Tuesday, May 3, 2011
Silver Screen Suppers
For a while now I've been a quiet fan of the Silver Screen Suppers blog, written by a multi-talented friend of mine (let's call her Lya di Putti). The blog is about an ongoing project between her and a friend - collecting and recreating dishes from recipes attributed to movie stars of Hollywood's Golden Age - mixed in with episodes from her own often movie-star-esque life.
At the moment she's in the process of putting together a book of the best recipes (their stash now has over 4,000 so it's a big job) and she periodically asks for volunteers to act as test cooks and give feedback on how the recipes turn out. Since I like to think I'm a helpful sort (plus I secretly want to get into the book) I've tried a few myself over the last year: Veronica Lake's Spiced Beef and Peas, Gary Cooper's Buttermilk Griddle Cakes, Loretta Young's Walnut Loaf (in the picture above), John Wayne's Mustard Steak, Greta Garbo's Swedish Meatballs (oops, just blown my anonymity) and most recently Thelma Todd's Scripture Cake:
I'm not a great cook by any stretch: writing up my less successful attempts - the meatballs for example were a bit of a disaster - took me back to school science reports (an appalling experimental scientist, I was forever having to explain why my results didn't agree with theory). But it's been educational and fun, and there have been some real treats too - I've been thinking for a while that I should take another pop at Gary Cooper's delicious griddle cakes; Loretta's walnut loaf involved some interesting detective work and turned out surprisingly tasty; and Thelma's scripture cake was excellent (as well as being a clever Biblical puzzle to figure out the ingredients).
I've also been fascinated by the sparseness and simplicity of many of the recipes, which (alongside some baffling ingredients - for example, just what is the "spiced beef" in Veronica Lake's recipe?) hint at a time when people were more well-versed in cooking and baking: they already knew what a moderate oven temperature was without having to look it up, and didn't need every step or measurement spelled out in explicit detail.
The recipes themselves don't appear on the blog, so if you're interested in trying some of them then you'll have to either wait for the book, sign up to the Silver Screen Suppers email newsletter (front page of the blog) to get a monthly recipe (complete with video!), or offer to be a test cook. It's definitely worth a go if you fancy a culinary adventure, and you'll also get a mention in the book.
Now, where did I put that measuring cup...?