Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Dick Powell's Baked Noodles

"The best thing about switching from being an actor to being a director is that you don't have to shave or hold your stomach in anymore.”

I tried Dick’s recipe for Baked Noodles on Saturday as I’m searching for a good veggie recipe to serve my sisters next Sunday – Veronica is a vegetarian. It turned out pretty good – quite cheesy and tasty – but I’m not sure it is frou frou enough for a big Sunday lunch affair.

Also made another batch of Ida’s Lemon Mousse – I am slightly addicted to it. Which is a bit of a worry as it is made almost entirely of full fat cream. Bad girl! Still, I have lost ½ stone since I gave up alcohol on 1st January for a month so can’t get too worried about it. I am almost at the finishing line too. I shall be working on my “martini barrel” from Thursday onwards when the booze ban is lifted. Bring on all the recipes that include sherry.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Anna Sten's Russian Sandwich

Oh the Russian Sandwich is a thing of great beauty! I cannot WAIT for an unsuspecting guest to be at my house one lunchtime so I can ask the question, "would you care for a sandwich?" then disappear into the kitchen to make one of these TOWERING SPECTACULAR CIRCULAR SANDWICHES!

Basically you need 6 circular pastry cutters which are smaller and smaller in circumference. You cut circles from bread then spread and top with ingredients in this order as the bread circles get smaller. 1 - jam, 2 - cream cheese, 3 - cooked chicken, lettuce and mayonnaise, 4 - a slice of tomato, lettuce and mayonnaise, 5 - a slice of cucumber, lettuce and mayonnaise. Put the last and tiniest slice on top. Put a small piece of fruit and a stuffed olive on top of the whole tower of pisa and secure everything with toothpicks.

SUPERB! That made me so very, very happy as I sort of knew it would. A thing of beauty is a joy forever... It's quite something to try and eat it without getting cheese, jam and mayonnaise all over your face but a guaranteed talking point for greedy guests!

Apparently Gary Cooper hated Anna Sten so much that behind her back he would refer to her as "Anna Stench." Well I for one don't like Gary Cooper if that is his attitude to the woman who introduced me to the Scooby Snack of Silver Screen Suppers!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Lionel Barrymore's Baked Steak

"I've got a lot of ham in me."

On the page next to Ginger's Coffee Parfait was a recipe for prize ham actor Lionel Barrymore's baked steak. As I was hankering after what my old friend Kinky would call a "big hairy steak" last night I rustled it up and it was mighty fine. A weird idea (chop up onions, carrots, beetroots, RADISHES, celery and mushrooms) and put them all in a dish with the browned steak on top then bake it in the oven. But it was hearty fare on the first snowy day of the British winter and I enjoyed it as I caught up with goings on in the Big Brother House.

I got Ginger's Parfait out of the freezer - it was indeed inedible as I suspected it would be. However, the plus side is that the house still smells of sugar which I guess is a natural way of freshening the air without ozone damaging chemicals.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Ginger Rogers' Coffee Parfait

“My love for ice cream emerged at an early age - and has never left!”

Well, I attempted Ginger's "Coffee Parfait" last night which would have been some kind of ice cream I guess if I hadn't made such a mess of it. I feel I was the victim of what Ruthie earlier in this project referred to as "very, very vague directions".

The recipe said to boil some strong coffee and sugar together until "it will spin a thread" - what on earth does that mean? I had it boiling away like mad while I tried to whisk egg whites to a peak with a balloon whisk then all of a sudden it changed colour going VERY DARK and filling the kitchen with smoke. I guess I effectively burned the sugar.

I carried on making the parfait as per the recipe but think it will probably just taste like burned sugar. Also wasn't sure if "freeze in the refrigerator" meant put it in the fridge or put it in the freezer...

Gad! Lucky for me this period of sobriety and chastity has led to a calmness of mind. Who cares if the parfait was a failure? There was nobody around to see it!

Think I need to give that one another go at some point.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Slim Summerville's Pineapple Omelet

Puddin' Head

As soon as I saw this recipe I fancied having a go. One of the more bizarre of the film star recipes turned out to be actually very tasty. Wasn't sure if it was a main course or a desert but I had it with a nice green salad in front of the box and it was mighty fine.

