Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Gracie Fields Special

Oh the joy of rustling up dinner a deux on the boat with the sun shining in through the open doors and Desmond Carrington playing Perez Prado, Joyce Grenfell and Gracie Fields on his most excellent Radio 2 slot. Got super excited when he plugged his Friday night show which is a whole half hour dedicated to our Gracie!

Joy of joys - I'll be cooking up her very own recipe for Lancashire Hot Pot whilst I am tuned in. Thank God for British broadcasting!

The Black Panther enjoyed Errol's fish dish. He said he "liked the bananas" and scoffed the lot. Well I like HIM and think he may be the lucky guinea pig for more Silver Screen Suppers if he is game.

He didn't bring a toothbrush but he DID borrow mine...

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Errol Flynn's Baked Fish Havanaise

"It isn't what they say about you, it's what they whisper."

Mm. That was GOOD and DID cure my malaise for a few minutes. Easy to prepare, looked great on the plate and had all the cats on the island trotting up the ladder and poking their heads through the door to see what was cooking.

I am even considering making it again tonight for my dinner date. Yes. Forget about the "six months off men". The Black Panther has tired of prowling around the undergrowth and can't wait until the weekend arrives. He wants to see me TONIGHT. He is bringing pudding. Hmmm. And a toothbrush I hope...

There follows Mr Flynn's "Favourite Menu" - now THAT is what I call a Silver Screen Supper.

Dinner De Luxe
Blinis with Caviar and Sour Cream
Turtle Soup with Sherry and Wafers
Baked Fish Havanaise
Quail on Toast with Fresh Mushrooms
French Fried Asparagus, Artichoke Saute
Endive and Beet Salad
Crepes Suzette
Demi-tasse Napoleon Brandy

Not sure I'll be able to rustle up all that tonight in my boat kitchen on a table top oven that has to be turned on with a pair of pliers, but the Baked Fish Havanaise - THAT I can do! I might even be able do it freestyle without looking at the recipe. This will give the impression that I am a cook who knows what she is doing. Ha ha! How far from the truth!

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Havanaise to Treat Malaise

Suffering from a bad case of malaise at the moment. Have been wandering listlessly around Richmond trying to cheer myself up with small purchases - several hair clips and two plectrums in the shape of skulls - to no avail.

Am going to attempt Errol Flynn's "Baked Fish Havanaise" tonight to see if it makes me feel any better. Everyone keeps banging on about fish oil being the cure for all ills - let's see if it works on a brain full of misery and foreboding. Don't exactly know what foreboding is but expect it is in there somewhere along with the seemingly endless rattle of recriminations, self doubt, woe and despair.

Rosalind's friend Anna MW told me last night that she was getting over a failed relationship and had decided to have "six months off men". This was something I hadn't considered but might be a good thing. Perhaps I should lie fallow for a few months. Like they used to make fields do in feudal Britain - maybe they still do...

Will report back on Errol's fishy dish. Not exactly sure what pimientos are but through the wonder of the internet am just about to find out.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Do Not Become Sister Ruth

I saw the newly restored classic "Black Narcissus" last night and realised that it was a perfect film for someone trying to get over a man who thinks he is the handsome-ist stud in town. David Farrar plays the part of Mr Dean like he just can't get over how devastatingly good looking he is. But oh, those shorts!

Also realised that I must not become Sister Ruth and run over to his house in a spectacular red dress and ugg boots with a demented look on my face. I will remain classy not crazy.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Fasten Your Seatbelts...

"I am just too much."

Ah, the beans were a great success. Rosalind even had two portions. John G (her ex) said they were good but he wasn't sure why they had to have been cooking for 8 hours. Made the whole flat smell of molasses though which on the whole was a good thing. It was pelting with rain all day and we were all very jaded after a late night carousing at the Eurovision party. We spent our time lying on the floor gazing at the television or standing in the kitchen grazing on all manner of comfort food. Walnut Whips were in evidence as were onion and goats cheese tarts from Marks and Spencer and some miniature onion bhajis (as Rosalind pointed out as the oven was "on" we might as well have some snacks to keep us going). To sip throughout the day Rosalind invented what she called "White Trash Pimms" which involved sherry, lemonade and mint. I can't remember the last Sunday I managed to pack away so much grub and booze. Mourning the end of my romance with salty snacks and sweet alcoholic beverages I suppose.

