June 22, 2018
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A meal to remember: 100 years later, dinners re-create the last meal on the Titanic

By Susan M. Selasky, Detroit Free Press

Interest in the Titanic sails on as the 100th anniversary of its April 15, 1912, sinking draws near.

Museums, theaters and even hotels are preparing special menus to mark the centennial.

The Henry Ford Museum is readying a sold-out dinner for 400 as it opens “Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition,” which begins a long run in Dearborn, Mich., on March 31. In Royal Oak, Mich., a Titanic dinner will kick off the Stagecrafters’ production of “Titanic: The Musical.”

The Kirby House, a bed-and-breakfast in Saugatuck, will put on its annual Titanic dinner, and in Alma, the public library will be turned into a ship’s dining hall for a buffet-style affair for 125.

Titanic enthusiast David McMacken, 71, of St. Louis suggested the Alma library event.

Because of the centennial, “it’s literally a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said McMacken, a retired Alma High teacher who has donated more than 100 books on the Titanic to the Alma Library.

On April 14, the sold-out Alma event will feature presenters impersonating passengers who will follow a script provided by McMacken.

“All of the impersonators will be in costume, and we are encouraging people to come dressed in Edwardian-era” clothing, McMacken said.

Some organizers took menu cues from “Last Dinner on the Titanic: Menus and Recipes from the Great Liner” by Rick Archbold and Dana McCauley (Madison Press, $25.95).

Then, like chef-owner Greg Reyner of Café Muse in Royal Oak, Mich., they looked for ways to modernize and economize.

“One of the menus had marrow,” said Reyner, who is preparing the sold-out strolling buffet for 250 at Royal Oak’s Baldwin Theatre on April 12. “We had to find things that were comparable.”

For example, Reyner will serve caviar-topped deviled eggs instead of oysters. Beef consommé topped with scallops will become a tomato-based consommé served in cucumber cups.

One of Reyner’s entrées will be Chicken with Braised Leeks, Spinach and Apples, a take off on the Titanic’s Roast Squab with Watercress.

“And we are contrasting the opulent first class with the steerage-esque, so to speak, third class,” Reyner said. So a boiled dinner is also on the menu.

Jesse Eisenhuth, director of food service and catering, said the Henry Ford pulled its April 14 menu from all three classes.

“Most people concentrate on the first-class menu,” Eisenhuth said. “For this dinner, it’s from every class, because we wanted to make sure we tell the whole story.”

They’ve added shaved truffle to a consommé course and are serving Roast Turkey with Savory Cranberry Sauce, Turnip Purée, Green Peas and Roasted Potatoes as a main course.

This is the 14th year for the Titanic dinner at the Kirby House in Saugatuck, Mich. Owner Jim Gowran began the events the year James Cameron’s film won the Academy Award.

“We rotate the main entrée each year,” Gowran said.

This year, it’s Filet Mignon Lili with creamed carrots and chateau potatoes.

Gowran’s event April 14 will feature guests dressed in period costume or black tie. Each is given the name of a passenger and information about them.

“At the end of the dinner, they find out if they survived,” Gowran said.

Canapes A L’Amiral

Makes: 20 canapes / Preparation time: 25 minutes / Total time: 1 hour

Shrimp Butter

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 large shallot, peeled, ends removed, minced

1 clove garlic, peeled, ends removed, minced

8 ounces shrimp in shell, rinsed

¼ cup brandy

4 ounces cream cheese, softened (regular or reduced fat)

2 tablespoons butter, softened

1 tablespoon tomato paste

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

Dash of vanilla


20 slices (about ½-inch thick) baguette

1 teaspoon lime juice

10 small cooked shrimp, halved lengthwise

20 fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

2 tablespoons caviar (see note)

To prepare shrimp butter: In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the shallot and garlic. Cook, stirring often, for about 5 minutes or until softened.

Increase the heat to high and add the shrimp. Saute the shrimp for 4-5 minutes or until the shells are pink and the flesh is opaque. Remove the shrimp and cool. When cool enough to handle, peel shrimp and discard shells. Transfer the shrimp mixture to a blender or a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Then return the skillet to the heat and add the brandy. Cook, stirring, for about 30 seconds or until the brandy is reduced to a glaze. Scrape the glaze into the shrimp mixture.

Pulse the shrimp mixture until it is coarsely chopped. Add the cream cheese, butter, tomato paste, salt, pepper and vanilla. Process until almost smooth. Set aside.

