Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Claudette Colbert's Claudette Colbert Cake

I've been putting off testing this as it looked like a bit of a challenge. It was, but it was worth it! Basically I made a Rita Hayworth's Angel Cake then followed Claudette's instructions for fancifying it with home made lemon curd filling and lemony frosting. Oh YUMSKI as my French colleague Marie-Agathe put it.

We've had a lovely redhead rockabilly girl working with us for a couple of months and she's such a peach I decided to make the cake for her last day. What a success it was. Everyone piled up to the mezzanine waiting for their slice - it was gone in a flash! I decorated it with little pink sprinkles and some mini eggs to make it look Eastery. A BIG success!

And by the way, I hereby award test cook Miss Dorothy an internet MEDAL for making this for an event at the Cinema Museum. It is the most time consuming cake I have ever made so bravo Ms D over there at the British Film Institute.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Cary Grant's Tuna Fish Pie

Mmmm. The Tuna Pie was good. Little pastry biscuits on top. Yum, yum. I'm looking for an alternative Cary recipe for the book to replace the apple pie. He's got some good ones too. He's a man who loved his fish. This could be the one. Chicken of the Sea in a pie.

It's a busy week this week and I SHOULD be making some Bette Davis marmalade tonight but there is just too much to do. I guess it can wait until the weekend. I'm cat sitting for Paulette and Ivor and they do have a lovely big kitchen for cooking. Would it be mad to take my biddy-bag trolley full of jam jars round there and make the marmalade in Paulette's nice copper preserving pan?

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Thelma Todd's Scripture Cake

Lolita over at Lolita's Classics has done some lovely work colourizing some pictures of Thelma Todd. Wish I knew how to do that, I'm sure I could spend many a happy hour colouring in! One of her readers left a link to a brilliant song and dance routine featuring Hot Toddy and I'm going to pass it on here. I laughed out loud VERY loudly at the part where the two guys were swinging the dummy - genius -

Yesterday Bette and Jean came over with their little monkey-chew Romy. I'm not really a fan of babies in the flesh but I have to admit that this one is absolutely adorable. I had a bash at Thelma's crazy Scripture Cake - all the instructions involve looking up certain things in a bible so I had to call upon Shirley and Paulette to assist with that, not having a bible myself. So things like, "Use 4 and 1/2 cups of I Kings, 4th chapter, 22nd verse" translates to "Use 4 and 1/2 cups of flour". You get the idea. The ladies had a few religion related comments about it all: "should be heavenly" quipped Joan and Bette observed that it was a bit crispy because it was a "Catholic Cake".

The thing that amused me most about the whole thing was that when I stumbled into the lounge this morning with a mighty hangover there was a left over piece of cake on the table and a LADYBIRD was nibbling away at it. There is a photo over on the Flickr site!

It was great to see the ladies and Joan and I had a very in depth conversation about domestic violence. I guess it is the old case of "it takes one to know one" so it was good to hear Joan's take on it all to realise it's quite normal to be grappling with the fallout of it even now.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Irene Dunne's Shrimps and Rice

"Years ago the public used to hound me
but now I can go shopping in peace."

Brand new test cook Kim sent over a report on her cooking of the shrimp dish. She also, much to my delight, sent a photo of the finished result which I shall load up to the Flickr site (you can be transported to this via the picture of a buffet spread in the sidebar to the right). I have never been to Kim's kitchen but I love the fact that she has black marble work surfaces - tres chic! Also love the fact that there is a glass of fizz lurking in the background of the shot!

Kim and her guest (who was it I wonder?!) enjoyed the shrimpy dish very much. I have a feeling that she bought nice big fat king prawns rather than the teeny weeny shrimp Irene might have used. Obviously a gal who likes high-hat living, Kim even suggested throwing in a couple of langoustines to "add a bit of luxury".

I am in a mood for confession so I will admit that I have never eaten a langoustine. In fact, I am not even sure I know what one is. Mini-ature lobster? And while we are at it I will also come clean and admit that although I know that Irene is probably my co-writer's favourite silver screen star, I've never seen a film with her in it. Shocking - bring me ebay immediately!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Boris Karloff's Steak and Kidney Pie

"The monster was the best friend I ever had."

Aw Boris, that's so SAD!

I am so lucky that I have such wonderful friends. And some who REALLY love the Silver Screen Suppers project too. King loves it so much that he made a great big gorgeous pie for us last night EXACTLY to Boris's recipe. Three people had volunteered to test cook this one but so far, King is the only one who has had the guts to do it!

