Thursday, July 31, 2008

A Nice Old Fashioned Victoria Sandwich

Serve on a sunny afternoon with a pot of Earl Grey.
Here's a recipe.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Hello Old Thing, Hello New Thing: 35

Cocoa Tea, Home T, Shabba Ranks: Pirates' Anthem (Greensleeves, 1992)
I've not heard this record for at least ten years, but, literally, oh my goodness, what a great choon. In the hot summer of 1992 this record was everywhere (at least everywhere I went). We'd play it all day in the shop - selling bucketloads of it everytime it went on - then we'd go out and hear it two or three times in the night at local clubs and gigs and just hammering out of people's cars (because we were young and went out, often without planning it for a week and a half in advance, remember that?). Hey ho. Shabba Ranks was going to be a huge, huge star. But he was a bit of a knob, so it's with not a great deal of surprise that I notice that he's not released an album in nine years. And while we're on the subject of huge tunes, how about this little beauty? The picture is of Crowborough Farm Murder Case's accused man John Norman Holmes Thorne on his chicken farm circa 1925 with his own margarine-powered radio transmitter - selectah!

Lambchop: A Hold Of You (City Slang, 2008)
It sort of warms the soul to think that a band like Lambchop can survive, flourish even, over two decades making music that, while largely from the comfortably-sized casket marked, "Literally nice", can still expect the listener to spend more than a few seconds with it before its inner literal niceness is revealed. Anyway, this is from their tenth album, OH which doesn't exist on the British corner of the internet yet, but is out October 6. Oh yes.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Old People Are Kewl

Cornet / trumpet player Spanier - a serious boozer - died a few short years after this was filmed. Lots - and I mean lots - more Spanier and others (from Louis Armstrong to Hank Williams) here, where the internet's finest obsessive 78rpm collector is uploading his collection alphabetically...

Monday, July 28, 2008

Chewy Chocolate Biscuits

Makes 18
75g dark chocolate
100g butter
125g brown sugar
100g plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
125g any chocolate (dark, milk, white or mixture) roughly chopped

These biscuits are good. Crunchy on the outside, chewy in the middle. Add some nuts too if you like them.

Preheat the the oven to 180 C/ Gas 4. Melt together the dark chocolate and butter. Add the sugar, flour, bicarb, vanilla and egg and whisk until smooth and well blended.

Stir in the chocolate and place heaped teaspoons, well spaced apart on non-stick baking sheets. Bake for 8 - 10 minutes - the biscuits rise and then flatten out - take them out as soon as they flatten. Leave to firm up a bit on the tray then lift off and cool completely on a wire rack.

Friday, July 25, 2008

This Old Record Is Quite Nice

The Jefferson Handkerchief: I'm Allergic To Flowers (Challenge, 1967)
I'm all for a spot of hippie-baiting exploitation. Written and recorded, apparently, by Challenge Records staffers and "pals", this neatly skewers the newly-grown-hair, candy-stripe trousers wearing, wannabe psychedelic pop groups of the time while managing to be, literally, a great tune with a doctorate in groovy bassline 'n' congaology. "At last my mind is really free," they croon. "Except for my stupid allergy..." (Warning: contains silly chorus). More of this sort of thing here...

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Music For A Hot Thursday Afternoon

The Poets feat. James Brown: Devil's Den (King, 1963)
When I say featuring, I mean are James Brown. James rounded up the band, taught them the tune (can't have taken long, any band that couldn't follow this simple, instrumental vamp of sleazy wonderousness is no band at all), played the organ, provided a couple of chunks heavy screamology (as well as, right at the end, saying, apropos of nothing, "This is nothing but soul!" and "Do anything you wanna do") and even paid them. Anyway, this is a tremendous record, as is this which is where I, um, borrowed it from.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

This Is, Literally, Quite Amusing

No, honestly...

Toffee Flapjacks

Makes 16
200g butter
200g brown sugar
200g honey
350g porridge oats
100g mixed dried fruit and seeds
75g Maya Gold or other good dark chocolate, melted

Preheat the oven to 160 / gas 4. Heat the butter, sugar and honey together until melted. Stir in the oats, fruits and seeds and press into a rectangular non-stick baking tin. Bake for 20 - 40 minutes until golden. The longer you bake, the firmer and more toffee-ish the flapjacks. Leave to cool and harden before removing from the tin and cutting into squares or bars. Drizzle over the melted chocolate and leave to set.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The All New 1 To 10 Question

On a scale of 1 to 10, how much would you like to have a series of ever-more refreshing drinks in this pub?

Monday, July 21, 2008

Oh, Hang On, This Is A Bit Nice...

