Thursday, August 27, 2009

Marlene Dietrich's Lamb Chops en Casserole

"It's the friends you can call up at 4 a.m. that matter."

Oh what a find! A fabulous picture of Marlene doing what she loved best, off set - cooking. Browsing the site where I found this picture has made me WISH that I lived in Denver. The Denver Public Library is offering a writing class based on the wonderfully surreal book "Marlene Dietrich's ABC" AND Knitflix. A screening of "The Man Who Came To Dinner" with special lighting for knitters. Does Denver need a film archivist by any chance?

Joan C channeled the spirit of Marlene last week and charmed her own Blue Angel with Marlene's Chops. Like many of our testers Joan wondered about the lack of seasoning and herbs in Marlene's dish but quipped "I zuppose zimple iz bezt, darlink." I love the fact that she replied to almost all of my feedback questions in German - I have no idea what the first part of her final comment is, but I get the second!

"Sehr einfach und sehr lecker. Marlene, Ich liebe dich!"

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Ann Sheridan's Chilli Casserole

"I can whistle through my fingers, bulldog a steer,
light a fire with two sticks,
shoot a pistol with fair accuracy, set type, and teach school . . "

Spoken like a true Texan Ann. Reminds me of the multitasking Ruthie gets up to over there in the Lone Star State...

Alfred, the handsome new man in Marilyn M's life, turns out to be quite a cook. He's rustled up a couple of dishes as a tester and provided very useful feedback. He made an observation that this recipe comes from an era when people had less adventurous palates. Indeed it is true, this isn't a HOT chili, as Alfred puts it, "more a kind of chunky pork and tomato soup."

He suggests serving it with Alan Ladd's potato pancakes (see yesterday's post) which makes me wish Ann and Alan had appeared in a film together. It could have been a perfect match of both menu and co-stars. Could you see them together as a couple? I could. As Ginger sometimes puts it, "they have a marriage likeness".

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Alan Ladd's German Style Potato Pancakes

"Being a good host offsets the deprivation and loneliness of my youth."

Aw, come over here Alan and let me give you a cuddle...

Our most prolific tester so far, Dale in the TAMI office over in cowboy country threw a "Star Spangled Rhythm" party last week. Dang I wish I'd been there. She selected recipes by several of the stars in the movie and had a right old cook-up. I'm going to blog them one by one to savour the enjoyment of it all!

Of Alan's Pancakes she observed that potatoes and onions must have been smaller in Alan's day, the proportions of the recipe were all out of wack and had to be fiddled with - I have taken note. Love the modern modification Dale suggested of topping some with creme fraiche, some with applesauce and some with caviar. What would Alan have thought of that?!

As some of you may know, cowboys are my weakness and that Alan sure was a tall drink of water. I can't think of him however, without recalling the debacle Ruthie had when she organised a screening of "Shane" in the town where it was made. Horses went wild and trampled on cars. Parents were grabbing their tiny Shanes left right and centre as the gee gees rampaged through the streets. Yee-haw!

I sure do miss seeing men wearing stetsons on a daily basis... I want to be in Austin.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Dorothy Dandridge's Emotional Omelet

" producer ever knocked on my door.
There just aren`t that many parts for a black actress"

Much debate via emails flying between Cardiff and London about why Dorothy's Omelet is "Emotional". Plenty of chopping of onions it is true, but I wonder if it is more that Dorothy would whip one of these up when she was feeling particularly low. An emotional actress without a doubt, Dorothy's autobiography is entitled: "Everything and Nothing: The Dorothy Dandridge Tragedy". If anyone knows the origin of this strange recipe moniker please let us know.

Well, our first Wales based test cook knew that she couldn't make an omelet without breaking eggs and she did so with vigour to make this dish. Reporting that the recipe was very much "of its time" Marilyn H. suggested adding a couple of items to make it slightly less meaty for the modern palate - some tomatoes and mushrooms. Mmm, it's Sunday morning and that is making me very hungry for breakfast.

Marilyn has also volunteered for Groucho Marx's Matzo Ball Soup so that will be coming soon. We've been swapping Groucho food related quotes and as he once said, "Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana" so I'm off to rustle up brunch. What a shame that Sidney is anti eggs, I quite fancy getting emotional...

