensible labels (A&M made most of their money from Herb Alpert). This was a time of plenty when even a late middle-aged Canadian slap-head like Garson could get bunged a tasty few quid to record the noodlings he squeaked out of the crazy, new-fangled instrumentation he kept in his garage.

I salute you, Mort. I salute your A&R man too. What a generous, easily excitable, cheque-book-at-the-ready time that must have been.

Anyway, these people seem to be in the right mood...

Vote Nancy! Vote Often!

We have had a request for your help from an old friend of ours, Tony. One of the artists signed to his record label has an exciting opportunity:

"The second single by everyone's favourite Wigan lass, Nancy Elizabeth, is one of four songs up for Single Of The Week on Maconie & Radcliffe's BBC Radio 2 show this week. The results are voted for by listeners, and the winner becomes Single Of The Week on next week's shows. You can vote by sending an email to the link on this page.

Not sure when voting ends, so don't delay, vote today!

You can also listen to the song on our myspace page now!"

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Hello Old Thing, Hello New Thing: 21

Vashti Bunyan: Don't Believe What They Say (Demo, 1964)
As one of the great career turnarounds in the history of pop music, Vashti Bunyan's story takes some beating. From mis-managed mid-60s pop starlet, to caravan-piloting folk-babe, to, well, very little for a long time before another friend of ours rereleased her Just Another Diamond Day LP. Within a fairly short time, a new record contract had appeared, her music was on adverts, she was gigging again and people young enough to be her children were namechecking her as a heroic influence. Amazing, really. I always like to think it was my review from a late-2000 issue of Sleaze Nation that helped her back on track... Anyway, this is taken from a brilliant compilation of her earliest singles and demos recorded between 1964 to 1967. How lovely.

The Changes: In The Dark (Kitchenware, 2007)
I had never heard of The Changes until I put their new record on. Not all of it grabbed me, but this track got me immediately. Classic happy / sad melodic electro-scented indie pop that sounds a little like it was recorded in 1986 and a little like it was recorded last week. It also has a wonderfully perverse guitar solo that is half jazz sitar and half twinkly-twonkly noodle (if you see what I mean). You will like it, I promise.


Dear Oh Dear Oh Dear Oh Dear Oh Dear

Holy Moly!

Happy Ever Laughter

Have you noticed how many really properly funny programmes are on the BBC at the moment? There's not been anything good on since Catherine Tate turned rubbish so I say hurrah!

Top 3
The Visit
Gavin & Stacey
Still Game

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Fruit and Nut Fridge Cake

Not exactly the same as chocolate crispy cakes, but not far off:

2 x 100g bars Green & Black’s Maya Gold chocolate
50g butter, diced
4 tbsp golden syrup
200g ginger biscuits
100g macadamias or almonds
200g glace cherries
1 tsp cocoa powder, to dust

1 Break the chocolate into a small pan then add the butter and syrup. Heat very gently, stirring from time to time until smooth and glossy.

2 Break the biscuits into a large bowl. Stir in the nuts and cherries then carefully stir in the chocolate mixture until evenly coated.

3 Tip the mixture into a 20cm loose-bottomed cake tin patting down carefully. Chill for a least two hours. Dust the surface with cocoa before slicing with a serrated knife.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Don't Try This At Home

Our old friend Billy has his own record label called Names and one of his artists is the very excellent, King Creosote. Anyway, in reply to a recent post, Billy said that KC drinks red wine and cola. I thought it sounded tempting, a bit like a vampire version of a spritzer, so I filled a tall glass with ice and poured it half and half with real Coke (which I love) and red wine (which I don't much like). Guess what. It was horrible, all coppery and furry.

You might like it though! Apparently it is an acknowldeged tipple known as bambus. Full of fascinating info this blog, eh?

Top Of The Glass

A Philip Glass composition for a sequence on Sesame St. Shown once or twice on US TV in 1977. Now available to all. Don't you just love You Tube?

Hello Old Thing, Hello New Thing: 20

BB King: Ten Long Years (RPM, 1955)
This is taken from a fine record that's in your shops now. I'm not much of a fan of all that musical legacy business that artists like BB King inspire - through no fault of their own - but I love this record as I just like the idea of this being chosen as a single release. What a splendid world that must have been. And how full of interesting jukeboxes. Plot-wise, it would appear that, basically, for ten long years this chap had a girlfriend that was, up to a point, rather fine. Then it all went belly-up. In fact, his "baby" has actually gone and only the playing of the guitar and yelling, "Mercy!" is going to help.

