Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Spooky Sausage Ghosties

(ghosties waiting to be baked)

They may just be sausage rolls but they're really scary ones.
Makes 24
800g good pork sausages
4 tbsp sesame seeds
500g puff pastry
small piece cheese, cut into tiny dice
1 egg, beaten

Skin the sausages then mix in the sesame seeds. Cut the pastry in half and roll out lengthways on a floured surface until about 60cm x 10cm. Shape the sausage mixture down the centre, dampen the edges then roll up to seal.

Cut each roll into 5cm lengths then snip the bottom of each one to make a ghostie outline. Make two holes at the top and push in tiny pieces of cheese for the eyes.

Place on a non-stick baking sheet and chill for an hour. Brush with beaten egg and bake at 200C/Gas 6 for 20 minutes until puffed and golden.

Hot Spooks

Witches' Cats

We're going to Scrap's friend's Halloween tea party this afternoon and we're very excited. We're taking spooky cat biscuits and scary sausage rolls.

Makes 10,000 Biscuits
100g salted butter, room temperature
200g golden caster sugar
1 large egg, beaten
few drops vanilla extract
grated rind of 1 orange
2 tbsp orange juice
300g self raising flour
tube of black piping icing
silver balls, to decorate

With an electric hand whisk, cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, then beat in the egg and vanilla essence. Add the flour and the orange rind and juice and bring together to make a fairly soft dough.

Roll into a ball, wrap in cling film and chill for at least 30 minutes or until firm enough to roll.

Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas 4. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough and stamp out shapes - use a cat cutter if you have one – currently £1 each in Roullier White on Lordship Lane. Lift the biscuits onto non-stick baking sheets and bake for 5 minutes until pale golden. Leave to cool on a wire rack.

Pipe or spread the biscuits with black icing. Silver balls make good eyes.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Happy Birthday To Us!

I almost forgot! Landcroft House is one today! Jesus, time passes quickly. Anyway, thanks to everyone who's been here and to all the people that post comments and link to us and the entirely inconsequential nonsense we paste up here willy "nilly". We do it all for you!*

*We don't really, sorry...

Whose Mouth Is This?

And yes, it's someone from the world of popular music and song...

EDIT: It's Keith Moon

Monday, October 29, 2007


Landcroft House has gone into meltdown. The remote control has been missing for 36 hours. I have learned that since we bought our Topfield box it's not good enough just to watch telly but we now have to watch exactly what we want whenever we want. Robert cracked first but now Scrap too, has lost it. "Here Scrap" I said after crouching flat on the floor and pressing a tiny button 112 times. "It's Cbeebies".
"No!" He shouted "No more Big Cook Little Cook!@!!!" Kind of know what he means.
I cannot spend any more precious time looking under the sofa or behind the radiator. What we really need is a bigger, better tv with in-built, recordable freeview!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Coq Au Vin

It's cold, wet and windy. My sister and her boys have come to visit for the weekend and bravely set off in the drizzle for a trip to Covent Garden. We have a vote on tonight's tea before they leave and as soon as the door shuts, we bolt it. The heating clicks back on, Scooby Doo comes on telly waving a pair of maracas and dancing to Mexican music and the house fills with the waft of a gently bubbling stew.
I love a wet weekend.

Serves 4 grown-ups and 3 children
large chorizo sausage or piece of good smoked pancetta, cubed (I used bit of both)
2 tbsp plain flour
1 bottle of light red wine
18 chicken thighs and drums (3 each for grown ups, 2 each for kids), skinned
12 or so shallots, peeled
6 garlic cloves, chopped
1 celery stick, thinly sliced
2 tsp smoked paprika
bunch fresh thyme and/or sage, chopped
500g chestnut mushrooms
1 tbsp chopped fresh tarragon or 3 of parsley
mash and steam vegetables, to serve

Put the chorizo and/or pancetta in a very large pan and turn on the heat. As it starts to sizzle, it should release enough oil for you to add the flour to the pan. Cook the flour in the fat for 5 minutes then pour in the wine.

Add the chicken, whole shallots, garlic, celery, paprika and thyme. And salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, almost cover with the pan lid, just leaving a centimeter or so uncovered then simmer on the lowest heat for 3 or more hours. Add the mushrooms for the last 30 minutes. Stir in the tarragon or parsley.

