Monday, June 28, 2010

This Old Record Is Actually Quite Nice

Jamme: Strawberry Jam Man (Warlok Records, 1970)
Lyrically, this is a classic of the, "you might like to do this, but I like to do this" genre (other examples to follow, maybe). Other folks might like to swim, say, or climb a tree. But our man here likes to eat strawberry jam. Every day, if possible. Produced by The Mamas and The Papas' John Philips, this is multi-harmonied, jingle-jangle heavy, silken-neckerchief-wearing, over-dubbed fuzz-guitar super-pop of the very highest order. Jamme were turned over and left for dead in the usual way, but age cannot wither a top tune and, oh my goodness, this is a top tune.

Lots more of this sort of thing here.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Portuguese Pork And Clams

We eat here a lot and one or other of us always orders the pork and clams. This is my home-made attempt at it and it's not bad but not quite as good as theirs. But they are from Portugal and I am from Derby, so what can you expect?

Serves 4
500g pork fillet, diced
1 smallish glass of rose or white wine
2 garlic cloves, halved
2 tsp smoked paprika
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
500g live clams
large bunch of parsley, chopped

In a large non-reactive bowl, mix together the pork, wine, halved garlic cloves and paprika. Mix well together, cover and chill for 2 - 8 hours. Drain the pork, keeping the marinating liquid, and pat dry with kitchen paper.

Heat the oil in a saute pan and cook the pork over a high heat until nicely browned and cooked through. Remove with slotted spoon. Add the onion and chopped garlic to the pan and cook for a few minutes until softened.

Return the pork to the pan, add the marinade (ditch the halved garlic cloves) and bring to a simmer. Scatter over the clams, cover and cook for a few minutes until all the shells have opened, Stir through the parsley and serve swiftly.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

So, What Are You Listening To Right Now?

Oh, I know the answer to this one!

Janelle MonĂ¡e: Neon Valley Street (Bad Boy Records, 2010)
I have checked the stats, worked out the angles and crunched the numbers. The results are in. There is precisely nothing not to love about this record. Jonelle appears to be that rare beast, an actual star. Amazing.

Alondra Bentley: Sunglasses (Absolute Beginners, 2010)
Alondra was born in England but she's lived in Spain since she was a child. How nice. I'd quite like to live in Spain, but that's mainly for the meat products, tbh. Anyway, all the songs on the CD a nice person sent to me were recorded in Cadiz, which is good, isn't it? Rather charming and romantic. Anyway, the album is lovely too. So there.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Elderflower and Lemongrass Cordial

Me and Scrap picked a little bunch of elderflowers on our walk in the woods yesterday and thought we'd have a try at some home-made pop. There are tons of recipes, all roughly the same, showing how to make your own cordial but I followed this friendly version and just added a couple of bruised lemongrass stalks.

We made enough to fill 8 bottles, so that's one for him, one for me, one for his teacher Mr Gray, and the rest for the school summer fair. Don't think there's much chance of us waiting a month before we drink it though.....Scrap's already got the fizzy water ready and I'm thinking about a little splash in the bottom of a cool glass of Prosecco.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Poached Sea Trout

Apparently, they're only around for about three weeks and they were on special offer at £13.50 a kilo instead of the usual £20 and although I already had a whole shoulder of lamb, a large free range chicken and a lot of sausages tucked under the buggy, I bought one (£12.10). And a pot of Moxon's home-made extra-virgin rapeseed oil mayonnaise to go with it.
Generally, I'm not keen on trout, it's a dirty, muddy-tasting fish but the sea trout is like a softer, more delicate salmon so I thought I'd cook it the same way and poach it whole. Old-fashioned I know but gorgeous served chilled with a proper spring salad of asparagus and young watercress. Any leftover fish (and we did have some) can be mashed into mayonnaise with a bit of soft cheese and spread onto hot granary toast for tea.
Serves 4
1 whole sea trout, (or salmon) cleaned
1 onion, sliced
1 carrot sliced
1 celery stalk, sliced
few parsley stalks
1 chilli
1 bay leaf (fresh or dried)
a few allspice berries
2 tsp sea salt
lemon wedges and mayonnaise, to serve
Place the fish in a roasting tin (or fish kettle if you have one). Scatter over the onion, carrot, celery, parsley stalks, chilli, bay leaf, berries and salt. Just cover with cold water, set it over two rings of your hob and bring to the boil. Simmer for 2 minutes then turn off the heat and leave to cool completely. Skin and de-bone then chill until ready to serve. A lovely weekend lunch!