So far so good on my keeping of New Year's Resolutions. Am responding to nonsensical texts from the chaw-bacon with terse but polite responses that don't invite a reply. My nun like existence suits me fine but as my colleague James said this morning "be careful you don't make it a habit" - boom boom!

Monday, January 15, 2007

Cary Grant's Steak a la Victor Hugo

"You're just a bunch of molecules until you know who you are."

I'm trying to work it out Cary, honestly I am...

So the double boiler was put to its second use of the weekend - attempting for a second time to make the weirdo sauce that TWO stars have published as a favourite recipe. It didn't work this time either...

CURDLING seems to be my problem. Both the custard and the sauce came out as a kind of semolina textured gloop. Perhaps, as with Claudette, gentleness is the key. I'll have another go sometime. I'm sure that the sauce would be mighty fine - especially as it has a tonne of horseradish in it - but it needs to have a smooth saucy texture rather than being like porridge.

Anyhow, in proper Silver Screen Suppers fashion I watched "An Affair to Remember" with my steak and porridge. Deborah Kerr was wearing some cool frocks I must say. And of course, I did shed a tear when the wheelchair was brought out. However, I liked her better as a sassy blonde in the film I watched later that evening, "From Here to Eternity". Where is the Montgomery Clift recipe I say?

Claudette Colbert's Caramel Custard

"Govern a family as you would cook a small fish - very gently."

OK so Claudette wore a very nice hat throughout "It Happened One Night" but her Caramel Custard wasn't up to much.

However, I blame the double boiler - I need to practice. And maybe actually the quote above about cooking a fish applies here - maybe gentleness is the key in all things...

Clark Gable's Stuffed Pork Tenderloins

"Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn"

Yeh, well neither do I...

Annoyingly my enjoyment of "It Happened One Night" was increasingly marred by the fact that Clark's slicked back hairdo became all floppy fronted as the "night" wore on. This reminded me way too much of the chaw-bacon's charming hairdo. If the kilted one were to be given a proper pseudonym in this blog it would definitely have to be Clark Gable - the big choccie.

I decided to watch the film in the afternoon prior to rustling up a recipe each in tribute to the co-stars. Rita's daughter Elizabeth bunked off her dissertation writing to watch the movie with me. A very well behaved film watcher - not a peep from her until the film was over. That was despite my squealing when Errol spat over his shoulder and got some on his jacket, "what was THAT all about?"

Later I rustled up Gable's Stuffed Pork Tenderloins which were a great hit with Elizabeth and her beau - the lovely Richard Burton. He proclaimed them to be "really super". Which is more than could be said of Claudette Colbert's Caramel Custard.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Anna May Wong's Tea Cakes

"I see no reason why Chinese and English people should not kiss
on the screen, even though I prefer not to."

I saw an Anna May Wong film at the NFT on Thursday night. It's the first time I've seen her in a TALKIE. A very low, very posh voice indeed. I thought she was wonderful. OOH and the frocks! It was a "quota quickie" made in England in 1934 - what on earth would people have made of such an exotic beauty in Buckinghamshire at that time I wonder.

It's pretty posh out here I must say. And I have been seduced by the cook-porn that is found in the David Shuttle Cook Shop. I got the same kind of headrush that I get in stationary emporiums as I browsed the Le Crueset saucepans and slicing gadgets. There was a beautiful whisk in there that I was tempted to buy and also some gorgeous little pots for making "eggs en coqcoutte" but I resisted. What has come over me? Is this a side effect of the singleton life? A withdrawal symptom due to two weeks of celibacy?

What I DID buy was the thing I have seen mentioned in LOADS of the film star recipes from the 1930s and that is a "double boiler". I've been making do with a soup bowl and a saucepan up until now, but it is time to INVEST. I shall be making another batch of Ida's Mousse to leave in the freezer for my host and hostess PLUS some similar coffee flavoured iced desert by Ginger Rogers both of which use the double boiler method.

Rita's daughter and her lovely boyfriend are in residence for the weekend and I shall be preparing them a meal of a Clark Gable pork dish followed by a desert by Claudette Colbert this evening. Then I shall try and persuade them that watching "It Happened One Night" would be much more fun than Celebrity Big Brother. We shall see...

When are you going to make Anna's Tea Cakes Miss Sweetheart of Song?

Monday, January 08, 2007

Ida Lupino's Lemon Mousse

Have you ever made something that was so delicious you just couldn't believe you had made it yourself? So it was last night when I rustled up Ida's Lemon Mousse which I ran out of time for on Saturday.

