Monday, October 31, 2011

Feasts and Festivals: Halloween

According to Cattern Cakes and Lace, a cookbook I couldn't live without, Mash of Nine Sorts is a quintessential Halloween dish and was even used to determine who would be married next--the hostess's wedding ring was hidden in the Mash and whoever found it was next to be married. I don't relish the thought of cleaning mashed root vegetables (and cheese!) out of a diamond setting, so I skipped this part!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Dinner and a Movie: The Tomb of Ligeia

Roast Chicken with Bread Sauce

For the chicken:
1 chicken
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
8 rashers bacon

For the bread sauce:
1 cup milk
1/4 onion
8 cloves
15 peppercorns
1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter, divided
1 tablespoon cream

Preheat oven to 350˚ Fahrenheit.

Dry off the chicken and season the inside with 1 teaspoon salt and a generous amount of pepper. Place the chicken in roasting pan (breast side up) and rub the skin of the top of the chicken with the softened butter. Season skin with salt and pepper. Roll each piece of bacon up and place them around the chicken. Place roasting pan in the middle of the oven and roast 30 minutes.

Remove chicken from oven and baste with bacon grease and chicken juices. (If you're making baked potatoes to go with your dinner, you can put them in now.) Return roasting pan to oven for another 30 minutes, then baste again and roast another 30 minutes (1 1/2 hours total).

During last 30 minutes of roasting time, start on the bread sauce. Put the milk, onion, cloves, grating of nutmeg and peppercorns in a saucepan and cook over lowest heat. After the chicken has been in the oven for an hour and a half (total), check to make sure it's cooked through by piercing the thickest part of the thigh with a sharp knife. The juices shouldn't be pink. When chicken is finished, remove to a carving board to rest while you finish the bread sauce.

Strain milk into a separate container and discard the onion, cloves and peppercorns. Set aside. Wipe out saucepan and add the breadcrumbs, 1 tablespoon of the butter and salt and stir together over medium heat. When the butter melts, stir in the cream and the rest of the butter and continue to cook until the breadcrumbs are softened. Serve with the carved chicken and bacon.

Serves 6-8

Adapted from "Roast Chicken with Bread Sauce" in Mary and Vincent Price, A Treasury of Great Recipes (Ampersand Press, Inc., 1965), 184.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Guest Post at Nifty Thrifty Things

Vanessa at Nifty Thrifty Things is going to be in Houston for an extended visit and asked her readers to help keep her blog going while she's out of town. I'm really happy to have today's guest post--it's all about three upcoming holidays: Halloween, Guy Fawkes Day/Bonfire Night and Stir-up Sunday. Please stop by and check it out!

Also, we've got this week's Baroque music:

Barbara Strozzi
"Sino alla morte"(couldn't find the recommended piece, but this one's lovely)

"Correa nel seno amato"

"From Rosy Bowers"
"The Plaint"

Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Marguerite d'Anjou Pear Cake

Marguerite d'Anjou Pear Cake

1 1/2 lbs soft pears, peeled, cored and sliced into 1/2"-3/4" chunks
juice and zest of 1/2 lemon
1 tablespoon brandy
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon sugar
3 egg whites or 2 whole eggs, beaten

Preheat oven to 350˚ Fahrenheit. Line the bottom of a 9"-round springform pan with parchment paper, then grease the bottom and sides of the pan. Set on a baking sheet and set aside.

In a large bowl, stir together the pear chunks, lemon zest and juice and brandy. Set aside.

Over medium heat in a large saucepan, melt the butter, being careful not to let it brown. Remove from the heat and stir in the flour, baking powder and sugar. Gradually stir in the egg whites (or two whole eggs). Fold in the pears and any accumulated juices then pour batter in the prepared cake tin. Bake in the middle of the oven for 50 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.

Cool the cake in its tin for a few minutes, then turn out and serve warm.

Serves 6

Adapted from "Anjou Pear Cake" in BBC Good Food: Cakes iPhone app.

