Sometimes only a kipper will do

Sunday morning breakfast is normally given over to bacon, HP Sauce and toast. But sometimes, especially after a Saturday morning visit to Wards, it is good to ring the changes and have a go at a kipper.

They had them from either the Isle of Mann or Craster. I chose a Craster.

I cooked it under the grill, a few dots of butter and ten minutes later it was on the plate.

A kipper is also sometimes known as a red herring. Samuel Pepys  had them on 28 February 1660 “Up in the morning, and had some red herrings to our breakfast, while my boot-heel was a-mending, by the same token the boy left the hole as big as it was before.”

Keeping a fishmonger happy

I suspect there are few better ways to keep a fishmonger happy than offering to clean the squid. We are going to be having them this evening with chickpeas and cavolo nero – a recipe out of the Polpo Cookbook. There is still some cavolo nero growing in the garden and I though that this would be a good opportunity to use some of it up. Simon had already filleted two red mullet for me and I was conscious of the car being parked in the 15 minute zone on Oxton Road. so I said, “Don’t worry I’ll do them”.

I have just done them now – black ink and their strange milky innards all over the side. One of them still had a half digested but quite recognisable anchovy inside of it.

After Wards it was a quick hike back to the car and then into The International Store for caraway seeds, pine nuts and a packet of cornnuts.  I also picked up a couple of packs of pitta bread for lunch. I was watched over by a pale wet sun.

In the grocers they had boxes of bright red tomatoes at £2.99 – they were too good resist – and tiger tomatoes, tight blacked striped skin full of flavour, they will look good with the squid and chickpeas.



Back at home I made falafel to go with the pitta for lunch. A tin of chickpeas, half a finely chopped onion, a clove of garlic, salt, pepper and a pinch of cumin seeds and paprika all went into a glass bowl I then took up the wooden pestle and crushed it all to a thick paste which I then loosened slightly with water before working in a tablespoon of flour to help it keep shape in hot oil. I was worried they would fall apart when I came to cook them but they kept their shape well. Crisp on the outside and soft and airy inside.

This weekend we are listening to a new compilation from Soul Jazz of lovers rock from the 1970’s.

All for the best

I lay awake last night thinking about REM and Miracle Legion.

REM were the start of it all for me really. The first band that was mine. A closed little world I could inhabit for myself before sharing it with others. I can still remember getting it for the first time. Lying in bed listening to Reckoning on the headphones, and then having to listen to it over and over again, compelled to go back so that every last curve of the music was mine. I saw them in concert at the Royal Court in Liverpool and then over the years I saw them another ten or so times.

There was a new sort of music coming out of the US. Born on the back of punk but casting its mind back over other times and forms. For a few years I thought that music had done it all and could be tied up in the confines of REM, Husker Du and The Replacements. Sometimes I still think that was right particularly if you add the The Go-Betweens into the mix…but that is for another evening…

Round the back of what REM were doing there any number of bands jangling at their guitars. Miracle Legion were always better than the rest and with their album Surprise, Surprise they created a quiet masterpiece.

Their singer, Mark Mulcahy, is playing in Manchester next week. As I was lying in bed last night it occurred to me that he had followed the sort of career path that Michael Stipe could have followed if he had perhaps not taken himself quite so seriously.

This is a live recording for radio…on the album it finishes with him singing say you love me, say you love me and somehow you know that there is not quite enough love for that.


Having got my Tampopo scenes confused I should also give you an opportunity to see the other scene I had in mind where the office junior gets to order all the best food in a posh French restaurant.



I will have to watch the film again to see if he gets to eat it. I must have still been at university when it came out. I remember going to watch it two or three times and maybe that is where my occasional  hankering to make a good chicken and noodle soup comes from.

The film is showing late Sunday afternoon in camp&furnace as part of the Food for Real Film Festival that is taking place in an around Liverpool. the programme is strict in reminding us that it is an 18 Certificate. this no doubt means I will be getting it on DVD and embarrassing  the kids as we watch the inventive scenes that are intercut into the film making explicit some of the joins between good food and sex.