Friday, July 29, 2011

Forever Nigella: Cheesecake(?) Ice Cream

Nigella's Cheesecake Ice Cream

OK, so it doesn't really taste like cheesecake.  It's not tangy enough.  However, this is a really tasty vanilla ice cream that doesn't require an ice cream maker.  That's right.  I love not having to use my ice cream maker.  It's a pain to clean and it's turned my ice cream mixture into butter on more than one occasion, so I haven't used it in two years.  I should probably give it to Goodwill or something, but I keep thinking I'm going to need it.

Bottom line--if you are sans ice cream maker, you are not dependent on industrial ice cream.  Try this one; it's a lot cheaper than the quality store-bought stuff, too.

Cheesecake Ice Cream recipe at

Top row: CSA eggs make the custard a lovely yellow color; local cream in a glass bottle makes the world seem better
Bottom row: cream whipped to soft peaks; the final product, served with half a digestive biscuit

Thanks to Arthi at Soul Curry for hosting the seventh Forever Nigella Blogging Event.  The Official Forever Nigella page is at Maison Cupcake.


Gene Tierney
I leave you with the gorgeous Gene Tierney.  I really want this amazing swimsuit; maybe I can wear it while enjoying some not-really-cheesecake ice cream?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Traditional British Food: Heg Peg Dump

Heg Peg Dump

The heat this summer has made meal planning difficult. If anything even remotely sounds good, I don't want to have to turn on the stove or the oven to make it! So, I've gone out of my way to find recipes I haven't tried before and really really want to experience to force myself into the kitchen!

I recently purchased an out-of-print cookbook, Cattern Cakes and Lace: A Calendar of Feasts by Julia Jones and Barbara Deer. The book is organized by festivals which marked the traditional British ritual year. I turned to the July section and lo and behold, a recipe for Heg Peg Dump in honor of St. Margaret's Day, which was last Wednesday (July 20th). St. Margaret became the patron saint of childbirth (despite her virgin status) due to the story that she escaped unscathed from the belly of a dragon which was Satan in disguise. Hey, at least it's original.

Saint Margaret, Dressed as a Shepherdess by Francisco de Zurbarán
from Wikipedia

According to Cattern Cakes and Lace, celebrating St. Margaret's Day was most popular in Gloucestershire, where the people created a Heg Peg Dump: "Heg for hedgerow, Peg for Margaret, and Dump for dumpling!" (p. 87) I supposed my version should (in the interests of veracity) be called "Green Acres Market Peg Dump," but it lacks that certain something.
Beyond the dough, the plums and an apple, the only other ingredients for Heg Peg Dump are sugar and fresh breadcrumbs.

Heg Peg Dump

2 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons salt
¼ lb unsalted butter, frozen
approximately ½ cup cold water

1 lb plums, stoned and sliced
½ lb Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, quartered and sliced
¾ cup sugar
2 teaspoons fresh white breadcrumbs (not the kind from the store, they’ll be too dry)

You’ll want to go ahead and fill your steamer and put it over high heat so it can come to a boil.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder and salt. Grate the butter over the flour mixture and rub it in with your fingers until the mixture resembles sand. Add in enough water so that the dough starts to come together. You may not need the entire ½ cup, but you might also need more, depending on your weather.

Roll out 2/3 of the pastry to 1/8” thick on a floured board and line the pudding basin with it. Place a layer of apple slices at the bottom, topped with a layer of plums, ¼ cup sugar and a teaspoon of breadcrumbs. Repeat. I only had room for 2/3 of fruit, so I reserved the rest (along with the extra ¼ cup sugar and extra pastry) for a tart. (See below.)

Fold the overhanging pastry over the top of the filling and pinch to seal. You can use a bit of the leftover pastry to help cover the filling completely, if you need to. Cover the basin with crimped aluminum foil and parchment paper and tie with kitchen twine (see video at Steam 2 ½ hours, topping water off with boiling water, as needed, throughout the process. Keep an eye on the steamer and don’t let it boil dry.

Serves 8

Adapted from “Heg Peg Dump” in Julia Jones and Barbara Deer, Cattern Cakes and Lace: A Calendar of Feasts (London: Dorling Kindersley, 1987), 87.

