Friday 17 December 2010

    marilyn in a tutu


    Marilyn Monroe, Ballerina Sitting, 1954, New York City

    I adore this tulle wrapped Marilyn..

    It was 9 September, 1954 when Marilyn Monroe, in New York to film  The Seven Year Itch, arrived at fashion photographer  Milton H. Greene’s studio to sit for a series of portraits that would juxtapose the starlet with an unadorned wicker chair. Greene’s pictures had appeared in Vogue, Life and Harpers Bazaar and he eventually became Monroe’s business partner. His sensitivity and boyish charm were the ideal antidote to Monroe’s insecurity and neediness and, in front of his lens, she was candid and relaxed.

    He’d ordered a white dress from designer  Anne Klein for the shoot, but the tutu’s bodice was too tight. Instead of scrapping it Monroe held herself in the tutu, creating the famous ‘ballerina’ portraits that conjure up a sense of bittersweet fragility, sensual innocence and a whiff of Hollywood heartbreak.

    Unlike Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn and Elizabeth Taylor, Monroe never studied ballet (she admitted to struggling with choreography, particularly in  Gentlemen Prefer Blondes) but the transformative power of the tutu rendered the photographs emblematic of ballet and dance. In Milton’s Marilyn: The Photographs of Milton H. Greene, author James Kotsilibas-Davis says the poignant images “became more generic portraits of a dancer to challenge even the sketches of Degas”.

    {Image Marilyn Monroe. Photography by Milton H. Greene, Text reposted from via behind ballet}

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    Thursday 25 November 2010

    A Marilyn Monroe Thanksgiving


    Marilyn wishes you all a Happy Thanksgiving

    Fragments, a new book of Monroe’s casual scribblings reveals that the bombshell

    was actually quite the vixen in the kitchen.

    This collection of assorted letters, poems and back-of-the-envelope scribblings that span the time from Monroe’s first marriage in 1943 to her death in 1962. Among the star’s various letters, notes, and poems, is her stuffing recipe from the mid-1950s, jotted down in her handwriting on stationary from a San Francisco insurance company.

    Marilyn Monroe’s Thanksgiving Stuffing

    As reported by Ted and Matt Lee in the New York Times, it’s a complicated, labor-intensive preparation that calls for liver and heart giblets, three kinds of nuts, and well-soaked sour dough bread, suggesting that she was competent, confident cook.

    Giblets are to be “liver-heart,” and the beef is to be “browned (no oil),” yet certain other details are left flapping in the wind: the amount of spices is not specified, nor the amount of “parsarly.” O.K., the instruction of “1 handful” of grated Parmesan is clear enough, but what to make of the first line — “No garlic” — of the recipe?

    For recipe-restoration geeks like us, this was a challenge we couldn’t resist, especially as we head into high season for stuffing. Our goal was to fill in the blanks and produce a stuffing recipe that anyone could complete successfully. Of all the souvenirs of Marilyn’s life available, this was the one we actually wanted.

    From the start, we agreed to embrace the period in which the recipe was written, and resisted the temptation to substitute fresh rosemary and ginger for the dried variety.

    The most unnerving thing about the recipe is its laboriousness. More than two hours passed as we soaked and shredded sourdough (to be fair, soggy sourdough nearly shreds itself), peeled hard-boiled eggs, simmered livers in water, browned the beef, cracked pepper, chopped and measured. When the ingredients were finally laid out, they filled 15 ramekins and bowls. Did Marilyn really have this much time on her hands?

    When we gingerly tossed everything together in our largest bowl (the recipe yielded more than 20 cups), we were amazed to discover one of the most handsome stuffings we’ve encountered. The odd elements, like the profusion of raisins and the chopped egg, suddenly made sense, becoming pleasant color contrasts. Moreover, the mixture was delicious, a nice balance of vegetables, meats and bold seasonings, just faintly, tonically sweet from the raisins. Even the texture was superior, a fluffy, damp blend that packed well into a chicken cavity and emerged loosely gelled. Subsequent tests employed slight tweaks but the original genius (and the heroic volume) of her recipe remained fundamentally the same.

    The article above was written by the Lee Brothers, and the photograph by Andrew Scrivani.

    Rebecca Franklin,’s French Food guide, who “recreates it via French cuisine,” says prep takes 20 minutes and cuts the quanity in half.  The Lees interpreted Marilyn’s “{walnuts/ chestnuts/ pinenuts} 1 cup chop nuts” as calling for a third of a cup of each nut”. Franklin’s substitutes “2/3 cup cooked chestnuts, chopped” in her half-recipe. Lees use oregano, Franklin sage.

