Cooking With the Stars Halloween Special — Vincent Price’s Guacamole and Vincent Price’s Savory Stuffed Chicken

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I keep finding myself taking extended breaks from this blog, though I truly hate doing it. This time I have to admit that a lot has been going on in my life that’s been preventing me from posting like a new job, the holidays, and the process of patching up some of the relationships that I hold dear. What’s more, I simply haven’t been signing up for many blogathons lately. In spite of all of that, this is still my favorite blog to maintain and I want to keep on doing just that, so I’m making sure to provide some original content through the rest of the year starting today! Lately my passion for combining classic film with cooking has taken over, and there’s no better time to whip up something frighteningly delicious than Halloween!

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Wasn’t he handsome? And what a voice!

Vincent Price, the spooky star whose dishes I’ll be presenting to you all today, was perhaps the most extraordinary chef that came from classic Hollywood. He hosted his own cooking show in the UK called Cooking Price-Wise in 1971 and wrote four bestselling cookbooks with his wife, Mary. Three of these vast and detailed books have been republished with the help of their daughter Victoria Price within the last three years, and the newest republication of the cookbook that stemmed from his television program, retitled Cooking Price-Wise – The Original Foodie (1971, republished in 2017), was released this month! Today’s recipes are from two different sources. First up we have Vincent’s delectable guacamole, which came from his very first cookbook, A Treasury of Great Recipes (1965).

Vincent Price’s Guacamole

  • 2 avocado pears
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 small onion, chopped fine
  • 1 small green chili, chopped fine
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ clove garlic, minced
  • Salt to taste
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • Chopped, seeded and peeled tomato
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Dash of cayenne or Tabasco sauce
  1. Peel and seed the avocados, saving the seeds.
  2. Mash avocados with a fork in a bowl.
  3. Add all other ingredients.
  4. Leave the avocado seeds in mixture until ready to serve, and they will prevent discoloration.
  5. If you like a very smooth guacamole, remove the seeds and put mixture into blender container and blend on high speed for about 8 seconds before you are ready to serve it.
  6. Serve in a small bowl – Mexican if you have one – with crackers or corn chips or raw vegetables.
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Here’s how my guacamole turned out! Unfortunately I had no Mexican bowl, but I’ll make sure to acquire one before I make this again!

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I knew as soon as I read this recipe that I simply had to serve it at my Halloween party! I was already planning to screen some classic horror films, and I figured that a hefty serving of guacamole would go perfectly with Vincent’s pièce de résistance film, House on Haunted Hill (1959), which was shown on Turner Classic Movies on Halloween night at 11:30pm. I was right! The guests really enjoyed it, though I have to admit that I ended up eating most of it because I loved the outcome so much! I felt like adding both Tabasco and cayenne pepper because I happened to have both on hand, and omitted quite a lot of the onion. I ended up using a little less than half of a medium sized onion, and I don’t know whether onions were much smaller in Vincent’s day or whether he liked his guacamole very oniony!

Also on the menu was Mr. Price’s Savory Stuffed Chicken, a dish that I had been planning to prepare even before I scheduled a Halloween get-together. In fact, I had been dying to try it ever since I saw the always amazing Jenny of Silver Screen Suppers post and review the recipe on her blog. I wouldn’t have ever been able to find this delight if it weren’t for her, so many, many thanks! Interestingly enough, this recipe didn’t come from one of Vincent’s cookbooks, but instead from one of many vinyl records from the 1970s that he narrated with instructions on how to prepare his recipes, along with some helpful dinner party tips that he provided! Luckily the instructions were written on the back, and I’ll provide them for you here!

Vincent Price’s Savory Stuffed Chicken

  • 1 roasting chicken or capon
  • 10 pitted prunes
  • 1 orange, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon pepper
  • 1 pinch of cloves
  • 1 pinch of cinnamon
  • 1 cube of butter
  1. Rub the chicken with salt and pepper, inside and out.
  2. Sprinkle the orange slices with the cloves and cinnamon.
  3. Fill the cavity of the chicken with the prunes, orange slices, and half of the cube of butter, cut into little chunks.
  4. Place the chicken in the roasting pan and rub it with the remainder of the butter, softened.
  5. Roast uncovered for 1¾ hours (1 hour and 45 minutes) at 400 degrees, then lower the temperature to 250 degrees for one hour.
  6. Baste frequently with the drippings, melted butter, or wine.
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The guacamole and the bird side by side! All of that basting made quite a mess of the baking dish!
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And last but not least, here’s a hefty helping of both dishes!