Friday, June 18, 2010

This Old Record Is Also Quite Nice

Maffitt / Davies: Kingswood Manor (EMI, 1968)
A chap from Iowa, born in 1940. A chap from New York born in 1942. Put them together and it could be dynamite. Well, actually it was dynamite, for quite some time, though, sadly, the vast majority of the world never took any notice. However, we can help, if only through the medium of having a listen, deciding that, you know what, as groovily psychedelic American folk-pop goes this is really rather good, then doing something alarming and marvellous like buying it (yes, you're right, that is the wrong cover).

Kingswood Manor was written by the rather brilliant Hoyt Axton and is a meditation on addiction, depression and madness. A doctor arrives with a handful of "little pills" and promises he's come, "to rescue me from the maddening, saddening gloom, in the paisley rubber room...". With the down-tuned guitars, flattened harmonies and general air of pie-eyed craziness it reminds me of David Crosby's Laughing which is about as glowing a recommendation as I can muster, tbh.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Hello Old Thing, Hello New Thing: 44

Bojoura: Hampstead Incident (Polydor, 1968)
Reasons to like Bojoura. She's married to the drummer from Focus. She covered The Box Tops' The Letter in 1974. She's a leading light of what (I discovered today) is called Nederbeat. She is of Bulgarian descent. Not enough pop stars are of Bulgarian descent. Anyway, this is a Donovan cover which means two extra points to begin with. Plus it has a harpsichord on it, so, really, that's win/win, isn't it? I've yanked this wholesale from this fine record here.

Klashnekoff: Keep It Moving (Abstract Urban, 2010)
From Hackney, if you will, H-Town, the belly of the East, Klashnekoff has *looks over horn-rimmed half-moons at press release*, been in the game since 2004 and is much liked by by Rio Ferdinand and Arctic Monkeys. Well, that's nice, isn't it. Apparently, that gum-ball Pete Doherty (remember him?) is also a fan, so he'll be extra pleased to get a mention on this really rather good track from 'Nekoff's top-drawer third album, Back To The Sagas.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Baby-Friendly Frittata

We're at the 'stuff everything you can grab into your mouth' stage with baby this week. The lovingly steamed butternut puree rarely gets close to her mouth before she's yanked the spoon off me and shoved it into her ear. Despite my best efforts with a damp flannel, she trundles through East Dulwich with her wispy hair plastered to her head in various veggie shades of green and orange. So now I'm introducing food she can hold herself and gum away at without causing too much destruction. Frittata seemed to be a good place start (its easy to sweep up) and Scrap went for it too and with a few sticky chipolatas on the side, he didn't notice the complete lack of seasoning.
Serves 2 - 3
1 large baking potato, peeled and cubed
handful of fine green beans, halved
4 Clarence Court eggs
1 tbsp olive oil
chunk of Cheddar, diced

Add the potato to a small pan of cold water and bring to the boil. When almost done, add the beans and cook for 4 minutes until just tender then drain.

Beat the eggs in a large bowl and stir in the drained veg. Heat the oil in a small non-stick pan and pour in the mixture. Scatter over the cheese and cook very slowly until set almost all the way through.

Pop the pan under a medium, preheated grill for a few minutes until golden and completely cooked through. Cut into fingers or wedges and serve warm or cold.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Crispy Fried Salt Cod (Spanish Style)

I love salt cod but almost always make it into fritters and serve with loads of alioli. This recipe is based on the classic Basque dish bacalao al ajoarriero where the fish is usually flaked into the sauce. I like to keep the pieces whole and serve the sauce on the side. Make sure you get nice thick cod loin not the tail ends and remember to change the soaking water 3 - 4 times otherwise the fish will still be overly salty.
Serves 4
600g salt cod, cut into pieces and soaked for 24 hours
olive oil
1 red chilli, thinly sliced
2 - 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 lemon, cut into wedges
roughly chopped parsley

Cook the fish in a pan of boiling water for 5 minutes. Drain and pat dry.

Heat 2cm or so of olive oil in a large frying pan and cook the garlic and chilli for few seconds until golden. Tip into a bowl then quickly lift out the chilli and garlic with a fork and drain on kitchen paper. Spoon a tablespoon or two of the oil back into the hot pan (keep the rest of the chilli-garlic oil and use for frying eggs or whatever you like).

Fry the fish in the hot pan for 5 minutes or so on each side until crispy and golden. Fry the lemon wedges at the same time. Place the fish on plates, scatter with the garlic, chilli and parsley and serve with lemon wedges on the side.