Rosalind was on hand to assist, her lovely ma had made the pastry for the pie on Saturday in Lincoln and wrapped it up in the paper from the lard. We all sat consuming vast amounts of wine whilst Rosalind and King were huddled together removing the channels from the kidneys and confiding in each other how much they loved to handle offal... And what a wonderful result - a great big, beautiful pie which was 100% delicious. I laughed out loud when Edmund found out what the secret ingredient was - hard boiled eggs. He SHOUTED, "Eggs? Where? It's a PIE not a QUICHE"! But he gobbled it all up just the same.

Rosalind couldn't find her copy of "Gods and Monsters" which we were gathered there to see but no matter, we watched "An Education" and gossiped all the way through it instead. A wonderful night in the grand tradition of dinner and a movie.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Silver Screen Sunday - Now Voyager

"...don't let's ask for the moon. We have the stars."

It's a good point Bette, we just CAN'T have it all... As someone once said, you can't expect to have a great job, a great relationship and a great place to live all at the same time. You can only have maximum two at once. Might have been Rosalind actually.

This is THE hat Veronica came over to see. We had a lovely Now Voyager brunch with Finnan Haddie a la Davis and some Bonita Granville Gingerbread followed by the film. A lovely springtime lunch party. There was much discussion before and after the film about whether Veronica should take the plunge and co-habit once more with her ex-husband. An interesting conundrum and more complicated than it sounds. I'm glad I don't have that to worry about at the moment.

I was very glad I got up the gumption to go to the Rock and Roll night last night. Reminded me how at home I am with the rockabilly types, even if none of them will speak to me. They were all too cool for school but I do love all that posturing. At one point there were about a dozen men lined up at the bar and the sight of their massive turn ups pleased me immensely. Brilliant to see that as usual at this kind of event the most unexpected people are always the best dancers. An Amy Lame lookalike and a guy who looked like one of the scary types in a Dickens novel wiped the floor with all the beautiful people. I loved his half splits.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Bonita Granville's Gingerbread

Bonita, Bonita, Peanut Eater.

OK, I am going to try and channel the spirit of Bonita this evening if I ever get it together to get out of the house and go to the Rock 'n' Roll night at the Music Palace. I will be going on my own and won't know a single person there but it is the month of being brave so I am going to do it.

I've just eaten a solo portion of Marlene Dietrich's Lamb Chops to fortify myself and have made a batch of Bonita's Gingerbread for tomorrow's Silver Screen Sunday. It smells mighty fine but I've never made Gingerbread before so am not sure how it will taste but fingers crossed Veronica will like it.

I almost chickened out of going out on my own to rub shoulders with rockabilly boys and then when I went into the kitchen to do the washing up they were playing the Stray Cats on the radio. I am taking it as a sign...

Friday, March 19, 2010

Jean Arthur's Chocolate Fudge

"It's a strenuous job every day of your life
to live up to the way you look on the screen."

I admit that this week I've let it all go a bit! It's been sooooooo busy and stayed at Paulette's last night and the night before. This resulted in my wearing the same rockabilly cardigan to work 3 days in a row - I wonder if anyone noticed?

Spring is most DEFINITELY in the air. Everyone is getting very frisky. Today a momentous thing happened for me, I saw someone I fancied. I thought that had stopped happening.?! Eureka, I had a nice little frisson with someone on the tube. 3 minutes of no strings attached microflirting. I shall try and get back in practice, it was most enjoyable.

And just now a phone call from Mr Mayfair saying that he's moving back to the States and insists that he kisses me at least once before he goes. Ha ha! Sure, why not?! I told him to call me when he was in the mood for making out...

I'm considering having another go at Jean's fudge. Ruth's mom sent a very thorough email explaining why her recipe was not really for the beginner. I LOVE the mom testers because they really know what they are doing and they make me feel better about failing. I could NOT get Jean's fudge to set when I tried it but felt better when Ruth's mom emailed to say, "fudge is a little complicated; you can ruin it easily and Jean's won't help anyone succeed." So, if we do include this recipe in the book we'll include some of Ruth's mom's excellent guidance in how to actually get this to work.

I did a silly thing on the way home from work today. I left a folder that effectively contained the first third of the Silver Screen Suppers book AND the book proposal on the BUS. Oh my Lord. I guess three things could happen. 1) someone finds it and pinches the whole idea. (Ruth and I would probably have to hire a contract killer if this happened.) 2) a publisher who happens to live in Crouch End finds it and offers us an incredible deal. (This would be what happened in a movie of course.) 3) I will have to go to some Godforsaken bus garage somewhere in the arse end of Greater London to retrieve it.

I am predicting number 3.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Katharine Hepburn's Eggplant in Casserole

"If you always do what interests you,
at least one person is pleased.

