Monday, January 31, 2011

The King's Speech

I finally got to see The King's Speech Saturday and it was just amazing! I can't recommend it highly enough--it's definitely worth the $10. Colin Firth, Helena Bonham Carter and Geoffrey Rush are fabulous and the entire cast is outstanding. The actors include: Anthony Andrews, David Bamber, Claire Bloom, Jennifer Ehle, Michael Gambon, Derek Jacobi, Guy Pearce, and Timothy Spall. I kept leaning over to Paul and whispering, "It's Lizzie!" or "It's Mr. Collins!" or "It's Sir Percy!" I was very excited, to say the least. You should just go see it.

We actually convinced a few friends to go with us and everyone came back to the house for tea and cake. They were also forced to admire my collection of coronation commemorative pieces. Appropriately enough, I have a George VI (and Elizabeth) egg cup that I found here in Wichita:

Here's a photo of the tea table (more about the cake next Monday):

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Traditional British Food: Roast Chicken

This roast chicken recipe makes not only a tasty chicken, but also some of the yummiest roast potatoes ever.  The best part?  The whole thing is really easy.  You'll notice we just left the neck on.  We don't eat it, but it goes in the bag of stock parts.  If the chicken looks funny to you, it's because the breast is really small.  It's from our farm share--this chickie got to run around outside. Use 3/4 pounds of potatoes per person.  However, if you want to make a chicken pot pie with leftovers (stay tuned for Vintage Recipe Thursday), go ahead and cook enough potatoes for that, as well, and store the extras in the refrigerator.  You'll need about 3/4 lb for two people for the chicken pie. Roast Chicken Serve with a green vegetable, like Buttery Cabbage (in photo below), Perfect Steamed Broccoli*, Buttered Brussels Sprouts with Bacon, or Lemon Butter Green Beans.

Binnie Hale, image from Internet Archive

Binnie Hale performed on the West End in the 1920s (she was in No, No, Nanette), recorded popular music and starred in a handful of films in the 1930s, playing characters with lots of spunk.

As far as I know, the only Binnie Hale film on DVD is The Phantom Light, on the compilation DVD, Classic British Thrillers.  The Phantom Light is a fun (if rather unremarkable) movie co-starring Gordon Harker and directed by Michael Powell.  Hyde Park Corner, another fun-if-rather-unremarkable film co-starring Gordon Harker, is available on Netflix Watch Instantly.  The best film I was able to find is Love From a Stranger, available below from Internet Archive, where Binnie Hale plays best friend to Ann Harding's character, who has married a man (Basil Rathbone) with a dark past.

"Spread a Little Happiness"-- The second track on the playlist has better sound, despite the scratches.  The first track sounds like it was recorded underwater.

"A Nice Cup of Tea"

"Who" (with Jack Buchanan)

"As Time Goes By"

*Perfect Steamed Broccoli

Serves 2

1 broccoli crown
1 tablespoon butter
salt & pepper

Break up the broccoli crown into florets and steam 5 minutes.  Meanwhile, melt the butter over low heat, season to taste with salt and pepper.  Pour over the steamed broccoli.

Adapted from this recipe.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Vintage Recipe Thursday: This Side of Paradise Pudding

So, I've never actually made Lemon Jell-O before (just Cherry and only once by myself).  My first thought when I poured the boiling water over it was, "This smells exactly like the lemon-scented Liddle Kiddle."  That scared me a bit.  Basically, this dessert is a ménage-a-trois (I'm not going to say orgy, because that happened in the 1960s) of industrial foods.  First off, the lemon Jell-O is artificially flavored.  Secondly, did you hear about the bees who turned red from feeding at a maraschino cherry factory?  Thirdly, the macaroons I used are from (gasp!) Wal-Mart.  Am I proud?  No, but I feel a bit better because I used homemade marshmallows and  I do like that the recipe uses actual whipped cream.  The Jell-O recipe booklet I have from the '60s suggests using Dream Whip in similar recipes and the recipes on the Jell-O website recommend Cool Whip, which is even less of a "real food" than Dream Whip, if you can imagine.

Shockingly, This Side of Paradise Pudding is really tasty.  Paul and I were flabbergasted.  It's like really amazing lemon chiffon pie filling.  This combination of flavors might deserve a "real food" make-over.  Although, I think it's really difficult to be cheerfully vulgar with "unsweetened Montmorency dried cherries."

