Saturday, October 31, 2009

Vincent Price's Peppered Steak

“It's as much fun to scare as to be scared.”

It's Halloweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeen. How exciting. The pumpkin is carved and on the doorstep, there are treats to be dished out to any children of the night that come round to call and I have a very, very, very large spider in my hair.

I know for sure that Shirley and five of her chums will be rocking up later. It's her first time trick or treating and she is very excited. I have chocolate eyeballs and chocolate skeletons for them. And when all the little critters are tucked up in bed I shall have Vincent's Steak which is marinating in the fridge right now. It's garlic a-go-go which will keep the vampires away.

It was great seeing Charley on Thursday. He really is a lovely man and it was good to get his perspective on everything that's been going on in my love life. I am following his advice and slamming the iron door. I'm very pleased that he is giving it another go with A.M. Good for them. Gives me faith in the modern man...

Oh my LORD! I've just had 3 visitations from 3 different bunches of kids in 15 minutes. Hope I am going to have enough treats!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Marlene Dietrich's Lamb Chops En Casserole

"Without tenderness, a man is uninteresting."

That is so true Marlene - but the question is, how to tell the real tenderness from the fake...

Well, sometimes you know for sure and tonight I shall be having Charley to dinner, a man for whom I have always felt great tenderness, and I hope and I'm pretty sure, he has for me. As I know he is a fan of a lamb chop, there was not too much agonising over what to cook. I shall report on what he thought of it tomorrow, but I wanted to do a quick post today as I am very excited about this:

My little article about film star sandwiches in the Queens of Vintage online magazine. If you've never visited their site I whole heartedly recommend it - gorgeous!

I don't know how to make the above a "hyperlink" but to go straight to the article you can click on the picture of Tallulah Bankhead eating a sandwich in the sidebar!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Margaret Sullavan's Peanut Butter Hermits

"This little box makes you candy conscious!"

So said Margaret (in The Shop Around the Corner) to a rather hefty customer who didn't like the song a particular music box played when the lid was open. Margaret's sales patter was to suggest that every time the lady opened the box to get another chocolate, she'd be reminded of the sin she was about to commit!

As discussed here before, Margaret's Hermits are pretty sinful. Not for those on a diet... My lovely (and very knowleagable) work colleage Renee made some of these despite not having baked for about 20 years since Home Economics at school. As we are not in the vacinity of Graham Crackers, Ms Adoree used crushed up digestive biscuits. This will be suggested in the book. As I am planning a trip to Austin soon (top secret) I will bring back some Graham Crackers and try both versions side by side and have a taste test.

I do love it when test cooks send a photo of their finished items and when I get around to jazzing up the website I'll have a page for these. Renee's pic of her Hermits was utterly charming and she was very pleased with the results saying, "I may even attempt the recipe again and perhaps feel confident enough to let others try my cooking!'

I say YES my dear, and bring them into the office!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Jimmy Stewart's Chicken Pie

"I lasted one night.
They said my playing spoiled people's appetites.”

Well Gene's appetite certainly wasn't affected last night. He ate TWO pieces of the pie and took one home with him this morning. We christened the splendid beast the "Piewacket" after Kim Novak's cat in "Bell, Book and Candle". OK, so I fell asleep on the sofa while we were watching it, but it wasn't because of Jimmy's acting.

Jimmy's Pie takes a LONG time to make but I consider it worth it as it is so scrumptious. In another kitchen elsewhere in London, Basil was having a bash at it too. He made his half the size of mine, using chicken thighs and proclaimed it to be "absolutely delicious!" adding, "If you commit to making it, the rewards WILL justify the efforts!" He admitted that he and his lovely wife Bettina ended up eating the whole pie between them (even though it should have served 4). I don't blame them, it's virtually impossible to resist.

Also virtually impossible to resist is Gene, but resist each other we did! He was charm itself and took himself off to the spare room to get his beauty sleep after pie and a movie. I did enjoy the business with the apron strings though...

What a lovely day today. It began with a text from the very top of the house to me down in the kitchen asking if there would be crumpet for breakfast. For comedy factor I got two out of the freezer. Later on I had lunch with my mentor Hugh. How lovely to spend quality time with two people I am VERY fond of in the same day. Lucky me.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Bing Crosby's Turkey & Eggs A La Crosby

“Where the blue of the night
Meets the gold of the day,
Someone waits for me.”

Bing’s Turkey and Eggs sure pokes a snook at Harold Lloyd’s Eggs Dolores for a Saturday brunch. Delicious! I’ve just scoffed an enormous helping of it in front of the TV and I am so full I think I may have to have a snooze.

