Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Literally :(

A random box of chocs - clearly long lost - has just turned up behind some horrendous NRG DRNX at the back of the fridge at work. On opening them I discovered the above. A chocolate turkey with "all" the "trimmings". I can sense your mouth watering from here...

The Pop Song Is A Wonderful Beast

Beggars: Mars Lane (Heavenly, 2008)
There are certain songs that, however many times they're re-written by generations of pop groups, still sort of get you. Mars Lane is one of those tunes, or, at least, it is for me. I think it's as simple as the intro and the shamble-friendly, eating-toast-in-bed-with-your-socks-on verse. I don't know anything about Beggars other than:

1. I don't much like the name.
2. I do really like this record.


Monday, April 28, 2008

Re-Making Your Mind Up

Manu Chao: Politik Kills (Because Music, 2008)
I've never had much time for Manu Chao, which, I'm sure, has upset him no end. But his next single features a huge stack of remixes (Dennis Bovell, Prince Fatty, David B and others) and they are all good. Like, every single one. I like this Barriobeat one by El Rude a lot as it's, basically, a racket with shouting on top and if that isn't a description of great pop music, then I don't know what is (*doesn't-know-what-is face*).

Friday, April 25, 2008

'Le Cake' Aux Olives Et Au Reblochon

I've been reading this book by Orlando Murrin all about how he and his partner quit London, bought an old manor house in South-west France and turned it into a super-luxurious B&B. It all looks incredibly idyllic and the recipes are lovely - I am sure we could never afford to stay there so I made this easy loaf from the book instead and it was just delicious. Reblochon is available from the East Dulwich Deli and Ocado.

Makes 3 small loaves or 1 large

In the past three years French cooks have been swept by a craze for ‘les cakes’. I am not sure how the misunderstanding occurred, but by cake they do not mean something round and sweet, but something loaf-shaped and usually savoury.
We serve the Raynaudes ‘cake’ in slices with aperitifs – it is especially elegant when baked in a dainty cocktail size. You can vary the flavouring as you choose – fried mushrooms, diced ham, herbs or other tasty morsels.
75g lardoons
handful of black olives, roughly chopped
85g Parmesan, coarsely grated
500g plain flour
1 tbsp baking powder
½ tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp salt and plenty of ground black pepper
110g cubes Reblochon or other semi-soft cheese
2 tbsp freshly chopped herbs
225ml milk
40g melted butter
1 large egg
175ml crème fraiche

Fry the lardons still just beginning to go brown. Leave to cool and mix in the olives.

Grease a 13 x 24cm loaf tin or three 6 x 18cm tins and sprinkle half the Parmesan evenly around the base. Whisk the flour, baking powder and seasoning in a large bowl (easier than sifting). Mix in the Reblochon, herbs, lardoons and olives.

In a large jug or bowl, whosk the milk, butter, egg and crème fraiche. Using a large rubber spatula, fold the wet into the dry until just mixed.

Turn into the tin(s), sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan and bakes for 30 mins (small) or 45 – 50 (large) till a skewer comes out clean, though be aware that if it hits some oozy cheese it will come out sticky regardless. Cool in the tin for 10 – 15 minutes then turn out and serve warm.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

At Last! Some New Music...

Brendan Campbell: Comets (Everybody's Records, 2008)
He's from Glasgow, he has nice hair (this would be a good look for Scrap, I think) and his voice belongs in the small box marked: Literally, Quite Good. This isn't the single - I wasn't much taken with that - but sits, with a resigned look on its face, somewhere on what used to be known as "the b-side", but is now, actually, just the same side. It's out in June, but it doesn't really exist on the intertwonk yet. Sorry.

