Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Alan Ladd's German Potato Pancakes

"I just want to make pictures that are entertaining.
I'll leave the scenery chewing to someone else."

I wonder if Alan was thinking of someone in particular...

Further to yesterday's post I'm wondering if some of Alan's Potato Pancakes would be a suitable accompaniment to Veronica's Spiced Beef. I'm going to try it. In fact, this may be my first Silver Screen Suppers dinner party when I move into my new abode (this weekend I hope) alongside a screening of "This Gun For Hire" - tagline "Lover without a heart...killer without a conscience!"

Alfred cooked up a batch of these and suggested fancifying them in several ways. He added some grated cheddar cheese and chives to his second batch and suggested other possible tweaks such as wholegrain mustard or chopped anchovies, or even chopped crispy bacon - oh YUM. He also proposed using circular moulds to make the pancakes more celeb-chef style looking, even topping with a poached egg or kipper for a special breakfast. Mmmmmmmm - I want some right now.

He also flagged up something we'll need to address in the book, Alfred wasn't sure what shortening was. He isn't the first either - this is now top of the list of test cook queries, overtaking the confusion over pimientos. In fact, the very first person to volunteer to test cook (our David Niven lookalike) sent me a text after receiving his Errol Flynn's Baked Fish Havanaise recipe which simply said, "What is pimiento?" That was on the 3rd of August and he hasn't been heard of since!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Veronica Lake's Spiced Beef & Peas

"You could put all the talent I had into your left eye
and still not suffer from impaired vision."

Said by the woman with the best assymetrical fringe since Phil Oakey of the Human League! Well, she was first of course but you know what I mean...

The Daricraft booklet mentioned in the previous post also supplied Veronica's signature dish. My lovely artist friend King ("The Man Whose Face Is As Familiar As The Man In The Moon") volunteered for this one and I'm certainly glad he did. We were all pretty puzzled by what exactly Veronica meant by her ingredient of "spiced beef" and it took 3 generations of Americans to figure it out. By the process of lateral thinking King decided to try it with pepper-crusted pastrami and it was an enormous hit with him and his friends who had gathered together to watch Mildred Pierce. They also managed to put away Joan Crawford's Creamed White Onions in a Red Pepper Cup AND Rudolph Valentino's Chicken from Parma - what a FEAST!

King said of the Spiced Beef, "this is SO delicious I might make it often. It makes a bit of a mess out of the frying pan though. But you can always lick it if no one is looking, or if you don't care."

Oh those ARTISTS!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Paulette Goddard's Creamed Sprouts

"You don't have to be a Freud to know that the most fascinating
person in the world- actors or anybody - is yourself."

'ave a banana!

Paulette is one of those stars that we REALLY want to feature in the book but hasn't furnished us with a very inspiring recipe. In fact, the Creamed Sprouts is only recipe we have for Paulette, originally featured in an advertising booklet for Daricraft - a brand of evaporated milk.

Even for someone who counts sprouts as one of her three favourite vegetables (me), this recipe doesn't really tickle my tastebuds. However, Dale out in Austin made these as part of the Star Spangled Rhythm party and reported that her guests did enjoy them. She's a natty cook though and added a few items to joosh up the recipe including breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese and thyme. Actually, now I fancy some!

I mentioned recently that my book group is reading "Me Cheeta" the spoof Hollywood biography. I am NOT recommending this to my blog readers because it is far too rude. I particularly objected to his salacious description of Paulette's behaviour at a Hollywood party. The author is denigrating my idols! Nasty man!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Groucho Marx's Matzo Balls

"From the moment I picked your book up until I laid it down,
I was convulsed with laughter. Someday I intend reading it."

My meeting on Thursday was fabulous. I am inspired, enthused and excited about the nebulous entity that will be the book AFTER Silver Screen Suppers. Better get on with this one first though I guess. As Groucho says, "Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana."

I am loving the surreal banter that I am having with test cooks all over the world via the medium of the email. Katharine in Cardiff is now my official advisor on all things Matzo related. She has cleared up my confusion as to the exact definition of a "Tea Matzo". She also tipped me off to the fact that Matzos with butter, apricot jam and little morsels of cheese dotted on top are utterly divine.

When making Matzo Ball Soup you could of course buy some "kneidlach" (Matzo ball mix) but where's the fun in that?! Ms H. said that it was the first time she had made Matzo balls that weren't out of a packet and they turned out "a million times better". Although alarmed at the amount of chicken fat in the recipe, she later came to the conclusion tht this may be the secret of their success. After popping up to the top of the chicken broth and bobbing around for 15 minutes or so they emerge, "very soft and light and fluffy and tasty".

