Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Winter Carrot Cake

This cake really is for idiots - there's no technique required, not even any vigorous whisking, just a bit of grating and stirring and it turns out beautifully. Top with traditional frosting or just mix together the juice and zest of a clementine and a bit of icing sugar and drizzle over the top.
It sets rather firmly so it's good for baking and taking.
Enough for 8
200g coarsely grated carrot
100g sultanas
250g self raising flour
1 tsp ground mixed spice
2 tsp baking powder
150g light muscovado sugar
150ml vegetable oil
2 eggs, beaten

Preheat the oven to 160 C / Gas 3. Butter and line a 20cm spring form tin and sit it on a baking sheet. Mix together all the ingredients and spoon into the tin. Level off the surface and bake for an hour or so until a skewer pushed into the centre comes out clean. Leave in the tin for a few minutes then turn onto a wire rack and leave to cool.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas Leftover Pie with a Cider Crust

Pie is an obvious way to use up turkey and winter vegetables but the cider makes this one slightly less boring.

Serves 4 - 6

2 tbsp turkey dripping or vegetable oil

1 onion, chopped

2 tbsp plain flour

150ml pear or apple cider

400ml hot chicken stock

3 carrots, cut into chunks

3 parsnips, cut into chunks

1 tbsp cranberry jelly

chopped herbs such as sage or thyme

leftover cooked turkey, cut into chunks

leftover cooked ham or bacon, chopped


200g self-raising flour

100g vegetable suet

large pinch of salt

125ml pear or apple cider

milk for brushing

Heat the fat in a large pan and cook the onion for 5 minutes until softened. Stir in the flour and cook for 3 - 4 minutes then add the cider and stock. Bring to the boil and stir in the carrots, parsnips, cranberry jelly and thyme. Cook for 15 minutes or so until tender.

Preheat the oven to 190C / Gas 5. Stir in the turkey and ham and simmer for 10 minutes then tip into a pie dish.

Mix together the flour, suet, salt and cider to make a soft dough. Roll out on a lightly floured surface and lay on top of the filling. Tuck in the edges, brush with milk and bake for half an hour until dark golden.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Hello Old Thing, Hello New Thing: 42

The Four Tops: Tonight I'm Gonna Love You All Over (Casablanca, 1982)
From their crucial early-80s period (ahem), this is actually a choon, a gently-orchestrated piece of fast-approaching-middle-age, lover-man jazz-soul balladry that, if you took all the vocals out, would sound exactly like the sort of studio-created, session-musician-heavy pop that used to fill the soundwaves when BBC2 was off the air during the afternoon. Jesus, I used to love that stuff. Butter-soft, driving-gloves-wearing, deck-shoe-tappin', old-school-Radio-2-listening, super-adult-contemporary business. There's a lot more of this sort of thing here, you'll be thrilled to know.

Kathryn Williams: Cream Of The Crop (One Little Indian, 2010)
Now, I'll tell you this for nothing, Ms Williams' new record doesn't exist much on the interquizz yet - it's out in February, I think - but it's bloody great. It is both jazzual and folkish, it is also as relaxed as a bastard. This track has Milt Jackson-like vibes on it and it makes you want to lie on your back with the curtains closed watching reflections from the low lights roll across the ceiling. You see, it's so good it's making me write absolute balls... Check back here soon for more details (probably).

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

These Records Are A Bit Nice

The xx: Blood Red Moon (Demo) (XL, 2009)
Young people making wonderfully listenable (and actually whistleable) pop records? Nah, it'll never catch on. How could it? Who in their right mind would want to sit in their own home and let their ears be set upon by teen tyke terror-titans? You'd have to be crazy. Unless, of course, it was Ver x who are very much in The Goods. This is the B-Side (I say, B-Side, it's from a CD, so how is that possible?) to their single Basic Space which came out in August, but I've only just levered out of a pile. Top pop-picking there! I should do this for a livi... Oh :(

Ustad Vilayat Khan: Khoka (Jalsaghar OMPST, 1958)
Jalsaghar - it's OK, let's call it The Music Room - is a Satyajit Ray film from 1958 with a fantastic soundtrack by Ustad Vilayat Kahn. A tiny piece of it is here and there's a great piece about it here. The original print was lost in a fire, but the music has been saved and recently appeared on a brilliant collection of Indian film music, called, with admirable clarity, Film India, a title which is available to purchase at this location. Literally, hooray.

