Thursday, June 29, 2006

Rosalind Russell's Garden Vegetable Salad

“Flops are a part of life's menu and I've never been a girl
to miss out on any of the courses.”

How right RR was – her salad was indeed a flop. The kind of salad an elderly relative might cobble together so that there is something “healthy” to have with cheap sausages at a barbecue. I’m glad I tried it out last night in advance of my very own Rosalind Russell coming over for dinner next Friday night. Certainly not something I would inflict on guests. Jeesh.

I guess I may have just lost my appetite though after sending a “burning your budgies” text to the chaw-bacon. I do NOT want to meet him for a drink and decided that rather than just putting him off with lame excuses I should just tell him so, and did.

Maybe this then was the cause for the heartburn rather than the radishes…

Monday, June 26, 2006

Kim Novak's Chili Rellenos

Lady Longhorn will be laughing into her corn chowder when she reads Kim's fanciful recipe for Chili Rellenos. Not authentic Mexican ingredients by any means. However, Groucho wanted "Mexican" food as the big match on Saturday night was Argentina v Mexico. The only Silver Screen Recipe I had at my disposal with any kind of Mexicana appeal was Kim's. So I gave it my best shot (modifying it for the vegetarian appetite) and was rewarded with a typically grouchy Groucho comment "it's a bit like student food". Well yes, that is true. But victory was mine when later he discovered more in the kitchen, "you didn't tell me there was some left," he said getting his spoon out, "I'll have that!"

A veiled compliment from Groucho is worth more to me than a hundred from anyone else. He always speaks his mind and as he says, "Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others".

Like Groucho, "I worked my way up from nothing to a state of extreme poverty" and I love him and his lovely wife so much as they foot the bill for everything except scones when I go visit them in their country pile in Suffolk. A very generous pair who live by the Groucho rule: "The secret of life is honesty and fair dealing. If you can fake that, you've got it made".

Friday, June 23, 2006

Helen Twelvetrees' Wakimoli Salad

"Between pictures I go away. I think that is the best way to achieve happiness in Hollywood, the only way to keep one's perspective. If you stay too close to the motion picture colony you lose your sense of values."

Oooh the ladies did enjoy Helen's Wakimoli. It was like Guacamole only even nicer. Because it had the devil of all condiments – MAYONNAISE - in it. Mmm. We scoffed the lot between three of us with tortilla chips whilst showing off our knowledge of boyspeak football style. There was talk of “set pieces” and “body memory” and even one mention of a “nutmeg”.

The only downside of the Wakimoli was that next morning I felt as though I’d been the victim of that stage hypnotist’s trick where they make you eat a whole onion by telling you it is an apple...

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Wakimoli Schmakimoli

Tonight is "ladies football night" at Paulette Godard's place. Brazil are playing so we will have plenty to occupy our hearts and minds. We've all been asked to bring some grub so I thought it might be a good chance to try out Helen Twelvetrees' "Wakimoli Salad". Guacamole by any other name it seems to me. So I trapsed up Salusbury Road this lunchtime in search of avocados and my little corner shop up there with all the fruit and veggies out front had none. I asked the handsome fellow in the doorway if he had any and he said, "The avocados they are finish". I said, "Oh, are they out of season now?" and he repeated his earlier statement, "The avocados they are finish".

Hmm. Wakimoli without avocadoes is no Wakimoli at all. What else can I rustle up in someone else's kitchen without embarrassment?

Monday, June 19, 2006

Champion Toad In The Hole

Aha! It makes my heart glad to see that America's Sweetheart of Song is now cooking away out there in the Lone Star State. Go Ruthie!

One re-run and one near disaster on the cooking front this weekend. I made Constance's chicken dish for the delight of El Pantero Negra on Saturday night. I was late getting to the supermarket and they only had breast rather than thighs (unlike myself). Stick to the thunder thighs I now say. After 8 years of being told by Charley Chase that the breast of a chicken is bland and that all other bits are nicer, I have to say I am coming around to that way of thinking myself. After dinner the Panther took me to a NIGHTCLUB where the dancing started at 11pm. Fancy that! I am usually in my boat bed by 9pm. I suppose LATE was the way of nights out in the good old days of Hollywood anyhow. I imagine Constance had quite a few boozy boogies herself, although I doubt it was to old skool reggae.

On Sunday as I was cooking for boat buddies I thought I should rustle up a new SSS number. As the only option for groceries was Mr Riverside I was somewhat scuppered. The only recipe I had the wherewithal to make was Our Gracie's Toad in the Hole. The crazy boat oven has no temperature dial, only a squiggly line that ends in an arrow drawn on with a black marker pen at about the 7 o'clock spot. I drew this on under supervision of the landlady about a year ago when she showed me how the oven worked. Neither of us can now remember what this squiggly arrow was designed to indicate. For purely aesthetic reasons I always cook everything at whatever crazy temperature this is. Due to the recent excellent public information campaign on British TV about cooking things thoroughly on a barbecue to avoid food poisoning I was concerned about the bangers. Charred on the outside and pink on the inside. However, as we chowed down the dish was proclaimed "tasty" and the Toads "definitely cooked". The landlady's beau observed however, that the Hole might have benefited from some onions thrown in.

