Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Buster's Tuna Toast Comforter

"Some say my acting rose to the level of incompetence
and then levelled off."

What else is a girl to do after having been dumped by text than go home and cook herself some comfort food. That hunk Buster came up with the goods. Four of my favourite things in once recipe – tuna, gherkins, toast and Worcestershire sauce. Mm. So I got stuck in to all that whilst contemplating the fact that I am now 100% single. That hasn’t happened for a long time really – 10 years I suppose. There has always been a bit of dangling in between. So according to popular legend it will take me 3 months to get over the Panther – Boxing Day then.

Coincidentally the 6 months it should have taken me to get over the chaw-bacon is up right now so that is DONE. Charley Chase however is another matter. Should be over him by October 2008. Ah well, the calendar is a funny thing. I blame the eclipse…

Monday, September 25, 2006

Joan Marsh's Chicken Salad

"Is it?"

Aha! A new spirit of optimism is upon me after a weekend at the seaside. Life is pretty damn good at the moment, not least because I have a new "Favorite Recipes of the Famous Movie Stars" book produced by the Milwaukee Gas Light Co in 1934 and autographed by Agnes Ayers!

Friday night was spent preparing for my DJ session on Saturday night, selecting 78s and testing my wind-up. Managed to squeeze in a Silver Screen Suppers number though, alongside all the jigging around to "Prairie Romeo", "She's a Latin From Manhattan" and the like. A chicken salad that shared most of its ingredients with Mary Pickford's except GRAPES were the fruit rather than pineapple. Also a nice link between the two recipes is the fact that Joan was the daughter of Mary's favourite cinematographer Charles Rosher and the girls were in several films together.

I have to say that this project is an eye opener for a fruit-phobic like me. Ordinarily I avoid all fruit unless it is sweety shaped (grapes, blueberries and strawberries fall into this category) but I am actually loving the fruit and salad combinations that I am finding amongst these fab recipes. As I am on a 6 week health regime in preparation for my trip to the land of the long white cloud there may be more salads on the way...

Oh, Joan Marsh factoid - she reportedly had the smallest feet in Hollywood - size 2AAA.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Mary Pickford's Chicken and Pineapple Salad

"If you have made mistakes, there is always another chance for you. You may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing we call 'failure' is not the falling down, but the staying down."

Well, another sad and sorry singleton's Sunday for me, hanging around wondering if my beau is coming over then eating alone when it transpires that he is not. Still, I have to admit I enjoyed my aimless wanderings around Regent's Park and the St John's Wood district as I looked for some kind of adventure to remind myself I am attractive, sassy and not the only person in the world without a playmate...

In tribute to "g r e g g" who in an act of random kindness is helping Ruth and I with a technical blog problem, I cooked up a Canadian recipe. Mary Pickford, who was knows as America's Sweetheart and the most astute businesswoman of the silent film era was, in fact, a Canuck. G r e g g who we have only met through the interweb resides in Vancouver so I said I would make something in his honour and Mary's Chicken and Pineapple salad it was. And it was mighty fine I have to say. The secret is the cooked salad dressing - this sounds like a faff but is actually easy to do. I ate my salad on the roof of the STAR's flat which has amazing views across London. Landmarks within eyesight include St Paul's Cathedral, Regent's Park Mosque and the London Eye. I am always expecting to make new friends up there on the communal roof with its many tables and chairs but yesterday there was only me and an elderly woman with crazy red hair having a snooze in the sun with her mouth ajar.
Perhaps I should have offered her some salad and some company because let's face it, in a few years time with the way things are going that will be me...

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Janet Gaynor and Cheese "Fondue"

Ahhhh, sweet victory after two debacles in the kitchen d'etting. Saturday dawned in a rather ominous fashion - well, mainly as I knew that I simply couldn't put off La Gaynor anymore. I felt her looking at me constantly. From every direction. In fact, showed a clip to les students this week and practically screamed when her sweet visage looked right back at me saying, "I know that this recipe is made of "american" cheese, but don't give up on me..."

Let us begin by saying that for Janet, "fondue" really means more of a souffle. or something. After a quick call to the grandmere (who is now officially going to be called before any attempt at a recipe out of the Photoplay book with its vague and "of course you know what i mean when i say 'warm' oven temperature"), I popped open a cold bottle of pinot grigio brought over by the nutty professor, and began unrwapping my sheets of kraft american cheese. The recipe did demand that it be shredded, but clearly american cheese in the 1930s was made of heartier stock than now. I attempted to chop it and ended up with a mound of clumpy, sticky, nay, rubbery velveeta. Only made more hilarious by the nutty professor constantly sneaking up and grabbing mouthfuls and muttering - "don't laugh". He claims to have grown up not knowing that there was any other kind of cheese until he discovered brie at age 25. I believe him.

Well, the results were not unedible (a step forward, no offense to the divine Anna May Wong) but nothing to dream about long term. Fluffy, light as air, and that peculiarly unique orange color that velveeta brings... I fell asleep dreaming about the future sss cooking show that would feature lya de putti making this dish, then ruth etting pulling out a can of cheese whiz in a confident manner demonstrating that modern conveniences can short cut just about anything.

Thus reinvigorated, I plan to attack Shirley's pecan bars again this week. Huzzah!!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Kay Johnson's Chocolate Soup Pie

"As long as they pay me my salary, they can give me a broom and I'll sweep the stage. I don't give a damn. I want the money..."

A refreshinghly honest opinion from a star of the silent era - found in her private diaries though, not published in a fan mag. Swearing no less!

Well on Sunday I awaited a visit from the Panther. I trapsed up and down St John's Wood on various small errands getting all the bits and pieces needed for a late lunch. The Tesco Metro is a very strange beast indeed. You can't buy walnuts in there but you CAN buy pre-cooked sweet pastry crusts. This is just as well when you intend making something that requires a pie crust but are living in a serviced apartment which is somewhat short on cooking implements (nothing to cook a pie in that's for sure).