To note, the “cube of butter” ingredient is definitely vague, so I would recommend simply using however much butter you need depending on the size of your chicken. I ended up using about half a stick of softened butter on the outside and about three tablespoons on the inside. Your chicken might also need less time to cook, so make sure to check the directions on your bird if there are any! I cooked mine at 350 degrees for 2½ hours, as instructed, and it came out perfectly! I very recently stopped being a vegetarian after ten years, but I still have to say that this was the best roasted chicken that I can ever remember having! The chicken was the biggest hit among my guests, and there wasn’t any left at all by the end of the party. A few of the guests did mention that they didn’t really taste the fruit in the chicken and recommended adding some of it to the outside of the dish as well. I’ll have to try that soon, and I’m already trying to plan out when I can make this dish again! All in all, I have to say that Vincent really helped make my Halloween party a success, and I hope you try these recipes yourself for a delicious (though belated) Halloween celebration!

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The June Allyson Centenary Blogathon: Ten Things You Might Not Know About June Allyson

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Hi, everyone! If you haven’t noticed, I had to change my topic for the wonderful June Allyson Centenary Blogathon, hosted by the always gracious Simoa of Champagne for Lunch. My original idea was to review Strategic Air Command (1955), one of the lesser-known films that June made with the incomparable James Stewart, while visiting the Al Lang Stadium in Saint Petersburg, Florida, where a portion of the picture was filmed. I couldn’t resist the opportunity as it’s one of the many classic movie filming locations that I recently found out are near my hometown! As much as it disappoints me as I’m sure it does my readers, however, not only was I unable to access the film itself, but I wasn’t even able to get into the stadium! I was aware that it is still in use today (after being converted into a professional soccer stadium in 2011), but I was unaware that the sport had just started its season this month! Rest assured that one fine day I’ll get into the location, take some pictures, and write an article about it that will do it justice. Until then I want to give Simoa a huge thank you for allowing me to change my topic so late in the game, and I hope you all learn something new as I share with you ten facts that you might not know about our lovely birthday girl June Allyson, who would have turned the big 100 today!

1. When June was eight, she fractured her skull and suffered a broken back as a result of a falling tree branch. Her doctors told her that she would never walk again, and for four years she was confined to a heavy steel brace that covered her entire torso. She ultimately regained her health, and even taught herself to dance by watching the films of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.

2. June had the ability to cry on cue. She later explained that her method for inducing tears was to “try very, very hard not to cry, so the more I thought about not crying the more I cried”. Her Little Women (1949) costar Margaret O’Brien also had this gift, and according to Allyson, they both “could not stop” crying during O’Brien’s death scene.

3. She never had the opportunity to place her hand and footprints in front of the iconic Grauman’s Chinese Theatre like many of her costars, but she was awarded a star for her work in motion pictures on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1960 and got to place her hand and footprints in front of The Great Movie Ride at Walt Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park on August 21, 1989 (which is thought to be heavily inspired by Grauman’s).

4. After filming The Secret Heart (1946) together, Allyson became great friends with her costar, Claudette Colbert. On June 18, 1948, Claudette became godmother to June’s only daughter, Pamela Powell.

5. June was an avid fan of mystery writer Agatha Christie, so much so that her personal library consisted of every novel that Christie ever wrote. She also considered Christie’s character Jane Marple to be her favorite female detective.

6. She initially wanted to become a doctor, and began acting in order to pay for medical school. She ended up falling in love with the craft, and eventually paid for her brother to become a doctor instead. She still took a lifelong interest in health and medical research, however, especially after her first husband Dick Powell passed away after a brief battle with lung cancer on January 2, 1963.

7. During the time of her breakout role in Two Girls and A Sailor (1944), June stood at just 5′ 1″ and weighed only 99 pounds.

8. In 1945, Harvard Lampoon voted June as their worst actress of the year. The “award” for worst actor that year went to Van Johnson, who costarred with June in six films.

9. Judy Garland was one of June Allyson’s closest friends. The two met while they were both under contract at MGM in the 1940s, and Judy would often give June rides to the studio in her car. In interviews after Garland’s passing in 1969, Allyson said that she could hardly talk about Garland without crying because she was “such a special lady who didn’t have appropriate help available to her in her lifetime”.

10. Despite often portraying the perfect housewife in film and on television, June was quoted as saying, “In real life I’m a poor dressmaker and a terrible cook – anything in fact but the perfect wife”. I managed to dig up a few of her own personal recipes courtesy of the blog Classic Celebrity Recipes, so go ahead and try them out for yourself and tell me if you agree with June!

Cooking With the Stars — Vera Miles’ Mexican Casserole

Hey, fellow classic film fans! I’m back with my second installment of Cooking With the Stars, a series of posts in which I whip up and review a delicious recipe that was cooked or eaten by a classic film star. More often than not it will even be their own personal recipe! Most 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 second of three recipes that I plan to blog about for the book, Vera Miles’ Mexican Casserole, courtesy of the author of the upcoming book herself. Thank you so much once again, Jenny!

