Thursday, February 1, 2007

"My Fair Lady Cooks" - Different Pork Chops and Potatoes in Red Wine

Date I made this recipe: January 28, 2007

My Fair Lady Cooks by Emma Dempster
Published by: Peter Glenn Publications, Ltd.
Copyright 1964
Recipes: Different Pork Chops – p. 135 and Potatoes in Red Wine – p. 139

Well, talk about cosmic: just as I decided to select some recipes from this cookbook, the SAG (Screen Actor’s Guild – not to be confused with “sag” as in what some of the women did in their dresses) Awards came on and Julie Andrews was given a lifetime achievement award.

Some of you may not know that Julie Andrews was the original Eliza Doolittle on Broadway in the musical, My Fair Lady. Julie was hoping to reprise the role in the movie version but alas, that went to Audrey Hepburn. But poor Audrey – although her singing voice is actually not too bad, all of the songs were dubbed by Marni Nixon who has been the voice of many a character on a movie soundtrack.

It’s a cold, cruel world out there in stage and television land. That being said, I’ve always thought that Rex Harrison, who played Professor Higgins (make that “Poor" Professor Higgins) had the best songs in the whole thing. Who doesn’t love “I’m an Ordinary Man” (which includes the phrase “but let a woman in your life…”) and “Why Can’t the English?” Poor Rex really couldn’t sing, either, but that was beside the point. He was just hilarious as he “talked” his way through his songs.

This cookbook was written by Emma Dempster. Emma’s husband, Hugh Dempster, played the character of Colonel Pickering in the National Company of My Fair Lady. Emma later spent 14 weeks in summer stock playing the role of Mrs. Higgins, Henry Higgins’ mother. Part One of the book features section called “Why Can’t A Woman Cook Like a Man,” “On the Trains Where We Lived” and “Why Can’t the English Teach Their Children How To Cook,” all witty take-offs of songs from the musical.

In Part Two, titled “Loverly Cooking & Meet the Movie Stars,” Emma features recipes from various cities the tour stopped at as well as recipes from Audrey Hepburn, Rex Harrison and other members of the movie cast.

I selected the recipes shown here, in part, because the pork chop recipe called for two pork chops and since we are a two-person household, I’m all about that, and the potatoes in wine were a nice change of pace from the standard, and often boring, baked or mashed. Alas, I did not select a movie star’s recipe but I think you’ll find these recipes absolutely Loverly!

Different Pork Chops – Serves 2
2 pork chops (I used thicker pork chops for this)
1 small can light cherries in syrup (as opposed to “dark” cherries which I ended up using)
½ cup port wine
A few cloves
Salt and pepper
Slivered almonds

Brown chops in just a flick of fat. Pit the cherries and add them to the pan along with a little of their syrup. Add the cloves (or, in my case, powdered cloves since I was out of whole cloves), almonds and port. Season to taste. Cover the skillet and simmer for about 25 minutes, or until meat is tender.

Potatoes in Red Wine
8 medium potatoes
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup water
1 cup red wine
Salt and pepper
Bouquet Garni
3 small onions or 1 small can

Wash, peel and quarter potatoes. Melt butter in heavy saucepan. Stir in flour and when it is lightly browned, add water, wine, seasoning and Bouquet Garni. NOTE: Bouquet Garni is typically comprised of fresh celery stalks, bay leaves and thyme which are wrapped in cheesecloth, tied and added to the recipe. I just saw Martha (Stewart) make one yesterday. I didn’t have celery and Lord knows where my cheesecloth went to (I did have it at one time) so I added whole bay leaves and dried sprigs of thyme and then fished them out of the pot when done.

Once you’ve added the Bouquet Garni, stir the sauce until smooth. Add potatoes and the small peeled onions. Cover and simmer one hour. If you use canned onions, put them in after half an hour.

Now then, I cut the recipe in half and all was well until I opened the pot lid partway through and realized that most of my liquid was burning off. The potatoes weren’t done yet so I added more water and wine (likely the same amount called for in the full recipe) and then turned the flame down even lower than I had it and we had a lift-off.

Both items were very yummy and, as the author noted, a nice departure from the usual way of cooking pork chops (plain or with applesauce added) and potatoes (boiled or mashed).

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