Katharine also let me know some delicious nuggets of information about Marilyn Monroe. Apparently when she was married to Arhur Miller she once helped her mother-in-law prepare chicken soup and matzo balls. For a while Marilyn embraced domesticity and learned to make pasta. She draped sheets of it over the back of chairs and dried it with a hairdryer. Superb! But where are Marilyn's favourite recipes. In our collection of over 3500 we don't have a single one. The call is out!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Janet Gaynor's Ice Box Cookies

I love this picture of Janet - she is looking so perky! Very much not how I am feeling but I may try and channel this kind of attitude tomorrow. It's going to be a big day.

The cookie dough is in the fridge doing whatever it does overnight in readiness for my important meeting tomorrow. It's going to be a scramble to get there in time as in the early afternoon I'm going to look at what may well be the answer to my cosmic order - a sunny studio flat in a leafy North London suburb.

Apologies to all the test cooks who have sent in feedback but haven't seen their verdicts on the blog yet. I've been a bit preoccupied with moving. Planets are realigning though and soon I will have the time and the head space to forge ahead with the feedback. Onwards mighty Silver Screen Suppers!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Carole Lombard's Cherry Tart

“Don’t kiss and talk about it - men don’t.”

OK then Carole, I will keep schtumm. Carole looks so MODERN in this photo, so much so I am going to double check with the lovely Carla over at just to make sure it is really her...

Back from a wonderful weekend camping in Epping Forest with my Crouch End family. On the way there, Paulette cracked me up by doing her “Cleopatra” line-dance routine in the car and losing the instructions to the campsite through the car window. We found it though, and fabulous it was too.

Those who weren’t born and bred Essex like Paulette and myself were astonished at the lawlessness of the campsite. Nothing new to us though, we Essex folk don’t like living by the rules. We two Essex girls weren’t surprised at all at the amount of axes lying around the place next to the fire pits and the number of fireworks going off at all hours.

I didn’t mention the delicious cherry pie that Paulette made for the book group in the previous post. As the original 1950s housewife she is queen of baking and I loved her variation on the theme – using cherries soaked in kirsch. She was a little alarmed at the amount of sugar in the recipe and yes, it was very sweet but as Jane said, “Sweet, schmeet”, we all loved it.

Today Shirley told me that I was her favourite grown up in the whole wide world, which after the week I’ve had has done my self-esteem the world of good. I even forgave her for attempting to curl my hair and getting it in such a tangle that Paulette had to use scissors to remove the hairbrush.

Alan Ladd's German Style Potato Pancakes

"Time scoots along pretty fast when you grow up."

Another suitcase in another hall... I am back in the Crouch and hopefully for a while this time around. This moving around business is getting a little tiresome. At least nobody here minds me wearing a tiara while I am blogging though...

On Friday Louise made Alan's Potato Pancakes for the book group and they were enjoyed by one and all. Quite, quite delicious - especially with Moroccan spiced salmon. Yum. There was much to talk about around the table and we eventually got on to the book at around 10.40pm. Paulette's husband Ivor keeps saying we can't really call it a book group as we never talk about the book. But I say phooey to that, we have too many other things to discuss.

Next up is "Me Cheeta" and it will be my turn to host. Where? Who knows. I do know one thing though, it will be a Tarzan and Jane themed night which will feature Johnny's Weismuller's Rhubarb Pie and Maureen O'Sullivan's Bridge Cakes.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Katharine Hepburn's Eggplant in Casserole

"I'll be a boy... and rough and hard!"

I'd forgotten all about Katharine posing as a boy in "Sylvia Scarlett". Maybe it would be a good double bill with Louise Brooks in "Beggars of Life" or even better, Jessie Matthews in "First a Girl" my favourite of all her films...

By a weird coincidence we have had another report of a power cut caused by a Silver Screen Supper this week. Well, it was probably caused by a raging Texas storm, but I like to think it was the power of Katharine's eggplant dish that did it.

Gene reports that the recipe could do with some oomph - she added Parmesan cheese, garlic and rosemary which I think is a mighty fine idea. We shall have to fiddle with this recipe quite a bit if it is to make it into the book. As Gene observes, "I think it was her long legs and patrician accent that won Spencer's heart, and not this dish...."