Day 1 of a whole weekend set aside for Silver Screen Suppers business and so far so good. I nipped into the Crouch for some bits and pieces and got a great haul of classic movies on DVD in the second hand record shop. There are 2 Jimmy Stewart films amongst them, which is great as tomorrow The Artist Formerly Known as Gene Kelly is coming to dinner and I’m making Jimmy Stewart’s Chicken Pie.

Unlike when I lived in Beaconsfield, there are 3 places within walking distance of my house where a friendly butcher will chop up a “fricassee chicken” in front of your very eyes, and give you all the yucky bits in a separate bag in case you want to do something with them.

And now Joy of Joys “The Shop Around The Corner” has just started on TCM. If only I had some Margaret Sullavan’s Peanut Butter Hermits to munch on...

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Anna Mae Wong's Tea Cakes

"It's a pretty sad situation, to be rejected by the Chinese
because I am too American."

Jennifer has not only posted some fabulous pictures of home movie day here:

but she has also made some Anna Mae Wong's Tea Cakes. These are proving to be a hit with most testers but they are not really what we in the UK would expect from tea cakes - no sultanas in these babies. Jennifer proclaimed them to be like vanilla fairy cakes - not sure if that would translate for our USA based chums - but she is right about possibly jooshing them up with some lemon flavoured icing. Nice.

I particularly liked the fact that she took some of these into a work meeting! Love the idea of archivist types over there at the Wellcome Trust sampling some film star fodder!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Lupe Velez Tamale Pie

“I have flirt with the whole film colony. Why not?
I am not serious. What harm is a little flirting?
No I do not kiss many mens. But when I kiss them, they stay kissed!”

Ha ha, Lupe is my inspiration today. Partly the quote, but also the coat. I wish I had one of those on today, it is FREEZING in my office.

Well, encouraged by Moya in New York I finally made the Tamale Pie last night. As expected, I failed. I don't think cornmeal in the UK is the same entity as cornmeal in Mexico - or possibly my mistake was to buy "fine" cornmeal. Jeesh. It was, as anticipated, rather semolina like in consistency. Reminded me of cremola - which was something I hated as a kid - a custardy kind of semolina thing. YEUCH! I think I need to get me over to Texas though, to see what a real Tamale looks like.

Luckily I can use up some of the enormous bag of cornmeal I have for some Gary Cooper Buttermilk Pancakes. Now HE is one hot tamale! (Or can that only be applied to women?)

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Claudette Colbert's Claudette Colbert Cake

"I know what's best for me, after all
I have been in the Claudette Colbert business longer than anybody.”

Oh what a lovely day it was yesterday! I was DJing with my wind-up gramophone at the Home Movie Day at the Cinema Museum and it was so gorgeous to see everyone dressed up in cinema uniforms from the 1950s. Looking utterly charming in her usherette's outfit, Dorothy was not only mistress of ceremonies, she had also taken the time to make a Claudette Colbert Cake! Superb it was too. I had a great big slice with a cup of tea while I wondered if I'd ever get the sound system to work.

Another of our lovely test cooks, Jennifer, had asked her boyfriend's flatmate to lend us his valve amp and such a splendid thing it was too. Like something from a Frankenstein movie we had to wait for the valves to heat up, jiggle around with various wires and hope for the best. It worked! I fell in love with the way the element in the four glass tubes glew red as the sound of movie related 78s filled the room. I want my own valve amp! My favourite part of the day was playing tunes to fit a screening of Phyllis Calvert's home movies which her grandson had brought along.


Friday, October 16, 2009

Anna Mae Wong's Tea Cakes

"I've come to the conclusion that everybody should marry,
including me."

Well, I'll see if anyone ever asks me Anna...

I love this picture, and I am going to measure my own hair when I get home to see if it is as long as Anna's. Could be...

Had a lovely time with little Shirley last night working on her papier mache project. She seemed most peturbed that one of the legs on her trouser bowl was wonky - having one wonky leg myself I couldn't really see the problem. Tonight we shall paint it.

Paulette had made some AMW Tea Cakes and totally delicious they were too. MUCH nicer than the ones I made, I think she adds some secret ingredient when she is baking things to make them taste so good. Or maybe it is the magic of the heart shaped baking cases. I bought Paulette some of these as a "thank you" gift for looking after me during my post-break-up-trauma-period and they are such lovely things.