Lord Skywave: Slow Movement (From Trio For Oboe, Piano And Flute) (This Is Music, 2008)
Simon Lord used to be in Simian. His new record is rather good. He uses a synth his Dad built in the 70s and samples some (rather beautiful) music his grandmother recorded (I'm guessing) in the 50s. This sort of inter-generational creativity makes me feel good inside. It's out in June too - and also doesn't figure much on the 'tweb yet. Ahead of the pop-cultural curve, that's Landcroft House.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

This Old Record Is Quite Good

The German Top Five: The Champ (Intercord, 1969)
Alan Hawkshaw's 1968 belter The Champ is one of hip hop's most beloved records, having been sampled by De La Soul, Stetsasonic and a load of other absolute buggers. This version comes from the sort of cheap, exploitative, mass-market, knocked-out-in-a-day covers LP that used to be so maddeningly popular. And it's still bloody great. I mean, I love all those LPs now, but I hated them as a kid when what I wanted was the actual groups playing the actual songs. Anyway, I stole this version from here.

BTW, the "champ" pictured is Jeff Heenan of Arbroath, who was the World Pie Eating Champ in 1974. Oh yes.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Italian Roast Lamb

On our way back from brunch yesterday, we stopped in at Waitrose and picked up a little shoulder of lamb for about a fiver. On the whole, most people choose a neat but pricy, boneless joint that's lean and easy to carve. I prefer a shoulder myself, it's fatty and tricky to carve so it can look a bit of a mess on the plate but if you roast it slowly, all afternoon, by tea time, it just falls off the bone, all sweet and tender.
Serves 3 - 4
1.2 - 1.5kg whole shoulder of lamb
2 rosemary sprigs
3 garlic cloves, quartered lengthways
150ml wine vinegar
6 potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 tsp dried oregano

1 Make deep slits in the lamb and stud it with rosemary and garlic. Rub in some sea salt then pour over the vinegar and leave to marinate for 20 - 30 minutes.

2 Pour away the vinegar, cover with foil and roast at 160C for 3 - 4 hours. Put the potatoes in pan of cold water, bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes; drain well.

3 Drain most of the fat out of the tin then add the potatoes, tossing to coat them in the remaining oil. Sprinkle with oregano and salt and return to the oven. Raise the heat to 180C and roast for 30 minutes until the potatoes are turning golden.

4 Lift the lamb out onto a board, cover with the foil and leave to rest for 15 minutes. Spread the potatoes out in the tin and and raise the oven temperature to 200C and brown and crispen then up a bit while the lamb rests. Serve with gravy and greens.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Water House

After two very nice parties last night we decided to take a trip over to Arthur Potts Dawson's new restaurant, Water House for brunch - brunch! Aren't we cosmopolitan? What you will read in all the reviews is the following: it's in a almost surreally run-down road in Hackney, the carbon-neutral restaurant looks great, the canal gives it a touch of Venice (if you have a dangerously over-active imagination).
The place opens at 10 and we were first in at 10:20 and we had excellent service - friendly, relaxed, observant - but the breakfast - click on menu for details - was a real disappointment. Bearing in mind ours was the first food they served all day, why were the sausages (cocktail, not even chipolata) already fairly dried out? Why was the portion of bacon, literally, two wafer thin slices of streaky? Why was my fried egg so solid? Why weren't the rosemary potatoes crisper and hotter?
On the plus side: the coffee was very good, the mushrooms were delicious and the scrambled egg was fantastic. The room is beautiful and, in summer, sat outside watching the shopping trolleys float down the canal while you tip some olives and almonds and white wine down your neck will be a real delight. But this was a pretty expensive let-down situated a long way from home (he says, sounding like the world's most jaded man)...

