Cooking With the Stars — Jackie Cooper’s Curried Eggs and Macaroni

Hey, everyone! Today I’m bringing you the first of what I hope will be a series of posts in which I whip up and review a scrumptious dish that was cooked or eaten by a classic film star. More often than not it will even be their own personal recipe! All of the recipes that I’ll be posting in this series will be courtesy of one of my favorite bloggers, Jenny of Silver Screen Suppers. If you’ve ever wanted to try vintage cooking or the favorite foods of your favorite icons, her blog is the place to go! I’m fortunate enough to be one of the lucky test cooks for her upcoming Columbo Cookbook, a compilation of recipes that were either featured on the hit television show or cooked by one of its stars. Today I’ll be bringing you the first of three recipes that I plan to blog about for the book, Jackie Cooper’s Curried Eggs and Macaroni, courtesy of the author of the upcoming book herself. Thanks, Jenny!

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Jackie Cooper at the age of nine in a publicity still for Skippy (1931).

Jackie Cooper, born on September 15, 1922, was a much beloved child star of the 1930s, and the first child actor to be nominated for an Academy Award. In 1931 he went on to break yet another barrier, for at age nine he became the youngest actor to be nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role for his smash hit, Skippy (1931). He did not win, but Cooper still holds the record for the youngest person to be nominated in the category. Unlike many of his peers, he went on to achieve success in films and television as an adult, starring in Ziegfeld Girl (1941) and The Twilight Zone in 1964, even receiving the leading role in multiple television shows throughout the 1950s before snagging a supporting part in Superman (1978) as Perry White and returning for its three sequels. My personal favorite of Cooper’s appearances was his stint as a celebrity panelist on To Tell the Truth (1956-1968), a television game show that was wildly popular at the time. Cooper continued to have a stellar career in television before his reitrement in 1990, and passed away more than two decades later on May 3, 2011 at the age of 88.

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Jackie Cooper as an adult, at the height of his second career in television.

The recipe that I’ll be reviewing today is from the height of his fame as a child star in the 1930s, when he told the author of a vintage recipe book that this was a favorite of his that was often prepared for him by his mother. Cooper was quoted as saying, “Whenever my mother wants me to have a dish that contains all the vitamins that are necessary for a young chap who is growing by leaps and bounds, this is what she serves me and boy, is it good.” If you’re from the US like me, this recipe may come as quite a shock to you. At first it appears to be a typical recipe for homemade macaroni and cheese, topped with breadcrumbs and all, but if you look closely you’ll see one key missing ingredient: the cheese! What this dish lacks in cheesy goodness it makes up for in sliced hardboiled eggs and curry powder, of all things. I’ll admit that these changes made me a little hesitant to cook the recipe at first, but I decided to try something new and it certainly paid off. If you’d like to try this recipe for yourself, here it is:

Jackie Cooper’s Curried Eggs and Macaroni

  • 1/2 lb / 225g macaroni
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 to 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups  / 475 ml milk
  • 6 hard-boiled eggs
  • Buttered bread crumbs
  1. Bring a pan of water to boil, salt and place macaroni in and let cook until tender, drain and wash under hot water until all the starch is removed.
  2. Next make a cream sauce – first melt butter and add flour, curry powder, salt and milk — cook until thickened and add to the macaroni.
  3. Place macaroni in baking dish, alternating layers of macaroni with layers of hard boiled eggs, ending with the macaroni on top.  Sprinkle with buttered bread crumbs and brown under the broiler/grill.

I cooked the recipe accordingly, and here are my results:

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A hearty serving of the dish, though it doesn’t get many points for presentation.
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A bonus picture of my puppy Mozart waiting for the macaroni to come out of the oven! He gobbled up a little bit that fell on the floor and gave it two paws up!

I made this for dinner when my sister stopped by for the weekend and she tried it along with my husband. He said, “I was thrown off because I don’t like the texture of eggs, but in this the texture of the pasta balances out the eggs. There was no aftertaste, and I liked it and I ate more than I expected. If I could improve it I would add some cheese like Parmesan or Mozzarella. Another downside is that once it went in the fridge, the leftovers crumbled quite a bit and wouldn’t hold their shape.” My sister said, “It tastes like ramen, with similar seasonings. The curry kind of overpowers everything and if I were cooking it I would use less, but I like that the egg adds some texture, and I also think it would better with cheese.” I tend to agree with them both to an extent. The taste of the curry was pretty strong fresh out of the oven, but once I had some leftovers the flavors all blended together better and I really fell in love with this dish! If I did it again, all that I would change is that I’d add a ton of cheddar cheese to the sauce to make a scrumptious cheese sauce before mixing it with the macaroni.

I hope that you all get to make and try out one of Jackie Cooper’s specialties, and hold on to your seats until I come back with my next recipe and review!

 

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