Rozi Plain: Stolen Shark (Fence, 2008)
Born in Winchester, now resident in Bristol, 22 year old Rozi works on the ferries that scoot across the Avon and, while doing so, writes these rather beautiful songs. She recorded some of the album with Gordon out of The Aliens and his brother Kenny, who is the very wonderful King Creosote. There's an album called Inside Over Here out in October. Until then, enjoy.

Brockwell Park Honey

Did you know they have bee hives in Brockwell Park? Well, I didn’t but they do and the honey those bees make is very special, so special that the folk at Petersham nurseries use it and now East Dulwich Deli is selling it. It’s not cheap, but it’s produced on a small scale, locally to you. And honey from London bees tastes particularly amazing because of the diversity of flowers in the city, far more complex than the common old single-crop honey from country bees. So there.
Landcroft House plans to be enjoying it on our toast all week and won’t be wasting a drop of it on the under-5’s flapjacks we’re making later for tomorrow’s zoo trip.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

"A lovely young lady, you see.."

"... A lady called Jackie, hhmmmm! Well done to you, your prize is a week with me, Sir James Of Saville at Stoke the Man-Deville, you see. And a compact disc or two from Mr Robert's Big Box of Doom..."
rattles jewellery

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

This New Record Is Literally Quite Good

The Late Greats: Stereo (Izumi Records, 2008)
I've been spinning through a load of new records (trans: I've been flicking through a huge pile of CDs). There's some great ones (Sam Beeton, Peter Bruntnell, a few on the Tandy Hard album, Unbunny, blahblahblah), anyway, I'd just sort of had enough when I came across this. The Late Greats are kerr-azy and quirky enough to make me want, initially, to throw the thing out of the window (I am quite old), but I persevered and landed on Stereo, which is lovely. A splash of lunacy, but all topped off with a tune you can hum and a thoroughly nice atmos. And they're from Eastbourne. Finally, are they really giving a shout to The Pastels in the chorus?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Scallop and King Prawn Skewers with Salsa Verde

Serves 4 as a first course
8 scallops
300g large raw peeled king prawns
4 red chillies, quartered lengthways
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
For The Salsa Verde
small bunch fresh flat leaf parsley
4 anchovy fillets in olive oil, drained
2 tbsp capers, drained and rinsed
1 shallot or spring onion, roughly chopped
juice of 1 lemon
4 – 5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Thread the scallops, prawns and chillies onto 8 pairs of parallel bamboo skewers, spaced 2cm apart (this makes them much easier to turn). Brush with a little oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Cover and chill until ready to barbecue.

For the salsa verde, place the parsley leaves, anchovy fillets, capers and onion in a mini food processor and whiz until finely chopped. Add the lemon juice and olive oil and whiz again then season with black pepper.

Cook the skewers over hot coals for 3 – 4 minutes on each side until the shellfish is cooked through. Arrange on a platter and drizzle over the salsa verde

Monday, July 14, 2008

There Is Nothing Not To Love About This

Feist on Sesame St

Laurie Johnson: Genius Thereof

Laurie Johnson: The Professionals Theme - Version B (1977)
Everyone in the world knows the theme tune to The Professionals, it is as iconic and as memorable as Isaac Hayes' Shaft. But this version is sort of even more wonderful. Pitched down to half-speed, it has all the funk of the faster version, only now there's added grooviness, a development that I'm sure you'll enjoy as much as I have. Am, in fact. It's on now, thanks to this excellent record.

BONUS TRACK Laurie Johnson: Hijack - Section A (1977)
I would never, ever recommend anyone steal bits of music and go on to make their own new thing from it, obviously, but if I did then I'd probably think that this brilliantly spare bit of incidental music - "A business man determined to escape his Iron Curtain roots organises the hijacking of a lorry load of bullion..." - would be a good place to start. Or finish.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Piri Piri Starfish

I am reading this new cookery book instead of doing my stinky VAT return. It's about the food of Portugal (which I hold in high regard) and in this particular recipe, the writer's talking about a lovely small town where Rob and I once had an idyllic holiday, halfway up a mountain, surrounded by lemon groves (though the villa was owned by a hairy nudist so I didn't like sitting on the chairs). I really could eat these prawns for my lunch now. Though I'd settle for the whisky.

Prawns with Piri Piri, Whisky and Lemon by Tessa Kiros
Tavira is a wonderfully sleepy, ancient town in Portugal's south. I ate this one night in a small restaurant there and it was so lovely that I asked the lady how she made it. This makes a perfect starter before a main course of grilled fish.
400g raw prawns
1 tbsp olive oil
50g butter
2 small bay leaves
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tbsp chopped parsley
ground piri piri
1/2 tsp sweet paprika
3 - 4 tbsp whisky
juice of 1 small lemon, plus extra lemons to serve

Remove the heads from the prawns but leave the shells on the bodies, make a shallow cut down the back of each one so they take in the flavour of the sauce and de-vein them. Rinse and pat dry.