White Spaghetti

This is a very old recipe. My mum has always called it white spaghetti just because it's not red spaghetti (tomato) and we pretty well had one or the other every night of the week when I was growing up. That was before the meat and salad. Anyway, it's basically anchovy and garlic but as a grown-up I add chilli and some chopped parsley if I've got any.
It is a genuine storecupboard classic.
Serves 2
200g spaghetti
2 - 3 tbsp olive oil
3 garlic cloves, thickly sliced
50g can anchovies in olive oil
dried chilli flakes

Cook the spaghetti in a very big pan of salted water. Meanwhile, heat the oil in the smallest saucepan you've got and gently cook the garlic slices until golden - don't let it get dark or the flavour will become bitter. Lift them out with a fork (I keep them but mum throws them out). Add the can of anchovies, including the oil to the pan and sizzle gently for a few minutes, whisking with a fork so the anchovies disintegrate. Add a couple of ladles of water from the pasta pan and simmer very gently until the pasta is done. Drain the pasta loosely and return to the pan. Add the white sauce, some chilli flakes, plenty of black pepper and the fried garlic, if you want. Toss well together and serve straightaway.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Hello Old Thing, Hello New Thing: 30

Sir Charles Thompson: Mister Boogie (Columbia, 1961)
I don't think that Thompson really was a Sir, but if he wasn't he should have been, if only for his services to making the world a slightly warmer and happier place. Until I heard this I'm pretty sure I was completely unaware of proto-lounge-core boogie-woogie, but now I have I feel like my life has changed for the better. In my dreams this is the music that plays when I walk into pubs. Everywhere you look, people are smoking and smiling and drinking champagne from walloping great saucers. What a world that would be...

Late Of The Pier: Space And The Woods (Parlophone, 2008)
BISH, BOSH, BISH, BOSH, WOO-HOO! ectetc. I played this for the first time yesterday and I couldn't quite believe how many great late 70s moments there were in it. I'm not a huge fan of that sort of thing really, but this has been done very well. What's more interesting is they appear to be from Castle Donnington, which makes them nearly neighbours of Silvana. Nearly, I said...

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Chickpea Salad

I love chickpeas in any form (especially felafel) and think they are very good in salads. Drain a 400g can and rinse well. Toss with a few cumin seeds and maybe a bit of harissa, some torn coriander, sliced spring onion, a slosh of olive oil, squeeze of lemon and plenty of black pepper. Serve with grilled white fish or crispy-skinned chicken.

I Literally Love The Quality Chop House

I went to The Quality Chop House for my lunch and it was, quite probably, the best lunch I have ever eaten (that wasn't cooked by The Wife). Excellent bread and olive oil, pea and mint soup to start and an incredible chicken, ham and mushroom pie with a a great hay-cock sized bowl of double-crunchy chips. Amazing.




2/3s OF A PIE!


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

South Korea's Got Talent

Sungha's 11 years old. How soon can I get Scrap playing, do you think?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Isn't Show Business Marvellous?

The Treniers: Poontang (Okeh, 1953)
This is a truly great record. The Treniers were, arguably one of the first rock and roll groups evah. They knew all about sensational stage shows, as the picture demonstrates. But they were also the most terrible teasers because even I am fairly sure that, despite what the first lines of this song say, ""poon" is not "a hug" and "tang" is not "a kiss". And I am so thick it hurts. More of this sort of thing here.

Salty Sailor's Pizza

One of the oldest, classic pizzas, the Marinara, was made by the sailors using the foods they had on board ship such as flour, bottles of sauce, and preserved anchovies, olives and dried chillies. The basil, I admit is cheating a bit, but look, no cheese!
Basic Pizza Dough

Classic Tomato Sauce

1 tbsp olive oil
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
400g can whole plum tomatoes
big pinch dried oregano
pinch of sugar
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a small pan and cook the shallot and garlic for 3 - 4 minutes until softened. Add the tomatoes, herbs, sugar and some salt and pepper.

Bring to the boil, partially cover with the pan lid and simmer very gently for 1 hour, stirring from time to time and breaking the tomatoes down with the back of the spoon until the sauce turns a shade of dark red and droplets of oil sit on the surface. Leave to cool a bit before spreading on the dough (or tossing with pasta and tons of Pecorino)

Monday, April 14, 2008

Chopsticks: Worst Restaurant In London?