When the beans were ready we had them with fresh Lincolnshire asparagus (from Berwick Street market - big bunch for a pound) and Lincolnshire sausages. Although the original Rosalind Russell hails from Connecticut, mine is from the lovely English county of Lincolnshire - hence the county based foodstuffs. The beans were sweet and perfectly cooked and although the bacon had shrivelled up to a shadow of its former porky self it added to the general flavour. The film was enjoyed by all even though the pair of them were snoozing half way through like two old folks in the retirement home. It was a proper lazy Sunday with a proper beanfeast.

15 minutes after going to bed Rosalind popped her head around the door to report that it was "blowing a gale" in her bedroom. I know exactly what she meant...

As soon as I can work out how to get a side page I will put the recipe on the blog. The bean baton now passes to the Frickster - get cooking baby!

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Dearth of Fat Salt Pork

The butcher that Rosalind remembers being on Berwick Street is alas no more. Had a lengthy conversation with two barrow boys on the market who told us that there are now NO BUTCHERS in the West End. They are all gorn. R has bacon in her fridge so I shall make do with that and see how it goes. What a shame eh? Where do all the media types go for their sausages - the big behomoths of supermarkets I guess.

Rosalind says that fat salt pork sounds a bit "wartime" anyhow. She doesn't really like the sound of Boston Baked Beans either but is willing to give them a try. I am pleased that she is letting me rustle them up in her kitchen, the boat oven has to be turned on with pliers and there is no temperature indication on the dials so a modern cooker is a godsend. She says she has "never seen All About Eve all the way through" and now I am remembering that when I saw it myself the tape cut out just before the denouement. It must have been Rosalind who leant it to me in the first place.

So I went out with Wee Jimmie Krankie last night so he could tell me what he wanted me to hear. I arrived 5 minutes after the appointed meeting time and he was already tucking into some food. Isn't that a bit rude? Basically it seems that what he wanted to explain was that after 10 years in a previous relationship he had tried to get out of several times he didn't feel that he wanted to be in another one. He didn't feel that he could be with just one person long term. That's boyspeak for saying that he wants to sleep around isn't it? Well so be it. Off you pop then. Good luck to you out there on the dating scene - especially in THOSE trousers.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Worth Eating?

Stomach is churning at the prospect of dinner tonight with Square Jawed Gordon who wants to meet up because he says "some things need explaining" and there are "some things you need to know". What, what, what, what, what?

Is it fair to expect me to try and eat tapas with wobbly hands and wobbly lips whilst being told all my shortfallings? I don't want to go! Tried to get out of it with a text suggesting it might be better just to have a drink rather than dinner. Got the curt response: "we can drink at the bar and eat at the same time". Oh can we? I can't imagine being able to eat a thing.

Shoes or boots? Shoes or boots? Shoes or boots? I cannot decide. Spent ages trying to pick a frock this morning then agonised on the train about making the wrong choice. Then my chum Rosalind's words popped into my head, "You are not auditioning for the part of girlfriend" - indeed not. Which would look most fetching whilst perched on a bar stool though?

The only thing keeping me going through all this is the thought of Bette's BBBeans. Truly. It is all I have to focus on to get me through tonight's ordeal. I am on the hunt for navy beans or failing that haricots. I have also printed something out about what "fat salt pork" is to wave at a friendly butcher if I can find one in London's West End.

"All About Eve" has arrived and is in my handbag. Rosalind is helping me to scope out a cheap DVD player tomorrow. She is being a ROCK throughout my break up trauma. I wouldn't be surprised if she suggests that I stay at her place the whole weekend and have ourselves a little beanfeast to cheer us both up. What cocktail would go best with a big bunch of beans I wonder? We are going to need several jugs of something...

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Thelma Todd's Caesar Salad

One good thing about being dumped is the way chums rally round to cheer you up. Had a long telephone conversation with the fabulous Gary last night. He was telling me a story about Thelma Todd and Caesar Salad which we must verify. Apparently Thelma was in a restaurant and wanted a salad and the chef rustled one up for her out of what he had to hand and the Caesar Salad was born. Or something... Would also like to get hold of a menu from the "racy roadhouse" she ran. Where the hell do you find a "racy roadhouse" these days?