Oh how I do miss the Texas thunderstorms. I have a particuarly vivid memory of driving through a humdinger with Ruth trying to obtain free watermelons from a man dressed as one by the roadside. Or did I just dream that?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Greer Garson's Guacamole

“I do wish I could tell you my age but it's impossible.
It keeps changing all the time.”

Dorothy's feedback on Greer's Guac did make me laugh. Several times.

Firstly there was the response to "Was the recipe easy to follow?" which was, "Yes, but avocados are difficult to peel." which in my sleep deprived state just sounds like some kind of 1930s musical theatre joke, the meaning of which is lost in time.

Then, she posed the rhetorical question, "Er, by any chance did Greer die of a heart attack? This recipe has a LOT of salt!" Well yes, apparently it was "heart problems" that caused her death, but not until she was 92 so pshaw to that!

Finally I loved the fact that because Greer had said not to mash the avocados the Guac turned out very lumpy. As Dorothy likes her Guac more creamy she decided to pop it in the blender to smooth it out a bit. Her blender threw a wobbly, blew a fuse, and knocked out the power in her whole house. Ha ha! Oh the misadventures of the Silver Screen Suppers test cooks. I love it.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Merle Oberon's Chicken Creole

“Without security it is difficult for a woman to look or feel beautiful.”

There has been a rather subdued atmosphere this Sunday in the shadow of the power station. Partly due to a late night and partly due to a big blue over some slippery gramophones. The dinner will probably be a bit subdued too, as the ingredients of Merle's Chicken dish are somewhat low-key. Still, you never know with these 1930s recipes, sometimes they surprise the palate.

There was no cinnamon to be had for love nor money in this stretch of Battersea. It's the last weekend for the Somerfield store and shopping there is quite hilarious. People stroll around like it is a post Armageddon experience, shaking their heads with bemusement at the empty shelves. "It's like being in a pre-capitalist Russian supermarket," a complete stranger said to me yesterday. And today half the shelves were completely bare - naked. In the spice section all there seemed to be were a few mixes to add to sausages to make a casserole and some jars of Tahini. Only 60p off those so still awaiting the final price drop. What a canny shopper I am!

Gary Cooper's Buttermilk Griddle Cakes

"Dad was a true Westerner, and I take after him."

Dang the Montana Mule sure looks good in a cowboy hat!

I am craving some of Coop's Buttermilk Griddle Cakes this Sunday morning. I was DJing last night wearing long silk gloves and every time the canape waitress came past I had to take one off to grab a nibble, hence I am ravenous, I gave up in the end...

I will have to live vicariously through Una's report on her bash at the Griddle Cakes as there is no time this morning to cook up a batch here. Una declared them "quite wonderful" both with, and without syrup. She also observed that they "went amazingly well with bacon" - can you hear my stomach rumbling from where you are?

She writes, "pancakes are almost always great with bacon, but something about this recipe made that relationship extra special. And the cakes seemed to get a little more cornbread-like as they sat in the oven, which just made them get yummier and yummier." She admits though, these are not for everyday munching, signing off her email saying, "they're just sitting like rocks in my stomach now though!" Ha ha!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Gene Kelly's Greatest Man Sandwich in the World

“I got started dancing because I knew it was one way to meet girls”

It's a double whammy today with a tester Stateside (Jeanne) and a tester Thameside (Hedy) both trying out the "Greatest Man Sandwich in the World". It's quite a claim isn't it? And particularly surprising in that it doesn't contain the one thing that most men seem to deem necessary in a sandwich - a great big slab of meat.

And did these ladies make these sandwiches for their men? No they did not! They wolfed them down themselves both announcing the mashed potato stuffed french bread adorned with mayo and red onions to be a great combo. Hedy proclaimed it "The ultimate carbfest for real men!" and Jeanne said, "This is a total YUM! recipe and I give it 5 stars out of 5!" Who knew a potato sandwich would be such a winner?

I may have to include a "photos" page when I fancify the website a bit as Jeanne sent a hilarious photo of her sandwich "before and after a bite". It is making me hungry just looking at it! Gene would have been proud of our testers, for in his recipe he acknowledges that the sandwich is not just for the boys, saying "be sure your wife has at least one bite"!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Ann Sheridan's Chili Casserole

"I used to go to Grauman`s Chinese or Pantages and sit there
waiting to see my faceless body on the screen.
Texas began to look awfully near and awfully good,
and "Clara Lou" had a sweet sound to my ears."

I am thinking a lot about Texas today and sending many positive vibes to Ruthie out there. I am also thinking a lot about fringes ("bangs" to our American readers) and I hereby pose a rhetorical question could ANYBODY rock a fringe better than Ann Sheridan?