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Vera Miles was born on August 23, 1929 in Boise City, Oklahoma, but soon after her birth her family relocated to Kansas, where she attended school in both Pratt and Wichita. After graduating from high school, Vera worked nights as a typist and operator for Western Union, but her first real taste of fame came in 1948 when she won the coveted title of Miss Wichita, and went on to win Miss Kansas and compete in the Miss America pageant. Vera excelled in the pageant circuit, snagging the titles of Miss Chamber of Commerce, Miss New Maid Margarine, and Miss Texas Grapefruit on top of that before 1951 came to an end. Her many titles as a beauty queen caught Hollywood’s eye, and Vera Miles moved to Los Angeles in 1950, landing bit parts in both film and television. It was the legendary director John Ford who gave Vera her first starring role in the classic western The Searchers (1956), opposite John Wayne. The very next year she began a five-year personal contract with another iconic filmmaker and the one with whom she’s most closely associated: none other than Alfred Hitchcock, who added Vera to the long list of delicate blondes who he hoped would serve as replacements for his muse, Grace Kelly, who had just retired from Hollywood in order to marry Prince Rainier of Monaco.

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Her first job for Hitchcock came when she starred in the pilot episode of Hitchcock Presents (1955-1962), titled “Revenge”, in which she played the dramatic leading role of Elsa Spann, a woman assaulted by an unkown attacker. The master of suspense admired her performance so much that he instantly cast her in The Wrong Man (1957) with Henry Fonda, a film that proved to be yet another success in their partnership. Hitchcock put in motion a third thrilling production for his newest leading lady, but when Miles became pregnant with her third child, the director was forced to replace her with Kim Novak in what would eventually become one of his best known classics, Vertigo (1958). During and after her pregnancy Vera remained a constant in Hollywood, appearing in well-received films like The FBI Story (1959) with James Stewart and continuing to make numerous television appearances, which she would go on to do even after she stopped making films. Notwithstanding the gap between collaborations, Hitchcock was still determined to make Vera Miles his biggest star, and to do that he put her in her biggest role to date, that of Lila Crane in Psycho (1960). The film was a smash, yet Vera would only go on to appear in one more critically acclaimed film, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962). Despite her roles in so many iconic films and television shows (The Twilight Zone, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Columbo, and The Outer Limits, to name a few), sadly Vera hasn’t received the fame and notoriety that she deserves. Though she retired from acting in 1995 and has declined public appearances and interviews, she is fortunately still with us at age 87 and still graciously responds to her fan mail.

I was warned that this dish is very cheesy, but decided to go ahead and give it a try anyway, and I’m glad that I did! Luckily I’ve been watching The Twilight Zone (1959-1964) in order and was able to watch her episode, “Mirror Image”, while I was cooking. It was incredibly well-acted, and the special effects and camera tricks were phenomenal! If you want a delicious and versatile meal to munch on while you watch this lovely Hitchcock blonde in action, here’s how you can make this recipe:

Vera Miles’ Mexican Casserole

  • 2 pounds / 900 grams Cheddar Jack cheese
  • 6 eggs, separated
  • 1 ½ tablespoons flour
  • Dash of salt to taste
  • 2 small cans of green chilli peppers
  • 1 fresh tomato, sliced
  • Dash of oregano
  1. Grate the two cheeses and mix together.
  2. Separate egg whites and beat until stiff, adding the flour for added body.
  3. Beat egg yolks until fluffy and gently fold into egg white mixture.
  4. Take chilli peppers and chop. If you desire less of a hot taste, remove some of the chilli seeds as they contain the hot flavor.
  5. Grease a large casserole dish that would serve about five people and layer a portion of the egg mixture into the dish.
  6. Layer part of the chopped chilli pepper, ending with a portion of the cheese. Repeat until ingredients are used up.
  7. Slice the fresh tomato over the top and and add a sprinkling of oregano.
  8. Bake at 375 degrees F / 190 degrees C / Gas Mark 5 for 30 minutes, or until mixture is set.
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My casserole just before it went into the oven!
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My finished casserole!
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A serving of the casserole! This one looks much prettier than my serving of the first Cooking with the Stars dish!

It’s that easy! This wasn’t the healthiest meal that I’ve ever made (all that cheese meant a lot of grease!), but it tasted great! The egg and tomato made this a recipe that could be a perfect addition to a breakfast, lunch, or dinner. The recipe is wonderful as it is, but I could see more of the chilis or some fresh green bell pepper, spinach, or mushrooms making this a healthier and more complex brunch staple. I would also recommend dividing this recipe up if you’re just cooking for yourself and don’t want leftovers for days and days (mine lasted three!). I hope that you all get to try this for yourselves! You could even write to Vera if you love it! Stay tuned until my next review, where I’ll be trying out a dish from another Pyscho (1960) star!

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!