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.