Monday, August 17, 2009

Gracie Fields' Lancashire Hot Pot

"At Mary Ellen's Hot Pot Party
The lads & lasses all were gay and hearty"

How wonderful that Una in Charlottesville, Virginia had a go at Gracie's Lancashire Hot Pot! At the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains a traditional Lancashire recipe got a good going over and the results were rich but very tasty - especially the leftovers next day. Una made a few subsitutions for ingredients not as readily available as they would have been in the North of England in the 1930s and we may suggest these in the book.

We may also suggest that like Mary Ellen in one of Gracie's best loved songs, everyone have a Hot Pot Party. You can invite your guests to rattle up wearing clogs and evening dress, fill up the wash-hand jug with ale and find a "gormless" conjuror to entertain!

If you are unfamiliar with "Our Gracie" you can listen to the jolly ditty here. I warn you though, it's an ear-worm and you'll be humming it all day!

Ee by gum!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Dick Powell's Corn Chowder

"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."

Had a very lazy weekend after an old skool style night on Friday with Sidney and his chums. We didn't get home until 5am. Outrageous. There has been a lot of falling asleep in front of the sofa during the athletics to catch up. Luckily we managed to stay awake to see Usain Bolt break the world 100m record. Sidney was full of national pride and is still shouting, "YES, JAMAICA" every now and then....

I made a batch of Dick Powell's chowder for the two of us even though it stated "serves 6". We almost ate the whole saucepan between us, and Sidney may have been correct in his observation that it might serve 6 short people or 4 long people. Maybe people weren't so greedy in the 1940s... In a reversal of Dick's roles I'm going to have to hold my stomach in tomorrow.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Maureen O'Sullivan's Bridge Cakes

"Cheetah bit me whenever he could."

I just adore this picture of Maureen - she's all aquiver - boom boom.

Oh what fun to get feedback on the recipes, there sure are some erudite chefs out there. Marion made me laugh with her suggestion that we change Maureen's recipe to include 12 shop bought cup cakes. She wrote: "I realize Maureen didn't have time to bake from scratch. She spent the good part of a decade swinging through the trees with her mate Tarzan. " Mind you, even though Marion herself has a cookbook coming out soon she sympathizes, "I don't even want to make sponge cake, so who would?"

She also reported on the results of of her testing Fred MacMurray's Chocolate Fudge Upside Down Cake: "This is not a pretty looking cake but it's delicious". I wholeheartedly agree. The recipe reminds her of one in her collection that goes by the name of "Volcano Cake" which is perfect - chocolate fudge lava!

Marion loves Fred in "No Time for Love with Claudette Colbert where he displays his hunky body ripping off his shirt while digging a tunnel, and also "Take A Letter, Darling with Rosalind Russell" where a female executive uses Fred as a little bait for the wives of her advertising clients. As Marion says so eloquently, "Gee, they just don’t make them like that any more!"

Friday, August 14, 2009

Fred McMurray's Chocolate Fudge Upside Down Cake

"Strangers are just friends you haven't met yet" the saying goes and it is so lovely that people neither Ruthie nor I have ever met are rustling up Silver Screen Suppers dishes in kitchens all over the world. So a big thankyou goes out to Shirley in Wisconsin for testing and devouring Fred's Chocolate Cake.

This recipe certainly holds a few surprises the first time it is made and I love the fact that Shirley said, "the cake unexpectedly rested on a sea of fudge" - doesn't that just make you want to try it immediately?! It definitely is a gooey, chocolatefest of the highest order so be prepared to make a mess if you have a go at this one! Shirley took some pix of the process which you can see on her fab blog here:

I also love the fact that Shirley felt a swell of state pride as she whipped up the cake, as Fred hails from her in-laws' hometown of Beaverdam, Wisconsin.

Wonderful! Don't forget that you can always have a bottle of Fred McMurray wine to go with your cake - still being produced at his former vineyard in California - - yum!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Carole Lombard's Cherry Tart

“You ought to see the map for my face in the Makeup Department.
It looks like a landscape of the moon.”