She was born Clara Lou, hence the quote...

I am quite the 1930s housewife tonight. The casserole is in the oven, the washing up is done, my man is on his way home from the film set, all we need now is the pipe and slippers. I am enjoying the experience of cooking in the umpteenth abode of this project. Am loving the big wooden chopping board and Le Crueset saucepans in Sidney's kitchen. But most of all am enjoying the view from the massive 10th floor kitchen window. The Millennium Wheel, the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben, Battersea Power Station and - when the sun goes down and the bedroom lights go on - everything that goes on in the block of flats opposite.

I have my favourite window to spy upon already. Tonight, my favourite couple are turning their mattress....

Claudette Colbert's Claudette Colbert Cake

“It took me years to figure out that you don't fall into a tub of butter,
you jump for it.”

I'm going to the hairdresser tomorrow - I may well take this picture in and get my fringe done like Claudette's. She is the star I am supposed to look most like - according to the special face measuring wheel in my "Westmore Beauty Book" of 1939. I don't have that moody face on much though...

Marion, our super cake tester from Texas, reported back that Claudette's eponymous cake was rather good. In fact, so good that she has decided to tinker with the recipe and add it to her collection. I have not attempted this one myself, mostly because the first ingredient is "1 Angel Food Cake" so I think I need to master that first!

Marion suggested, "I bet this is the cake Claudette served John Wayne when he brought her "wings" back in Without Reservations" and continued, "I find it amazing that she did so well with her career because she wasn't that dazzling good looks movie star variety...just cute and clever." Hm, bearing in mind that I am supposed to look like Claudette, perhaps that applies to me too?!

A big thanks to Marion for mentioning Silver Screen Suppers in her blog - - and a heads up that her "Chocolate Crimes" book will be out very soon...

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Katharine Hepburn's Eggplant in Casserole

"Sometimes I wonder if men and women really suit each other.
Perhaps they should live next door and just visit now and then."

I'm hoping that LOTS of people test Katharine's Eggplant recipe so I can populate the blog with her wonderful quotes.

As I am not a fan of the eggplant (aubergine to us Brits) I'm very happy that Gloria in Bristol has had a go at this one for us. It's one of the few veggie options lined up for the book - those stars sure liked their meat so it's slim pickings for the non-carnivores. Interestingly, Gloria made the eggplant dish as an accompaniment to grilled lamb steaks and prounounced it "utterly deliciously buttery".

With a flair quite befitting of someone I met on a cookery writing course, Gloria made two versions of the dish. One, as per Katherine's recipe, and a second "jooshed up" with pistachio nuts and crumbled feta. To my great joy, Gloria perferred the 'silver screen' version - hurrah!

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Judy Garland's Vegetable Salad

"It's lonely and cold on the top... lonely and cold."

It's a real family affair this week as fresh in from my sister is a report on Judy's Vegetable Salad. I absolutely LOVE the fact that my sis made this for the Sudbury Town Twinning BBQ!

Ida said it "went down a storm" with the twinners In fact, they polished off the lot. Apparently this has never happened before with Ida's contributions to these pot-luck affairs so she was, and I quote, "dead chuffed".

Judy's recipe calls for endive and there was much searching of Suffolk supermarkets for some of this to no avail. So Ida plumped for replacing it with chicory, finding out later that the entity Americans call endive we call chicory. No wonder the Wikipedia entry for endive states: "There is considerable confusion between Cichorium endivia and Cichorium intybus." Indeed there is!

Monday, September 07, 2009

Josephine Baker's Spaghetti Bolognaise

"Beautiful? It's all a question of luck. I was born with good legs.
As for the rest... beautiful, no. Amusing, yes."

Since my dad retired he's been getting a dab hand in the kitchen. This began when he started an evening class called "Cooking for Men" taught by a down to earth Home Economist called Violet. I have a handwritten recipe that goes by the name of "Violet's Cheese Pate" which was one of the first things I ever remember eating that was made by my dad and I love it. Not least because it has gherkins in it.

Anyhow, he volunteered to test cook Josephine's favourite Spaghetti recipe and when I asked how it turned out he said, "not as good as mine" which tickled me! It didn't surprise me at all that as veal stock wasn't available in the wilds of Essex he replaced it with extra wine! Like father like daughter on that one...

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Rudolph Valentino's Chicken from Parma

"To generalize on women is dangerous.
To specialize on them is infinitely worse."