I am thrilled to have discovered all manner of old fashioned things in my local Waitrose. Not only can you buy blocks of DRIPPING - (oh yes Mr Butcher of Kilburn High Road, not such a "thing of the past") but also LARD and COOKEEN - I suspect the latter might do for all those American recipes requiring "shortening". This project is proving to be quite an eye opener when it comes to FATS especially those which come in a disgusting looking solid white blocks.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

dick powell's delightful corn chowder

in the scorching texas heat, which has not been under 100 degrees for over a month, one does not immediately think of HOT SOUP for dinner. that is, unless it is a corn chowder by the divine dick powell. yes indeed, time had finally come for this stateside film archivist to get with the program and begin cooking. armed with a newly won ebay cookbook dedicated to the late will rogers, very, very vague directions, and a seriously sassy apron, i began celebrating the glory that the man whose movie proclaims the glory of "pettin' in the park..." yes, this corn chowder is definitely 1930s crooning dick p., rather than snarky 1940s dick powell, private eye. end product = delish, yet said vague directions gave a bit of pause during the process. thank heavens i have spent a lot of time by the side of my grandmother cookin' over a kansas stove to get an idea of how to "thicken" a broth... (hint: flour, but not too much as you can end up with a very odd looking soup.) i must say that my gravest concern over this project is that i will end up gaining 435 pounds in the process - and end up looking a bit orson welles like by september.

onward ho!!!

Friday, June 16, 2006

Constance Bennett's Spanish Chicken

“I'm a lot more sartorial than thespian. They come to see me
and go out humming the costumes.”

Delicious, delicious, delicious. Constance was spreading her cometary glory all around our island last night as we scoffed her Spanish Chicken on the fuel pontoon. After much moving around of tubs in the early evening the landlady and her beau ended up with the best mooring on the island. Alas, for them it is "for one night only" (their turn to have their bottom scrubbed) so we made the most of it. Edmund and I carried the hot pots and pans along the pontoons. Landlady and beau borrowed plastic table and chairs from other residents and we quaffed wine and scoffed chicken as the sun went down and the aircraft and geese roared overhead.

Landlady's beau decided that The Fuel Pontoon would be a great name for a floating restaurant and we had a little flight of fancy as to the possibility of a Silver Screen Suppers themed club where you could eat the nosh and watch the movie. As the last recipe I did was Clark Gable's I guess the film to watch with Constance's chicken would have to be the MARVELLOUS sounding "Starlit Days at the Lido" in which they both appeared. You don't get movies with names like THAT any more do you?

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Touched By Her Cometary Glory

A change of plan for Edmund's dinner tonight as Carole's ribs take aeons to cook. Instead we will be having Constance Bennett's Spanish Chicken. E sent a textual message asking "will it be touched by her cometary glory like James Agate suggests?"

Well we shall see...

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Supper Smash

The Queen of entertaining Rosalind rustled up some superb Supper Smash last night. This is convenience food British style to rival the Bisquik. Those of a certain age on these shores will remember the "For Mash, Get Smash" advertising campaign and those a bit younger might even recall "Pot Smash" a short-lived potato version of Pot Noodle that had CROUTONS.

Mm but it was good. Stumbling to R's place from Bradley's Spanish Bar where we had been quaffing beer and talking about BOYS for hours, we were absolutely famished. RR put the kettle on and got a foil package out of the cupboard. Perfect consistency mash followed, served in individual bowls with some butter mashed in, a sliver of cheese on the side and (in mine) some of that squeezy mustard.

Current sofabed resident Montgomery refused our offer of Smash. He has a rather refined palate. When I woke him up this morning cussing the plank of wood in the hall upon which I had stubbed my toe he accused me of being "still smashed on Smash". Yes.

Now I know for a fact that Lady Longhorn has cooked up the chowder so we should expect a post from her soon. I spoke to her via transatlantic telephone call yesterday and sincerely hope there is some kind of American version of Smash available out there in Texas. It is a cure for all traumas, comfort food to rival a bowl of hot creamed rice with a cube of chocolate gently melting in the middle. I only wish I lived closer so that I could rustle up a bowl of Supper Smash for Ms Longhorn right now. For THAT is what friends are for in times of trouble...

