Virtually every summer, devoted fans of Gene Kelly will come across “Gene Kelly’s Flavor Tips for the Barbecue," a 1955 Durkee Foods ad featuring the Hollywood song-and-dance man grilling what appears to be an entire cow. Also included are recipes for corn on the cob, deviled eggs, and potato salad supreme.
Pairing Gene Kelly—or Hollywood stars in general—with food or recipes is nothing new. For Dinah Shore’s celebrity cookbook, Kelly offered up his recipe for coq au vin. Rosemary Bradley features Kelly’s “‘I’ll Be Right Back’ Shrimp” in her Treasury of Favorite Recipes. Finally, here is Kelly tap-dancing a recipe for linguini (yes, you read that right) on The Danny Kaye Show (1963-67).
To accompany Gene Kelly’s coq au vin, here are 10 more recipes from stars of Hollywood’s classic era, as found in Frank DeCaro’s book The Dead Celebrity Cookbook: A Resurrection of Recipes from More Than 145 Stars of Stage and Screen.
1. Claudette Colbert’s Cheese and Olive Puffs
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese, at room temperature 1/3 cup butter, softened 1 cup flour 1/4 teaspoon Tabasco Dash of Worcestershire sauce 2 (10-ounce) jars of pimento-stuffed green olives, drained and blotted dry
Add cheese and butter to bowl of a food processor and blend until smooth. Add flour, Tabasco and Worcestershire sauce to form dough. Wrap each olive in a small amount of dough, completely covering the olive and forming a ball. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and freeze. Transfer to a plastic bag and store in freezer until ready to use. To cook, place on a baking sheet and bake at 400˚ F for 12 minutes, or until crust is golden. Serve hot.
2. Gloria Swanson’s Potassium Broth
1 cup string beans, chopped 1 cup celery, chopped 1 cup zucchini, chopped 1 cup Swiss chard, chopped 8 cups of spring water
Before chopping, wash all vegetables thoroughly. Pour spring water into a soup pot and add the rest of ingredients. Cover and simmer until celery is tender. Allow the broth to cool to room temperature. Refrigerate in glass jars. Serve hot or cold.
3. Bette Davis’ Red Flannel Hash
2 cups cooked corned beef 3 cups cold boiled potatoes 1 1/2 cups cooked beets. salt and pepper to taste 1/2 cup or more of cream 1/2 stick butter
Chop all ingredients and combine in a large bowl. Season to taste and moisten mixture with cream. Place in a hot buttered skillet. Stir and spread evenly in pan. Brown slowly over medium heat. Serve with poached eggs on top.
4. John Wayne’s Favorite Casserole
2 (4 oz.) cans green chilies, drained 1 lb. Monterey Jack cheese, grated 1 lb. cheddar cheese, grated 4 egg whites 4 egg yolks 2/3 cup evaporated milk 1 tablespoon flour 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/8 teaspoon pepper 2 medium tomatoes, sliced
Combine chilies with cheese in a large bowl and turn into a well-buttered shallow 2-quart casserole dish. Beat the egg whites until peaks form. Mix egg yolks, milk, flour, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Fold egg yolk mixture into the egg whites. Pour over the cheese and chili mixture. Comb through with a knife and fork gently until combined. Bake for 30 minutes. Arrange tomatoes on top, and bake another 30 minutes. Garnish with extra chilies, if desired. Let sit 15 minutes before serving.
5. Elizabeth Taylor’s Chicken with Avocado and Mushrooms
1 avocado, peeled and cubed 1 tablespoon lemon juice 2 (2 1/2 pound) chickens, cut into serving pieces Salt and freshly ground pepper 1/4 cup butter 3 finely chopped shallots 3 tablespoons cognac 1/3 cup dry white wine 1 cup whipping cream 2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms 3 tablespoons butter 1 cup chicken stock Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
Sprinkle avocado with lemon juice. Cover and refrigerate. Season chicken with salt and pepper. In a large heavy skillet, over low heat, heat 3 to 4 tablespoons butter and sauté chicken until juices run yellow when it is pricked with a fork, about 35 to 40 minutes. Use two skillets if necessary, adding more butter as needed. Transfer cooked chicken to a serving dish. Cover loosely with aluminum foil. Keep warm in a 300 degree F oven for 15 minutes, while preparing sauce.
To make the sauce, add shallots to skillet. Cook over medium heat, stirring and scraping sides and bottom of pan with wooden spoon. Add cognac and wine and bring to a boil. Boil until mixture has almost evaporated. Add cream and boil 5 minutes longer. Add chicken stock to cream mixture. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thick. While sauce cooks, sauté mushrooms over high heat in butter. Add the mushrooms, remaining cognac, and avocado cubes. Stir until well blended. Pour over chicken. Sprinkle with parsley.