Cheer up then Katharine, you look like you are in a right old strop! Oh alright then, please yourself....

Gadzooks, just when I think I can drop Katharine's recipe from the book I get a report from a test cook saying she loved it. Some of you may know that the eggplant / aubergine gives me the fear so I've been putting off trying this one myself. But now it looks like I'll have to do it - aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrg!

Trusty test cook Nazimova tried it out for a veggie friend who came to dinner and this is, of course a very good reason for including it in the book. We are short on main course recipes for those who don't eat meat. Maybe I'll take Naz's tip about using small young aubergines as she says, "they are much quicker to fry and don't turn to rubber but melt away". Hmm. The vegetarian friend, "thought it was brilliant!" and Naz says, "This will probably be my dish for the summer, like it that much". What a bunch of crazed aubergine fanciers they all are!

I'm looking after Shirley this evening while Paulette goes for cocktails. It amused me greatly this morning when I popped round to test my door keys to see that on Paulette's shopping list it said, "Beer for Jenny". She knows me SO WELL!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Janet Gaynor's Ice Box Cookies

Oh what joy, home in time for Desmond Carrington on R2 with nothing to do but listen in.

Got up early to get Janet's cookies in the oven. I broke my own rule and made them with spreadable butter. Mistake. They weren't all firm and crisp like they should be, but soft and chewy. Nice, but not as Janet would have wanted them. Still, my work chums gobbled them up in a flash, making appropriate noises and giving them double thumbs up.

Had a wonderful lunch with my mentor Hugh. As usual we laughed far too loudly, I had to calm down for fear of upsetting other people in the restaurant. The thing that really killed me was him recounting a story I had told him, with great embellishment. I don't think I have ever experienced this before. He asked me how my Second Life adventures were going and when I said I hadn't been on there for a while he was astonished. He said that last time we'd got together I told him all about dancing in the ballroom of the Titanic and an encounter with a sleazy man and a billiard table that was interrupted by a phone call from a Hawaiian. Well, he'd kind of got it right. What about the guy pole dancing in a Batman outfit though?!

It has reminded me that I did find it incredibly calming to wander around on my own in virtual reality and often ended up sitting under a fountain meditating. But it was a worse time waster than TV for a while there so I'd better not get back into it...

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Oliver Hardy's Spaghetti Sauce

Ah, Sunday afternoon and Columbo on the tele. Heavenly.

Again, I have a humdinger of a hangover and red wine lips. Temperance month is not really happening is it? I'm cooking some of Ollie's Spaghetti Sauce in an attempt to feel better.

It was a wonderful evening last night chez Jean. It was Oscars night, a week after the event but hugely enjoyable nevertheless. We had some Hollywood canapes and a Gloria Swanson Devil's Food Cake alongside his delicious terrines and little cups of celeriac soup. Cries of "look at his HAIR!" and "what IS she wearing?" filled the air as we had great sport putting our oars in. Ava showed us her lovely new feet with great pride. Beautiful they are too. I bet she can't wait to get those into a pair of strappy sandals for spring.

I can never see a terrine without thinking of Ava and her hospitalization due to sliding on a terrine. Ha ha! I must get her to tell me the story again, I'm sure I've altered it in my mind but she almost definitely ended up with a terrine shaped bruise on her bum.

Talking of bruises, the lovely Preston got me a ticket to a special screening of the new roller derby movie "Whip-It" on Saturday night. I loved it. Juliette Lewis rocked as Iron Maven and it was great to see some familiar faces amongst the roller girls in the audience. RAWHIDE!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Janet Gaynor's Ice Box Cookies

I'm very excited about Olivier's Oscars party tomorrow. He has the whole thing on tape and a bunch of us are going to pretend we are watching it "as live" whilst chowing down on a few Silver Screen Supper specialities. I'm doing the canapes and cake and will report back on what we had on Sunday.

Janet was the first recipient of the Academy Award for Best Actress so I thought it would be a good day to mention that my lovely ex-housemate Grace made some Ice Box Cookes last week with modifications. She added 1 teaspoon of mixed spice and 100g sultanas and pronounced them to be "yumtastic!" She also came up with the genius suggestion that they be renamed "Janet's nicey icey spice box cookies".

Easy for her to say!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Gena Rowland's Spinach and Rice

Gorgeous! What a babe!

This week I have had a bit of an "emotional gust". Luckily for me, on the night it happened Paulette was still up when I walked past her house and so I went in and had a cry. She gave me a big hug, some sound advice and a bag of spinach. THAT is what friends are for!