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

In The Middle Of The Thames

Much excitement Thameside as the boat is back in the water. But not in its usual spot - secured next to the FUEL PONTOON for a few days. And this means right in the middle of the river basically. Fab views with birdlife all around. Those crazy headed Grebe things dive down for fish and you don't see them again for hours. Black Swans and Canada Geese all over the shop and this morning a strange mist rolling over from the opposite bank. Glorious. Wish my bird spotter's book wasn't in the lock-up. How sad!

Also excited about boat visitor on Thursday. Fellow film archivist Edmund Gwenn is leaving his country pile for a few days and coming over for Carole Lombard's ribs. Mucho fun will be had as he regales me with impressions of Jessie Matthews and tales of derring-do at "The Loft".

Life is goooooooooooooooood.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Clark Gable's Hunter's Breakfast

"Hell, if I'd jumped on all the dames I'm supposed to have jumped on,
I'd have had no time to go fishing. "

The only kind of hunting I do at the moment is MANHUNTING but Clark's breakfast sure did set me up for the day yesterday. Tesco's came up trumps with their "batter mix" which doesn't have the same ring as "Bisquick" but did the job. I THOUGHT that I didn't like pancakes but in my single girl haven looking out at a beautiful day on the river I enjoyed them very much. Lady Longhorn insisted that Gable's specified "bacon" was "American bacon and NOT crazy British bacon". I have no idea what American bacon is but had a picture in my mind of something ROUND so bought Wilthire cured ham and had that with a fried egg on top. Mmmm.

I guess when stinking thinking gets me pondering on how I ended up a being such a sad and lonely little rockabilly girl on a sunny Sunday morning, and I start feeling it is such a goddamn shame there is nobody else in my boat bed but me, I should just get my buns in the kitchen and cook myself up a delicious breakfast like that. Who cares if "man the hunter" isn't there?

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Dick Powell's Trousers

Have spent a glorious day at the newspaper library in Colindale searching 1930s fan mags for silver screen recipes. Alas, zilch. Saw some fun things along the way though including a remarkable press photograph of Dick Powell in "Cowboy From Brooklyn" wearing the campest chaps I have ever seen (and I have seen plenty of camp chaps).

I know for a fact that Lady Longhorn is cooking a Dick Powell number this very weekend over there in cowboy country. She's had trouble getting off the starting blocks (due to neighbours trauma) but I am expecting a sprint from her very soon. Once she gets going she'll be like a dog with a bone no doubt. This kind of thing is highly addictive. I am planning a Clark and Carole tribute day tomorrow with Gable's "Hunter's Breakfast" in the morning and Lombard's "Barbecued Spare Ribs" in the evening. Not her very own spare ribs you understand. Personally, I have never bought ribs in my life. Does one just ask the butcher for a rack of ribs? How in the name of Carole Lombard does it work?

The proposed "Hunter's Breakfast" shebang provoked a hilarious exchange of emails yesterday with Lady L as, being a Brit, I had no idea what BISQUICK was. As this is sort of the mainstay of the breakfast of "he who hunts" I've had to find out. I shall be prowling the "home baking" shelves of Tesco later looking for a replacement packet of powder very soon. I have only ever eaten pancakes for breakfast in the US. We don't really do it here. So it's going to be quite an exotic brunch. It will be just like IHOP only IBOP - International Boat of Pancakes.

Thursday's date was fab and he says he will "call me". I met the flesh and bones version of Radio 4 soap star "Lilian Bellamy" who told me that the last time she was at Hampton Court she was there to see a "Burly Chassis" gig - which might not make sense to those across the pond but made me laugh like a drain. She had old school Hollywood style glamour. Skin tight lime green frock, real looking tan and silver grey hair in an Armani style wave with a tiny pink streak in the fringe! My escort was wearing an Oswald Boateng suit with yellow silk lining and the food was by Gordon Ramsay (or he "designed the menu" or whatever). Heels were actually banned not because of the lawns but because we were some of the select having our posh nosh in the "Great Hall", parquet floored and resplendent with dead animals and dusty tapestries. I had my photograph taking holding a rather splendid rhubarb dessert. Is rhubarb big in the US?

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Hollywood Ham

I am hoping to rustle up a Clark Gable number on Sunday for the Panther. I wanted to follow Loretta's recipe with something from her secret lover as I've been reading about their tryst and resulting lovechild. Am awaiting a recipe from my fellow chef in the States for Gable's "Hunter's Breakfast" - I have no idea what this will be. Can't imagine Clark Gable in a pinny myself. If this doesn't turn up in time I will have a go at Hollywood Ham Loaf instead. Not saying that Gable was a "Hollywood Ham" you understand...