Print at
Print at Food52

Monday, October 24, 2011

Life This Week: October 24, 1938

This week's Movie of the Week is the Tyrone Power vehicle Suez. It costars frequent love-interest Loretta Young and Annabella, who would become the first Mrs. Tyrone Power. It seems I say this a lot, but like many other films made in 1938, this isn't a great film, but it is mildly entertaining. I wasn't terribly impressed, but I also didn't feel like it was an hour-and-a-half of my life I couldn't get back. Suez is supposed to be the true story of Ferdinand de Lesseps, but I couldn't possibly vouch for the veracity of the film, since it's not a period in time I've studied at any length. We talked a bit about Napoleon III in a couple of my French literature classes, but really only to provide context for Zola's Le Ventre de Paris. Anyway, you don't want to hear about my French studies! Bottom line: Tyrone Power is very handsome, Loretta Young and Annabella are very pretty and "Egypt" is very exotic. Good enough for me.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Week-in-Review and More Dallas Photos

I've upgraded to flickr pro. We'll see how that goes, but it made sense since it's the easiest way to get photos from my computer (where I hook up my camera and iPhone) and Paul's computer (where the Photoshop is) and I like having a backup of my photos! I'll let you know how it goes.

The rest of my Dallas photos are up! They're not edited or anything, but I think it's kind of fun to see people's unedited lives every once in a while. :-)

My favorite Dallas photo:
Paul is just trying to eat his Chick-Fil-A in the food court at Northpark Center and I have to take a photo. This one makes me laugh every time. We love each other. Really.

Does anyone else feel like the last two weeks have been a blur? We were in Texas last weekend and my parents came to visit this weekend. We found some great antique-y things and ate cake--I'll post more about both later! Here's what was on the blog this week:

Life This Week: October 17, 1938
North by Northwest Guest Post
Dinner and a Movie: The Pit and the Pendulum

On the menu for today: checking all the e-mail that has piled up in my inbox over the past fortnight. Scary! One of my major failings is being consistently behind in checking e-mail, facebook, twitter, etc. I always laugh when I hear life coaches on TV advise people to lessen their stress by only checking their e-mail a couple of times a day! I obviously don't have that problem... Ah, technology. It's a love-hate thing.

I hope all of you are enjoying what's left of the weekend!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

North by Northwest Guest Post and More Baroque Music

Exciting news! I've written a North By Northwest, 20th Century Limited Dining Car-inspired menu for Andrea's blog, Paper Sparrow. Please stop by and check out the Hitchcock Blog Party.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Life This Week: October 17, 1938

The cover story this week is all about Carole Lombard: "A Loud Cheer for the Screwball Girl." If you're as big a fan as I am, you'll want to read this article!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Week-in-Review and Road Trip Photos

Paul and I are enjoying a four-day weekend. Today, we're recovering from a fourteen-hour drive to Dallas and back! To check out photos from our trip, click here. I'll be uploading photos throughout the day.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Dinner and a Movie: The Masque of the Red Death

Vincent Price, Jane Asher, Patrick Magee and Hazel Court wear rather ridiculous (and very '60s) "medieval" costumes in The Masque of the Red Death

Oh my. What to say about this one? It's pretty entertaining, in a bad-movie way. The costumes are hilarious and look like they were put together with a glue gun from bits out of the bargain bin at Jo-Ann. They remind me of nothing so much as the costumes for the production I was in of Once Upon a Mattress in high school. Don't get all excited--I only had one line.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Black (and White Wednesday) Treacle and Baroque Music

Why oh why is black treacle so difficult to find? I believe it's almost identical to blackstrap molasses, but I'm partial to Lyle's and I love its jaunty red tin. I've never seen it in Wichita period (even at World Market) and I used to buy it at Canterbury British Imports in Oklahoma City, but it looked like they'd gone out of business the last time I drove by. Plus, it's expensive on the internet due to shipping costs. Anyone know of a reliable source?