Back from the seaside after a week of intense recipe-wrangling. My mind is reeling with all kinds of nonsense - is a frying pan the same as a skillet? What English cheese would be roughly equivalent to Asederos - the Mexican cheese used in Lupe Velez's Enchiladas? And of course the continuing conundrum of how much fat salt pork would Gary Cooper have been able to buy for 15 cents in 1936?

Returned to my new home in Battersea with renewed vigour for recipe testing. Planning to test every one of the metric-ified recipes in the next few months. I will be very fat indeed by Christmas. It's definitely worth doing though, the very first test revealed that although there was flour in the recipe ingredients for Rudolph's dish, I hadn't specified when to add it. Rectified!

Sidney's verdict? "Very succulent. The sauce was to die for..." Better to die of a delicious chicken sauce than a perforated ulcer and blood poisoning at 31 like Rudolph I would say.

Sidney's local Somerfield supermarket is closing down in a couple of weeks, so the sherry for the sauce was HALF PRICE! So were many other things, so we had a bit of a spend up. The kitchen is full of booze, cleaning products and extra virgin olive oil...

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Tallulah Bankhead's Coconut Jumbles

"...all my life I've been terrible at remembering people's names.
Once I introduced a friend of mine as 'Martini'.
Her name was actually 'Olive'.”

Tallulah's excuse for calling everyone "dahling" rings a bell with me. I'm getting terrible at remembering names. Which puts me in mind of my dad once saying, "that whatsisname is really good at remembering names..."

Today's report comes from our favourite type of tester - the "mum" tester! They sure know what they are doing these mums. Taking a totally different approach to test cooks of our own generation. They just get on with it and have no qualms about leaving ingredients out or modifying oven temperatures or cooking times. Genius.

What a pedigree for me. My own mum has selected the persona of Vivien Leigh for the blog. As my dad wants to be Burt Lancaster that makes me feel pretty special. And my mum's verdict on Tallulah's biscuits? "Will be offering friends these when they drop in for a cup of tea." So they are definitely good enough for guests! Vivien left out the milk altogether (a good solution to avoid sloppy cookie dough) and her superb innovation? Topping the biscuits with glace cherries. I am LOVING that idea!

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Lana Turner's Super and Easy Salsa

"I would rather lose a good earring than be caught without make-up."

I know JUST what you mean Lana. And I would rather wear a sparkly hairpiece like this than a shower cap when taking my morning plunge. I may ask my personal milliner Shellac Sister Veronica to rustle me up one of these so I can glam it up in the tub like Ms Turner.

We have our youngest Silver Screen Suppers participant! Baby Peggy over there in Austin Texas already has an appetite for Lana's Salsa. I am so pleased that the recipe was attempted by a resident of the Lone Star State. Back here in the UK I'm not sure most cooks would know the difference between a poblano pepper and a hatch green chilli but Eve sure does.

Mmmmm Mexican food. I am MISSING Austin. Not least because in her feedback form, Eve mentioned the phrase "pico de gallo" which would have meant nothing to me were it not for the Taco Shack a hop, skip and a jump from Ruth's place in Austin. No quesidillas, chimichangas or enchiladas out here in Herne Bay. But plenty o' fish & chips.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Maurice Chevalier's French Onion Soup

"If you wait for the perfect moment when all is safe and assured, it may never arrive.
Mountains will not be climbed, races won, or lasting happiness achieved."

Shirley (who is 9 years old) was very excited to be at her first hen night on Friday - mine. Well, a hen night of sorts. I'm taking Maurice's advice and not waiting for the perfect moment to arrive, taking the plunge and giving it a go with Sidney.

Paulette made Maurice's soup, her hubby rustled up some spicy grilled mackerel and Shirley prepared her speciality cous cous to go with the fish. A delightful evening was had by all and Shirley observed that it was "love at first bite" when she bit into Maurice's parmesan bedecked french bread croutons. There were no "L plates", no strippers and no discracefully drunk women shouting like fishwives across crowded discotheques. But Shirley DID stay up until 11pm.

Now I am in the lock-down that is writing week at the seaside. Sidney has been here for two days, assisting me in spending two pounds in two ps on the coin pushers in order to win a gherkin shaped keyring and other such delights. He left today so I am in the Herne Bay B&B that goes by the name of "The Priory". Perfect spot for a de-tox head-down recipe-wrangling 4 days. I admit it was partially chosen so that if anyone asks where I went for my week off I can say "The Priory"- which for our American readers is a bit like saying, "The Betty Ford Clinic".