For the tart:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Take the remaining 1/3 of the pastry and roll out in a circle, 1/8” thick on a floured board. Leaving a ½” border, top with apple slices, then plum slices. Sprinkle with ¼ cup sugar. Using a large spatula, transfer the tart to a baking sheet and bake 35 to 40 minutes, or until all the sugar has melted and the crust is a golden brown.

Serves 4

Download and print

Paul works to make the perfect pudding-steaming set-up.
Check out this video at BBC Good Food to learn how you can, too.

When a kitchen task (such as affixing foil to the top of a pudding basin with a tricksy little piece of kitchen twine) requires precision, get a detail-oriented, perfectionist engineer to do it. Just don't expect him to get it done quickly. I know if I need Paul to help me with chopping to give him three times longer than I would need to finish the task. The man can make beautifully diced carrots.  I, on the other hand, don't give a damn. Have I mentioned that I'm not a process person? I do, however, feel a great sense of satisfaction at steaming a pudding. The only work required is topping off the steamer pot with boiling water from the kettle. I always make sure a pudding is steaming around teatime, so I can just make a cup of tea when I go to top off the steamer. Ah, efficiency.

I also had enough dough and filling to make a tart with the leftovers. The tart is ridiculously simple, looks "rustic" (like, on purpose) and tastes caramelized. It's amazing how different cooking methods create different results with the same ingredients: the texture of the pudding is like a biscuit (an American one, not a cookie) with preserves on top. If you like a tart topping to your morning toast (like orange marmalade) you'll really like the flavor of the Heg Peg Dump.

Heg Peg Tart

In case you're wondering, I use an All-Clad Multipot (with the steamer insert) and a Mason Cash 1-quart pudding basin.

I'm also submitting this post to Monthly Mingle. Be sure to check it out!

Sukaina at Sips and Spoonfuls is hosting this month's Monthly Mingle.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Life This Week: July 25, 1938 and August Movie Recommendations

Charles Boyer and Hedy Lamarr in Algiers
The Movie of the Week (article contains spoilers) is Algiers, starring Charles Boyer, Hedy Lamarr and Sigrid Gurie.  It's a remake of Pépé le Moko, released in France in 1937 and starring French icon Jean Gabin.  According to IMDB, Walter Wanger, the producer of Algiers, tried to destroy all copies of Pépé le Moko.  We can thank the cinema gods he didn't succeed.  While definitely not a bad movie, Algiers pales in comparison to Pépé le Moko (available from the Criterion Collection in its original cut).  Pépé le Moko, not subjected to Hays Office prudery, is the more mature film and Jean Gabin works such layers and depths into his portrayal of the passionate, desperate gangster-in-hiding.   However, if, like most Americans in 1938, I hadn't seen Pépé le Moko, Algiers would have been an entertaining way to spend 96 minutes.  Plus, Hedy Lamarr is used to her best advantage as Gaby and Sigrid Gurie, as Pépé's girlfriend Inès, gets much better material to work with than in her previous film.

Jean Gabin and Mireille Balin in Pépé le Moko
Photo from Movie Diva

Also check out:


August 2011 Movie Suggestions

All times are CST, all movies are on TCM.

Monday, August 1, 2011
  • A Street Car Named Desire (8:30 p.m.) there are few films more deeply tragic than this one, but it's amazing
Wednesday, August 3, 2011
  • Now, Voyager (8:00 a.m.) ugly duckling Bette Davis gets a makeover and falls in love with yummy Paul Henreid 
  • The Letter (3:30 p.m.) unfaithful wife Bette Davis beats a murder rap but can't escape the victim's vengeful wife; Herbert Marshall plays Davis's loyal husband
  • Jezebel (9:00 p.m.) Bette Davis plays an unconventional Southern belle who goes after the affections of Henry Fonda
Thursday, August 4, 2011
  • A Tale of Two Cities (7:00 p.m.) Ronald Colman is wonderful as Sydney Carton; bring a hankie
Friday, August 5, 2011
  • The Postman Always Rings Twice (7:00 p.m.) Fairly faithful adaptation of novel; Lana Turner smolders
Poster from Wikipedia

