Who is your favorite film star from the golden era of Hollywood? Bette Davis? She was a fan of Boston Baked Beans. Joan Crawford? She hid hard-boiled eggs in her lovingly prepared meatloaf. Greta Garbo? She liked bananas mashed into her potatoes. On the cook’s night off, many of tinsel-town’s greatest stars loved to don their aprons and get busy with the pots and pans. In this monthly column, I’ll be sharing some of their favorite recipes, and linking them to a specific national food day so you can celebrate, superstar-style!
There are currently over 5,500 recipes in the Silver Screen Suppers film star recipe archive, collected over 15 years via newspaper archives, second-hand bookstores and lucky scores on eBay. From Ada Lewis to ZaSu Pitts, there is an A-Z of stars and their signature dishes to choose from. It’s fairly mind-boggling and I have cooked my way through hundreds of them. But whenever I am asked who my favorite film star cook is, there is absolutely no hesitation: Mr. Vincent Price.
Vincent was not only a wonderful actor, he was also a gourmet chef. He wrote several excellent cookbooks and had a television cooking show on British TV called Cooking Price-Wise. With flamboyant 1970s saucepans he demonstrated how to create dishes such as American Ice Box Cake, Turkish Yogurt Fluff and Hawaiian Chicken—all pretty exotic for Brits in the seventies. His resonant voice and sonorous delivery made everything sound deliciously decadent.
Admirably, Vincent had the obvious conviction that everyone should experience fine dining, if not in a restaurant, then at least in their own homes. He wanted ordinary mortals to have the chance to sample dishes such as Deviled Rib Bones as served at The Ivy in London, or Pannequets Souffles Flambes as they were prepared at the Lasserre in Paris. This we can all do, thanks to Vincent and his first wife Mary, who shared over 500 dishes from the best restaurants around the globe in their Treasury of Great Recipes. As Vincent put it: “The finest food, like the best in every art, is simply a matter of excellence of preparation, imagination and performance.”
Mary and Vincent Price agreed that the greatest breakfasts either of them could remember having eaten were served in the dining car of the Santa Fe Super Chief, a luxury passenger train that began service in 1936. It was known as “The Train of the Stars” because it was beloved by so many celebrities traveling between Chicago and Los Angeles. One of the train’s stopping points was Winslow, Arizona, where weary travelers could rest their heads at “The Last Great Railroad Hotel”, La Posada, built in 1929.
The blueberry breakfast muffins served in the dining car of the Super Chief and enjoyed by Vincent and his wife, were prepared to La Posada’s recipe, and I was thrilled to see they are still being served to this day in the restaurant. Maybe a pilgrimage is required? For those of us far away from Winslow, Vincent was kind enough to transcribe the recipe for these delicious muffins. As he says: “Too few of us have time for homemade hot breads in the morning, and I think it is a shame. But we can at least serve them for more leisurely weekend breakfasts.”
Or perhaps, on Friday July 11, Blueberry Muffin Day. Why not get up early and bake?
For cooks who work in pounds and ounces or metric measurements, do not fear the cups! Vincent advises that you can use any cup, just use the same one for all ingredients. It’s all about volume, not weight.
Vincent Price’s Blueberry Muffins La Posada
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup softened butter
2 eggs, well beaten
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2/3 cup of milk
1 cup blueberries
Preheat oven to hot (400 degrees F /200 degrees C).
Cream together the sugar and butter. Add eggs and mix thoroughly.
Sift and measure 2 cups flour. Sift again with the baking powder and salt. Add the flour mixture alternately, little by little, with the milk to the creamed ingredients.
Carefully fold in the blueberries.
Grease muffin pans with butter, fill half full and bake in the oven for 20 minutes.
Enjoy sprinkling some Vincent Price stardust around your kitchen!
Jenny Hammerton is a film archivist with a nosey parker interest in what the stars of Hollywood Golden era liked to eat and drink. She’s been scribbling away about film star recipes for around eight years at Silver Screen Suppers and her bulging collection of film star favorites now numbers over 5500. When not cooking and writing, Jenny works with the British Movietone newsreel collection for the AP Archive in London, and DJs on a wind-up gramophone with The Shellac Sisters.