Disco Update

It was really good and I got a bit drunk.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Roadblock Warning For SE22 Tonight

Just to let you all know, you should avoid the Landcroft Road / Crystal Palace Road area to tonight as it will be a Roadblock Scenario between the hours of about 7pm and, let's say, 11?

"Why?" you ask, your eyes shining with delight. Well, it's because Scrap's pal Harvey's dad and I have teamed up - as Fabio's Dad and Steve Grooverider - in order to take care of bidniz at the Heber School (Parent's) Disco tonight.

Now, I've done a fair amount of DJing in my time, but almost all of it has involved playing old folk records to people who were intent on drinking beer and talking. But tonight we are in charge of what my old pal Tim Westwood once described to me as "destroying dancefloors".

To that end I've lined up a big playlist on Spotify and have dug out a load of ancient 12"s from the basement. How could it go wrong with that level of preparation?

Do you have a request? Let me know below, or send me a message, like.

I'll let you know how it went tomorrow. Or tonight, if I manage to press play and tweet at the same time.

This New Record Is Quite Nice

You see how easily I can just slip back into the lingua franca of the old blogosphere? Honestly, this stuff just rolls from the fingertips. I guess it's a gift. It felt so good to be, if you will, back in the saddle yesterday that I figured, why not give it a go today too? The record industry is kind enough to push CDs through my door every day, it would be mean not to flag up the one in 264 that's actually any good, wouldn't it?

Postdata: In Chemicals (One Four Seven Records, 2010)
Postdata is brothers Paul and Michael Murphy (but mainly Paul, that's him over there). They're from Nova Scotia - yes, you're right, it does mean, "New Scotland" - and they're usually in a band called Wintersleep. But this is a rather more sparse affair that, over the course of the record (*smooths out press release on actually quite tidy desk*), deals with Paul's relationship with his family, particularly his grandparents (*throws press release in bin*). So now you know. If you listen to it and think, "Hang on. This is a bit like Bon Iver only it's about, y'know, Nanna Winnipeg rather than a girl called Emma!" then have a biscuit. Because it is.

The album is lovely, btw. It's out in February, but it doesn't appear to exist on the intersquizz yet. So have a look here every now and again. Or something.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

And We're Back

Hello. We've been a bit quiet really, haven't we? Sorry about that, had a lot on. Wow, it feels really odd not having to think that I might be about to go over 140 characters. Anyway, so we've had the baby (Cassia, literally the most beautiful baby there ever was, obv), so let's restart this blog, eh? Silvana and I were talking about it this morning and we've both really missed it. And, whatsmore, there's so many good new (and old) records like...

Skuff & Inja: United Kingdom (In Records, 2010)
I just love this record, a tribute to the "Island of words" a place where you have to step up to the bar and buy rounds, where the waistlines are getting bigger, where our patron saint is the same as for Catalonia, Palestine and Ethiopia. They also have some interesting things to say about people wearing shorts and jackets and "tramps wrapped in packaging..." Some truly great lines here. More on the - very, very good - and forthcoming album here.

Malory: The Signs (AC30, 2010)
A little bit like Flying Saucer Attack and a little (OK, a lot) like the mighty, mighty Slowdive, Malory are from Dresden and I like them an enormous lot. Their new album, Pearl Diver is an absolute smasher. They played with epic45 recently and I missed them. I blame the baby :(

Tee And Cara: I Don't Think I Know Her (United Artists, 1968)
What an absolutely bloody lovely record. There is nothing - NOTHING! - I don't love about this song, written and performed by these New York teens. Or, at least, they were teens. They're ancient now. But then, aren't we all (compared to teenagers, that is)? Their one and only - and utterly brilliant - album is available again now thanks to the wonderful people at Rev-Ola. Praise, literally, be.