Sunday, August 7, 2011
  • Lured (12:30 a.m.) Lucille Ball (showing her versatility as an actress) has to find her best friend's killer, even if it means exploring London's seedy underbelly; Douglas Sirk really knew how to use George Sanders in film; this is a good one
  • The Private Life of Henry VIII (6:30 a.m.) Charles Laughton plays the titular role to the hilt
  • The Canterville Ghost (11:15 p.m.) Charles Laughton is a ghost who can only enter heaven when one of his relatives performs a brave deed; unfortunately, they've all been cowards; will Robert Young be any different?
Monday, August 8, 2011
  • The Third Man (7:00 p.m.) one of the best thrillers: Joseph Cotten has to discover what really happened to his friend, Orson Welles; also stars Trevor Howard
  • Touch of Evil (11:15 p.m.) Director's cut of Orson Welles's noir masterpiece
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
  • Around the World in 80 Days (3:30 p.m.) David Niven heads the cast in this fun family film
Thursday, August 11, 2011
  • Ocean's Eleven (12:00 a.m.) the Rat Pack movie--dated, misogynist, stylish and fun all at the same time
Friday, August 12, 2011
  • It Happened One Night (10:30 p.m.) One of my favorite films--sparks fly when reporter Clark Gable meets runaway heiress Claudette Colbert
Saturday, August 13, 2011
  • Wife vs. Secretary (10:15 a.m.) Myrna Loy is the wife, Jean Harlow is the secretary, Clark Gable is the man caught in the middle; worth watching just for the cast!
  • The Shop Around the Corner (1:30 p.m.) this sweet romantic comedy tells the story of coworkers who can't stand each other in person, but are falling in love as pen pals
  • The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (7:00 p.m.) James Stewart rides his fame as "the man who shot Liberty Valance" all the way to the Senate, but who really killed the notorious outlaw?
Sunday, August 14, 2011
  • Carefree (5:00 a.m.) psychiatrist Fred Astaire treats Ginger Rogers through hypnosis (and dancing); also the Movie of the Week for August 22nd!
  • His Girl Friday  (7:00 p.m.) Cary Grant, Rosiland Russell, rapid-fire banter; highly-rated comedy, not my particular favorite, but it is amusing
  • The Awful Truth (8:45 p.m.) Cary Grant and Irene Dunne divorce but can't stay away from each other

TCM salutes Jean Gabin starting on August 18th; I'll be recording several films I haven't seen yet.
Portrait from Doctor Macro.

Thursday, August 18, 2011
  • Pépé le Moko (7:00 p.m.) Jean Gabin is Pepe le Moko; this is what gangster films should be like; however, I would check out the Criterion Collection DVD, which has the full 94-minute film; I believe the TCM version may be the edited American release
Friday, August 19, 2011
  • Touchez pas au grisbi (1:00 a.m.) Highly entertaining film with Jean Gabin as an aging mobster who plans to retire after one more job; this is a movie both Paul and I really like 
Saturday, August 20, 2011
  • Singin' in the Rain (1:15 a.m.) Does it need an introduction?  It's one of the best movie musicals ever made.
  • From Here to Eternity  (2:30 p.m.) You know you need to watch it for the Burt Lancaster/ Deborah Kerr beach make-out scene
Sunday, August 21, 2011
  • This is the Night (5:00 a.m.)
  • I'm No Angel (6:30 a.m.) I adore Mae West, who plays a circus performer in this pre-code gem; also stars Cary Grant
  • My Favorite Wife (8:00 a.m.) Cary Grant has missing-at-sea wife Irene Dunne declared legally dead so he can remarry; only problem is that she's still alive
  • The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer (9:30 a.m.) cute romantic comedy with Myrna Loy, Cary Grant, Shirley Temple and Rudy Vallee
  • The Philadelphia Story (2:30 p.m.) one of my most favorite films: Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, James Stewart and one of the best child actors ever, Virginia Weidler
  • North by Northwest (4:30 p.m.) classic Hitchcock mistaken-identity thriller starring Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint and James Mason; famous for train, crop duster and Mount Rushmore sequences; very stylish
  • Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (11:30 p.m.) In this charming film, Cary Grant and Myrna Loy discover that building a house isn't as easy as they think
Monday, August 22, 2011
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
  • Above Suspicion (5:00 a.m.) this is a surprising gem of a movie; married couple Joan Crawford and Fred MacMurray fight Nazis on their honeymoon
  • The Thief of Bagdad (8:45 p.m.) great technicolor adventure, definitely an inspiration for Aladdin
  • Casablanca (10:45 p.m.) Play it, Sam!
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
  • Dark Journey (3:30 a.m.) Conrad Veidt and Vivien Leigh fall in love during World War I; only problem is that they're spies
  • Gold Diggers of 1933 (1:45 p.m.)
  • Dames (8:15 p.m.) Busby Berkley musical; Joan Blondell and ZaSu Pitts are great fun
Thursday, August 25, 2011
  • The Killers (10:30 p.m.) an insurance investigator tries to piece together the puzzling murder of a former boxer
Lobby Card from Doctor Macro