To prepare the canapé s: Place the baguette slices on a baking sheet and toast under the broiler for 1 minute per side or until lightly golden. Remove from broiler and set aside. Drizzle the lime juice over the cooked shrimp halves; stir and reserve.

To assemble canapé s: Place the shrimp butter in a pastry bag fitted with a decorative tube. Pipe the shrimp butter onto the toasted baguette slices, or spread mixture on slices using a table knife. Top each with a cooked shrimp half, parsley leaf and small amount of caviar.

Cook’s note: Sautéing the shrimp in their shells enhances their flavor, but you can peel and devein the raw shrimp first. If desired, substitute lumpfish caviar for caviar.

From “Last Dinner on the Titanic: Menus and Recipes from the Great Liner” by Rick Archbold and Dana McCauley (Madison Press, $25.95). Tested by Susan Selasky in the Free Press Test Kitchen

92 calories (45 percent from fat), 5 grams fat (2 grams sat. fat), 7 grams carbohydrates, 5 grams protein, 196 mg sodium, 38 mg cholesterol, trace of fiber.

Braised Chicken with Leeks, Spinach and Apples

Serves: 8 / Preparation time: 15 minutes / Total time: 1 hour, 25 minutes

Greg Reyner, chef-owner of Cafe Muse in Royal Oak, developed this recipe based on one of the courses of the last first-class dinner on the Titanic — originally roast squab with watercress. Reyner substituted chicken thighs and spinach.

Flour for dredging (about ¾ cup)

Olive oil for frying (about ¼ cup)

8 large skinless, boneless chicken thighs

Sea salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

2 leeks (white parts only), sliced, rinsed well, diced

4 cloves garlic, peeled, diced

1 cup dry white wine, such as Chardonnay

1 large apple (such as Granny Smith), peeled and diced 2 cups fresh spinach, washed and torn Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place flour in a shallow dish or pie plate. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Pat chicken thighs dry with paper towels, dredge with flour and shake off excess. Working in batches, carefully add thighs to the skillet. Salt and pepper to taste. Once you have nice color on the thighs, turn and brown the second side. Once the chicken is browned, transfer to a baking dish. Add leeks and garlic to the skillet and sauté for a minute, until softened. Deglaze with wine and add the diced apple. Pour everything over thighs. Cover tightly with foil and bake until chicken is tender, about 1 hour. Chicken should be tender but not falling apart. At this point, stir in the spinach and cook 10 minutes more, uncovered. Test for seasoning and add more salt and pepper to taste, if needed.

From Café Muse, Royal Oak.

Tested by Susan Selasky in the Free Press Test Kitchen. Analysis based on 4 ounces cooked chicken thigh meat.

366 calories (46 percent from fat), 18 grams fat (4 grams sat. fat), 13 grams carbohydrates, 32 grams protein, 227 mg sodium, 109 mg cholesterol, 3 grams fiber.

Asparagus Salad with Champagne-Saffron Vinaigrette

Serves: 6 / Preparation time: 20 minutes / Total time: 20 minutes

This is an ideal way to serve spring’s favorite vegetable, asparagus. Using saffron in the vinaigrette lends a floral note.

1 ½ pounds asparagus, rinsed

Boiling salted water

¼ teaspoon saffron threads

1 teaspoon boiling water

1 ½ tablespoons Champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar

½ to 1 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard

Pinch of sugar

3 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

½ sweet red or yellow pepper, diced

6 leaf or butter lettuce leaves

Holding the asparagus halfway up the stalk, snap off the woody ends at a natural breaking point and discard.

In a wide, deep skillet or large pot of boiling salted water, cook the asparagus spears 3 minutes or until they are tender but not limp. Drain and run them under cold water until they are completely cooled; drain well. Set aside.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, stir the saffron into the teaspoon of boiling water. Let stand for 2 minutes or until saffron is softened. Stir in the vinegar, mustard and sugar. Whisk in the olive oil. Season the mixture with salt and pepper to taste. If you want the vinaigrette thicker, add more Dijon. Add the asparagus and diced pepper; toss gently to coat with the vinaigrette. Line a platter with lettuce leaves and arrange the asparagus mixture on top.

From “Last Dinner on the Titanic: Menus and Recipes from the Great Liner” by Rick Archbold and Dana McCauley (Madison Press, $25.95).

Tested by Susan Selasky in the Free Press Test Kitchen.

84 calories (76 percent from fat), 7 grams fat (1 gram sat. fat), 5 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams protein, 8 mg sodium, 0 mg cholesterol, 2 grams fiber.


©2012 the Detroit Free Press

Distributed by MCT Information Services


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