Tomato and egg sauce
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 tsp smoked paprika
4 ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
2 eggs, beaten

Heat the oil in a small pan and cook the onion for a few minutes until softened. Add the paprika, cook for a minute more. Add the tomatoes and simmer together for 15 minutes or so until pulpy. Whizz with a hand blender until smooth then return to the heat and mix in the beaten eggs, stirring for a couple of minutes or so until the egg is cooked and the suace has a lovely velvety texture.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

This Old Record Is Also Quite Nice

Tibby Edwards: But I Do (Mercury, 1957)
Until five minutes ago I had never heard of Mr Edwards, now I sort of love him. From the sawing fiddle intro to his last gasp of vibrato right at the end this is a very loveavble record. I don't think I've ever heard anyone chew their way through a lyric like this, Tibby bites great chunks out of each word and gnashes them down to fit his own remarkable delivery. There are bite marks everywhere.

The "problem" - it's not really a problem at all, it's great - might be that Tibby can't quite decide whether to stick with this country shtick or head off into the great blue yonder offered by rock and roll. Consequently, on But I Do he sort of tries to do both - you can hear him strain at the leash. Amazing tune stolen - wholeseale - from this wonderful album.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Hello Old Thing, Hello New Thing: 43

Sir John Betjeman: North Coast Recollections (El, 2010)
Two things that are great about this poem recorded in 1959. One, Betjeman pronounces "golf" as "goff". I have no idea why, but I really like the way he does. Then there is the line, "and lamps are being lit in bungalows" where there is just the hint, the suggestion, the echo of a possibility of a chance, that "bung-er-lews" are, somehow, a little off. Or "orf". Then - then! - there's the idea that, even in the late 50's, things weren't quite as good as they once were, that even Cornwall's wild north coast had been spoilt by the grinding gears of progress.

That's more than two, isn't it? Sorry. Much more of this sort of thing here.

Mount Kimbie: Carbonated (Hot Flush, 2010)
I have an innate fondness for two machine-friendly blokes making odd noises that are as likely to clear a dancefloor as fill it. I think it's a proud and noble tradition and it's one that Mount Kimbie are definitely part of. In my overfull brain they are (sort of, if you squint a bit and look through someone else's glasses) a link between epic45 and Burial (and, perhaps, Kerogen). That's a great place to be. Anyway, Carbonated gives the impression it could, if it wanted to, go nuts at any moment. But it never does. That works for me every time because I'm obvious like that.

I've hoiked this off a promo copy of their excellent album, Crooks & Lovers which is out on Hotflush Recordings on July 19.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Delicious Barbecued Pork

Another hot day, another chance to light the barbie - my oven's gone a bit luke-wam all of a sudden and the whoosh of the fan is a quiet whisper. I only discovered this when I was baking a Red Velvet birthday cake for Rob the other day so it ended up more of a fudge cake than light-as-air but he'd necked so much Prosecco by the time I wheeled it out, covered in sprinkles, no-one knew the difference. Anyway, for now, the barbecue's the only way I can cook a big chunk of meat till I get the man from Stoves round to check my thermostat. Choose a thick piece with ribs still attached (I'm talking about the pork now, not the man from Stoves) - I got mine from Moens in Clapham and it was a lovely piece but Christ it was pricy - slightly over twice as much as the same cut from William Rose.

Serves 4

1.5k thick belly pork
2 tsp fennel seeds
2 plump garlic cloves
leaves from 2 large rosemary sprigs
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp sea salt
1 lemon
2 tbsp olive oil

1 Steam the pork for 45 minutes - I've got a steam oven that I'm mad about (use it every day for Miss Baby's purees) but you can do it on a rack in a roasting tin of water covered in foil.

2 Place the fennel seeds, garlic, rosemary, oregano, salt and lemon rind in a mini food processor and whizz until finally chopped. Add enough oil to make a paste.

3 Dry the pork with kitchen paper, it should be completely cooked through. Rub it all over with the paste and leave for a couple of hours in a cool place. Barbecue for 40 minutes until it's warmed right through and has a good crackling. Leave to 5 minutes to rest before slicing and squeezing with a little lemon juice.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Tofu Omelette

We're celebrating the end of half term with our first ever trip to Legoland today (hooray!)
A high-protein breakfast of tofu omelette made a delicious and hopefully, stamina-building start to the day.
Serves 2
1 tbsp sunflower oil
200g medium firm tofu, cubed
2 spring onions, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
tiny knob of butter
3 eggs, beaten
soy sauce and chilli seasoning, to serve

1 Heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan and cook the tofu for a few minutes on each side until golden and a bit crusty.

2 Add the spring onions, garlic and butter and sizzle for a minute or so until the garlic softens. Pour in the egg, cook for a couple of minutes until set, flip it over if you like then serve with a dash of soy sauce and sprinkling of shichimi powder.