Saturday, August 27, 2011
  • A Letter to Three Wives (7:00 p.m.) the town slut has run off with the husband of one of the three wives in the title, but which one?
  • Hangover Square (10:30 p.m.) Laird Cregar is a talented composer who has psychotic episodes, Linda Darnell treats him cruelly and George Sanders treats him (medically)
Sunday, August 28, 2011
  • Twentieth Century (3:30 p.m.) producer John Barrymore spends a train trip trying to convince actress Carole Lombard to return to the stage
  • To Be or Not to Be (5:15 p.m.) Jack Benny and Carole Lombard star in this Ernst Lubitsch comedy about Polish actors who get caught up in the resistance movement during the German invasion
  • My Man Godfrey (7:00 p.m.) After discovering William Powell while searching for a bum on a scavenger hunt, Carole Lombard hires him as her butler
  • Nothing Sacred (10:30 p.m.) reporter Fredric March makes "dying" Carole Lombard famous
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
  • Kiss Me Kate (10:30 p.m.) Sue me, but I love this ridiculous technicolor musical
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
  • Shanghai Express (5:30 p.m.) Marlene Dietrich is terribly well-dressed in this pre-code train film set in the midst of the civil war in China
Marlene Dietrich in Shanghai Express from Doctor Macro

In other news, Tivo and I parted ways yesterday.  We were going to have to exchange our Tivo box for one that actually works and the replacement was $50 more than just buying a new box, but we couldn't buy a new box because then we'd have to pay service for both boxes, even though the other one doesn't work.  On top of that, they said that they couldn't offer us a warranty on the replacement box.  It's a good thing Paul was talking to the customer service representative.  I was livid.  They have had the worst customer service of anyone throughout this whole process (our insurance and our cable provider have been wonderful in comparison).  We decided to pay off the rest of our contract (which is crap, but it was a contract) rather than have to buy a new box and continue to deal with Tivo.  Paul's now researching capture cards.  I'll let you know how that goes.  I'm back to recording via VCR for now.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Life This Week: July 18, 1938

Silver Fizzes look like a used bubble bath, but they taste pretty good.

Not to be defeated by Gin Juleps, I put on my game face and got ready to attempt another Hiram Walker Gin recipe: Silver Fizzes.  Boy, am I glad I don't buy eggs from battery chickens, because this drink calls for raw egg whites.  These two coupes represent just half a recipe (I was apprehensive about committing two jiggers of gin to something that could be a complete disaster).  I used:

  • the juice of a lemon
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 tablespoon of powdered sugar
  • 1 jigger of gin  
It gets really thick and viscous and difficult to pour out of the shaker.  I divided the mixture between the two glasses and topped with soda (which comes out of my very own siphon!).  The drink feels like drinking bubble bath, but is surprisingly good and quite possibly a more enjoyable way of using up leftover egg whites than making a meringue, or (shudder) an egg white omelet.  I have to admit being rather prejudiced toward the egg yolk.