Black Treacle is awesome stuff--it looks like crude oil and tastes like a more-metallic molasses. That's probably totally unappealing but I love it in its unappealingness. It's also rich in vitamins, minerals and iron. It's practically a health food! Not that what I normally do with it is particularly healthful--

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Life This Week: October 10, 1938

Do you ever feel like you really really don't want to deal with rolling anything out? Yeah, it totally happens. However, I adore chocolate and orange (and the cute 1938 ad below), so I decided to make a super-easy chocolate-orange stovetop custard instead.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Feasts and Festivals: Devil's Blackberry Day

In the interests of full disclosure, Devil's Blackberry Day could very well be September 29th. At one time (before the calendar change), Michaelmas was on October 10th and the archangel Michael is credited with kicking Lucifer out of heaven, which caused a very pissed-off Satan to land in the middle of a blackberry bush (which, I suppose, did nothing to improve his mood). A legend arose that no one should eat blackberries after this time each year because the devil spit on the blackberry bush in which he landed and that spit magically reappears every year on October 10th.*

Now for the botanical evidence--
In mid-October a nasty creature called a flesh fly lays eggs on blackberries in a saliva-like substance and besides being disgusting, the eggs are mildly poisonous.** Gross, right? So, I've decided to leave Devil's Blackberry Day on its old date and warn all of you lovely people not to go around picking blackberries after the flesh flies have landed on them. It's my service to humanity for the day.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Week-in-Review and Resources for People Who Like Old Stuff

This week on The Past on a Plate:
I just wanted to share a couple of fun finds with you. First off, the Rapidly Rotating Records podcast, which is a weekly show featuring 20s and 30s jazz and popular music from 78rpm records. This is my go-to dish-washing music! I hate washing dishes, so I have to give myself an incentive! You can find out more at the Rapidly Rotating Records website or iTunes.

Secondly, I really like the tumblr blog, My Daguerreotype Boyfriend. Its mission is to provide readers with early photos of attractive men, which is too much fun, especially for a gal like me, who happens to love going through old photographs. Unlike the bins of them at antique stores, My Daguerreotype Boyfriend usually has at least some information about the subjects. Here are a few of my favorite portraits:

Of course, I'm used to Monet looking like this:

:-) Hope you're having a great weekend!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Dinner and a Movie: House on Haunted Hill

Welcome to Week 1 of a special all-Vincent month on Dinner and a Movie! That's right--all the movies for Dinner and a Movie this month star Vincent Price and all the meals are going to be adapted from his cookbook, A Treasury of Great Recipes. I'm so excited! This week, I've made Vincent Price's Kedgeree, which is based on the recipe from London's The Ivy. A product of the empire, Kedgeree (to quote Vincent) "originated, I believe, in Singapore."

Thursday, October 6, 2011

From My Collection: Tart Tomato Salad

It's been too long since I've shared recipes from my vintage cooking pamphlet collection, so I thought today that I would share a recipe from this art deco beauty:

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Way Back Wednesday: Forks are for Fricassées

Clockwise from top: Fricassée close-up, Fricassée served with a green salad and chardonnay, vegetables cooking, parsley from my garden

Thomas Coryate brought the fork from Italy to England in 1608. At first, they were rejected as "effeminate" and "unnecessary," but the wealthy soon adopted them as a status symbol, buying forks made with expensive materials to impress their guests.* The fricassée, a French invention that became popular in England, was tailor-made for these newly fashionable forks. Neither knives nor spoons are required, meaning that cooking fricassées encouraged using forks and vice versa.**

Monday, October 3, 2011

Life This Week: October 3, 1938

When I saw this ad in this week's Life magazine, I knew I had to try to find the movie! (By the way, the original U.K. title was The DrumRoger Livesey and Valerie Hobson play a newly married couple (Captain and Margery Carruthers) who have to go to Tokot, in the Northwest Frontier, where a local ruler who has just signed a treaty with the British has been murdered by his evil brother, Ghul Kahn (Raymond Massey, obviously enjoying his villainous role). I'm sure you can guess this film isn't very politically correct. It takes a pro-colonial, paternalistic view of the British Raj. I had to keep reminding myself that when this was filmed, it was meant as a contemporary film and wasn't a period piece like The Charge of the Light Brigade or Gunga Din. It's amazing that only four years before Gandhi's Quit India movement that Indian natives were portrayed as being so completely subservient that any Victorian colonist would have been overjoyed.

Sunday, October 2, 2011