I was extremely happy to be back in the fold there, especially when Paulette had to search for something in the food cupboard near the back door. Pleased to see that the lightbulb has STILL not been replaced, making it necessary for Paulette to do the thing which always makes me laugh: don the head torch.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Vincent Price's Pepper Steak

“A man who limits his interests,
limits his life.”

It warms the cockles of my heart (and believe me at the moment they need warming) to hear from test cooks who don't know myself or Ruth, but just like the idea of being involved in our cooking project. I've been having a lovely email correspondence with Mickey in Athlone, Ireland who has tested three recipes for us with great vigour!

I loved his report on Vincent's Steak: "A mighty lump of meat as they say in Ireland. Goes well with chips and onions." That makes me STARVING for a good hairy steak! I guess the amount of garlic in Vincent's recipe would keep the vampires away for sure. I may rustle this one up for myself on Halloween night then watch a scary Vincent Price movie. Rosalind and Jimmy are currently residing just under the Hollywood sign and a neighbouring (and by all accounts spooky looking) house was once owned by Bela Lugosi. Alas we have no recipes for him but they might try out Boris Karloff's Steak and Kidney Pie on the 31st whilst hiding somewhere in the garden. Ha ha!

I've got some brilliant CDs of Vincent Price's radio cookery show which I heartily recommend. Sometimes I listen to them while I am cooking for inspiration. He sure knew how to throw a dinner party. If you are clever enough to work out how to do it, you can listen to them here... - happy listening!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Lupe Velez's Tamale Pie

“The first time you buy a house you think how pretty it is
and sign the check. The second time you look to see
if the basement has termites.

It's the same with men.”

I am loving that hat Lupe!

Well, I failed in my attempt to make the Velez Pie last night, the filling was all done and in the fridge and I was going to cook up the cornmeal for the base and top but copious amount of booze waylaid me. My new landlord insisted on pouring me two very large glasses of wine and singing me several songs (he is Welsh).

Luckily, I have a report of this recipe being made Stateside by Ruthie's brother's wife's mum. What relation therefore she is to Ruth I am not quite sure, but it was very kind of her to test the recipe for us. The verdict? Sis-in-law proclaimed it DELICIOUS and we received a hilarious photo of little Spanky in his high chair chowing down on some. The youngest participant in the project since Baby Peggy! Hoorah!

I may get around to making the pie on Sunday but I have to admit, cornmeal gives me the fear - especially now I have found out that it is the same entity as Polenta...

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Bette Davis Hollywood Salad

"That's me: an old kazoo with some sparklers."

Ooh! A lucky shamrock charm bracelet. I want one!

I'm feeling a bit like an old kazoo myself today so have cheered myself up by re-reading Rita's verdict on the Bette salad recipe. I haven't seen Rita in a LONG time which is something I must rectify as she is one of the funniest people I know. Always a tonic.

The salad was rustled up in Cape Town (isn't this project getting cosmopolitan?!) and Rita shared it with her cleaner Busisiwe - they both loved it. Although Orson professed to not liking three of the main ingredients (figs, dates and sultanas) once he'd had a bite he ate whatever was left on the plate. Rita said she wouldn't bother with the figs next time as she "didn't give a fig" about figs and they were hard to get hold of in Cape Town.

The thing that made me really laugh was in reference to a conversation we'd had ages ago about Bette Davis. She said that she might add olives the next time she'd made the salad as they would, "add a twist of acid which is precisely what I would have expected from Bette - having seen her at the Ashcroft Theatre in Croydon, you know: 1973". Ha ha! Perfect.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Maurice Chevalier's French Onion Soup

"Many a man has fallen in love with a girl in a light so dim
he would not have chosen a suit by it."

Ha ha, how true. It's true for women too, I'm only going to brightly lit nightspots from now on. And I shall get my failing eyesight checked.

I didn't get around the Lupe's Pie last night, the household chores and the making of Rum Jam took over, so instead I shall blog the results of Joan C's testing of the soupe a l'oignon. Joan thought the soup delicious and shared it with Bette saying, "Ma petite cherie scoffed deux helpings (as did I)". The croutons were much savoured and she suggested adding a note not to skimp on these. As she points out Monseiur Maurice did amiably warble, "Thank heavens for little (cheesy) grills." Groan...

She also made one comment about husbands and soup on the feedback from that is not suitable for a family forum. Her sense of humour is so blue sometimes it takes me about half an hour to work out what she is actually referring to! Naughty girl, I do miss them both now they are living down there in Brighton.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Harold Lloyd's Eggs Dolores

"The pain was considerable,
but trivial compared with my mental state."