6. Joan Crawford’s Poached Salmon
1 3-pound piece of fresh salmon 3 lemons 6 cups water 10 pearl onions, peeled 1/2 stalk celery with leaves 2 sprigs parsley 3 small bay leaves 12 peppercorns, crushed 2 teaspoons salt 2 cups mayonnaise 4 teaspoons prepared mustard 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
Rinse and dry fish. Cut lemons in thin slices. Place slices on both sides of the fish. Wrap fish in a double thickness of cheesecloth and secure with kitchen string. Put water, onions, celery, parsley, bay leaves, crushed peppercorns and salt in a fish poacher or on a rack in a deep saucepan. Cover and simmer 30 minutes.
Place fish on rack in the kettle so that it is halfway submerged in the water. Cover and slowly simmer 40 minutes, or until fish is barely done. Place fish on a heated platter. Remove cloth and lemon slices carefully. Combine mayonnaise, prepared mustard and lemon juice; mix well and serve with fish. (Fish and dressing may also be served cold on a bed of lettuce.)
7. Dean Martin’s Burgers and Bourbon
1 pound ground beef 1/4 teaspoon of salt 8 ounces bourbon chilled
Preheat a heavy frying pan and sprinkle bottom lightly with table salt. Mix meat, handling lightly, just enough to form into four patties. Grill over medium-high heat about 4 minutes on each side. Pour chilled bourbon in chilled shot glass and serve meat and bourbon on a TV tray.
8. Humphrey Bogart’s Coconut Spanish Cream
1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin 1/4 cup milk 4 egg yolks, beaten 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/2 cup sugar 2 cup scalded milk 1 cup shredded coconut, plus additional for garnish 2 egg whites, beaten stiff 1/2 teaspoon orange extract Orange segments for garnish
Soften gelatin in 1/4 cup milk. Stir beaten yolks, salt, and sugar in the top of double boiler over hot water. Add gelatin. Add scalded milk gradually, stirring until the mixture coats the back of a spoon. Cool. When completely cool, stir in coconut. Fold beaten egg whites and extract into custard. Pour into mold and refrigerate until firm. Unmold and serve garnished with coconut and orange sections.
9. Rock Hudson’s Cannoli
3 pounds ricotta 1-3⁄4 cups confectioner’s sugar 1⁄2 teaspoon cinnamon 2 tablespoons chopped citron 1⁄4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips 4 cups flour 1 tablespoon sugar 1⁄4 teaspoon cinnamon 3⁄4 cup Italian red wine
Using an electric mixer, beat the ricotta in a large bowl for 1 minute. Add confectioner’s sugar and beat until light and creamy, about 5 minutes. Add cinnamon, chopped citron, and chocolate chips and mix until well blended. Refrigerate until ready to use.
To make cannoli shells, sift flour, sugar, and cinnamon together into a large bowl. Make a well and pour wine into it and mix until incorporated. On a floured cutting board, knead dough until smooth and stiff, about 15 minutes. If dough is too moist or sticky, add some flour. If it’s too dry, add more wine. Cover dough and let it rest two hours in a cool place.
Then roll paper-thin on a lightly floured board. Cut into 5-inch circles. Wrap each circle around a cannoli tube loosely, overlapping 1⁄4 inch of dough. Seal dough by brushing with slightly beaten egg yolk. With the tube in place, deep fry 2 cannoli at a time in hot oil for 1 minute until light brown. Lift gently with slotted spoon or tongs, drain on paper towel and cool. Remove tubes gently and fill.
10. Katharine Hepburn’s Brownies
2 (1-ounce) squares unsweetened baker’s chocolate 1 stick unsalted butter 1 cup sugar 2 eggs 1/2 teaspoon vanilla 1/4 cup flour 1/4 teaspoon salt 1 cup chopped walnuts
Melt chocolate and butter in a heavy saucepan over low heat. Remove from heat and stir in sugar. Add eggs and vanilla and beat well. Stir in flour, salt and walnuts. Mix well. Pour into a buttered 8-inch square baking pan. Bake at 325˚ F for 40 minutes. Cool and cut into squares.
For other celebrity recipes or recipes inspired by celebrities, check out the following books and/or People’s “Cooking with the Stars” section, where you can find Lady Gaga’s favorite fried chicken and Gwyneth Paltrow’s meatballs and garlic bread.
- Cooking with the Classics: Recipes Inspired by Classic Films
- Hollywood Dish: More Than 150 Delicious, Healthy Recipes from Hollywood’s Chef to the Stars
- Recipes of the Stars: Over 100 Classic Recipes Spotlighting Many Favorite Celebrities
All recipes excerpted from The Dead Celebrity Cookbook: A Resurrection of Recipes from More Than 145 Stars of Stage and Screen by Frank DeCaro.