I followed Kay's recipe for Chocolate Pie as closely as I could with one eye on COLUMBO which co-incidentally had Anne Baxter as guest star. Try as I might though, I couldn't get all the egg whites to fold in properly and the damn (Kay's word not mine) chocolatey soup just would not set. Perhaps it was a metaphor for the whole day. About 4pm I got stood up by the Panther and after a crying jag I realised that I had been BORED all day and was not about to be BORED all evening so texted the chaw-bacon. Am I some kind of sad sap weepy needy character in a bad b-movie that gets swept aside by some strong siren for being such a bubblehead? I don't know but I don't think so. Life is too short to be bored.

The pie got put in the freezer to see if that improved things. I forgot to take it out later so who knows?

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Anna May Wong's Egg Foo Yung

In the Photoplay Cook Book from which this recipe hails, Anna May reportedly defined Egg Foo Yung as "The simplest Chinese recipe of all...a delicious luncheon dish." Therefore, I chose to slap it together for a nice Saturday afternoon supper. Well, I hate to break it to our readers, but not only do I think that this is one of the worst things I have ever put in my mouth, but I also believe that there is NO way Anna May would have let this touch her lips. I am not going to mince my words. This is NOT a do-over in any way shape or form. Indeed, it is only my sincere love and admiration for the Anna May Wong that prevents me from being even more blunt.

To be honest, I had been the most scared of Janet Gaynor's cheese foundue recipe - but the Egg Foo Yung has made me start dreaming of it.

More on the flip.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Anne Baxter's Magic Orange Cups

"Do at least a few of the things that really seem fun.
Nobody should be afraid to have fun ...even if it's silly."

This apparently was Anne's comment in a magazine when she was asked why she was wearing toe rings... Oooh I love Anne Baxter in "All About Eve" and possibly my favourite scene in a movie EVER is when she starts RIPPING THAT WIG in a rage. Fantastic. I may just have to watch it again with a serving of her "Magic Orange Cups".

I made these for Paulette's book group. Strange looking mixture which looked a bit curdy on top but cooked up just fine. Sort of creme caramel consistency but orangey. Paulette's little angel Shirley LOVED the idea of these little custardy treats and as each guest arrived for dinner shouted, "MAGIC ORANGE CUPS, MAGIC ORANGE CUPS" with much excitement.

I have volunteered to host the next meeting of the group at THE STAR's place so will have to think of a suitably bookish dinner to have with a discussion of Brick Lane.

Food Raid of a Star's Cupboard

Well, I moved into the home of a genuine Hollywood star last night. An OSCAR winner no less but I am unable to reveal his identity - top secret. He will henceforth be referred to as THE STAR. I am flat sitting for THE STAR for two months in a fab 1930s block right slap next to Regents Park. I have had to assume yet another persona as I am forced to pose as the cousin by marriage of THE STAR's wife. I am having trouble remembering both her surname and the tangled web of "who was married to who" in order to make me her cousin. Ah, the fun we have with our miniature deceptions.

Rosalind carried my hatboxes because she wanted to laugh at me pretending to be someone I am not to the concierge in order to get the keys. Once we got into the flat we jumped up and down with excitement holding hands like two schoolgirls. You could probably fit seventeen houseboats inside my new abode - it is big. The wife of THE STAR had said, "help yourself to food", so we grazed whilst standing up and congratulated ourselves on our immense good fortune. Rosalind decided that what we were picking at was in fact a Silver Screen Supper. OK, so I am not a Silver Screen star myself and neither is THE STAR (far too young to have been around in the days of black and white) but anyhow here is what we had.

2 tins sweetcorn, 1 tin peas, 1 can of Hearts of Palm (whatever they are), 1 tin of tuna, a few Flat Breads (also new to me), some "Seafood Cocktail Sauce" (never seen such a thing before in all my born days) and a bottle of champagne. You may remember that Rosalind is "The Queen of Smash" and the last meal I had at her place was beans on toast with a bit of corned beef in the middle so her resourcefulness in knocking up something edible in 5 minutes flat should not surprise any of us.

The large dining table that seats six is leading to all sorts of supper party combinations of folk in my mind and I am sooooooooooooo thrilled that Ruthie is back in her pinny and pecking on the pecans. Roll on the suppers.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Shirley Temple's Mammy's Pecan Bars

Well, I am not going to lie. It has been a rough re-launch of the Stateside Silver Screen Suppers Campaign. But here is why: Many cookbooks from the early period CLEARLY were intended for those people who are A. naturally gifted in the kitchen or B. had extensive staff who were naturally gifted in the kitchen. Tonight, I set aside some time to focus in on my most favorite task: cooking with the stars. Having bought ingredients for a number of fairly dubious recipes (please stay tuned for Janet Gaynor's cheese fondue), I chickened out (almost literally) by going with a dessert from our own sweetheart of the screen, a tiny package of pep, Shirley Temple. Yes, the title of the recipe is dubious - sure. But the idea sounded great.

ALAS: with very little information to go from, I sadly ended up with Shirley Temple's Mammy's Pecan Soup. Yup, I have eaten it with a spoon rather than cutting into a crisp, ready to pass out at an ice cream social, kind of dessert. NOW, a mighty fine recipe from the standpoint that it is delectable and much like what we might now call a "brownie." But I will get back to you on how to prevent said souplike experience. I am not dismayed, however, but rather invigorated with the challenge. Methinks it may have much to do with picking the right cooking pan. Or the fact that I opened another bottle of red wine with which to cook. This is what following the SSS mantra can do: live, learn, get lit while baking.... I know our little princess would approve.