Coming in at Number 1 we have Chopsticks, 71 Lordship Lane, East Dulwich.
We are not friendly, we do not like any Scraps, especially yours, and especially if he/she talks above a whisper or touches things (yelling 'yuk' when your rice arrives doesn't help). Oh, and our food is a fair bit below average too.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

With Great Cake Comes Great Responsibility

Scrap had his super-brilliant Superheroes party today. Everyone pitched in with hotdog making, face painting and sweeping up at the end but it was mostly a good party thanks to gorgeous Sharky and George who played lots of exciting games including squirming around under a giant parachute silk pretending to be rats. I made a big spiderweb cake based on lovely Jane Hornby's chocolate wedding cake, and it was webzellent!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Landcroft Picture Services: 4 Soho

"Paul Raymond - founder of Raymond's Revue Bar in Soho, London May 1962"

This one's for Ally who requested a bit of Soho action. There's lots more - mostly pictures of shifty looking men eyeing up "literature" in shop windows - but this has a lot more of the sense of glamour and late-night adult-orientated thrills that the area became rightly famous for. Not that there's much glamour left anymore, but we can dream, can't we...

Friday, April 11, 2008

Hello Old Thing, Hello New Thing: 29

Baden Powell with Vinicius de Moraes: Bocoche (Forma, 1966)
Written as a response to the commercialisation of Bossa Nova, Os Afro Sambas is a beauty of a record, often quite odd and experimental, but always melodic and focussed and hugely listenable. I know all this because I have lived with this record for almost six hours now. I am, it's clear, something of an expert. Anyway, you'll like this because you are a sensible person and, frankly, who, on an almost sunny Friday afternoon hasn't got room for some lightly avant-garde acoustic Brazilian samba-pop? If you want more - clock this.

Cajun Dance Party: The Colourful Life (XL, 2008)
I've been listening to The Cure a lot recently. When I say recently, I mean for the last 25 years, obviously. Well, Cajun Dance Party have a pleasingly Smith-esque element to their music which makes my ears tell my brain that I like it without me actually having to think about it too much. I also like the lyrics a lot. "So pick up the pace and enjoy the race," they holler, "'cos nothingness is nice, feel the dance and feel the mood, while you're munching on that slice..." What does that mean, do you think? Or is it terribly old-fashioned of me to assume it means anything? All these questions! I'm exhausted now. You can get more CDP here.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Scrap is 4

And will be marking the day with cup cakes, Chupa chups and poppers.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Coffee and Walnut Cake

225g caster sugar
225g butter, softened
4 eggs, beaten
4 tbsp strong coffee
225g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
75g walnut halves, finely chopped, plus a few for decoration
100g butter, softened
225g icing sugar
2 tbsp strong coffee

1 Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas 4. Beat the sugar and butter until light and fluffy then add the eggs and whisk again, then beat in the coffee. Sift over the flour and baking powder and gently stir in along with the walnuts.

2 Divide the mixture between two 20cm non-stick cake tins and bake for 20 – 25 mins until just firm. Leave to cool a little in the tins then turn out on racks to cool.

3 Beat together the butter, icing sugar and coffee and use half of it to sandwich the cakes together. Spread the rest on top and decorate with the walnut halves.

Monday, April 07, 2008

These Old Italian Pop Records Are Nice

Gigliola Cinquetti: Zero In Amore (Compagnia Generale Del Disco, 1969)
This is a another beauty that Silvana got while having a trawl through an Italian art market. Gigliola was an Italian Eurovision / San Remo staple for years, here she is doing the a-side to this single (which, sadly, isn't as good). Silvana's uncle was convinced she had become a politician, but that doesn't appear to be true. It matters not, this is a properly groove-some slice of late-60s Europop. Enjoy...

Lory: I Sentimenti (GR, 196?)
Lory, as you're about to discover, doesn't have the most lung-bustingly powerful voice of all time, but that just seems to add to the wonder of this cover of the Francois Hardy smasheroo from 1967. I suggest that some clever person makes a new and exciting pop record simply by stealing the intro to this. Over to you, then...

