Krantz · Scruples Two

Billy’s Masterpiece of Empty Calories

Author: Judith Krantz
Book: Scruples Two
Difficulty rating: Harry Potter

Deliciousness rating: Exceeds Expectations

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In the kitchen Billy’s chef, Jean-Luc, concealed his surprise at the appearance of his employer; twice a week he conferred with Miss Speilberg about menus for the week, but Mrs. Orsini rarely visited the kitchen, and never in her bathrobe. Billy asked him to…make her a dish she saved for very special moments: three slices of white toast covered thickly with Tiptree’s Little Scarlet strawberry jam and topped by carefully layered slices of very crisp bacon. This combination tasted like sweet and sour Chinese food for infants, and was a masterpiece of empty calories. (Krantz 7)

So, Judith Krantz. I have loved her books since I discovered Princess Daisy on my mom’s bookshelf, oh, when I was about 13? It’s the kind of thing that is both vastly inappropriate for someone that age, and at the same time also a pretty good introduction to adult topics, if you are progressively-minded. The sex scenes are very explicit but they are fairly empowering to women, and I think they show examples of “good sex” and “bad sex” in a way that makes it clear which is which. [Parents, only you can decide what is appropriate to leave around the house for your teenagers to pick up!]

One of the ways I knew that Miko and I were kindred spirits was that she read ALL the Judith Krantz books (at my recommendation) and she loves them just as much as me! We have not had much success introducing them to other friends, sadly.

Her books always feature women with interesting lives and careers, and also fabulous clothes. They are surprisingly feminist even though their author was born in 1928, and yet they are soooo enjoyably trashy. You really can’t go wrong with any of them, but my favorite is probably Till We Meet Again.

However, today’s recipe is from the Scruples series–Scruples was Krantz’s first book and if you’ve read her autobiography (which you should do immediately) you’ll realize a lot of it comes from her own life story. In it, Billy (AKA Wilhelmina Hunnewell “Honey” Winthrop Ikehorn Orsini Elliot) starts out as a sad fat girl (although Judith Krantz herself was not fat, let’s be clear) who becomes thin and fabulous while studying abroad in France, and then marries a very wealthy man and later starts a boutique in Beverly Hills….well, and a lot of other stuff happens.  This recipe is something she eats at the very beginning of the second book, Scruples Two, as a last hurrah before going on a “pregnancy diet”.

Did it measure up? 

Yes. We did expect it to be more sour because of Judith Krantz’s comparison to Chinese food. We would use a tarter jam next time, and just a little bit instead of a thick layer. But I mean, it’s bacon, jam, and white bread. How could it possibly taste bad.

BILLY’S MASTERPIECE OF EMPTY CALORIES

Notes from the cooking session:
  • The key to recreating Judith Krantz food is to procure the snootiest ingredients possible. To be strictly authentic, you should find a personal chef, trained in France, to make it for you.
  • Our selected cooking session soundtrack: the “Damn Right, I Am Somebody” list on Songza. We thought Billy would appreciate it.
Ingredients:
Masterpiece of Empty Calories Ingredients

  • Very good English white bread (From Miko’s mother, an accomplished home baker who has been obsessed with baking her own English bread for 30 years.) If Miko’s mom isn’t available, you could try Pepperidge Farm.
  • Thin-sliced bacon (the most expensive you can find) — Burger’s Smokehouse Original Country Bacon ($10/pound) from Iowa Meat Farms
  • Tiptree Little Scarlet Strawberry Conserve ($14.05 for a 12 oz jar on Amazon)

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Put a cooling rack on a cookie sheet and lay out the bacon neatly. Don’t overlap the pieces at all because they need to get crisp.
IMG_17423. Bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes.

4. If it isn’t perfectly crisp, finish the bacon on the stove in a frying pan over medium heat for just for a minute or two. Keep an eye on it so it doesn’t burn.

5. Once the bacon is crisp, put it on a plate with several layers of paper towels.

6. Toast the bread. Rotate the toast so that it is evenly browned. Billy would not stand for uneven toast.
IMG_17447. Spread jam, excuse me, CONSERVE, thickly on the toast.
IMG_17478. Layer bacon carefully on top of the conserve.
IMG_17509. Put the toast on your fanciest plate. (In this case, my grandmother’s heirloom silver.)

10. Eat while wearing a fancy hat. Or a bathrobe. Or both.
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 Krantz, Judith. Scruples Two. New York: Random House Publishing Group, 2011.
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