I've been dying to post this amazing picture of La Lombard for ages and now I get my chance. Dorothy over at the British Film Institue made Carole's Cherry Pie on Sunday for her housemates. I won't say what she wrote on the feedback form about spitting cherry pips and the French, but by all accounts the pie was quite a hit. We may have to tinker with the sugar measurements though as like my pa, a couple of the housemates found the pie a little too sweet.

I do like the reasoning behind Dorothy's selection of her film star persona for the blog - she says, that just like La Lamour, it is her dream to be torn between the love of two song and dance men.

By the way, if you are a fan of Carole Lombard and you haven't paid a visit to I heartily recommend it. My current favourite film star website.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Janet Gaynor's Ice Box Cookies

Veronica over in Westbourne Grove had a go at Janet's Ice Box Cookies this week and sent me an evocative account of her mishaps. Firstly there was a misunderstanding in the late night shop where she went to buy the dates, as the shopkeeper kept thinking she was asking him what the date was.... Reminds me of a similar conversation I once had regarding avocados...

Veronica baked the cookies in three batches and I quote: "The first lot were a bit of a funny shape as the ‘banana-size’ rolls had got a flat edge from their overnight stay in the fridge. I re-rolled the rest of the ‘bananas’ so that they were round again. The second lot were a great shape but got a bit singed because I was drying my hair and didn’t hear the timer go off. The last batch were perfect … gorgeous golden brown circles! The phone rang while I was lying them out to cool and while I was yakking the dog licked them all!"

Naughty Tia! Still, her squeeze took all the singed ones off in a box and the dodgy shaped ones were devoured by a dinner party crowd on a boat and they were apparently enjoyed by all. She didn't say what happened to the dog-licked ones though...

Monday, August 10, 2009

Anna Mae Wong's Tea Cakes

"Every time your picture is taken, you lose a part of your soul."

All the recipe-wrangling over the last week or so is beginning to bear fruit. Our first feedback form arrived this morning fresh from the floral-bedecked marital home of the new Mr & Mrs Day in West London.

As a wedding gift I gave them heart shaped muffin cases and the lovely Clara reports back as follows: "I made about 18 tea cakes in wonderful heart shaped cupcake cases. They were so delicious that Mr Day and I polished off the whole lot within about 15 minutes of them coming out of the oven!" Asked if she would make them again the response was, "Absolutely – but not too often as our fish supper sat uncooked in the fridge as we had no room for anything else!"

Any modifications suggested? "Raisins," superb!

Still time to test a recipe for us if you are game - just email - a lovely picture of Clara's Tea Cakes can be perused in the sidebar.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Hattie McDaniel's Sweetcorn Pudding

"When I was little, my mother taught me how to use a fork and knife.
The trouble is that mother forgot to teach me how to stop using them!"

I know what Hattie means, I ate almost ALL of her sweetcorn pudding this evening even though big enough for 2. It is sooooooo delicious.

I've spent the whole weekend typing up recipes and I'm realising how much work there is still to do. My mind is spinning with mathematical conundrums - translating cups to grams and quarts to milileters can result in some very odd recipe directions. Also, what does one do with the instruction: "Cut up about fifteen cents worth of salt pork."? How much salt pork would Gary Cooper have been able to buy for 15c in 1936?

I've had to sit myself down with "Hollywood Wives: The New Generation" on the True Entertainment channel featuring Farrah Fawcett (RIP), Melissa Gilbert and Robin Givens to rest my mind. Superb!

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Joan Bennett's Beetroot Salad

"I don`t think much of most of the films I made,
but being a movie star was something I liked very much."

The response to the call for test cooks has been enormous - how very, very exciting. I'm intrigued by the range of choices - are people selecting based on the star or the recipe or both? Hard to say! Still plenty on the list of 100 though so if you'd like to join in, don't hesitate to get in touch.

I've moved to my cat sit spot in Crouch End and had a fun night last night with eating Jean Harlow's Celery a la Shrimp and Joan Bennett's Beetroot Salad as accompaniments to the genius fishcakes Paulette rustled up.

For the first time in my life I have coveted my neighbours goods, Paulette has the most beautiful set of 1950s plates with fishy illustrations. There is a gorgeous gravy boat to match with a scary looking lobster decorating the sides. Ebay here I come.