Tommy T: The Response (feat Gigi) (Easy Star Records, 2010)
Bass-player with Gogol Bordello, Tommy T's new album was recorded in his home country of Ethiopia (again with the Ethiopia). This is a beautiful track that is (*reads from sleevenotes*) all about someone who has traveled far to be with their love. And stuff. Album details here. Right, see you in six months!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Toad In The Hole

Had your barbecue lit much this month? Nope, us neither. Here's a nice warming supper dish for you.

Wrap the sausages in streaky bacon first if you've got some.

Serves 3
splash of olive oil
6 fat and herby pork sausages
100g plain flour
bit of English mustard powder or 1 tbsp wholegrain
1 egg
150ml milk
150ml water

Preheat the oven to 200C / Gas 6. Place the sausages and oil in a small ovenproof dish - metal is probably best as it will rise more easily and not stick to the sides. Roast for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the flour and mustard in a bowl with a bit of salt and pepper and make a well in the centre. Crack in the egg then gradually beat and in the liquid to make a smoothish batter.

Pour round the hot sausages and bake for 30 - 40 miutes until cirps and golden brown. Serve sizzling.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

"Hello? Landcroft House..."

"Hello Landcroft House, it's Robert Wyatt from Soft Machine and a load of really great solo records and stuff here..."
"Hey Robert. Thanks for calling. Could you tell me one thing?"
"It would be my pleasure."
"OK, what’s the greatest record ever made?"
"Well, for me it's Such Sweet Thunder by Duke Ellington and his Orchestra, 1957. It’s the Shakespeare suite, not the greatest piece of music ever, but Ellington’s visceral physicality is matched with a melodic ingenuity and this incredible sense of architecture. These are miniature, masterful compostions, beautifully played. He wrote pieces for the musicians that played on it, so the music is individually tailored. The record is a distilled example of everything that was good about 20th century American music. But, importantly, don’t get put off by the oom-pah track at the start. Does that sound good?"
"Perfect! Thanks Robert."
"Thank you, Landcroft House..."

Monday, June 29, 2009

Summer Berry Jam

I am not very good at jam making really. I think it's a tricky business, it usually takes ages and there's always a risk it might not set properly. But if, like me, you've agreed to contribute to the school summer fair and you're not a natural, make your jam as foolproof as possible - this method takes about 15 minutes. Especially simple if you use frozen summer berries (currently £5 for 3 x 500g bags in Sainsbury's). It's a bit on the sweet side but it definitely sets.

Makes about 8 jars
1.5kg prepared summer berries
4 star anise
1 tsp black peppercorns
2kg jam sugar

Place the fruit in a large pan and heat gently to warm it through and get the juices flowing. Add the spices and sugar and heat gently until the sugar completely dissolves. Bring to the boil and once on a full rollling boil, set the timer for 5 minutes. Leave to cool a little then use a big jug to pour into hot-from-the-dishwasher jam jars.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Here Is Some Nice Music

Brigitte Bardot: Mambo Bardot (Dot, 1958)
From the album, La Belle Bardot (not that she's actually on it), this is dangerously slinky. If I knew what "cigarette pants" were I would buy some and wear them immediately. You can enjoy more of this sort of thing here.

Laurel Aitken: Sex Machine (Hebra, 1972)
You see, it sounds like he's singing, 'My baby calls me the Queen, because I'm the sex machine' but it's actually, 'My baby calls me the cream...' Or, at least, I hope it is. You can enjoy more of this sort of thing here.

Jega: Moment (Planet Mu, 2009)
I like this so much I actually need to have a bit of a lie-down and a rest whenever I think about it. There's some stuff about him here which you may - or may not - want to read. Suffice to say if you have ever thought, 'My, wouldn't it be good if Aphex Twin, Brian Eno and Shy FX, like, got together and made a record?' Well, this is a bit like that record. You can enjoy more of this sort of thing here.

