Thursday, August 31, 2006

Hattie McDonald's Chicken With Dumplings

"Why should I complain about making $700 a week playing a maid? If I didn't, I'd be making $7 a week being one."

I had a look through my recipes to see if I had any "Gone With The Wind" related ones and found a great article in a 1941 "Modern Screen" magazine that was all about Hattie McDonald's love of cooking. Hattie was so fab in the role of "Mammy" mumbling and grumbling about Scarlett's behaviour under her breath and ticking her off whilst yanking on her corset laces. The Panther informed me that she was the first black woman to win an Oscar - he knows his movie stuff does the Panther - and she deserved it too.

Having learned my lesson with both the trifle (around 7/8ths of it still in the fridge several days later) and ditto Yvonne's Salome Salad Dressing, I am going to save this recipe for an evening when I have enough people to share it with and then I shall put it on the recipe blog. There is a whole banquet of food in the article - Chicken With Dumplings, Corn Bread, Sweet Corn Pudding, Cranberry Jelly, McDaniel Dressing (ALSO includes a can of tomato soup...) and Cracker Cake. I would love to make all of these things and watch the film with a bunch of chums sometime. I will plan it once I am ensconsed in a permanent abode and have found out what the hey Graham Crackers are and where I can buy them.

For now though I wanted to record something else I found along the way to Hattie's recipes and that is a breakdown of how Constance Bennett spent her money in 1931. This was when Constance was at her peak and was probably the top earning female star in Hollywood. I am going to ask someone clever how I can work out what these amounts would be in today's money.


$15,000 for the upkeep of her homes

$15,000 for clothes

$10,000 for a vacation in Europe

$6,000 for servants

$5,000 for her automobile

$5,000 for pin money

In the article Constance explains that she has 4 servants including a cook - ha! I bet it was her cook that made the Spanish Chicken...

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Yvonne de Carlo's Salome Salad

Desmond Carrington is a national treasure. I am preparing a trifle and listening to his Radio 2 show. Who else could play George Formby, Eric and Ernie and Meatloaf in the same half an hour?

Last night I made the crazy sounding salad dressing Yvonne proposed which involved a whole can of tomato soup. I had my doubts but actually it was deLICIOUS. I crunched away at an exceedingly large soupy salad as I watched the splendid "Gone With The Wind". Poor Scarlett. She thought she was in love with Ashley. But she wasn't.

A lesson to be learned...

Joan Blondell's Chicken Chop Suey

"It amazes me how some of these little numbers with dreamy looks and a dead pan are getting away with it. I'd hate to see them on stage with a dog act."

Joan Blondell is without a doubt my absolute favourite actress and it was with great pleasure that I cooked up her Chicken Chop Suey for Bette and Joan C this evening without too much fuss. No fighting between the ladies, mostly civilised dining behaviour. No scrapping, no breaking of bottles, no voices raised, no dramas. All windows in the house remain intact. Although I was worried the dish might be too salty for the modern taste, they went back for seconds so I hereby announce it a HIT!

There was much hilarity as Bette thought up a new nickname for the chaw-bacon, "the short sleeved 1950s docker" which made me laugh like a drain. They both kept me amused as they flicked through my "Recipes of the Stars" pamphlet. Yvonne de Carlo posing beside a stove in a backless dress was their favourite. Yvonne looks over her shoulder as she pretends to turn the oven on and Bette said, "that's the look I like, one eye on me and the other on the cooker".

Yvonne's recipe for Salome Salad dressing may be up next - it includes a can of tomato soup...

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Rhonda Fleming's Hollywood Ham Loaf

My lovely ex boyfriend Charley came round for dinner last night. As the man who re-introduced me to the pleasures of carnivorism after 12 years as a vegetarian I knew he would appreciate The Queen of Technicolor's Hollywood Ham Loaf. A loaf made almost entirely of MEAT is the perfect thing to cook up for a man like Charley.

There was much hilarity in the posh butcher’s shop in Crouch End when I strolled in to buy pork and ham. The recipe called for 2/3 lb cured ham and 1 and a 1/3 lb fresh pork. The three young turks in there joined me in trying to work out what half of these quantities would be as I was only cooking for two. It was a bit like one of those questions you get in a maths exam. What on earth is half of 1 and 1/3 of a pound? And what does that equate to in grams? I felt like some kind of granny in the days of decimalisation. Why did they get rid of shillings and farthings? Why can’t I buy fabric by the yard any more? Why can’t things just stay as they were in the olden days? Ah well, throw in the fact that the recipe had that mystery American measurement of “1 cup” and it could have been a recipe for disaster.

