Real vegetarian food, served in an imaginary world...

Thursday 9 October 2014

HALLOWEEN COOKALONG - A Meal for Vincent Price

Something a little different here at Dinner with Zelda Manners, as here I revisit a post from last year, originally on my previous cookery blog.

This time the recipes are not my own. In fact, they were created by the wonderful Vincent Price. But I could still fantasise that he was coming round to enjoy them, cooked by my own fair hand...
October 31st was a very special evening, as I took part in the Vincent Price Halloween Cookalong.

The event was organised by the very talented Jenny at Silverscreen Suppers and The Vincentennial Cookblog.  It involved some of us with cooking/ film obsessions reproducing a selection of Vincent Price’s dishes and watching House on Haunted Hill. Fellow Cookalongers will be listed at the end of the post - all well worth checking out.
As well as the universal Pumpkin Pie, I was allocated Champignons Grillés Marie Victoire (with its rather more pedestrian title of Broiled Mushrooms Mary Victoria in brackets).

Vincent Price, as well as being a hugely successful actor, noted especially for his ability to play the extremely suave but slightly unhinged, was also an enthusiastic and accomplished cook. He even had a TV series called Cooking Price-Wise which is well worth a view if you can track it down. The accompanying book contains dishes from around the globe. With his wife Mary he also wrote A Treasury of Great Recipes.

On Thursday, I had to be well prepared in advance as I had tickets to watch a lecture on Richard III and then a performance of the play during the afternoon. So, after immersing myself in the seductiveness of evil, I returned home to put the final touches to my meal.
My given recipe, Champignons Grillés Marie Victoire, was very tasty. I thought it might make a suitable starter but another time I would definitely serve it as a side-dish (as Vincent actually intended). It was easy to cook, although I couldn’t, as specified, keep the pan 6 inches from the heat so I curtailed the cooking time slightly. 

The mushrooms were still hot, soft and tasty. The shallots and butter gave an extra dimension but, as a starter, we (sorry to say) missed the garlic. I would serve this again as an accompaniment to another dish; Vincent suggests barbecued steak but I will find a suitable vegetarian alternative. 

And so, onto the Pumpkin Pie. As with so many of these old recipes, a certain amount of flexibility is required to turn the recipe on the page into the food on the plate. I think I made a ‘rookie error’ in that, caught up in the heat of the moment, I purchased a big old pumpkin so that D could carve it into a spooky face. Some of these pumpkins are grown more for their size than their flavour (waist rather than taste). Vincent actually suggested buying canned mashed pumpkin but that was not an option in Nottinghamshire. I diligently cooked and mashed the flesh which D had scraped out before sculpting his masterpiece. 

Incidentally, in the spirit of ‘waste not want not’ I also roasted the seeds and made soup for the next day. I’ll be making dresses from curtains next. 

The pie took longer to cook than Vincent envisaged and (probably because of my inferior pumpkin) tasted less ‘pumpkiny’ than I was expecting. However, it was still delicious and we indulged in huge slices.

I have copied the recipes below, along with any of my adjustments in brackets.
This was a fabulous project to be involved with and it led to a thoroughly enjoyable evening and a fantastic meal.

And then there was House on Haunted Hill to finish it all off. So, presumably Frederick Loren will now be looking for a new wife. Well, if applications are open…

Check out the blogs...

Sally at My Custard Pie
Erica at Retro Recipe
Catherine at Battenburgbelle
Brian at Caker Cooking
Angela at Glamorous Glutton

(If I have missed you out, please let me know and I will be pleased to add you too.)

And the recipes...

Serves 6

18 large (how large is large?) brown mushrooms (I used chestnut) lightly scrubbed (I brushed them clean)
5tbsp butter
1tsp finely chopped shallots (I used 2 shallots)
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp freshly ground pepper

Remove mushroom stems.

Heat 2tbsp butter in a large skillet (pan).

Place mushrooms, tops down, in the butter.

Blend 3 tbsp softened butter with the shallots and the salt and pepper. Fill the mushroom caps with the mixture.

Broil (grill) 6 inches from the heat for about 5 mins (My griller was only 3 inches from the gas so I cut the time to 4 mins).

Turn off broiler (griller) and allow mushrooms to sizzle for 5 minutes more.

Baste mushrooms with any juice in pan. Serve without spilling contents of caps.

Makes about 8 servings

1 X 9 inch unbaked pie shell
350g / 1.5 cups mashed or canned cooked pumpkin
3 eggs well-beaten (I used free-range)
350ml/ 1.5 cups heavy cream (double cream)
145g/ 3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1tsp mace
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger

Make the pie shell with a high scalloped edge, refrigerate several hours. (I used pre-made sweet pastry and rolled it to the thickness of a £1 coin)

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F / 220 degrees C .( I used Gas 7)

In a large bowl, combine the pumpkin with eggs, then the cream, sugar, salt, and spices.  

Blend well, then pour into the chilled pie shell.  

Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350 degrees F / 175 degrees C (I used Gas 4) before serving (I needed to keep it in the oven at this temperature for about 45minutes before the filling set).

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