Hello New Thing, Hello Other New Thing

Patrick Watson: The Great Escape (Secret City Records, 2007)
My friend Anthony - who knows about these things - kept telling me I really needed to listen to Patrick Watson and I kept holding the phone away from my ear and going "blah blah blah blah blah blah" while he did so as a) I'm hilarious and b) actually there isn't a b. Anyway, he was right and I was deeply, stupidly wrong (no change etcetc) as this is really good. Not a million miles from Anthony & Ver Johnsons - who are in the aces, but a little too intense for everyday pleasure. If you like the first 5 seconds of this you will like all of it. Hurray for Anthony. His book's good too.

The Weakerthans: Civil Twilight (Burning Heart Records, 2007)
I wrote something nice (scroll down) about the 'Thans a long time ago (it got mangled by someone sadly, so now it reads like I'm a mental) and now they have come back to haunt me. So, to recap, they are clever and they are from Canada and this is a very nice record indeed. Anyway, if you like seriously-old-enough-to-know-better geeks being arch (only with fantastic tunes) then - hey! - this is the band for you. And me, clearly.


Friday, October 26, 2007

Dulwich Mirror Pictures Gallery: 3

Late 70's classic from the ever-brilliant Mirrorpix photo library.

Reference Number WA1412495
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher toured South London and met Eric Morley Conservative candidate for Dulwich and his wife Julia May 1979

Eric Morley was, of course, the former boss of Mecca entertainment group and the man who would appear onstage and announce the winners "in reverse order" at the all-important results stage of the Miss World competitions. In the 1979 General Election he chopped back Labour's 7,500 majority to a mere 122 in Dulwich. Still, apparently he was nice to his grandchildren*.

*Or maybe he wasn't? I don't know. If you're one of Morley's off-spring and - actually - he was a bastid, let me know!

At Last! Some Improving Reads...

Flickr has some wonderful photo sets to enjoy. Today, I've decided to explore the world of pink pulp. To say some of the covers are eye-wateringly lurid would be to damn them with the faintest of praise...

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Whose Ear Is This? 3

Last one for the day (otherwise I'll have to start giving away the CDs I actually want). Whose ear is this? And yes, they're pop...

EDIT: It's Lord Mickwell of Jagglebury

Whose Ear Is This? 2

Also in the pop game. I guess they'll all be in the pop game, to be "honest"...

EDIT: It's Stevie Wonder

Whose Ear Is This? 1

This is the quiz they've all been talking about (except they haven't, obviously). Who's ear is this? The person is in the pop "game". The winner gets a rubbish CD or two from my desk (that's me at the back trying to "smile").

EDIT: Here's the full item...

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Hello Old Thing, Hello New Thing: 24

Henri René: Dinner For One Please James (RCA Victor, 1956)
That's him on the left there, yes. Famous for having a great shot of Jayne Mansfield on the cover, Henri Rene's Batchelor world is one that is scented by leather-backed driving gloves, the warm hum of a Robert's radiogram, the soft spread of bitters through a large pink gin before a gentle pipeful as you trawl all 18 holes. It's now available again through those nice people at Rev-Ola...

American Music Club: The Dance (Cooking Vinyl, 2007)
Lots of people got into Red House Painters through American Music Club. I, on the other hand, got into AMC through RHP. It was through - repeatedly - reading about how AMC's Mark Eitzel had encouraged ver Painters' Mark Kozelek that broke me down. I wasn't entirely taken at first. I think I just wanted to them to be the same. And they weren't. AMC were (are), more romantic, more worldly, more poetic, more open to the world, while Kozelek barely seems able, or willing, to engage with the world much at all. This, from their new album, is a wee bit lovely. As are many of the other tracks on there (I liked The Decibels And The Little Pills a lot too)...

And this one...

Mini Disco

On our recent holiday, Scrap enjoyed the Mini Disco in the outdoor 'amphi-theatre' to a degree where any suggestion that maybe we do something else was met with such extreme upset that we ended up going night after night. And it was exactly the same, night after night. Eventually, we began to revel in the torture and I ended up paying eighty times too much for one of their home-pressed 10p cds. So, I am delighted to be able to share with you this brilliant song, which apparently, is from the Russian soundtrack to Pinocchio. I have also got an Italian train song (chuka-chuka-choo-choo) and the original German version of the Birdie Song should anyone like me to post them. And Scrap knows all matching dance routines by heart if you need a few ideas.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Simon's Photos Off The Telly

Smashing Simon, thank you! Right nice set of stunners...

Dulwich Mirror Pictures Gallery: 2

East Dulwich hasn't always been about organic hedgefunds and Bugaboo piloting "yummy mummys" - once it was a haven for what social scientists know as "real people living real lives" as this shot from the Daily Mirror's picture archive shows...