OMIGOD. That is the most delicious desert EVER. A winner, a winner, a winner. I ate a big bowl in bed after a day of complete self centredness. Listened to The Archers in bed with coffee and biscuits, walked to the oldest Freehouse in England and sat by a real log fire reading my book for a couple of hours, watched some trash TV and went to bed at 9pm. If only every Sunday could be that way...

Jimmy Stewart's Chicken Pie with Clara Lou Sheridan's Caramel Carrots

The rolling pin is a virgin no more. I don't remember EVER making pastry without my mum being by my side telling me how it is done so I was VERY pleased with myself on Saturday when my chicken pie was a triumph! Both Rosalind and Jimmy Stewart himself complimented me on it and the pastry in particular.

I was having a little low self confidence dip this weekend and it boosted me no end to find that I could indeed make a pie. Jimmy's recipe calls for a whole chicken which you have had "cut in pieces". Easier said than done in this day and age. I was slightly concerned in Waitrose on Friday to discover that it would cost me a million pounds to make the pie with ready chopped up thighs, legs, breasts and whatever. I asked a friendly looking couple by the meat racks if there was a butcher in Beaconsfield who would chop up a whole chicken for me - of course not. No butchers in Soho anymore - neither in the countryside. The man behind the meat counter couldn't chop me up a chicken either unless I wanted a cooked one so I thought TO HELL WITH IT and bought a whole raw one.

The recipe says you have to put the pieces in a pan with various other things and boil them. After an abortive attempt at tearing a leg off a raw chicken with my bare hands I decided to put the whole damn chook in the pot to boil. I found a second cookbook at Rita's place which is entitled, "Four Hundred Years of English Cooking" (to which I imagine Rita's response would be - "well there's no point doing any more then...") and it had a recipe that involved boiling a whole capon so I thought not much harm could come to us if I did the same with a chicken... And so it seemed to be. I couldn't find a sieve for the flour either so I used a tea strainer. I am getting VERY adaptable.

Rosalind rustled up some of Clara Lou Sheridan's lovely carrots (she later changed her name to Ann of course) and we ate almost everything in two sittings. Greedy fat pigs!

Friday, January 05, 2007

Claire Dodd's Grilled Spring Lamb Beggs

Am installed in my country retreat for 6 weeks. Marvellous. On the night my host and hostess left for South Africa there were loud guffaws at the suggestion that I'd be cooking up a storm in their kitchen. Rita has a magnet on her fridge which reads, "If you can't smell burning it's salad" and she's not joking... When I asked how the oven worked there were blank looks all round and the only cookbook I've found so far is for the microwave. When I mentioned I might make Jimmy Stewart's chicken pie on Saturday for chums Rita jumped up and began rummaging in a cupboard. She emerged triumphant shouting "A VIRGIN ROLLING PIN, A VIRGIN ROLLING PIN - I KNEW I HAD ONE!" Hubby Orson pointed out a wooden spoon in the same cupboard saying, "See that wooden spoon - that's never been used either and that was a wedding present". They've been married about 20 years I think.

Anyhow, last night I went shopping on the way home for my first night of solitary bliss and purchased ingredients for Grilled Spring Lamb Beggs. Rita may well have a virgin rolling pin but she doesn't appear to have a frying pan... It took me back to the very first attempt at a Silver Screen Supper as I sat in the kitchen making do with sardines on toast instead...

Monday, January 01, 2007

The New Year's Resolution

“I never gave away anything without wishing I had kept it;
nor kept it without wishing I had given it away.”

That Louise Brooks one was a super intelligent woman. I may use her as my mentor for 2007. However, the more I think about the quote above the more perplexed I feel. If thinking about it in the context of my tumultuous love life I guess it is a bit of a 'nothing ventured nothing gained' attitude. I am extremely hungover though so maybe I'll be thinking clearer tomorrow.

There is a bumpy couple of weeks ahead as I try and stick to my new year's resolution - to give up the chaw-bacon. I think that it is really time to walk away with my head held high and strive to keep positive about my decision. It's really not doing me any good.

I plan to throw myself into the Silver Screen Suppers project again. It all really began the last time I was in this position. Almost time for me to go to my Buckinghamshire retreat for six weeks and cook like a bastard.