Richard Walters: For the Dead in Space (Kartel, 2009)
I don't know anything about this chap. I suppose I could look here, but, y'know, time's short. Anyway, this is a very nice song. I like it. But then, I like this kind of thing, eh?

Paolo Nutini: Tricks of the Trade (Atlantic, 2009)
Lots of people (including me until a few weeks ago) think PN is in the big group of things marked, 'Not Good'. But that's not true. He's actually great. And this is, literally, lovely. You can enjoy more of this sort of thing here.

Tiger: Soul Of Africa (New Beat, 1970)
The piano on this record makes me wish my knees worked as well as they used to in the "old" days. "No matter what they say," sings Tiger. "You can't keep a good man down." That's the attitude, isn't it? Interestingly, this is on the Laurel Aitken CD mentioned ˆˆˆup thereˆˆˆ because (*reads sleeve notes*), he wrote and produced it. Yes, that'll be it.

Clint Mansell: Memories of Someone We Never Know (Black Records, 2009)
This is from the soundtrack to Moon, a film by David Bowie's son, Duncan (though you're not really meant to mention that, I think). The music is great. Perhaps the film is too, who knows? You can enjoy more of this sort of thing here.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Broadbean and Pancetta Frittata

Serves 4
100g cubed pancetta
6 large eggs
1 thick slice of crusty bread, about 100g
100g shelled broad beans
100g Parmesan, diced or coarsely grated
large bunch of chives, snipped with scissors

1 Cook the pancetta in a large non-stick frying pan for 5 minutes until crisp.

2 Meanwhile, beat the eggs with a splash of water and season lightly. Tear the bread into small pieces, stir into the beaten eggs with broad beans, cheese and chives.

3 Tip the pancetta into the egg mixture and stir well.

4 There should be enough oil in the pan from the pancetta so pour in the egg mixture. Cook very gently for 12 minutes until golden underneath and almost set.

5 Pop the pan under a preheated low – medium grill for 5 – 10 minutes until golden brown and just set. Leave to sit in the pan for a few minutes then slide out onto a board, cut into wedges and serve warm with leaf and potato salads.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

This Old Record Is Quite Nice

Fanny: Beggar Man (Casablanca, 1974)
You have no idea quite how enlightening that trip to Google Images was. Anyway, Fanny. Not the greatest band of all-time. But one capable of knocking out the odd nice tune. My guess is someone breezed in from a long drive to the studio and said, "You kow what we need? A slice of melodic, funky-rock. Tap a bit of that Stevie Wonder dollar." Well, whatever the idea was, this is a choon. Make sure you stick around for the very sampleable breakbeat at 3:10. Oh yes.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Fink Estate

Fink: Sort Of Revolution (Sideshow Dub) (Ninja, 2009)
Fink seems like an interesting fellow to me. There are various remixes on this new single, but I've become particularly keen on this one, which is handy as it's Fin(k) remixing his own work. Keeps the bills down, do you see? Now, if I'd been asked to provide a dub mix - and, who knows, perhaps that day will come? - I would have woven in a wee bit more of the vocal and a tiny bit more of the very nice piano. I'd have presented it all in, if you will, the King Tubby style. But, hey, that is a tiny point and this is a lovely record.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Music For a Beautiful Summer Evening

Bizzy B: Rub-a-Dub Style (Unreleased, 1992)
From a brilliant new compilation of classic Bizzy B material on Planet Mu, this is lunatic, breakbeat jungle of the most heart-breakingly impressive kind. I would ask all listeners to, kindly, fire up their Hoovers and prepare for, literally, an all-out assault on their lugholes. Isn't it.