I know it's just supposed to be "Paradise Pudding," but I have a lamentable desire to add literary references whenever possible, so now it's "This Side of Paradise Pudding."  My apologies to F. Scott Fitzgerald.

left: cover of the December 1927 issue of People's Home Journal
right:original Paradise Pudding recipe

This Side of Paradise Pudding

1 package lemon Jell-O
1 pint boiling water
¼ cup sugar
¼ teaspoon fine-grained salt
½ cup blanched almonds
1 ½ cups marshmallows, cut into ¼” cubes
12 maraschino cherries, chopped
6 macaroons, crushed
1 cup heavy cream, whipped to stiff peaks

Pour the Jell-O into a large mixing bowl and cover with boiling water. Stir, then leave to cool off a few minutes before covering and refrigerating. Refrigerate the gelatin for 1 hour 15 minutes to 1 hour and 30 minutes, or until cooled and slightly thickened, about the consistency of unbeaten egg whites.

Take the gelatin out of the refrigerator, add the sugar and salt, and beat until thickened and opaque and at least doubled in volume. Carefully stir in the almonds, marshmallows, maraschino cherries and macaroon crumbs. Fold in the whipped cream.

Pour mixture into a 2-quart mold (I used a 9”x5”x3” loaf pan.) If you’re using a smooth-sided mold, you can line it with plastic wrap to ease unmolding, if you like. Cover the top of the mold with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 5 hours.

To unmold, dip the mold in warm water (if you haven’t lined it with plastic wrap), place your serving dish, upside down, over the top of the mold and turn both over as a unit. Remove the mold and, if you want, decorate the pudding with the rest of the jar of maraschino cherries.

Serves 8

Adapted from “Through the Menu with Jell-O” ad from December 1927 issue of People’s Home Journal.

Download and Print


Last week, I posted some hit songs from 1928, so I thought I would suggest a movie this week.  Since the magazine is from 1927, I watched one of the top earners of that year: It, starring Clara Bow, who is amazingly cute despite her crazy hair.  The movie is entertaining and not just in a "good for a silent film" way.  Clara Bow plays Betty Lou, a salesgirl at a department store who helps support a sick friend, Molly, and Molly's baby.  While the movie is mostly romantic comedy fluff, in a couple scenes Molly and Betty Lou have to fight two nosy welfare workers who want to take Molly's baby away because Molly doesn't have a job (because she's sick!) or a husband.  It's an interesting commentary on the not-so-carefree side of the decade, but the film doesn't delve too deeply into serious social issues before Betty Lou is off to join a yachting party.  At least the clothes are fabulous.

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Daring Bakers' Challenge: January 2011

The January 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Astheroshe of the blog accro. She chose to challenge everyone to make a Biscuit Joconde Imprime to wrap around an Entremets dessert.  It's a wonderful idea and the finished product can be quite beautiful.  This is, it can be quite beautiful if someone else makes it.  This is what happened at my house (ick!  I need to clean my oven.):

Lovely, isn't it, all curled up on the oven door?  I tried not to scream too loudly, because the landlords were next door.  I'd love to say that I picked myself up, dusted myself off and started all over again*, but I didn't try the joconde imprime again because I was too heartbroken and all my dishes were dirty.  I did go ahead and make This Side of Paradise Pudding and a roast chicken.  I shouldn't have waited until the last minute!  I actually think what I did would have turned out all right (it was nice and flexible when I pulled it off the oven, but had, unfortunately, stuck to itself).  I just should have removed more of the décor paste so that more of the joconde sponge would have shown through.  It was really tasty, though.  I used ground hazelnuts in the sponge and I made the cocoa version of the paste.  Paul and I ate part of it, even though it touched the oven.

To top it all off, the chocolate cake I was going to use as one of the entremet layers along with the This Side of Paradise Pudding and a pistachio Bavarian cream (Spumoni-inspired layers) fell apart as well.  I don't know what my problem was other than I was rather apprehensive about attempting the whole thing.  My apologies to Astheroshe, to whom I tip my hat for this month's comprehensive instructions and inspired challenge.  I'll try again when I've recovered.

I should have

  • worn an apron. (I was covered in cocoa powder.)
  • baked this at my parents' house. (They have a big Edwardian kitchen, I have a tiny 1920s kitchen.)
  • baked this at my parents' house. (My dad would have done something amazing with the décor paste.  I actually think this whole daring thing is more up his alley than mine.  To quote my great-grandma, I'm a "lazy cook.")

Well, here's hoping next month is easier for me!

