I hope everyone had a lovely weekend! It's Monday, so it's time for "Life This Week." The Movie of the Week is Jesse James, starring Tyrone Power as Jesse and Henry Fonda as his brother Frank. Nancy Kelly plays Zerelda Cobb, later Jesse's wife, and Randolph Scott is the a marshall assigned the duty of bringing the James brothers to justice. In the beginning, the brothers are out to make trouble for the railroad that has forced Missouri farmers off their land. Officers of the railroad have even killed Jesse and Frank's mother. Unfortunately, Jesse gets obsessed with outlawry and his escapades become more and more dangerous and less and less rooted in justice. However, it's Tyrone Power and we forgive him. Plus, much of the movie was filmed on location in the Missouri Ozarks, which look great in Technicolor. It's definitely worth the watch.
Poster from Doctor MacroIn the first part of the film when Jesse and Frank James are hiding out, Jesse shows up at Zerelda's house under cover of darkness (and in a rainstorm). Like any good 19th-century Missouri girl, she offers him a biscuit and a cup of coffee (served in transferware, no less). Here are my light, tall, fluffy baking powder biscuits. The recipe is from the revised Rumford Complete Cookbook from 1939, just like the movie!
Baking Powder Biscuits
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for cutting-out
1/2 teaspoon finely-ground sea salt
2 teaspoons aluminum-free baking powder
2 tablespoons cold un-hydrogenated lard
about 3/4 cup cold whole milk
Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with Silpat or parchment paper and set aside.
Sift the flour, salt and baking powder into a large mixing bowl, then (if you have cold hands, otherwise use a table knife) quickly rub in the lard until the texture of the mixture is like sand. Start with about 1/2 cup of the milk and mix in with the table knife. Add enough milk so that the dough is sticky but still dense.
Pat the dough out on a floured surface until it's 3/4" thick. Cut into rounds with a floured biscuit cutter or upturned glass. I like 2 3/4" diameter biscuits. This recipe will make five.
Place the cut-out biscuits on the prepared baking sheet, being sure to leave plenty of room between them. Bake in the middle of the oven 12 to 16 minutes, or until lightly browned on top.
Adapted from The Rumford Complete Cookbook: Revised (1939), p. 97-98.