There's also an article about the influence of the Hays Office on films.  The best of the listed films (that I've seen) are:

Wings of the Morning (1937), the first British technicolor film, starring Annabella and Henry Fonda (and Leslie Banks in a small part).  It's just your average horse-racing, cross-dressing romantic comedy. (Plus gorgeous color shots of Ireland and London.)

Starring Greta Garbo and John Gilbert (in their last pairing), Queen Christina tells the story of a rebellious Swedish queen (Garbo) who falls in love with a Spanish envoy (Gilbert) after he unwittingly offers to share a room with her in a crowded inn--she's dressed as a man.  Is a pattern emerging?  No romantic comedy, Queen Christina is one of the best films ever made.

Fredric March plays Robert Browning opposite Norma Shearer as Elizabeth Barrett.  This film tells the story of their courtship and their determination to have a life together despite Elizabeth's illness and overbearing and icky father, played by Charles Laughton.

Bette Davis (in an early publicity photo, above) plays the unsympathetic role of Mildred in Of Human Bondage (1934), but she knocks it out of the park, constantly torturing Leslie Howard's Philip Carey.  Despite skipping all of Philip's formative years, Of Human Bondage is an excellent adaptation of the Maugham novel.  (I'd still recommend reading the book, though.)  Leslie Howard was made to play Philip Carey.  I also think he'd have been a smashing Lord Peter Wimsey, by the way.

Fun items:

Monday, July 18, 2011

Dorothy Lamour's Strawberry Ice Cream

The ice cream is a very delicate, Laura Ashley pink.

I thought I would just post this little shout-out to Jenny at Silver Screen Suppers, who posted the recipe for Dorothy Lamour's Strawberry Ice Cream this month.

A beautiful publicity shot of Dorothy Lamour (from Doctor Macro)

Ms. Lamour seems to think it only takes 15 minutes to freeze ice cream, but Jenny and I agree that it takes a bit longer.  Just to test this theory, the photo from above was taken two hours after the mixture went into the freezer.  Not that it wasn't fabulously tasty, but it was still just really cold strawberry whipped cream.  The next night, though, after the ice cream had a chance to "ripen," it was so very yummy.  I didn't even get a chance to take a photo.  It looked like proper ice cream at that point.

I only had enough strawberries left to make 1/3 recipe.  After adding the cream and whipping to medium-ish peaks (not soft, not firm, just right), I needed a quart-sized container for it, so be prepared if you need to store an entire recipe!

If you can still find strawberries where you are, run out and get some and make this ice cream and then eat it while watching one of the Road movies.  Or go the Laura Ashley route and eat between rounds of croquet on the lawn.
Also be sure to stop by Jenny's other site where she's cooking a Vincent Price meal a week: Vincentennial Cookblog.  As you can imagine, it's right up my alley.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Traditional British Food: Chicken and Mushroom Pie

I finally got to use my pie bird!

This is the second Chicken and Mushroom Pie recipe I've posted.  Is it possible to have too many Chicken and Mushroom Pie recipes?  I think not.  This recipe serves six, so I divided it up into three portions so the pie could be baked fresh every time.  I actually think it was better after the flavors in the filling got to meld in the refrigerator!

Chicken and Mushroom Pie

If you happen to need a pastry recipe:
Short Crust Pastry

Since the original recipe for Chicken and Mushroom Pie came from a lovely little book called Favourite Dorset Recipes, I want to tell you about a new-to-me television show that takes place in Dorset: Escape to River Cottage.  The series is hosted by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, who decided to leave life in London for a small farm in Dorset.  I like how honest he is about the realities of growing one's own food and raising livestock.  I like that he admits he's become attached to his pigs, but doesn't lose sight of the reason he bought them in the first place.  He then goes on to make the most wonderful things one could ever imagine from pork--a fitting end for his first year as a small-holder.  I've also read Fearnley-Whittingstall's River Cottage Cookbook, which is definitely worth checking out.

Escape to River Cottage isn't available on DVD in the US, but you can download episodes from Amazon.

In other news, my TiVo is now refusing to pause live television and is randomly recording things, even though I turned off the "suggestions" almost as soon as I got it.  I turned it on and it was in the middle of recording something called Swamp People!  So--TiVo is going to get a call today, preferably from Paul because I don't want to deal with them anymore.