*The song is in the first video, the dance in the second.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Vintage Recipe Thursday: "Hurry Up Hot Breads"

I was ridiculously excited about finding this old Crisco ad from 1928. Vegetable shortening is an hydrogenated industrial fat, i.e. not a "real" food, so I try not to use it. However, this is a really cute ad (click to enlarge). No worries, though. It's easy to replace Crisco with any saturated fat because that's what it's a fake version of. In these recipes, I just used softened butter.

I baked both the Golden Muffins and the French Coffee Cake. Both were really easy and came out well. To reheat, you can wrap in foil and bake 20 minutes at 300 degrees Fahrenheit. I definitely recommend butter and marmalade (I'm loving Mackays The Dundee Orange Marmalade that I get at World Market) on warm Golden Muffins. You'll notice that the coffee cake isn't as sweet as you would expect, but it makes a nice change.

Coziness: afternoon tea and an interlibrary loan book set in Yorkshire

Golden Muffins

¼ cup (2 ounces) softened unsalted butter
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
5 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup milk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a standard 12-cup muffin tin and set aside.

Cream butter and 1/3 cup sugar. Add eggs and mix well. Add dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt) alternately with milk, stirring well.

Fill each muffin well 2/3-full with batter. Bake in the middle of the oven 15 to 20 minutes until nicely browned.

Enjoy warm (with butter and jam, if desired).

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French Coffee Cake

¼ cup (2 ounces) softened unsalted butter
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
5 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup milk

2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup blanched almonds

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cream butter and 1/3 cup sugar. Add eggs and mix well. Add dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt) alternately with milk, stirring well.

Divide batter between two 8"-round cake tins. Even out the batter with an offset spatula.

Combine 2 tablespoons sugar with cinnamon and sprinkle over dough. Top with almonds and bake in the middle of the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until nicely browned. Slice each cake into quarters and enjoy warm.

Download and print

A selection of songs from 1928, from Internet Archive:

"You're the Cream in My Coffee" (Ambassadors Orchestra feat. Frank Sylvano, 1928)

"Thou Swell" (Ben Selvin Orchestra, 1928)

"Let's Misbehave" (Irene Bordoni*, 1928)

"Let's Do It" (Bill Wirges Orchestra, 1928)

"Love Dreams" (Albert Brunnies Big Band, 1928)

"Among My Souvenirs" (Dobbri Orchestra, 1928)

"Too Busy" (Charlie Straight Orchestra, 1928)

"Doin' Things" (Joe Venuti and Eddie Lang, 1928)

"'Taint So Honey, 'Taint So" (Bing Crosby, 1928)

I bought my Crisco ad from Public Market Antiques at the Oklahoma City Farmers Public Market. I also found this card of bobby pins from the (I presume) 1940s:

*More about Irene Bordoni here.

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Sunday, January 16, 2011


This recipe is for Rebecca, who has both a stash of peaches in the freezer and a new KitchenAid mixer.  (I'm seething with envy on both counts.)

Yeah, it doesn't look the best (which is why I didn't blog about it when I made it) but it tastes really really good.  And what is more, it's from the Mary Poppins cookbook.  I read both Mary Poppins and Mary Poppins Comes Back last year and had to have the cookbook!
Topsy Turvy Cake

Speaking of Topsy-Turvy...

"Three Little Maids from School" from Topsy-Turvy (Mike Leigh, 1999)

The film Topsy-Turvy chronicles the efforts of Arthur Sullivan and W.S. Gilbert to write The Mikado.  If you haven't seen the operetta, the 1939 film is available on DVD, but if you get the chance to see it live, go for it!  Gilbert and Sullivan operettas are ridiculous (and often extremely politically incorrect) but a lot of fun.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Vintage Recipe Thursday: Simple Sugar Cookies

Simple Sugar Cookies
These are the kind of sugar cookie that keeps really well in a cookie jar, because you don't eat them hot from the oven.  After they've cooled, they're crisp and crunchy, which makes for a nice change.  They're also unfrosted, which means even less work and the batch makes 60 cookies, so I don't have to worry about making cookies very often.  Plus, the dough freezes really easily.  Freezing instructions are included with the recipe.