Hmm, yes, well my mental state has been somewhat rocked by your Eggs Mr Lloyd!

Revolting they were, almost inedible! It's a long time since we had a failure in the Silver Screen Suppers kitchen but Harold's eggs were it. He might as well have called them Eggs Dolorous (meaning sorrowful) as the pile of them all pink and scrambled was not a pretty sight to see. Sigh. Luckily I had some nice crispy bacon on the side to allieviate the pain of wasting 3 perfectly good eggs by adding cheese and TOMATOES. Bleaugh! Bring back Dorothy Dandridge's Emotional Omelet.

I am hoping for better things from Lupe Velez's Tamale Pie which I'll be attempting later today. I have never had Tamale Pie, I do not even quite know what it is, but I'm going to find out...

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Ida Lupino's Lemon Mousse

"Keeping a feminine approach is vital -
men hate bossy females."

I'm taking a break from the unpackathon to watch Strictly and report on the gorgeous Jessica's experience of Ida's mousse. I've spent more or less all day doing the lock-up rock-up and scrabbling around in bags and boxes. Unrolling newspaper wrapped mystery items has brought exclamations of great joy when things I have totally forgotten about (my Japanese owl mugs for example) emerge like rubies in the dust.

Jessica's verdict on the mousse? "It was awesome and all my housies loved it". Fabulous. Love the idea of these dishes being shared with loved ones - the way it should be. I have taken on board Jessica's comment about maybe specifying a shorter freezing time. A perfect excuse for me to rustle up another batch and scoff it spinster style straight out of the tupperware with a soup spoon. Just testing you understand...

Friday, October 09, 2009

Diana Dors Bhuma Ghosht

"I was the first home-grown sex symbol,
rather like Britain`s naughty seaside postcards."

Oh my stars, Diana was so LUSCIOUS. Just gorgeous. And our viewing of "Yield to the Night" proved that she could act too, given half the chance. What a humdinger of a movie.

It was a long awaited Silver Screen Supper in West One last night. Edmund rocked up with the Diana Dors boxset, Rosalind cooked up a curry and our surprise handsome guest sprawled on the sofa wolf-whistling and making comments such as "She's a STUNNER" regarding the lovely Ms Dors. Rosalind made two versions of the dish, one to Diana's specifications and one a bit spiced up for the modern palate. Being a purist, I liked the authentic one.

Rosalind made me laugh by saying that when she told her mum she was making a curry her mum said, "An INDIAN curry?" as she legendarily prefers curry that comes from a Chinese takeaway. Rosalind also commented on Diana's pneumatic physique, "She must have eaten a lot of Bhuma to get those Bhumas..." Indeed!

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Ann Harding's Hollywood Salad Dressing

Just a quick post today as I'm off to get my fringe cut - I'll not be taking this picture of Ann to the hairdresser though.

Another feedback report from Dale's Star Spangled Rhythm party. As she is off this weekend to turkey wrangle at the annual Turkeyfest in Cuero, Texas I thought I would wish her luck. Apparently she gets to wear an umpire's outfit and blow a whistle, I am so jealous.

Ann's Salad Dressing turned out to be a bit like Thousand Island - with caviar. I am loving Dale's detailed information about pimento though! A recurring theme throughout this project is how to define the pimento. Dale used a "jarred whole fire roaster pimento" in this dish. Where on earth would I get one of those outside the Lone Star State? Pimento, Pimiento, shimiento...

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Maurice Chevalier's French Onion Soup

"It is always the same: women bedeck themselves with jewels and furs,
and men with wit and quotations."

Rosalind came to dinner last night, my first supper guest in my new home and Maurice's crouton bedecked soup went down a storm. I had forgotten to ask Rosalind if she liked onions but we both agreed that EVERYONE liked onions, didn't they? Rosalind's parting comment on the subject being, "if you don't like onions, I don't like you!"

My new pad meets with Rosalind's full approval and as we toasted each other with multiple cans of beer she announced that for the first time in a long time I was, "sitting pretty". She also asked the rhetorical question, "Who am I? Angela Lansbury?" at some point. And in respect of housing, and children, "why buy when you can rent?"

Side by side in bed next morning, she dispelled my doubt that I would ever succeed at buying a place of my very own with the exclamation, "you got the Kaiser Chiefs tickets didn't you?" Which I have to admit, made me have to examine my negative thinking pattern on that one...

Monday, October 05, 2009

Ronald Reagan's Corned Beef Hash in Bell Peppers

"All great change in America begins at the dinner table."

