The news that Melbourne are coming out of lockdown on Friday received a little squeak of excitement here in London.

My chum Taryn of Retro Food For Modern Times will be released into the world after 6 lockdowns totalling 262 days since March 2020.  I expect her to go WILD and party like it is 1999.  

Mind you, I remember when we came out of our third lockdown here in the UK, there was much trepidation.  Enjoy your freedom Taryn, but gently at first maybe…

For our own amusement Taryn and I decided to do a little Murder on the Orient Express cookalong while she was locked down, just we two.  Due to time zone differences we couldn’t do our cooking and scoffing and movie watching at the same time, but it was lovely to know that we were doing something together, just for fun, on opposite ends of the earth.

There is such an amazeballs cast in this film,

I had plenty of recipes to choose from and sent Taryn over the following list to select from…

Jacqueline Bisset – Jacqueline Bisset’s Potato-Onion Bake, Nut Torte With a Fabulous Sour Cream Frosting, Hominy

Sean Connery – Spiced Beef with Parsley Dumplings

John Gielgud – Cucumber Salad, Sir John’s Vanilla Chocolate Russe

Wendy Hiller – Parkin, Prune Fool Syllabub

Anthony Perkins – Sauce, Tuna Fish Salad

Lauren Bacall – Beef Stroganoff, Strawberry and Peach Salad, Potage Cressioniere

Ingrid Bergman – Trout with Cream Sauce

Rachel Roberts – Beef and Kidney Pie a la Rex, Bean Salad with Vinegar Dressing, English Apple Pie, Hard Sauce

Richard Widmark – Rabbit with Vegetables, Chicken Salad

Surprisingly, nothing in my collection from the kitchens of Albert Finney, Vanessa Redgrave or Michael York but I’ll be keeping my eyes peeled… Taryn went for Ingrid Bergman’s Trout in Cream Sauce and I decided on Lauren Bacall’s Beef Stroganoff.  I’ll link to Taryn’s post when it is up.

I expect that one of the first things Taryn will want to do at the weekend will be to have someone round to her house for dinner.  Since we have been allowed to do this again, the person who has most been over my threshold apart from Mr Rathbone is the lovely Cathy of Kitchen Confidence.  She’s having her kitchen replaced so was pleased to receive at a dinner invite, even though she knows whatever I cook might be WEIRD.  So it was with Lauren’s Stroganoff.

To my mind, Lauren’s proportions were a bit off.  There seemed to be way too many mushrooms in ratio to the beef so I sent Cathy home with half of the ones I’d sliced up for this recipe.

Plus, the sour cream with no other liquid added made for a very thick sauce.  Perhaps sour cream is runnier in the USA than in the UK, or maybe if I’d used all the mushrooms they would have released more liquid into the sauce?  No matter, even though I overcooked the sauce and it curdled a bit, the whole deal was definitely tasty, even if it wasn’t very photogenic.

I served the stroganoff on toast as per La Bacall’s suggestion.  I used sirloin and was worried that 40 minutes of cooking would have rendered it chewy (I never really understand what happens to various cuts of meat when cooked in different ways) but it was GOOD.  But not as good as Elisha Cook Jr’s or Harry Morgans.

As Murder on the Orient Express is almost 2 hours long, I knew Cathy & I would be snoring on the sofa if we attempted to watch it after a weeknight supper so I saved it for Sunday night.  It’s a weird experience watching an Agatha Christie that has such an iconic ending.  There’s no way you can forget whodunit in this one!

I thoroughly enjoyed it, but had to stop myself from googling how much it would cost to travel on the Orient Express these days.  Oh, OK then, let’s have a look…

Hey, Mr Rathbone.  We still haven’t organised our Honeymoon, postponed because of the plague times.  Shall we do this?!  I don’t have more than £20 cash about my person these days but there is always the national lottery!

If you are an Agatha Christie fan be sure and check out Taryn’s blog.  She has been writing a fantastic series of blog posts called Dining With The Dame for a while now.  She flags up food that is mentioned in the books and suggests appropriate things to cook (and drink) alongside the reading of them.  Her photographs are absolutely gorgeous and make you want to rustle up the cocktails or dinners IMMEDIATELY!  Even if you don’t have the right book to hand.

I love the idea of sitting in my big yellow armchair on a windy rainy day and reading the Sittaford Mystery with a Damn The Weather cocktail by my side.  I may have to plan this for a 24 hour readathon day.  Taryn, I’m begging you, please gather all your Agatha Christie goodness into a book!  It would be a total hit I am sure of it!

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