Saturday, January 8, 2011


Sachertorte is the quintessential Viennese torte.  The Hotel Sacher and Demel (a Viennese bakery and kaffeehaus) fought a 7-year legal battle to determine who would get to use the phrase "Die Echte" ("The Original") on their menu entry for Sachertorte.  It all began in 1832 when a young Franz Sacher baked the cake for Prince Klemens von Metternich.  It was a hit and Sacher took the recipe with him to his new position at Dehne, which was the emperor's official bakery in Vienna.  Sacher eventually left Dehne to open a gourmet grocer, where he sold his Sachertorte.  In later years, Sacher's son, Eduard, opened the Hotel Sacher and Dehne was purchased by Christoph Demel and renamed.  After World War II, the Hotel Sacher sued Demel for the right to use the phrase "die echte" and won.*

My recipe comes mostly from Lilly Joss Reich's The Viennese Pastry Cookbook with Schlagobers (sweetened whipped cream) and Chocolate Glaze recipes from Rick Rodgers's Kaffeehaus.  Rodgers writes that Metternich wanted a cake that was the opposite of the "light, fluffy, creamy 'feminine'" cakes popular at the time, so Sacher created a "dryer, more compact 'masculine' cake."*  Lilly Joss Reich's recipe adds an extra egg white, which she argues keeps the cake more moist.  Extra egg white or not, it is imperative to eat Sachertorte with Schlagobers.

Read about the contest here.  If you bake your own Sachertorte, please submit your comment (on this post) by 11:59 p.m. CST Monday, January 31, 2011.  Good luck!


Recipe notes:
  • Because this recipe contains no baking powder, all that stands between your Sachertorte and a large chocolate cheesecake crust is the air that you beat into the egg whites.  Make sure they are sufficiently stiff and that you fold, not stir, them into the rest of the batter.
  • Even though snobs (and I mean people who are just as snobby as I am, but in different ways) say that chocolate chips are inferior to bars of chocolate, I don't see them volunteering to clean all the little bits of chocolate off my counter.  So, I use chocolate chips, but I use good ones like Guittard or Ghirardelli.  They're tasty and not waxy.  I used the 60% cacao  Ghirardelli chips in this recipe, not the 72% cacao Guittard, mostly because that's what they had at World Market (my favorite chain store ever).
  • About preserves: I think it's best to spend a little extra time and money to get a brand that does not use high-fructose corn syrup.  I know there are a lot of people who will argue sugar is sugar, but I think that using high-fructose corn syrup (which is much cheaper) shows an appalling lack of concern for the quality of the final product--but that's just me, speaking from my soap box.
  • Light or gold rums will work best for the apricot glaze.  Don't use spiced rum!  I'm no expert on rums, so I just used the Bacardi Superior that has been in our fridge for an embarrassingly long time.
  • The chocolate glaze will take forever to heat from 220 degrees to 234 degrees.  Don't panic, don't turn up the heat.  Just be patient!
  • In Kaffeehaus, Rick Rodgers suggests scraping the excess chocolate glaze that is left on the baking sheet, refrigerate it and then use it (with milk) to make hot chocolate.
  • I also think it's imperative to listen to Viennese waltzes while baking (and eating) Sachertorte.

*Rick Rodgers, "The Story Behind Sachertorte," in Kaffeehaus (New York: Clarkson Potter, 2002), 60-61.

Sachertorte on FoodistaSachertorte

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Vintage Recipe Thursday: More From Bettina

The Joy of Desserts blog has a weekly round-up of vintage recipes and I thought that it would be a good way to help me blog on a regular basis!  (Along with the contest, of course--the 2nd contest recipe will arrive Saturday.)  I love all things vintage and cook from old recipes all the time, so a once-a-week posting shouldn't be too difficult!

This easy meal comes from one of my favorite old cookbooks: A Thousand Ways to Please a Husband.  The cranberry relish is my parents' recipe, though.  You'll have to ask my mom about it!  Oh, and the original menu called for a Baked Potato, but I had sweet potatoes from my CSA, so I used those instead.  Just pierce them a few times with a fork, wrap with tin foil and bake at 350 for about an hour.  This is super-convenient because both the cornbread and the ham bake at the same temperature.
Clockwise from top left: Corn Bread, Baked Sweet Potato, Baked Ham, Cranberry Relish

Bettina’s Baked Ham and Corn Bread


Film recommendation:

A Matter of Life and Death (Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, 1946)

I'll admit it--the reason I rented this film from Netflix was that I was browsing David Niven movies and hadn't seen this one.  If I had known it also starred Kim Hunter ("Stella" from A Streetcar Named Desire, which is another must-see film) and Roger Livesey (I've talked about him before), I would have rented it earlier.  The premise sounds really lame--a pilot cheats death and then has to prove to heaven that he deserves to remain on Earth because he's fallen in love.  Don't let that (or the not-great special effects) stop you from watching this film.  It's charming and Roger Livesey is magnificent as the doctor in an English village who looks after David Niven's character.  Powell and Pressburger's script gracefully straddles the line between romantic, yet still realistic, war-wound-recovery story and romantic fantasy.  Is the action fueled by an accounting error in heaven or is the accounting error in heaven simply a manifestation of neurological trauma?

