Happy Birthday James Dean – a Recipes4Rebels Birthday Dinner Collaboration!

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I love Greg Swenson, author of the fabulous Recipes For Rebels: In The Kitchen With James Dean cookbook.

We have never met in person (I am in England, Greg is in Greece) but we are KINDRED SPIRITS and occasionally have a day where we cook the same movie star recipes and make each other laugh by sending endless photos and video clips of the process via Facebook Messenger.

Our first cookalong featured Anne Jackson’s English Muffins and they were fabulous.

Our second worldwide cooking collaboration was the SUPERB David Bowie’s Shabu-Shabu. That is now firmly in my top ten Silver Screen Suppers dishes and I note from that blog post, that Greg’s kitchen and my kitchen are one-thousand, nine-hundred and ninety-seven miles apart.

When we are cooking along together though, it feels like we are next-door-neighbours. It’s just so much fun. When Greg suggested we cook a whole menu to celebrate James Dean’s birthday I was well up for it and we hatched a plan for an appropriate selection of recipes…

Natalie’s recipes are both in Greg’s fab book, the Elizabeth Taylor recipe is in one that I have here, Favourite Foods of the Famous, published in 1974.

Cooking kicked off at noon GMT, about 2pm Greek time. It was so funny getting updates from Greg about his caramel being done, his custard being finished and his Creme au Caramel going in the oven. Because during this time I had to make THREE BATCHES OF CARAMEL before I was happy. In the end I turned (as I often to in times of trouble) to Delia and followed her method EXACTLY – result? Perfect caramel. But also 3 saucepans to wash-up.

The custard was super easy to whisk up and I was WELL CHUFFED with how my Creme au Caramels looked when I got them out of the oven.

Next, the Stroganoff. Now, I have mentioned before on the blog how much I love stroganoff (capital S or no capital s? I do not know). But one of the reasons I love it is because it doesn’t take long to cook. Natalie cooked hers for one and a half hours though, which alarmed me. No matter, I followed the recipe exactly, and despite worrying that my lovely sirloin would become as tough as old boots,

it was PERFECT.

Liz’s beans were really quick to get together, it’s a great way to fancify green beans…

I made about half Liz’s recipe for two of us, and there was a small portion leftover.

I also made half of Natalie’s recipe for the stroganoff and ditto, there was a dinky little portion left over for the frozen archives.

As I was (unusually) ahead of the game before Mr. R’s arrival chez moi at 7pm, I decided to add something else from Greg’s book to the menu. A Martin Landau Vodka Martini Straight Up. So here’s how our evening kicked off.

The Martin Landau Vodka Martini Straight Up is fab.

It seems to be the Silver Screen Suppers Towers default pre-dinner drinkie these days.

Mr. R was on rice duty and I think we served up about 8pm. Natalie’s stroganoff and Liz’s beans were DELICIOUS!

But the Creme au Caramel was less of a hit.

Mr. R said, “It’s like a big crumpet that’s been soaking in a puddle.”

I couldn’t have put it better myself. It was nothing like the Creme Caramel of my youth…

But there was no way I was going to let that hard-earned caramel go to waste!

Delia method underway. Don’t touch it! Don’t shake it! Don’t stir it!

Luckily the little plates I served it on (known to me as the “brain plates” because they look a bit like brains) have a lip on one end. So I just slurped up all the caramel and left the custardy bit!

I never mind at all when I cook a movie star recipe and don’t like it. This actually doesn’t happen very often these days but Pat O’Brien’s Corned Beef and Potato Patties spring to mind, as does Ginger Rogers’ Date Butterscotch Pudding

Butterscotch wouldn’t melt in her mouth!

Mr. Rathbone compared some of my cooking exploits to science experiments.

“It’s all about testing stuff to see if it works,” he said. Then, pointing at the creme au caramel he declared, “It’s science innit? You now know, that if you do this, it’s going to make something you don’t like.”

The morning after the night before…

It made sense at the time!

Thank you SO MUCH GREG for suggesting that we do this together, I loved every minute. Maybe we can do it again next year?

Skip over to the Recipes For Rebels website to read all about Greg’s almost duplicate dinner, he’s making what will no doubt be a spectacular video too!

8 Responses to Happy Birthday James Dean – a Recipes4Rebels Birthday Dinner Collaboration!

  1. greg 8 Feb, 2019 at 9:01 am #

    Love you too! It’s nearly impossible to convey in words on a page, just how much fun we have with these little (epic) cooking exploits! You did a fairly good job at capturing it though.

    I still have a question…how does Natalie’s Stroganoff stand up to Harry Morgan’s and Elisha Cook Jr’s?

    Thanks for the very, very fun day! Lots of love!

  2. Jenny 8 Feb, 2019 at 2:37 pm #

    YES! It really is hard to get on the page the fun, fun, fun we have on these madcap cooking extravaganzas! Bring on the next one I say.

    I thought Natalie’s Stroganoff was really good. The meat was so lovely and tender. But NOT ENOUGH BOOZE in it for my liking. Next time I will copy you and bung some red wine in!

    Let’s DEFINITELY do another of these for James Dean’s Birthday next year, but another in between please!


  3. Zelda Manners 11 Feb, 2019 at 8:00 pm #

    Looks like you had great fun. What a fab way to say Happy Birthday JD.

  4. Jenny 12 Feb, 2019 at 7:40 am #

    ZELDA! I was thinking about you just yesterday. I’m going to drop you an email about a Charlton Heston recipe! It has anchovies in it, and I wondered what you might suggest as a replacement to make the recipe vegan – I was thinking about nutritional yeast, but would love your thoughts on it – will email xx

    • Greg 14 Feb, 2019 at 5:37 pm #

      Marmite or Miso paste are my usual subs for something as salty as anchovies…

  5. Jenny 14 Feb, 2019 at 10:13 pm #

    Hmmm – good suggestions Greg – have you ever used nutritional yeast in anything? I have two massive tubs of it, delivered to me in error in a grocery order. I just do not know what to do with it all!!!

    • greg 15 Feb, 2019 at 5:18 pm #

      I haven’t worked with nutritional yeast, because I can’t get it here (even though I’ve had need of it for recipes in the recent past)… I would think it would be a good sub. Marmite is a yeast extract after all…just has tons of salt added. I guess it all depends upon what the anchovies are bringing to this Charlton Hesston recipe…mostly saltiness? A dash of soy sauce with the nutritional yeast could up the salinity factor… Capers might be a descent sub too.

  6. Jenny 16 Feb, 2019 at 1:03 pm #

    STOP – all this talk of anchovies and capers is making e soooo hungry. Yep I think it’s saltiness we are after!

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