Music For a Beautiful Summer Day

Grasscut: Sorel Point (Ninja Tune, 2009)
I have a strong tendency to be be presold on stuff like this. Two blokes noodling about with acoustic guitars and folk and samplers and all that sort of thing, so I can only offer the weakest apology when I try and foist another one on you. Grasscut name Oliver Postgate and William Wordsworth among their influences and that just makes me love them even more. They are, clearly, old enough to know better too - another point in their favour. This is the last track on their new single, High Down, which is out at the end of July, but doesn't (quite) exist on the intranot yet. Literally, hello Grasscut, can we be pals?

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Spiced Okra Ratatouille

Serves 4
2 tbsp sunflower oil
2 red onions, sliced
1 red pepper, sliced
large knob of ginger, shredded
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp black mustard seeds
8 ripe tomatoes, diced
2 tsp garam marsala
8 baby aubergines, thickly sliced or 2 regular, cubes
400g okra, topped tailed and halved if long
squeeze of lemon juice
naan bread, to serve

Heat the oil in a large pan and cook the onions and pepper for 10 minutes, adding the ginger and garlic once you've chopped them, along with the seeds. Once the peppers have softened stir in the tomatoes, garam marsala and some salt (add a little sugar too, if you like) and cook for 10 minutes until the tomatoes are pulpy.
Add the aubergines and a splash of water then cover and cook for 10 minutes. Add the okra, cover again and carry on cooking for another 10 minutes or so until both the aubergine and okra are tender. Taste and balance with a squeeze of lemon.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

This Is A Bit Nice

Tara Jane O'Neil: Drowning (K Records, 2009)
From a tiny hamlet called Portland, just outside the the delightful old market town of Oregon, Tara Jane is, literally, really good for the following reasons. She's quite folk, but also quite drone and quite odd and a trifle electronicy. And, you know, that makes her good (in my eyes). Anyway, the album is from the very top shelf of the topper most drawer.

Friday, May 01, 2009

These Three New Records Are Quite Nice

Astrid Williamson: Take My Breath Away (One Little Indian, 2009)
Astrid is just the right side of Dido-esque, Radio 2 cheeseology, She's also from the Shetland Isles, but lives in Brighton. I've listened to this track four times today already and, to be honest, I'm meant to be doing something else.

Ill Logic & Raf: Darkness at Noon (Bingo, 2009)
A pair of blokes - literally. This is refreshingly classic sounding, deeply melodic junglist business. And I like it very, very much indeed. The album - of the same name - is out middle of May and it's bloody great! No, really!

Swimming: Panthlassa (Russian Linesman mix) (Colourschool, 2009)
I know NOTHING about SWIMMInG (cUtE!), but I know what I like. And I like this a lot. Well, I like the remix a lot. What that proves, I don't know.

The Waterboys: She Tried To Hold Me (14th Floor, 2007)
This popped up out of nowhere this morning and I can't stop playing it. I love every single thing about this record.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

This New Record Is Literally Quite Good

Jose Roberto Bertrami: Brilliante (Far Out Recordings, 2009)
Bertrami is a member of Azymuth. This is from a record he's just made that, and I quote, "mixes 60's soundtracks with 80's grooves", which, in reality, means it's like the sort of superbly produced test-card music that used to be played if something went tits up before The Love Boat. If I'm honest, that's my favourite music of all... More of this sort of thing here.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Hello Old Thing, Hello New Thing: 41

Bert Jansch: Baby Blue (Charisma, 1975)
From Bert's - Bert! Why aren't there any pop stars called Bert anymore? - second album for Chrisma, this is a blatant stab at radio friendly niceness. It's so 1975 it actually hurts, but in a good way. From the Maggie May-like intro, to the Motownish piano, it is a work of sunshine, cheese-cloth 'n' flares wonder. Bert's voice may not be to all tastes, but the sentiment is one we can all love. "Strollin' down the high street, I see passers by, shopping at the markets with flowers you buy..." Actually, that doesn't make any sense, does it? But, no matter when the tune is this lovable. This is from a reissue of an album called Santa Barbara Honeymoon. The new, extended version doesn't exist on the intersquizz yet. But it's due out in June.