Heat the oil and half the butter in a large non-stick saucepan until very hot and sizzling. Thrown in the prawns and bay leaves gradually, trying not to lose the heat, so the prawns get crusty and golden. Toss the pan and season with coarse salt and pepper. When the prawns are nicely golden on bth sides, add the garlic, parsley and as much piri piri as you like, the paprika and the last of the butter.

Toss until you can smell the garlic, then add the whisky. When it's been absorbed, add the lemon juice and toss it all together. Let it bubble for a moment, then use a slotted spoon to lift the prawns onto a plate.

Add about 4 tablespoons of water to the pan and let it bubble up to thicken the sauce. Remove for the heat, return the prawns to the pan and toss through the sauce. Serve with some bread for the sauce and a lemon wedge or two.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Hello Old Thing, Hello New Thing: 34

Sir Victor Uwaifo: Idogo Ekassa 42 (Phillips, 1974)
From Wikipedia: "Uwaifo's hobbies include swimming, bodybuilding, gaming, reading, writing, and bringing up children in the fear of God so that they will not depart from God when they grow up." Now that is more like it. I have been playing the album this track comes from almost non-stop since it arrived on my desk a few weeks ago. This is an absolutely brilliant record, so tight it's falling apart loose and warm like actual sunshine. A colleague of mine has suggested that this might be the greatest record ever made which is quite out of character for him. True tho'. Something of a showman too (Uwaifo, not colleague).

Dousk: Ass, Table And The Stick (Klik Records, 2008)
Since we're in a dancing mood... I know nothing about Dousk but I know what I like and I like this silk-hipped little number. I've been trying to work out whether the title is actually rude or just suggestive of beng rude and, after much work, I think it's the latter. Of course, there is the bit at the end where all the words get chopped up and it goes a bit mentalist and then, admittedly, it becomes a trifle more saucemongous. But it's still OK for kids parties (don't quote me on this).

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Tom Bayo: Scamster On A Wheel

I've been contacted by a Nigerian scamster called - or "called" - Tom Bayo. In a quiet moment last week I decided to reply, pretending to be - oh my aching sides - a vicar with charitable intentions for the millions of dollars he and his friends have promised me (just as soon as I divulge all my details, obv). I sent him a family portrait the other day (not my family's, no, this one).

Now my great mate Tom has got back to me: "Dear Fr Rob
Thank you for your mail . i am very happy to know that you are a christian because i am a very strong christian also. I have been a Christian right from the day I was born .i follow the religion, I do what is good, and if it is not good I will not do it. And the greatest of all, I love my neighbor as I love my self.i have already made up my mind that as soon as this funds get into your account,ten percent will be set aside for charity."

Yes. I bet you have. Anyway, "Tom" attached this photo.

What shall I ask him to do next?

Monday, July 07, 2008

Hello? Landcroft House...

"Hello Landcroft House, it's Miles and Alex from The Last Shadow Puppets here..."
Hello Miles and Alex. Can you answer me a question?
"We'll try..."
Tell me, what is the greatest record ever made?
Miles: "I always pick a Beatles record."
Alex: "I’m not sure."
Miles: "I’m pure just into the Beatles things that I love."
Alex: "I’m thinking about a few..."
Miles: "I love Anna and This Boy, really early Beatles’ tunes."
Alex: "I like No Reply from Beatles For Sale – I’m right into that at the moment.
Miles: "I’ve been having that and Rock & Roll Music a lot too. And I’ve been deep into Abbey Road too. I love Because, it has this mad organ on it..."
Alex: "And Polythene Pam too..."
Miles: "Yeah, that’s just Lennon having a buzz!"
You're only allowed one.
"Oh, OK."
Thanks for calling, bye!

Friday, July 04, 2008

Cockles and Samphire

Well, I had to make mine with clams as the fishmonger didn't have any live cockles though they are very good at this time of year. As is samphire, which they did have.

Place a sliced garlic clove and chopped red chilli in a large pan and add a glass of wine. Bring to the boil and bubble for a couple of minutes. Add the clams (about 500 - 700g for two), cover and steam for a few mnutes until opened. Meanwhile, blanch a couple of big handfuls of samphire for 2 minutes in boiling water then drain well. Heat a splash of olive oil in a large frying pan and add the samphire cooking over a high heat for a minute. Stir into the clams with some fine ground pepper and eat straightaway.

We Have A Winner!

Well done Planet Mondo!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Pleasure From Unexpected Places

Boris Gardiner: Negril (CTI, 1975?)
I was just opening my post when this doozy leapt of a Strut Records compilation called Calypsoul 70 that - oh dear - doesn't exist on the internet yet. I hate it when that happens. Anyway, I've had to guess any label details for this as the track doesn't exist on the internet either. Do you know anything about this track? Does anyone? *screams into the void*