Sunday, April 06, 2008

This Record Is Quite Nice, Actually

The Triffids: Good Fortune Rose (Island, 1989)
I'm reviewing this for a daily newspaper. I'd never really taken much notice of The Triffids before, there seemed to be so much other stuff going on in 1989, but there are some great tracks on this (there's some stinkers too - but that's pop, right?) But this is very good. Oh yes...

Snow Problem

A reader asks: "Do you not have any photos of some 'dolly birds' enjoying the snowy weather?". Well, yes! Of course we do... From 42 years ago next week: "How Kind of the Weather: Fashion models Angie Grant (left) and Shirley Key had the laugh on the weather yesterday (Thursday 14-4-66). The girls had expected their heavy suits - worn in London to show off next autumn's fashions - to be far too warm for April. Then along came the snow..."

Friday, April 04, 2008

Portuguese Salt Cod Cakes

Makes 24
120g self-raising flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg
4 tbsp milk
400g salt cod, (from Moxon's) soaked for 24 hours
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
handful fresh basil leaves, shredded
olive oil for shallow frying
2 limes, cut into wedges, to serve
4 tomatoes, skinned and chopped
4 red chillies, seeded and finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
2 tbsp chopped fresh mint
3 tbsp olive oil
juice of 1/2 lemon

Make the drizzle first: place the tomatoes, chillies, garlic and mint in a food processor and whizz until finely blended. Pass through a fine sieve then whisk in the oil and lemon juice. Season to taste and set aside.

Sift the flour into a large bowl and whisk in the salt, egg and milk to make a thick batter. Drain the cod, remove the skin and bones then tear the fish into the batter - there should be just enough batter to hold the other ingredients together. Stir in the onion, basil and a good grind of black pepper.

Heat a little oil in a large non-stick frying pan and shallow fry small spoonfuls of the mixture for a couple of minutes until crisp and golden. Drain on kitchen paper and keep the fritters warm in the oven until all are cooked. Serve the drizzle.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

The Greatest Record Ever Made (Today): 1

The Rascals: Sativa / Sattva (Atlantic, 1968)
I just found this down in the basement. I thought I'd lost it, so you can imagine my pleasure on discovering that this classic piece of sitar-jangling hippy-bandwagon jumping pop soul hadn't disappeared forever. This will, inevitably, make you think of these people, but the difference is, The Rascals actually meant it. At least, I like to think they did. Anyway, this record contains three of the elements I most require from a pop record if I am to love it without limits.

1. It must have an element of "otherness" - there must be a sense that people are trying to do something they can't quite manage but, by Jiminy, they're going to have a crack at it. For instance, when The Beatles, say, decided to whack a bit of sitar on a record, they went to the main guy and worked at it. The Rascals, on the other hand, just seemed to have borrowed one off someone and tried to play it like a guitar. This doesn't make them better, or worse, it just means they're having a go. Commendable.
2. Drones. Incredibly important, obviously. There's not a pop record in existence that's not been improved by a drone.
3. Great, great lyrics. My favourite being, "Walking down the flower street, all the colours melting at my feet..." There are others.

As for the title. The sleeve calls it Sattva, the label calls it Sativa. To be honest, I sort of like that kind of thing too.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Christ Alive!

The Mike Sammes Singers feat Tubby Hayes and The Ted Taylor Organsound: He Who Would Valiant Be (Davjon, 1969)
People who are brilliant at a particular type of music are, generally, a bit boring. People who are terrible at a particular type of music are a bit boring too. People who aren't quite sure how you're meant to play the sort of music you're attempting (in this case, street-walking, hip-swinging, nose-thumbing jazz-funk) but have a go anyway are, by some small distance, the most interesting of the lot. Now, Ted Taylor could no more swing than he could walk on water (he can barely make the words scan), but he pieces this track together with the brilliant Tubby Hayes and the ever on-point Mike Sammes Singers and, as a result, the whole thing hangs together with some sort of alarming wonderfulness. I stole this - without a thought for the consequences - from this fantastic record. Jesus wouldn't approve, but we shouldn't worry about that too much.