And possibly all over the world too. I suggest that we all work towards world peace by eating like the stars!

I'm always intrigued when test cooks choose a persona of a different gender. So it is with Oliver. He / she sent feedback with an apology that it had taken so long as, "the corned beef sat ominously on my shelf for a while before I was brave enough to try it." I'm the same with the Tea Matzos! Maybe next weekend for the Matzo Ball Soup. I dreamed about it last night.

Oliver - like others who have tried this dish - suggested roasting the peppers rather than boiling them. And s/he loved the popping of an egg on top at the end, "providing protein so the post-war generation grew up big and strong..." Ronnie's dish was proclaimed as being definitely worth trying as a quick journey into the past and Oliver summed it up thus, "It really felt like retro gastronomy - the techniques and the result were so incredibly different from our Nigel Slater dominated, balsamic vinegar and olive oil idea of cooking nowadays."


Sunday, October 04, 2009

Joan Bennett's Beetroot Salad

I have found the cigarette pen that Ruthie and I had so much fun posing with in her jeep, pretending to be smokers, and also the fabulous cowboy hat ashtray she gave me. So now I really feel my dressing table is complete. When I was walking through the park that is a stone's throw from my new place this morning I felt a sudden surge of happiness. I am truly in the right place for me, right now.

Tonight I will have an evening of self-indulgence. I shall make Joan's Beetroot Salad and watch her and James Mason in The Reckless Moment. I haven't seen this for over 20 years and am intrigued to see if the scene that has stuck in my mind ever since is just as I remembered it.

Joan Bennett is dragging a body along a beach wearing the most divine sunglasses ever. The thing I remember about the scene (apart from the accessories) is the absence of music. It was such a dramatic moment and it seemed all the more ghoulish because all that was on the soundtrack was the sound of Joan's efforts to get rid of some evidence... We shall see.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Ann Sheridan's Chilli Casserole

Work colleagues were joking about my potential author's photo for the book on Friday so it is an ideal opportunity to post this fab pic of Ann again. I really think Ruthie and I should have twin pics like this side by side. Who wouldn't given half the chance? We'll need someone ace on the photoshop though to make us look this good.

First night in my new flat and it is so exciting. Ann’s casserole is in my new oven in my new casserole dish. I spent over £100 in Budgens to stock up my new kitchen cupboards. Foxgloves and Baby’s Breath decorate my new room and I plan to spend the rest of the weekend right here, in my new home relaxing and writing. New room, new life.

I’ve settled in for the evening in front of Strictly Come Dancing. Missed the first couple due to preparing the dinner and am REALLY hoping it wasn’t Ricky Whittle from Hollyoaks. It is very rare that I fancy someone on the telebox, but for him I will make an exception!

Bruno himself has personally approved myself and Rosalind being on the guest list for the big event at the Tower Ballroom in Blackpool mid November. It will be this year’s romantic mini-break for myself and Rosalind – an annual tradition. Thank you Groucho! He’s not working on the programme any more, but he’s obviously still got the influence. I owe you some Matzo Ball Soup Mr Marx. This year Rosalind and I won’t make the same mistake as last time. Who knew you needed a passport to fly from Stansted to Blackpool? We missed our hairdresser’s appointment and everything! After an interminably long coach journey we made it to the show though. And sat on the same table as Brucie’s charming wife. And chatted to Len at the after-show party.

Major excitement is that Rosalind has booked us a room at the Helmshore Hotel. The location of our first trip as groupies for the Penge Latin American Formation Team in 1991. Ah, memories... I seem to remember VERY high beehives were in evidence.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Ingrid Bergman's Trout in Cream Sauce

"Success is getting what you want;
happiness is wanting what you get."

On a day when the subject of cosmic ordering is foremost in my mind, Ingrid's quote is rather apt. As the first cosmic order I placed (a lovely flat - nice and cheap) came in a month before I requested delivery, I am planning to place another. Not sure what to wish for though...

Paulette and I wondered how long it would be before Ivor made a joke about "old trouts" when he found out what was for dinner - answer, approximately 30 seconds. Alas, I forgot to buy the cream (dolt!) so in the end it was a modified toasted almond scattered version and tasty it was too. I made my first batch of Alan Ladd's Potato Pancakes and they were a good accompaniment. Shortening is now on my list - Paulette says I am to look for TREX.

Tomorrow I leave my lovely friends and trundle round the corner to the new place where I shall leave my hat... It's been utterly fabulous living at number 3 and I feel very lucky to have such gorgeous and generous benefactors. Another suitcase in another hall...