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Cooking With Stanley and Stella

Updated: Mar 20

On the occasion of the 2024 Tennessee Williams & New Orleans Literary Festival.

 

I lived for years in the apartment on Saint Peter Street in the French Quarter where Tennessee wrote A Streetcar Named Desire, also known as: “THE PLAY”.

 

I have a recipe in my cookbook named for Stella Kowalski: her “Creole Meatloaf,” and today I present three more recipes I was inspired to create based on Tennessee’s actual culinary quotes and references in Streetcar.

 

“Eunice’s Spaghetti Dish for Steve” (she’s the upstairs neighbor)

“Stella’s Custard for Mitch’s Mother,”

and, of course, the pivotal

“Stanley’s Pork Chop, for Blanche’s Birthday.”

 

I endeavored to write and test my recipes so they were true to the culinary era of the play, circa 1947. Add your own spins as you are so inspired!



First up: “Eunice’s Spaghetti Dish for Steve”



Eunice's voice is heard, above: "Break it up down there! I made the spaghetti dish and ate it myself."

—Tennessee Williams, A Streetcar Named Desire



Eunice's Spaghetti Dish for Steve

Makes 4 to 6 servings


1 pound ground chuck

2 tablespoons sugar, divided

2 tablespoons salt, divided

2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, divided

5 slices thick-cut bacon, sliced 1/4" strips

1 onion, diced

1 green bell pepper, diced

45 ounces crushed tomatoes

2 bay leaves

1½ cups uncooked spaghetti, broken in half

 

In medium bowl, with hands, mix together meat, 1 tablespoon sugar, 1 tablespoon salt, 1 teaspoon pepper. Shape into 12 golf ball-sized balls.

In large heavy pot or Dutch oven, over medium-high heat, cook bacon, onion, bell pepper till softened/slightly browned.

Reduce heat, add tomatoes, 1 tablespoon sugar, 1 tablespoon salt, 1 teaspoon black pepper, bay leaves, stir to combine. Simmer 5 minutes.

Add broken spaghetti, 2 cups water, bring heat back up, stir to combine. Watch closely and stir so pasta doesn't stick. Add more water as needed. When pasta relaxes, add meatballs.

Simmer 15 more minutes. Stir frequently for last 10 minutes to prevent sticking, till pasta is al dente and meatballs are cooked through. Remove bay leaves and serve.



STELLA: How is your mother now, Mitch?

MITCH: About the same, thanks. She appreciated your sending over that custard.

—Tennessee Williams, A Streetcar Named Desire



Stella's Custard for Mitch's Mother

Makes 6 servings

 

4 eggs

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 cups whole milk

2 teaspoons vanilla

Nutmeg

 

Heat oven to 350°F. Put 2 quarts of water on to boil, reduce to simmer.

In large bowl, whisk together eggs, sugar, salt till just combined.

In medium pot, heat milk to 185°F — or when small bubbles form around edge of the pot. Stir hot milk very slowly into egg mixture, whisking constantly.

Place a 1-1/2 quart casserole dish in a baking pan with high sides. Fill dish with custard mixture. Sprinkle with nutmeg.

Fill baking pan with simmering water up to just below edge of casserole dish. Carefully place in oven.

Bake, uncovered, 55 to 60 minutes, till knife comes out clean. Custard may look loose but will set up nicely after chilled.

Cool out of oven 30 minutes. Chill uncovered in refrigerator till cold. Keep separate from other strong-smelling foods.

 


BLANCHE: Apparently Mr. Kowalski was not amused.

STELLA: Mr. Kowalski is too busy making a pig of himself to think of anything else!

—Tennessee Williams, A Streetcar Named Desire



Stanley's Pork Chop (for Blanche’s Birthday)

Makes 4 chops

 

2/3 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup cornmeal

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

4 bone-in pork chops

1/2 cup canola oil

 

In large bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, sugar, onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne, salt, pepper. You may have some flour mixture left after you dredge, but you'll be glad you had plenty for the chops.

In large cast iron skillet, heat oil till shimmering.

Rinse each chop in water to moisten, dredge on all sides in flour mixture, fry 3 to 4 minutes per side, or more, depending on thickness, till they reach 145°F internal temp. Do not move chops in pan except to flip.

Serve right away or keep in a warm oven while you prepare the sides.




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