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?