Short lunchbreak today as there is a new man on the scene who has invited me to swanky open air gig at Hampton Court Palace tonight with champagne reception and dinner thrown in. This is romancing silver screen style is it not? Alas, he won't be sending around a chauffeur to pick me up, I have to meet him at Waterloo at 5.15 hence curtailment of my blogging time. Dress code is "coctktail dress but no high heels". Whoever heard of such a thing? I actually do not have any other heels apart from high, but am reassured by Rosalind that as this rule is designed to preserve the lawns, wedges don't count. Accordingly I'll be wearing some very hard to walk in Carmen Miranda style skyscraper platforms.

I am pretty darned excited.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Loretta Young's Peach Dessert

"As soon as I get home from a day of work, I bathe, brush my hair, put on fresh makeup, and slip into a hostess gown."

On Saturday night the Black Panther came over and cooked me dinner on the tub. I should probably explain that he is not a member of the 1960s political group that presented "the greatest threat to the internal security of the United States" but rather a hunk from Sierra Leone I am currently canoodling with.

I decided to make a pudding and as I was reliant on the strange selection of goods offered by Mr Riverside I selected Loretta Young's Peach Dessert which turned out to be a very strange thing indeed. I have no idea how I could have prevented the apricots (no peaches at Mr R's) from falling out of the bottom of the muffins when taking them out of the tins. I suppose it could be to do with the fact that I didn't know what one of the ingredients actually was. Shortening? What is this shortening? Anyhow, they turned out to be tasty little portions of cakey type comestibles with apricots and almonds on the side.

We ate them in bed with some custard. Champion!

Eee By Gum - Gracie Fields' Hotpot

Ee that hotpot were grand!

I was rather bemused by the chunks of lamb the butcher had provided and had neither the correct implements nor the emotional wherewithall to get much meat from between bones, fat and things that looked like the cotton wool tubes dentists use to soak up saliva. What ARE those and what purpose do they serve in a sheep? Got it in the oven about 8 and then went to sit on the landlady's boat for a glass of wine while it cooked slowly in the tub oven.

As often happens on the island where I live, passers by spotting a drinking session going on gradually began to accumulate on the landlady's roof. There was much to-ing and fro-ing to the Mr Riverside corner shop to purchase 2 bottles for £8. Once the hotpot was mentioned there was much excitement and I foolishly announced in my drunken state that there would be plenty for everyone (about 15 people at this stage). Beau of landlady did the sensible thing and announced that anyone who wanted some should go and fetch a plate from their ships. Most people couldn't be arsed to leave their spot but there were about 6 or 7 volunteers. Dinner was served around 10.30 to much appreciation all round. I'd been going on about there being a "lot of meat" in it to dissuade the more squeamish from partaking, this was disputed by two of the male recipients of a portion. I must admit the bit I had was mostly potato with a bit of kidney (which tasted good) and I didn't recognise any lamb. But then, by that stage I was completely plastered!

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Dripping? That's All In The Past My Dear...

Trotted up to Kilburn High Road to buy meat products for Gracie's Lancashire Hot Pot in my lunch hour. Despite all Prince Charles' bleating about MUTTON you cannot buy it for love nor money round these parts. I settled for neck of lamb instead as the nice butcher man in Corrigan's said it was much the same. When I asked for two SHEEP'S KIDNEYS "or something similar" he delved a hand to the bottom of the pile marked PIG'S LIVER and pulled out two chunks of stuff so lord knows what I've got there. When I enquired about DRIPPING he said they did usually have it but they were all out. When I asked what I could use instead he suggested I could "put some fat through a mincer". Jeepers. It is all sounding a bit "wartime" is it not?

So I headed up the road to another butcher by the name of Harris in search of dripping. There behind the counter was an elderly and infirm man with a piece of paper stuck to his lip and bloodstains on his apron and hands. I asked if he had any dripping. "Dripping?" he asked, making the paper flap around, "that's all in the past my dear". I nodded and said, "It's an old recipe I'm doing". "What are you making?" he enquired. I summoned up my best Gracie accent to say, "Lancashire Hot Pot" and the woman in the queue behind me laughed out loud. "How are they using the dripping?" he wondered. "Melting it then brushing it on top of the potatoes", I advised. "GOOSE FAT" he shouted. "Goose Fat will be best for that," and he got me a jar out of his fridge and put it in a blood smeared carrier bag.

So I have all the essential ingredients in the work fridge. I'm going out dancing tonight and don't think a big bag of meat is necessarily a good thing to take with me so it will stay there overnight.

Am feeling slightly shaky now after telephone conversation with the Scot who has a pile of records and large gramophone horn as ransom at his flat. I have told a lie in saying that I will go over sometime and get them. I would prefer to send an extremely handsome man to collect them on my behalf. I shall work out how this can be done.

I cannot muster up the energy to feel sorry for the fact that Wee Jimmie Krankie is in bed with the flu on this his special birthday day...