Balmorhea: March 4, 1831 (Western Vinyl, 2009)
I've only just picked up this Balmorhea record. When I say "picked it up", I mean take it off the shelves where I keep all the bits that come through the door every day, and actually play it. And I really like it. It's a little like Epic45 - *sighs* - if they came from Death Valley rather than Staffordshire. So it's almost completely instrumental, mainly acoustic, impressionisist folk-a-doodle-do a-go-go. They also have the crucial element of reminding me ever so slightly of the Red House Painters which means I sort of love them a lot already. Classic emotional transference. Sad, really. Anyway, this is from an album called All is Wild, All is Silent which is out end of June. I'm really doing the serious plugging today, eh?

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Home Made Easter Truffle Eggs

If you've got two long weeks off school to fill, these eggs are easy for kids to make and they taste nice.
Makes 12
200g dark chocolate
200g milk chocolate
400g sponge cake such as Madeira or marble cake, made into crumbs
100g rasins, sultanas, dried blueberries or cranberries
50g chopped nuts or dessicated coconut
To decorate
Dessicated coconut, cocoa powder, finely grated dark or white chocolate

Break the chocolate into pieces and melt in a heatproof bowl over a pan of gently simmering water until smooth. Str in the cake crumbs, fruit and nuts.

Chill for 30 minutes then mould into 12 egg shapes.

Scatter some coconut, cocoa or grated chocolate onto a plate and roll the chocolate eggs in it to coat. Line cardboard egg boxes or egg cups with circles cut from greaseproof paper and sit in the eggs. Can be stored in the fridge but are best eaten at room temperature.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

New Music That's Also Quite Good

Meanderthals: Bugges Room (Smalltown Supersound, 2009)
Sound the jazz alarm, this is, literally, delightful. Literally in the sense that it fills me with delight when I play it, despite it simply being a recording of some blokes in a room somewhere banging bits of wood and twanging wires and so forth. What's good about that? Well, perhaps lots of things. More of this sort of thing here.

Adam Franklin: Two Dollar Dress (Second Motion, 2009)
When I listened to this I thought, 'Oh yeah, who's this johnny-come-lately, noise-pop, shoe-gazing type?' Then I looked at the sleeve and realised it was the same Adam Franklin who was The Chap from Swervedriver. So, you know, I can forgive him a lot of stuff. This is, literally, good. I'm not crazy about the whole record, but there are some songs of notable quality on it. And this is one.

Faze Action: Danaes' Journey (Word And Sound, 2009)
Simon and Robin Lee are brothers. Brothers who've recorded together for years and years and years. Does this strike anyone else as sort of strange? Could you bear to be in the same small room as your brother or sister for years on end? I mean, I love mine dearly, but there are limits, right? Anyway, this is - hello! - heavenly, if not downright cosmic disco of the tremendously good variety. More of this sort of thing here. Memo to Faze Action - get some new pictures done, innit.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

These Old Records Are Quite Nice

The Louvin Brothers: Knoxville Girl (Capitol, 1956)
"I met a little girl in Knoxville," Charlie and Ira Louvin sing, "a town we all know well..." Actually, I've never been to Knoxville, have you? Ira was, "an abusive, irritable alcoholic", apparently, but he also wrote the majority of the songs and croons like a dream here. More of this sort of thing here.

Mandy Smith: Boys And Girls [Acid Remix] (PWL, 1988)
Poor old Mandy. Just as she was about to enjoy pre-adulthood (aged 13), she hooked up with Bill Wyman (aged 47). It would never make either of them happy, but that's not our concern, is it? This record - made when Smith was a much more mature 18 (and married to Wyman) is an acid-house cash in that's never been released before. It's not exactly amazing, but it is an enjoyable window on - hey! - a vanished world. And stuff. More of this sort of thing here.

Larry Williams and Johnny Watson: Mercy, Mercy, Mercy (Okeh, 1967)
A LP of soul cover versions. The sort of thing that was considered a very good idea indeed in 1967. There are many, many treats on this LP - I'm rather keen on the version of Cannonball Adderly and Joe Zawinul’s Mercy Mercy Mercy - but most of this is actually lovely. More of this sort of thing here.