Reference Number MP_1032474
Caption: Girls playing in the playground at Bessemer Primary School, Dulwich. November 1952

Abandonment Issues

Whenever I'm anywhere near Goodge St I always want to get inside that huge old hospital there that's all boarded up and have a really good root around. Well, this guy clearly had the same idea (only he lives in America. And he actually did it).

Moth Spice

I often think that you've never really got the week started until you've spent some time being astounded by The World's Weirdest Moths.

And they are pretty weird...

Friday, October 19, 2007

Hello? Landcroft House...

"Hello Landcroft House, it's George Clinton here."
Hello George Clinton. It's lucky you called - can you tell us something?
"I'll try..."
What is the best record ever made?
"Wow... Well, I think it's probably Bernadette by The Four Tops. It's just so brilliantly produced, every time I hear it I'm amazed. But I love Sgt Pepper too..."
You're only allowed one.
"Oh, OK."
Thanks for calling, bye!

George tackles fishing, lamb chops and "young girls" over at the very wonderful new WORD website...

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Dulwich Mirror Pictures Gallery: 1

I have decided to post all the pictures that include the word DULWICH in the very excellent Daily Mirror picture library (or as many as I can before I get caught).

This absolute classic is Reference Number WA447362
CAPTION: Keith Richards (Rolling Stones) with German actress Anita Pallenberg and eight day old son Marlon leaving Kings College Hospital Dulwich London.

Now, I'm guessing here, but they mean Kings College Hospital, Camberwell, right? Like the Kings College Hospital, Camberwell where Landcroft House's own son and heir was born? How rock and roll are we again?

More tomorrow. PLUS: some exclusive tittle-tattle with George Clinton.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Soft Salmon and Pea-Shoot Risotto

The belts have gone up a notch following our two week holiday so Landcroft House has vowed to be super-healthy right up until Christmas time. Rob’s fearful of a life without crisps, for me it’s wine. And chocolate. And buns.

Tonight’s tea started us off on the right foot though. It was quite delicious – a bit kedgeree-ish and didn’t take long to make. It doesn’t look like loads but is good and filling.

Serves 2
415kcal per serving

100g carnaroli or other risotto rice
1 large leek, very thinly sliced
1 Kallo chicken stock cube
600 – 700ml boiling water
100g frozen peas
125g pack Hot Smoked Salmon
25g soft cheese
50g pack fresh pea shoots or young leaf spinach
lots of freshly ground black pepper

Place the rice, leek and stock cube in a large pan and pour over the water. Bring to the boil and cook over a fairly high heat for 15 minutes, stirring from time to time adding a bit more water if you need to, to keep it soft and a bit slushy.

Add the peas and cook for a couple of minutes. The rice should be fairly tender now, so stir in the salmon and soft cheese and cook for a minute or two until the cheese melts. Stir in the pea shoots, spoon into bowls with a good grinding of black pepper and eat straight away.

Cake That

There is a lady called Michelle who is an award winning cake maker. That's one of hers to the right (who knew George Michael even had a daughter?). Anyway, some of them are fairly amazing, but you'd feel a bit uneasy tucking into this one, no?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Two New Records That Are, Literally, Quite Good

The Heliocentrics: Sirius A (Stones Throw, 2007)
This is the sort of record that makes coming back from holiday worthwhile. Much beloved by - *serious face* - DJ Shadow and Madlib, Ver 'Centrics are so analogue, so breakbeat, so downright space-jazz groovy that just listening to their album makes you want to call your firstborn Sun Ra and take to wearing a kufi.

Asobi Seksu: Strawberries [Ulrich Schnauss remix] (One Little Indian, 2007)
This Ulrich Schnauss mix is great. When I say great, I mean it makes New York indie-rockers Ver Seksu sound (a bit) like Slowdive. I think that, if not all, then the majority of the world's bands should sound like Slowdive. It's not a popular point of view - it won't win me many friends - but it's one I hold dear.

Food Doctored

I think it's safe to say that this guy here with his ultra-hardcore Molecular Gastronomy tools is in The Mentals. What happens when only cheese on toast (and white wine) will do?

We're Home!

And how happy was I as the key turned in the door. Cardigan on, heating on, "Is it bed time?" asks Scrap as he gets into his pyjamas by himself and shuts his door behind him. Real Cheddar cheese on toast, glass of chilled Sauvignon Blanc and the funniest episode of Coronation Street ever, ever broadcast. Thank you England.