And my Netflix subscription is now $23.98.  So, Paul and I have a lot of thinking to do about our entertainment expenses.  Grrr.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Life This Week: July 11, 1938

Shirley Temple is on the cover of this issue looking very cute in her overalls in a wheat field in Kansas.  I wanted to recreate this photo for the blog, but I actually don't know anyone with a wheat field.  Amazing, isn't it, considering most of the state is blanketed with industrial farms?  I'm totally considering buying a pair of overalls now, though.

I also love the article about Britons outdoors, especially the coverage of the Duchess of Kent's hats at ascot.

Find out how "Sweden has found the way to make capitalism serve the people" in an article about the country.

The photos accompanying "Mothers and Daughters Wear the Same Clothes" are great examples of casual '30s attire.

This article, "Life Goes to a Party to Celebrate the End of Trolly Transportation in Tacoma, Wash." makes me sad.  A lot of towns, including Wichita, lost a great form of public transportation when trolly lines were removed and trolly cars were replaced with buses.

Just in time for Bastille Day, the Movie of the Week is Marie Antoinette:
Poster from Doctor Macro

Portrait of Norma Shearer from Doctor Macro

English-speakers may claim Marie Antoinette said, "Let them eat cake," but the literal translation from the French is "brioche." To be fair, there's no evidence the queen ever made this suggestion! However, a viewing of Marie Antoinette seemed like the perfect time to try out a recipe for bread-machine brioche I've been aching to try for a while now.  There's also a wonderfully photo-heavy tutorial.  The only change I made was leaving out the sugar topping, because I thought I had sanding sugar but I couldn't find it.  The bread is more than delicious enough without it.  I also froze the second loaf before its final rise, so that I wouldn't have a lot of stale brioche on my hands.  In the handy tips department, return the second half of dough to the refrigerator while you braid the first half.  It was so warm in the kitchen that it started to get melty and oily from the butter and I had to stick it back in the fridge to firm up.  I also used my Silpat to form the dough, which made things easy-peasy.  Oh, and be sure to add the extra egg yolk.  My CSA eggs made the dough so yellow it looked (and felt) like Play-Dough, which was awesome.

Because you're wondering, I'll tell you that the brioche tastes at least as good as it looks, if I do say so myself.  I think it might be better than some of the brioche we ate while in Paris...

Edited 7/13/11:
On Laura's suggestion, I'm submitting this post to YeastSpotting.  Thanks, Laura! 

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Life This Week: July 4, 1938

I hope my American and Canadian readers had lovely long weekends!

Promotional photo of Danielle Darrieux for The Rage of Paris from Doctor Macro

First off, this issue of Life has a write-up on French actress Danielle Darrieux (whom you may know from classics such as The Earrings of Madame de... and Les Demoiselles de Rochefort), who, in 1938, had just arrived in America... film The Rage of Paris, which is also the Movie of the Week.  You might not want to read the article if you haven't seen the movie, because it definitely contains spoilers!  Shame on you, Life!  However, The Rage of Paris is a romantic comedy, so you could probably figure out what happens anyway.  The Rage of Paris is a solid example of the 30s romantic comedy genre.  It's escapist fun with glamorous clothes and sets and a rather far-fetched plot.  Danielle Darrieux and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. are both charming and have great chemistry.  Character actors Helen Broderick, Mischa Auer and Harry Davenport add to the fun.  The Rage of Paris is available on DVD, or you can watch it at the Internet Archive.*

Publicity still of Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. and Danielle Darrieux

To go with The Rage of Paris, what could be better than a salad that's on the menu in most of the bistros of that fair city?  I just adore salade aux lardons (also called salade lyonnaise) with its bacony vinaigrette.  I use the recipe from BBC Good Food.  I just happened to have iceberg, so I used that.  Also, there's no reason to buy pre-cut "lardons."  Just snip the bacon into the skillet with a pair of kitchen shears.  One bit of advice: pick a high-quality red wine vinegar.  Nothing's worse than a cheap one!