Photoplay Cookbook: Marion Davies’ Cheese Patties

Welcome back! I am cooking my way through the 1929 Photoplay cookbook (recipes of the stars!) and you are invited to tag along. (I have listed all the recipes I have tested on this dedicated page. Check back often.) Today, we will be testing a recipe from one of the most sparkling personalities of the silent era.

A myth that dogged Marion Davies for years was that she was a talentless gold digger who used her relationship with William Randolph Hearst to get into the movies. The classic Citizen Kane, loosely based on Hearst’s life, bears much of the blame.

Lately, Davies has been enjoying a revival and her reputation as one of the finest comics of the silent era continues to grow. What happened? Simple. Her movies started to be shown on TV and released on DVD. To see Davies in action is a treat and it’s hard not to love her. Why would you even try? She’s adorable!

Davies’ talent lay in her expressive face, her gift for mimicry and her witty, self-depreciating sense of humor. She was the life of the party and her best movies are the ones that let Marion be Marion. (If you’ve never seen her in action, check out the backstage comedy Show People. You will be charmed.)

show-people-1928-marion-davies-william-haines-king-vidor-silent-movie-whos-that

So, Marion Davies is once again a beloved movies star. But how is she at making little hors d’oeuvres? That’s what we are about to discover!

Davies’ recipe is for cheese patties, “patties” being defined as “a small pie” and not the more modern notion of a flat cake of chopped meat. Here’s the recipe:

Marion-Davies-Cheese-Patties

As you can see, Miss Davies has taken the shortening side in the Shortening vs. Butter Pie Crust Debate. I am emphatically Team Butter. Because of this and because I am basically a lazy person, I opted to use pre-made pie crust for this experiment. No butter, no point.

Don't judge.
Don’t judge.
I used a biscuit cutter to make my dough circles.
I used a biscuit cutter to make my dough circles.

I didn’t have any tins that accommodated a mere teaspoon of batter so I had to improvise. I greased a cupcake pan and lined it with circles of the dough. I had to be careful to place the dough dead center over the cupcake shape or it turned out lopsided and the dough would crease too much on one side. These patties ended up taking about two tablespoons of filling.

Not bad at all, I must say.
Not bad at all, I must say.

The filling is not attractive in batter form. In fact, it looks downright repulsive. The recipe instructed me to include “seasoning” so I opted for classic salt and pepper with a hint of nutmeg just to keep things interesting. I love nutmeg in savory recipes and this seemed to be an ideal one for it.

Yum?
Yum?

The tin filled, I popped it into the oven. The recipe helpfully says a “hot oven” so I opted for 350-degrees, preheated. It seemed to work out fine.

I was very impressed when I removed the patties from the oven. Aren’t they little beauties?

Wow!
Wow!
Lovely!
Lovely!
And what color!
And what color!

But how did they taste? Here is the video:

In a word, disappointing.

Score: 2 out of 5. The patties are gorgeous but they simply do not have that much flavor. The bread crumbs are the culprit. They take up a lot of space but don’t provide any taste benefits. Plus, double-carbing is often a path to blandness in cooking.

Texture issues
Texture issues
The crust was better than the filling.
The crust was better than the filling.

The patties also had an odd texture. They were like little muffins inside crusts. I was hopping for something a little more pudding or quiche-like. Instead, the filling was just too bready.

Can it be improved? I think if the filling had eliminated the breadcrumbs and gone for a mini quiche thing, it could have been much better. Also, something like onions or mushrooms or bacon would have added texture and flavor to the patties and made them much more tasty. Another option would have been to snip in a selection of fresh herbs. I am thinking dill but then again I am always thinking dill. Dill is the best!

Make this instead: Spinach and Mushroom Mini Quiches.

8 Replies to “Photoplay Cookbook: Marion Davies’ Cheese Patties”

  1. Is this the case of yet another “old-tymey” recipe being totally tasteless to modern palates? The more I’ve read/seen of older recipes, the more I think that people had much blander tastes back then. You’d think with all the smoking they’d want MORE spices, but what do I know?

    Love the site! (Long time lurker, first time commenter.)

    1. Welcome!
      They definitely were afraid of strong flavors in 1929, it seems. The recipes that call for garlic are carefully labeled as “risky” and “foreign” lest the 1929 cook suffer a fatal heart attack at the sudden explosion of flavor. But no one seemed to fear cheese (assuming it was a relatively mild one) and the texture is so very odd. I’m not sure this one would have even gone over in 1929 but who knows?

  2. Oh.. woo. Some eggs, maybe bacon or ham, turkey, a shot of bourbon instead of Ms. Davies’ cheese “patties” Oh well. Idea (*ding!*) make a stew using ingredients from ALL the one and two star recipes and see what happens.

    Matter, meet anti-matter, I suppose (ka-boom!)

  3. The word “cheese” had me intrigued (since I basically live on cheese), but these look… not so great! I’ll take your word for it and stick with quiche!

Comments are closed.