However, the more I cook my Silver Screen Suppers the more I have faith that everything is going to be OK. Even if those teenagers in the butcher’s shop say that they can’t mince the ham after mincing the pork due to the possibility of “cross contamination”. A chilled out attitude to quantities and the fact that no oven temperature or cooking time were given in the recipe resulted in an absolutely delicious brick of meat. Huzzah.

After dinner I treated Charley to two songs on the ukulele he bought me 5 years ago and I have only just learned to play. It was sort of bitter sweet as we sang along to “Aint She Sweet” and “Hey Good Looking” then reminisced a bit about the good old days. It is a great thing that we are still chums, brought together every now and then by a love of meat.

Two missed calls though from the chaw-bacon though. I declined an invite to go to a “Paris Swing Dance” earlier in the week so can only imagine that the first (around 10pm) was to tell me what I was missing. Luckily I didn’t get to the phone in time. The second was around 3am. Either the vast amount of alcohol consumed resulted in me sleeping right through the ringing of the phone OR my fairy godmother fiddled with the phone so that it didn’t actually ring.

Phoning me at 3am. What is he playing at eh?

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Errol Flynn's Tomato Fest

"The public has always expected me to be a playboy, and a decent chap never lets his public down."

Last night was Flynn Night on the boat. Radio 2’s excellent “Putting on the Style” was all about the swashbuckling “man’s man” so I cooked up some of his Devilled Tomatoes and accompanied them with his very own “Pick Me Up” tipple loaded with vodka. Was great to hear about Flynn’s extreme vanity and womanising. It put me in mind of a “Choccie” I used to know… It made me laugh to hear how Lily Damita used to fly into jealous rages and throw plates at him. Ah, been there, felt that…

The tomato dish was really scrumptious. Involved quite a bit of fannying about but it was worth it. Despite the fact that it was a boiling hot evening in the metal sweatbox I ate inside because I didn’t want to miss a second of the tittle tattle. For a split second though I thought how nice the tomatoes would be on toast in front of the fire on a rainy Sunday afternoon with “The Adventures of Robin Hood” on the TV. Good times are coming.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Ann Sothern's Salad for the Sisters

"I finally realized the happy medium, 'honey blonde' was the correct color and line for me."

Had my sistas over for lunch on the tub on Sunday and it was super. Very rare for Clara, Myrna, Veronica and I to all get together same place same time, so the frozen Margeritas flowed and Ann Sothern's French Bean Salad was scoffed. I am sure we made a very pretty picture in our floral day dresses and raffia hats sitting on the granny squares blanket enjoying the sunshine with drinks in hand. If only Lady Longhorn had been there to share the Lieutenant Blender with us it would have been total perfection.

The previous night I made Kay Stammers' "Winter Salad" for the Panther but goodness knows where my head was at because Kay Stammers, a glamorous tennis star of the 1930s "feted for her film-star looks and style" - was never in a movie. Who on earth was I confusing her with? I just don't know! I will find out next week when I go to my "lock-up" to retrieve all my memorabilia. But anyhow, a salad composed of lettuce, apples and celery hardly a Silver Screen Supper makes!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Penny Singleton's Spaghetti Caruso

“If I wanted something badly enough, I’ve gotten it.”

Apologies for the gap in the Silver Screen Suppers schedule which has occured due to intense courting on America’s Sweetheart of Song’s part, and a cat sitting stint in North London on mine. I’m hoping now that AS of S has returned from the fjords that she’ll be back in her pinny sharpish.

Meanwhile I am packing stuff up for an imminent move off the river. To where? Dunno. But this much I do know, Tuesdays from now on will DEFINITELY be SSS day because to my JOY there is a new slot in the Radio 2 schedule. Not only is there Desmond Carrington (who else would play the 1920s ditty “What Can You Buy a Nudist For Her Birthday?” alongside David Byrne’s version of “Don’t Fence Me In?”) followed by “The Organist Entertains” (Wurlitzers a go-go) but last night the first in a new series called “Putting on More Style”. Billed by the BBC website as: “a four part series about Hollywood Icons famous for their style” - whoopee. Last night’s was a fabulous portrait of Katharine Hepburn. If only I had known I could have cooked a Hepburn recipe (if there is one in print anywhere). She notoriously shunned most of the silliness of the studio publicity machine so methinks she might have refused to play the celebrity recipe game.

I am now desperately trying to find out who will be featured next week so I can plan the menu.

However, last night as I hung on R2s every word Penny Singleton (better known as “Blondie”) kept me amused with her Spaghetti Caruso recipe. Being of the squeamish type it took me ages to separate the fleshy bits of the chicken livers from the stringy bits but the resulting sauce was GOOD. I ate it up on the roof with my back to the Newlyweds who were having a romantic dinner a deux on their boat. He sure didn’t waste any time getting a new beau after Mrs Makeup left I see, perhaps they knew each other of old…