    Marilyn’s Stuffing Recipe

    Adapted from “Fragments” by Marilyn Monroe. Both recipe interpretations follow…

    The Lee’s interpretation ~ Cooking time: 2 hours

    No garlic

    A 10-ounce loaf sourdough bread

    1/2 pound chicken or turkey livers or hearts

    1/2 pound ground round or other beef

    1 tablespoon cooking oil

    4 stalks celery, chopped

    1 large onion, chopped

    2 cups chopped curly parsley

    2 eggs, hard boiled, chopped

    1 1/2 cups raisins

    1 cup grated Parmesan

    1 1/4 cups chopped walnuts, pine nuts or roasted chestnuts, or a combination

    2 teaspoons dried crushed rosemary

    2 teaspoons dried crushed oregano

    2 teaspoons dried crushed thyme

    3 bay leaves

    1 tablespoon salt-free, garlic-free poultry seasoning (or 1 teaspoon dried sage, 1 teaspoon marjoram, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger and 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg)

    1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more to taste & 1 tablespoon pepper.

    Split the bread loaf in half and soak it in a large bowl of cold water for 15 minutes. Wring out excess water over a colander and shred into pieces.

    Boil the livers or hearts for 8 minutes in salted water, then chop until no piece is larger than a coffee bean.

    In a skillet over medium-high heat, brown the ground beef in the oil, stirring occasionally and breaking up the meat, so no piece is larger than a pistachio.

    In your largest mixing bowl, combine the sourdough, livers, ground beef, celery, onion, parsley, eggs, raisins, Parmesan and nuts, tossing gently with your hands to combine. Whisk the rosemary, oregano, thyme, bay leaves, poultry seasoning, salt and pepper together in a bowl, scatter over the stuffing and toss again with your hands. Taste and adjust for salt. Refrigerate, covered, until ready to use as a stuffing or to bake separately as dressing.

    Yield: 20 cups, enough for one large turkey, 2 to 3 geese or 8 chickens.

    Here’s what Marilyn’s Stuffing Recipe

    might have looked like had she been a housewife in 1950′s France.

    Prep: 20 minutes; Cook: 20 minutes Total Time: 40 minutes

    Yield: 10 cups of stuffing

    6 ounces pain au levian (sourdough)

    1/4 pound chicken livers

    1/4 pound ground sirloin

    1 cup mirepoix {French vegetable combination using equal parts carrots, celery, and onion}

    2 bay leaves

    1 cup chopped, fresh parsley

    1 hard-boiled egg, chopped

    1/2 cup raisins (substitute any dried fruits)

    1/2 cup grated Parmesan

    2/3 cup cooked chestnuts, chopped

    1 1/2 teaspoons salt

    1 teaspoon ground black pepper

    1 teaspoon dried rosemary

    1 teaspoon dried sage

    1 teaspoon dried thyme

    1/4 teaspoon marjoram

    1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

    Preparation: How to make 1950′s-style French stuffing

    Soak the pain au levian in water for 15 minutes. Drain the bread in a colander for 5 minutes and squeeze it dry. Pull it apart into small pieces.

    While the bread is soaking and draining, prepare the livers and ground beef. Boil the livers for 8 to 10 minutes, until they are done. Finely chop the cooked livers. Brown the ground beef in a large skillet, and transfer the meat to a bowl.

    Sauté the mirepoix and bay leaves in the remaining beef fat for 5 minutes. Discard the bay leaves and stir together the shredded bread, cooked livers, browned beef, sautéed mirepoix, parsley, eggs, raisins, cheese, chestnuts, salt, pepper, and dried herbs.

    This napkin was signed by Marilyn Monroe on Thanksgiving Day, 1961 was auctioned. A letter giving details about the dinner accompanied the napkin (as the writer of the letter sent the napkin to a family member).

    According to the letter, the dinner was held by Gloria Lovell, Frank Sinatra’s secretary (and interestingly the woman who took Marilyn’s dog Maf after she died). Attending the dinner were Danny Thomas’ secretary, Janet, Gloria’s hairdresser, Jimmy, Inez Melson, Jo and Marilyn – six total including Gloria. The dinner was held in Gloria’s home, which was actually an apartment in Marilyn’s former building on North Doheny Drive.

    “I know the writing on the little napkin is hard to read…if you can’t make it out its Marilyn Monroe, she was at Gloria’s Thanksgiving dinner. There were six of us including Gloria.”

    “Marilyn is no more like she is on screen than anything…I did not know who she was, hardly…..her voice is diff, altho she has that little hi pitched note, its most exaggerated in her pix. She is as tall as I, but oh so slender, thin face, little bucket, small breasts, wears size 12….she looks (?) times that lagre (sic) on screen…is very sweet, nice as can be, very down to earth, not a bit stuck up or anything,,,just folks. She had on blk short skirt, (black) pumps. a silk jersy (sic) pull on sweater, hair tied up in white silk scarf, (said) it did not look good in back so did not take it off, you’d like her. She (wore) the most elegant, sheared white beaver coat I have ever seen, (I WANT ONE). I’m laughing, who can afford it? Not me…….”

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