If you're looking for a sweet but not saccharine classic film, this one's for you.

It also makes me want to move to an English village where Roger Livesey is the village doctor, but honestly, it doesn't take encouragement from a film to make me want to move to an English village!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

In Season: January

From Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management (via Google Books):

Related recipes:


London Fog Soup

Main Dishes
Artichoke, Bacon and Cheddar Quiche
Baked Ham
Beef Shepherd's Pie with Cheddar Mashed Potatoes
Boiled Beef with Carrots and Dumplings
Cheater's Bangers and Mash
Chicken Velouté Crêpes
Lamb Chops with Blackcurrant Sauce
Lancashire Chicken Salad
Norfolk Plough Pudding
Roast Beef with Cabernet Gravy
Roast Beef with Yorkshire Pudding
Shrimp Salad Sandwiches

Buttered Brussels Sprouts with Bacon
Buttery Cabbage

Desserts, Sweets, Baked Goods
Apple Dumplings
Bate's Case Banbury Cakes
Bread and Butter Pudding
Cable Cakes
Käse Kuchen
Kerry Apple Cake
Lincolnshire Plum Bread
Mincemeat Tarts
Pears Baked in Red Wine
Streusel Coffee Cake
Three Plum Pie


Slice of Apfelkuchen
Welcome to the first event in the Viennese Pastry Challenge!  Even though its name translates to "Apple Cake," this Apfelkuchen is a rustic tart with a sweet, lemony shortcrust pastry.  You'll want to use a crunchy, flavorful apple for this recipe--I used Honeycrisp apples for my Apfelkuchen, but you can use whichever variety you want (as long as it's not something tasteless like Red Delicious).  Obviously, you could have Apfelkuchen for dessert or a snack, but I think it works particularly well for breakfast because of the high fruit to pastry ratio.

A few recipe notes:

  • I used almonds in my Apfelkuchen, but the original recipe calls for either almonds or walnuts.  It's up to you!
  • I bought both my pastry blender and bench scraper from Williams-Sonoma.  Be sure to buy a pastry blender that has sturdy blades or it will be worthless.  Here's a link to the one I have. 
  • Be sure to use a high-quality unsalted butter.  Don't use margarine!  Remember that the quality of the ingredients is very important and will affect the taste of the final product.  
  • If you only use one organic ingredient for this recipe, make it the lemon, because you will be using the zest, which is where most of the pesticides in conventionally grown lemons reside.  Eeew.
  • Wondering what to do with your leftover egg white?  We'll be using it in the next event!  By the way, my wonderful eggs come from Morning Harvest Farm.

First layer of apples
The finished Apfelkuchen

Read about the contest here.  If you bake your own Apfelkuchen, please submit your comment (on this post) by 11:59 p.m. CST Monday, January 31, 2011.  Good luck!

Also, "From Vienna: The New Year's Celebration 2011" on Great Performances airs tonight on PBS.

Gold Diggers of 1933

I posted a video from this film previously (Ginger Rogers's "We're in the Money" number) but I had yet to see the film in its entirety.  I highly recommend it for its fascinating mix of licentiousness (ah, pre-Code Hollywood) and social consciousness (evidently the Warner brothers were FDR supporters*).  In addition, you absolutely have to watch it for the Busby Berkeley production numbers.

Although tame by today's standards, Gold Diggers is risqué in comparison with films that would be forced to adhere to the Hays Code only a year later.  This clip, "Pettin' in the Park," has several code violations including nudity in silhouette (horrors!).  Film trivia alert: the lascivious "baby" is Billy Barty, the unlucky Bible salesman in Foul Play.

Gold Diggers of 1933 is no mere fluff piece.  Although following most of the conventions of musical comedy, the film comments explicitly on the hunger, unemployment and alienation caused by the Great Depression, especially in the "Remember My Forgotten Man" number.

*Special Feature:"FDR's New Deal...Broadway Bound"