Friday, March 20, 2009

This New Record Is Literally Quite Good

Zoey Van Goey: Two White Ghosts (Left In The Dark, 2009)
I've actually got five minutes to listen to some records today - although, to be fair, I'd rather be walking round the park eating an ice-cream. This little gem fell into my lap quite quickly. ZVG are, literally, indie-pop, which means, by law, they have to have at least one song about Japan. But that's OK, because this is actually quite a good one. I like it, anyway. The very name itself might make you want to throw yourself out of a window. But what can I do? Oh yes, and this is good too. The CD - The Cage Was Unlocked All Along - doesn't appear to exist on the internet yet, but it will soon. I promise!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Aubergines Are For Girls?

I know it only takes a couple of days of sunshine and we want to light the barbecue and I know it's still only March but I have definitely noticed that the tomatoes and aubergines in the shops have started to look more plump, shiny and yes, summery.
I love aubergines but Robert doesn't. Not even in a curry. In fact I don't know a single man who doesn't really dislike aubergines except maybe my brother who wasn't given any choice. Perhaps I am wrong?

Melanzane al Forno
This is one of my favourite dishes of all time but I hardly ever make it because Robert won't eat it. It takes quite a lot of chopping and is not worth doing for just one aubergine so you need to really want it to go to the bother.
Serves 4
2 large, plump, shiny aubergines
1 thick slice of white bread, whizzed into crumbs
lots of chopped parsley
big handful of finely grated Parmesan
2 crushed garlic cloves
3 ripe tomatoes
1 egg, beaten
large pinch dried oregano

Preheat the oven to 200 / Gas 4. Halve the aubergines lengthways and scoop out the flesh with a tablespoon. Chop it finely and mix with the breadcrumbs, parsley, Parmesan and garlic. Finely chop one of the tomatoes and to the bowl along with the beaten egg and some seasoning.

Pile the mixture back into aubergine halves. Thinly slice the other two tomatoes and overlap on top. Season and sprinkle with oregano then bake for 40 - 45 minutes until nicely browned.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Hello Old Thing, Hello New Thing: 40

Tommy Dorsey and his Orchestra: After You've Gone (His Master's Voice, 1939)
I've pulled this one from here, the soundtrack to Peter Bogdanovich's Paper Moon. There's something incredibly heartwarming about this sort of thing, despite it coming from a time when the world was tipping directly into war. There's probably a reason for all of this, my theory is that everyone was so busy wandering around in heavy grey flannel saying, "How do you do?" all the time that they never noticed all the awfulness snapping at their heels. Simpler times, no?

Elvis Perkins: Shampoo (XL, 2009)
He's an interesting fellow, EP. However, what's most interesting about him is that he writes songs that you actually want to listen to more than once. That's a rare skill - one to be remarked upon, I think. Anyway, in this case, he feels secure enough in that talent to wallop the thing itself on the B-Side of his new single. While we're talking about new releases, EP's new LP is a wee bit useful too. Good news all round then.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Hello Old Thing, Hello New Thing: 39

Gene Page: The Call (RCA, 1972)
Taken from Page's soundtrack to Blacula, The Call is the sort of maxi-silk smoothness that 1972 was rightly famous for. When I listen to this while staring out of the window I imagine myself sat at the far corner of a darkened bar smoking Newports and drinking Pabst (or whatever) while wearing velour. In my dream the cigarettes make me look cool and the velour makes me look good. That's why it's a dream, I suppose because, sadly, neither of those things are real, are they? Sorry, I gave up smoking about six weeks ago and, while I have no interest in going back, I do think about it a lot. Anyway, more of this sort of thing here. And here.

Mocky: Somehow Someway (Crammed Discs, 2009)
So, Mocky is an interesting chap. And what's more he makes interesting records, which is decent of him. In fact, this isn't a huge leap from Page's track, it would be just as good an accompaniment to swirling ice cubes around your drink, but, Mocky adds that extra element of wistful melancholia. His new album is very good too. On a completely different - ahem - "tip", this is, literally amazing.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Hello? Landcroft House...