The Ice Cream Blonde as Hot Toddy was also known apparently "grew up scandalizing the community by never wearing underwear, and working her way through the local hunks". I think I shall follow suit.

Am making a pilgrimage to Kilburn High Road today to try and buy a cheap DVD player for the boat. It is coming out of the water tonight to have its bottom scrubbed so I have to rush home and secure all breakables. Me and the landlady plan to be sipping champagne on the roof as it is dragged out from its moorings, into the middle of the Thames and up the slips. I will have to go up a ladder to get to my bed. Much like Elsa Lanchester used to do...

My DVD of "All About Eve" has been despatched but will it arrive in time?

Monday, May 15, 2006

Pilchards on Toast

My good intentions at getting going on this project have been foiled by the fact I didn't read the recipe. Bette's Boston Baked Beans require 8 hours of cooking and I didn't get home until 6pm so methinks they will have to wait until next weekend. Instead of a gourmet dinner I had myself pilchards on toast with sweetcorn and a dash of Worcestershire sauce sitting up on the roof.

Besides, couldn't find any pea beans. Closest I could get were white kidney beans so may have to go with those. This involves more complications as they have to be soaked overnight in order to avoid "tummy upsets". I don't know about the States but here in Britain anyone who has ever been a student will know that kidney beans can kill... Good premise for a murder mystery novel actually. I wonder if I could get Lantern Jawed Gordon over for a chilli made with unsoaked kidney beans just to see what would happen.

So it looks like next weekend's socialising will be based around beans. I'll put them in to soak on Saturday evening before going to Rosalind's Eurovision party then rush back to the boat on Sunday morning (no doubt with pounding hangover) in order to get them in the "beanpot". Bette's recipe specifically mentions a "beanpot" - maybe those who live in New England have such a thing amongst their crockpots and fonduepots but all I have is a shallow casserole dish with lid that belongs to the landlady. I am of course expecting that the combination of molasses and fat salt pork is going to cause some kind of tar like substance impossible to remove from said dish which will result in me having to throw it in the river rather than attempting to wash it up.

At least it gives me time to buy myself the mini DVD player and a copy of "All About Eve" - seems the most appropriate film to watch what with me being a recently spurned older woman and all that...

Sunday, May 14, 2006

The Cooking Must Begin

OK. I have spent the afternoon skim-reading the abridged handbag sized version of "He's Just Not That Into You" and I agree with everything those wise old yankees say. So time to stop wasting brain space on Dirty Scottish Gordon and get on with the project the Fricksta and I have been talking about for around 3 years.

Maybe the BLOG is the way forward for our Silver Screen Suppers project. It worked for Julia Powell and her "Julie and Julia Project" and with the two of us egging each other on perhaps we can make some beautiful suppers, watch some classic movies and entertain each other with Transatlantic postings about the results. Whaddya say Ms Frick?

I had a horrendous day yesterday moving boxes and boxes of junk that I just can't bear to part with to my lock up in Slough. This involved being polite to the man who has just dumped me because he is a "man with a van" and how else do I move my crap?! Life is all in chaos and this has given me a real kick up the arse. Food equals comfort and survival. I will therefore begin to cook.

Time to stop procrastinating. Time to buy a mini DVD player (no tele on the boat), order up some classic movies through the net and get my pinny on. First recipe I am going to tackle is one I think should NOT be shared with friends. Bette Davis' own recipe for Boston Baked Beans. First of all I have no idea what your American measurements mean. What the blue blazes is " a quart"? What are pea beans? What is fat salt pork? Of the 6 ingredients needed for this foul sounding dish I have but two - 2 teaspoons of salt and 1 cup of boiling water - so off to the supermarket for me. I will report back on the success or otherwise of Ms Davis' favourite dish to serve at a Sunday night supper party given for a few of her most intimate friends. Accompanied by a simple salad and some brown bread this is apparently a meal the charming hostess could serve herself without bothering to have any servants around.

I don't think there would be room for any servants on my tub even if I could afford to have them, so we shall see how this dish works for a suddenly single singleton alone in a floating caravan on the Thames on a lonely Sunday evening...