I learned all about the remarkable life, career and food of British star Gracie Fields.
While it is always fun to talk about iconic stars like Joan Crawford or Cary Grant, I also enjoy doing episodes on more obscure ones. My friend and collaborator Mary Stanford suggested Gracie Fields and I jumped at the chance to learn more about her.
Fields was a huge star in British music halls before transitioning into films in the early 1930s. In the midst of battling cancer, she entertained troops and helped in the war effort, which made her a target of the Nazis. She was eventually made Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in 1979 and lived to be 81 years old.
Gracie Fields had a cook book pamphlet published in 1957. The recipe for Zabaione appears in the chapter on Italian food.
4 egg yolks
4 tablespoons of sugar
4 tablespoons of marsala wine
Put egg yolks and sugar into a bowl and beat together until mixture is almost white and fluffy. Put into the top of a double saucepan. Add wine. Beat over a good heat for five minutes until the mixture has risen in the pan and is like whipped cream or pancake batter.
Remove from heat and continue whipping for one or two minutes. Pour into glasses and serve as soon as possible.
If you let this sit for a while, it will turn rock hard. Do not chill.
Both of my guests have been on several previous episodes of Hollywood Kitchen, but as the great director James Whale's films used to say "A great cast is worth repeating".
Mary Stanford is a Los Angeles based singer who celebrates the music, stories and style of the Golden Age of musical theatre and the American Songbook. Her Facebook and Youtube "quarantine cabaret" series, The Mary Stanford Show, has raised $2,000 for charity since the pandemic began. Visit maryjstanford.com for more information.
Janet Klein is a Ukulele Chanteuse, band-leader, musical archeologist specializing in rare and wonderful early jazz of the 1920s and 1930s.
Joined by some of her L.A.-based band members—The Parlor Boys—She and her band have recorded 10 CDs with their spirited renditions of Tin Pan Alley, early hot jazz, vaudeville, and Yiddish novelty tunes, ragtime, and other rare and rustic gems.
When live concerts and tours were curtailed in 2020, Janet kept the musical cheer and “time travel entertainment” going by creating an online series called “Hit of the Week Parlor Party" and "Parlor Party Cartoon Screening Room" with fellow musicians, artists & historian pals. Make sure to check out her official website.
The Final Result
The Zabaione is creamy, boozy and would be a great item to make for a Christmas party.
I can't explain why, but it has a festival holiday type feel to it. Janet was gracious enough to send Mary and I Italian cookies from a local market to use for dipping.
I had a great time learning all about the woman known as "Our Gracie". Also a huge thank you to Mary who tested a TON of recipes in order to find the right one for us to make on camera.
Janet's final product
Mary's final product
Images courtesy of Mary Stanford
If you want to read about Gracie look for her autobiography "Sing As We Go" in libraries or at used book retailers. Some of her films can be found on Amazon Prime, Youtube and you can also find them in the UK. Watch our video to learn more.