Well, whatever gets you get through, old boy.

Maps: Elouise (SixToes Remix) (Mute, 2007)
James Chapman from Maps doesn't have a baby - of any years standing, as far as I know - to worry about. But he has just been nominated for the Mercury Music Prize which makes me happy as I've been banging on about him and his brilliant record for a year now. Anyway, this is from his new single. It's very good. I know a rather lovely baby called Elo(u)ise and, happily, I can report she doesn't have six toes. Oh no.

This just in, BB's over it now...

Monday, August 06, 2007

My Favourite Restaurant: Baltimore Edition

John Waters: Film-maker, writer, art collector...
"These days, I love this restaurant in Baltimore called Rocket To Venus. It's new, kind of hipster place in an area called Hampden which I really like. I filmed Pecker there - it's like a redneck and hipster area that have been shoved together. That makes for an interesting evening, I can tell you. I've been going there a lot there recently. If you're in Baltimore, go!"

Friday, August 03, 2007

Pop Videos: Still Good

This chap's from the top drawer...

Get Your Tabs Out

Tab Smith: Spider's Web (United, 1954)
How much do I love this record? Let me count the ways...

1. That spare snare thwack at the start.
2. The rising, rousing, end-of-the-pier organ.
3. The fat-fingered, Pomade'd Lothario stroking said organ.
4. The way it all drops out so subtly when Tab's sax appears.
5. The fact he was actually called Talmadge.
6. The fact that, ten minutes ago, I'd never heard of him.
7. The way a moronically simple blues vamp is - by the magic of breath and air and wire - transformed into something that still has the power to thrill 53 years after it was made.
8. The acoustic twiddle of a bass.
9. The fact it was almost certainly knocked off in about three minutes before slipping out for coffee and cigarettes.
10. The fact that no one sings.
11. The fact I've played it ten times in a row and the ending still makes me smile.


Thursday, August 02, 2007

Garlic Roast Chicken

I always used to shove my aromatics into the chicken’s cavity, but I’ve decided over the years that although it makes the chicken smell amazing during roasting, it doesn’t do much for the flavour. If you want to add flavour to a chicken, you’ve really got to get under its skin. I apololgise for putting garlic, rosemary and chilli/smoked paprika in everything I ever cook but I just can’t live without them. And the smokey-garlicky oil you get from this makes the best ever roast potatoes.

1 garlic bulb, separated into cloves and peeled
leaves from 2 rosemary stalks
1 lemon
½ tsp Maldon salt
good knob of butter
1 tsp smoked paprika

Place the garlic and rosemary in a mini food processor. Pare off the lemon zest and add along with the salt. Whiz until it forms a paste. Add the butter and paprika and a good grinding of black pepper and whizz again until well blended.

Loosen the skin with your fingers then with your hands, spread the garlic paste between the flesh and the skin – smooth it down and round the bird as far as you can but make sure you get plenty on the breast which is the driest part.

If you have no other use for the pared lemon, quarter it and tuck it into the cavity it’ll smell lovely and make the juices for the gravy taste good. If you want to, pin any torn bits of chicken skin in place with a cocktail stick to stop it shrinking back and then tie the legs together with a bit of string. Roast as usual.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Do You Suffer From A Non-Perfect Looking Child?

We've all been there, right? You take a few snaps of the sprog, then look back at your work and think, 'You know what? The more I look at this, the more I realise the fruit of mine and my loved one's loins is a bit, well, hugly, innit?'. But dry those tears - these people are here to help.

At last!

Black Mamba Granita

Or slushy snakebite and black, if you prefer.

As booze was the outright winner on the poll, I thought I ought to do a boozy recipe today. I am very pleased with this one, it's smashing in this sunny weather and very simple to make. In fact, it's so idiot-proof I threw it together last night, before bed, while very drunk and it worked perfectly!

330ml lager
330ml scrumpy
4 tbsp Ribena (not sugar-free)

Mix together and freezxe over night, Break up into crystals with a fork. Eat, drink or slurp through a straw.