So in my new spirit of trying to use up all the stuff in my cupboards before impending move (yes, again!) I checked the recipe spreadsheet to see what we had that included spinach and one of the store cupboard staples. And so, tonight, whilst watching amazing things being created on Masterchef I ate a very weird dinner. I guess it was OK, and I guess there's plenty of iron in there, but I also guess I'm turning into a ravenous carnivore and could have done with a nice pork chop on the side!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Anna Mae Wong's Tea Cakes

I missed the Movie Memorabilia Bazaar at the Cinema Museum the other weekend because I was too hungover to leave the house. But lovely Dorothy was there, not in her usherette uniform this time, but still working the Silver Screen Suppers magic nonetheless. She made some of Anna's Tea Cakes and reports back that special celebrity guest Caroline Monroe had one and said it was lovely! Worlds colliding - super.

It is little things like this that keep me going. I had to defend myself this week when someone I barely knew launched an astonishing attack on my much beloved project. What was the point he asked? Why bother testing the recipes? Why not just reprint them? Why was it taking me so long?

Hmm. I employed the "bubble" technique recommended by Lisa over at The Sassy Minx to try and avoid being crushed by it all. And then in my mind I blew a big raspberry in his general direction!

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Greer Garson's Guacamole

"Do what you feel you have a flair for doing,
and if you are good enough at it, the money will come.”

I do hope so Greer, because I am stony broke!

I think about my Glasgow chums every time I try and preserve my curls by wearing the spotty shower cap they gave me for my birthday. Twice now there has been a spider hiding inside it. What does that mean? I've never seen a spider ANYWHERE in my flat apart from in my shower cap. Luckily, since living on a boat for a year, I like arachnids.

As if by magic, thinking about Katy made an email from her appear - her verdict on Greer's Guac. Just like Dorothy she was APPALLED by the amount of salt therein. Methinks if this one makes it to the book we will definitely have to modify for the modern palate, as Katy points out, she suspects that using the full amount would result in hospitalisation. She and hubby Buster ate some before they went to the cinema and said, "by the end of the screening we were frothing like rabid dogs from the salt intake and had to find a mini store to sell us bottles of water to surpress the raving. Ha ha - it aint a picnic being a test cook!

There is a photo of Katy's "salty snack" over on the flickr site but do be warned - as Katy herself points out, it looks like green vomit!

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Rita Hayworth's Angel Food Cake

Hello Sailor!

Definitely feeling full of the joys of spring now that I have successfully made an Angel Food Cake. There is a picture of it on the flickr site - I personally have never seen anything like it!

The secret is obviously all in the whipping. Last time I tried to whip the egg whites with one of those soup mulchers but it just didn't work. Has to be the old fashioned egg beater for sure.

Lord knows how I'll get it into work tomorrow!

Bette Davis' Finnan Haddie a la Davis

Oh I am having such fun this weekend. Doing a LOT of writing work and a LOT of cooking. Fab.

It’s Sunday and so I decided to treat myself to Bette’s favourite Sunday morning breakfast dish. And delicious it was too. It’s the first time I have tried it but wanted to have a test run before the Now Voyager Silver Screen Sunday. Veronica is going to come for brunch as I have told her that it has the best scene in any film ever that features a hat.

It's been sunny, sunny, sunny all weekend - perhaps Spring is actually here already?

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Dick Powell's Corn Chowder

Ah bliss. A night in with some of Dick's Chowder, a bottle of expensive wine and "Stella Dallas" on DVD.

The expensive wine is my new plan. I am going to see if I spend less money on booze if I buy GOOD wine and only drink a glass of it each night rather than downing whole bottles of cheapo plonk willy nilly. So far so good. Mind you, the glasses here are like goblets...

I'm not sure if Dick's Chowder is fancy enough for the book. Luckily he was quite a chef so we have quite a few other recipes to choose from. I like the sound of Truck Driver's Welsh Rarebit. Might give that a whirl...

William Powell's Baked Artichokes With Cheese

“Cultivate solitude and quiet and a few sincere friends..."

I wholeheartedly agree William as I pursue my weekend of self-imposed solitude. There has been much cooking and much writing already and tomorrow I will speak to no-one. I've done enough talking this week, now for some peace and quiet! I kicked off my Silver Screen weekend with some of Bing Crosby's Turkey and Eggs a la Crosby. I have perfected the single girl's portion - in a little buttered ramekin. So cute.

I've been really enjoying all the comments on the Gloria Swanson Competition post (see 1st March), love the fact that so many people are participating - both old friends and complete strangers. Adore the power of the internet.

