A marriage on halloween, lovable but murderous maiden-aunts, one brother who thinks he’s Teddy Roosevelt, another who looks like Boris Karloff, and the poor brother stuck in the middle – this sounds like a plot that’s somewhere between Arrested Development and Tim Burton, but in fact, it’s the 1943 screwball comedy, Arsenic and Old Lace, featuring Cary Grant at his physical comedy best. This movie plays with classic “monster movie” and gothic thriller tropes, referencing everything from the Tell Tale Heart, to Hansel and Gretel, to the classic Universal Monsters like Frankenstein. It moves at a rapacious speed, as screwball comedies do, rising to a frenetic crescendo, and then ending with all of the pieces coming into place.
I don’t want to spoil any of the jokes, but this is such a delightful movie – the perfect spooky but fun choice for halloween – I hope you watch it.
Inspired by the maiden aunts and their old fashioned ways, I thought scones and marmalade with a twist was the perfect dish to enjoy with this film. Playing off the title, which is in fact word play of the phrase “lavender and old lace,” I added lavender to the scones, and then seasonal pumpkin to the marmalade. Enjoy them with coffee of tea, but at all costs avoid the elderberry wine! (Inside movie joke).
Makes 10-12 Scones
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon culinary lavender, ground
INGREDIENTS (FOR THE GLAZE)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons heavy cream
Preheat oven to 375 F with the rack in the middle of the oven. In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. Blend the butter into the flour mixture with a pastry blender or your finger-tips. The mixture should look like coarse crumbs, with chunks of butter the size of small peas. Combine the sour cream, beaten egg and vanilla in a separate bowl. Add this mixture to the flour mixture. Stir just until combined.
Knead dough gently on a lightly floured surface two or three times. The more you touch the dough, the more the butter in it melts, causing it to become dense when baked, so remember to apply a light touch! Roll or pat the dough into a circle that are about 7 inches round. Then, using a 3-inch round cookie cutter, cut the dough into rounds. Or, if you don’t have a 3 inch cookie cutter, cut the dough into triangles of your desired size. Place the scones on a cookie sheet covered in parchment paper or silicon sheets, spacing a few inches apart. Brush the tops of the scones with the egg and cream mixture. This helps to brown the tops of the scones during baking.
Bake for about 16-18 minutes or until nicely browned. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool, or serve immediately.
INGREDIENTS (PUMPKIN MARMALADE)
Yields 3-4 8-ounce Mason Jars
3-4 8-ounce mason jars
2 cups water
2 vanilla beans, scraped
4 cups sugar
1 cup pumpkin puree
Slice the oranges and lemons about ¼ inch thick and quarter them. In a medium pot over medium heat, combine the lemons and oranges with water, vanilla bean seeds and empty pods. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Add pumpkin puree.
Meanwhile, sanitize the jars and caps by boiling them in water for at least 12 minutes. Set them aside on a clean kitchen towel.
Cook for 40 minutes, then add the sugar and cook for another 15-20 minutes. Pour it into the jars, seal tight, and turn upside down. Once the jar has come to room temperature, store the jars in the fridge.