Sure, there are plenty of cookbooks out there written by chefs or celebrity chefs or home cooks or people who somehow cook things for a living. But who needs kitchen experience to write a cookbook when you've been the movie critic on The Daily Show. Which is what Frank DeCaro, author of The Dead Celebrity Cookbook, did for seven years. Not sure whether he cooked things, either for Jon Stewart or for anyone else, but who cares. Consider it the transitive principle of funny things.
Published earlier this month by HCI, DeCaro's cookbook features the favorite recipes of more than 145 of Hollywood's late great stars, including Frank Sinatra's barbecued lamb, Anthony Perkins tuna salad, Joan Crawford's poached salmon, Johnny Cash's old iron pot family-style chili, Liberace's sticky buns and Rock Hudson's cannoli. One could go one. One kind of wants to.
What other stars' favorite dishes made it into the book? Vincent Price, Andy Warhol (ghoulish goulash!), Sebastian Cabot, Lucille Ball, Elizabeth Taylor, Sonny Bono, Liberace, Lawrence Welk (vegetable croquettes!!), Michael Jackson, John Denver, Humphrey Bogart, and Peter Falk (see the recipe below), among others.
The inspiration for the cookbook came not from some late night adventure at Hollywood Forever's justly famous Dia de los Muertos celebration (not finding a recipe from Johnny Ramone), but, apparently, from a "Dead Celebrity Party" the author attended in college.
The book could be the perfect Halloween gift for your favorite cook. Or perhaps something to make for Halloween or Dia de los Muertos, if you're sick to death of candy and pan de muerto.
We'd have included the recipe for Dean Martin's Burgers and Bourbon, which is just beyond cool, except for the fact that it's not really a recipe, Martin having spent more time drinking his dinner than making it. All you have to do is make 4 hamburger patties from a pound of ground beef. Cook them for 4 minutes per side in a hot skillet sprinkled with 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Then pour 2 ounces of chilled bourbon each into 4 shot glasses. Drink with your burger.
Peter Falk's Pork Chops
From: The Dead Celebrity Cookbook, by Frank DeCaro
6 pork chops
1 medium onion, finely chopped
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup white vinegar
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon thyme
1 cup water
½ cup liquid from jarred vinegar peppers
1 cup (or more) vinegar peppers
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1. Preheat oven to 350°. Brown pork chops in olive oil in a heavy frying pan
and remove to a casserole.
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2. Cook onions until translucent in same oil and add to the casserole.
3. Deglaze pan by adding white vinegar and stirring up all brown bits. Add to the casserole along with all remaining ingredients except the vinegar peppers. Bake for 1½ hours.
4. Add vinegar peppers and cook 15 minutes more. Remove pork chops and peppers to a warm serving plate.
5. Add 2 teaspoons corn starch to the pan drippings to make gravy. Pour over the pork chops and peppers and serve.