Talking of old friends, fairly recently my writer-ex sent me a report on his rendition of William Powell's Artichokes. He said that they, "looked somewhat dramatic and decadent on the plate, like the head of a giant tulip and would have not been out of place in a mansion owned by William Randolph Hearst." What a fabulous mind picture! I wonder if WR and Marion Davies would have eaten them alongside their Rarebits! Writer-ex proclaimed them to be tasty but messy to eat, saying: "like eating a lobster, you get left with a lot of stuff behind. These fibrous leaves actually jammed up the waste disposal unit of my then girlfriend....but that wasn't the reason we split up."

Imagine if that had been the straw that broke the camel's back. When friends asked, "what happened?!" you could blame it on William Powell.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Shirley Temple's Mammy's Pecan Squares

Apologies for my ranting and raving yesterday. I felt so bad about leaving the blog open on a downer like that I got up early to make some of Shirley's Pecan Squares before work. I believe that my sister of the skillet refers to these as "Shirley Temple's Goddamn Pecan Squares" as her two attempts to make them failed. I blame the altitude she was cooking them at, as mine were scrumptious.

My diagonal desk mate proclaimed them "good enough to sell in shops", my next door desk buddy was "eating them like they were going out of fashion" and the lovely noodle watcher Michael sent an email which I hereby repeat in full.

"Of all the film starry fancies you have made and done brung in, I think Shirley Temple’s Pecan Squares, are the tops so far."

So there you have it. The little munchkin done good.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Sonja Henie's Scandanavian Cookies

Oh what a night! As is my custom I rushed home tonight in order to be stationed by the stove in time to listen to Desmond Carrington's amazing Tuesday night radio show on R2. It's a weird and wonderful thing that this show links me to my ex flatmates Ginger and Grace every single week. We all loved his crazy combinations of music (tonight a brilliant rendition of 1930s showtune "Pettin' in the Park" followed by Take That's cover version of "How Deep is Your Love") and whenever I listen to it my thoughts turn to the fabulous two years we had living together in Walthamstow.

A BARRAGE of texts and phone calls were launched upon the ether when Desmond mentioned that his show was being moved to Friday night. What the *&%?! I stay in every Tuesday to listen to his show. It is tradition. I do not wish to listen to his replacement Jamie Cullen. There is NO WAY Cullen is going to play curve balls like Hawaii 5-0 followed by some nutty novelty song featuring Ziggy Talent singing "Maharajah of Mogator". Grr. Ginger and I were very cross.

And then Desmond had to seal the deal by ending his show by playing "one of his favourite singers" Sandy Denny and the SUBLIME "Who Knows Where the Time Goes?" Not only the metaphorical question we ALL might all be asking ourselves (where the hell DOES it go?) but also the signature tune of the Cotter Offord Project.

I remember many occasions cooking in the kitchen of 43 St Johns Road hearing Jack and Grace rehearsing this song and how I loved it so. That was a beautiful time and although I had planned to cook some of Sonja's Cookies tonight, I think I may just retire to the electric blanket and have a big blub!

For all my readers who have never experienced the absolute joy that is Desmond's show - it's available on "listen again" for the next week - wherever you are in the world. I highly recommend setting aside an hour to listen to this - he was on FIRE tonight with his crazy combinations and banter - I just don't think that the vibe will be the same on a Friday night - - a whole hour of genius. We have him to ourselves on Tuesdays 7pm - 8pm until Easter my lovelies.

The Gloria Swanson Frock competition runs for the whole month of March - please enter - it's free and fun. I am loving getting messages popping into my in-box from all around the world about which fruit Gloria carried in her handbag. Raspberries? Grapefruits? Pomegranates - or something else entirely? Guess away... See the next post down...

Monday, March 01, 2010

Gloria Swanson Frock Competition

This month I have decided to run a competition. This dress - designed by Gloria Swanson for her "Forever Young" label is the prize. It still has the original tag and so presumably has never been worn. Very stylish with a lovely bow detail on the shoulder. I think it is about a size 14 UK / 10 USA / 40 European (I shall put exact measurements up when I remember to get my tape measure out).

Gloria was a health nut and often took her own soup in a thermos flask if she was invited out to eat. In the daytime she often carried a particular fruit in her handbag in case she got peckish. My competition question is - which fruit was it?! You can enter as many times as you wish - just put your guesses in the comments. In the event of more than one person guessing correctly I will pull a name out of a hat - a leopard print trimmed turban naturally!

The competition is open to everyone - wherever you are in the world - and if it isn't your size, why not enter anyhow and if you win you can charm a girlfriend with it as a gift! Who wouldn't want to own a little piece of the glamour that is Gloria?!

Closing date for entries will be midnight UK time on the 31st March.

If you are not sure how to post a comment - email your guess to me at x