"Hello Landcroft House, it's Harry Shearer out of The Simpsons and Spinal Tap here..."
"Hey Harry. Thanks for calling. Could you tell me one thing?"
"Sure - shoot."
"What’s the greatest record ever made?"
"Well! The one that gives me so much pleasure – at least 85% of the thrill it gave me when it first came out – and that is Frank Sinatra’s Songs For Swinging Lovers. There’s a guy in New York who plays Sinatra, and there’s a lot of crappy Sinatra, which he plays too, but when he sings that stuff, it still gets me. It took me years to even hear what Sinatra was doing because I was so gob-smacked by what the orchestra arrangement was doing. That music would go around in my head all day long. That record was responsible for getting me through high school. Does that sound good?"
"Perfect! Thanks Harry."
"No problem, Landcroft House..."

Monday, March 02, 2009

Black Forest Trifle

I like trifle very much, especially after roast beef on a sunny Sunday.

Serves 8
1 small chocolate marble cake
small glass of sweet sherry
jar or can of morello cherries, drained
4 tbsp drinking chocolate
500g carton custard
250g carton mascarpone
50g dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
200ml double cream softly whipped with a tbsp icing sugar
chocolate cherry dragees and / or chopped chocolate

Slice the chocolate cake and arrange in the bottom of a bowl then pour over the sherry. Scatter over the cherries.

Dissolve the drinking chocolate in a little boiling water then mix with the custard, masarpone and chocolate. Spoon over the cherries and cake then top with the softly whipped cream. Chill for at least 4 hours, but overnight's best. Scatter over chocolate before serving.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Welcome Back, Mr Brown

Findlay Brown: Teardrops In The Rain (This Is Music, 2009)
We've not had any Findlay B on here for a while, but then, he's been busy on those Mastercard ads, breaking his leg (apparently - someone told me this, I can't recall who) and, well, having his ouvre reswizzled by Bernard Butler. Consequently, Find's new album is reverb-heavy, emotionally-charged, Righteous Brothers-a-like gloom-pop of the finest water. And this track is, literally, quite good too.

Friday, February 20, 2009

This New Record Is Literally Quite Good

Jeniferever: Lives Apart (Monotreme Records, 2009)
Relax girls, they're married. Maybe. Anyway, Jeniferever are from the heaving metropolis of Uppsala in Sweden and they make music that makes your brain feel nice. This is from their new album (which is good too). This is the stuff, eh?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Get Your A-Level In Donkology Here

Have you put a donk on anything recently? This film - it's in five parts, all of them utterly fascinating - attempts to explain the phenomena of the "donk". It's what the young people like. It is!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

In Car Entertainment: 1

Fionn Regan: Abacus (Universal, 2007)
Every now and again I make a CD to play in the car (if only to potentially cut down on the amount of time I have to listen to Charlie And Lola stories) and what usually happens is I get completely obsessed by one of the tracks and end up driving around and around listening to it over and over and over again while - hello! - singing along (badly) at the top of my voice. Well, just recently it's been Fionn Regan's great honour (this is a joke, btw) to fill that role. A lot of other people clearly like it too, I'm not pretending to be breaking any new ground here, but I'd forgotten - eighteen months after reviewing the album - quite how much pleasure I got from it. Thank you Mr Regan, it means a lot. Probably.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Roast Guinea Fowl

To be honest, there's not that much between a chicken and a guinea fowl in terms of flavour but there's enough to make them worth trying and they're definitely juicier on the breast though perhaps a bit drier on the legs. This is most likely because they're naturally leaner than chickens but because they're smaller and only cook for about an hour, the breast doesn't dry out. I wrapped mine in streaky bacon just to make sure and popped some some rosemary inside before roasting in the usual way and serving half a bird per person.
Sorry about the lone chipolata in the picture, it jumped out of the tray of potatoes that were roasting on the shelf above.