In case you haven’t heard, Frank DeCaro’s new cookbook, The Dead Celebrity Cookbook Presents Christmas in Tinseltown, has hit the shelves, and can I just tell you what an entertaining cookbook this is? Since I tend to collect cookbooks and love Christmas movies, this was right up my alley. More than a collection of recipes, though, DeCaro digs into the past, filling the pages with tidbits about some of our favorite holiday movies and the stars who played in them. I mean, who knew that Vera-Ellen’s voice was dubbed in White Christmas? Or that Bennie Haynes, the “dog-faced boy” who appears momentarily in a snapshot, was Alfalfa from Our Gang? Just from the White Christmas crew alone we get recipes such as Danny Kaye’s Stir-Fried Oysters and Shrimp; Bing Crosby’s Sugar Cookies; and of course, Rosemary Clooney’s Viennese Goulash.
“It’s cozier, isn’t it? Boy, girl, boy, girl?” -Phil Davis
There are enough recipes in here to pull together your own retro Hollywood glam party. You could start off the evening with Thelma Ritter’s Seafood Dip, Dean Martin’s Baked Potatoes with Caviar, or Art Carney’s Avocado, Grapefruit, and Endive Salad, which all sound so much better with a celebrity name attached. Perhaps Jack Albertson’s Stuffed Crown Roast of Pork or Burl Ive’s Stuffed Leg of Goat Hawaiian could take center stage.Â That’s right, I said leg of goat. Finish off the evening with a cup of John Lennon’s Hot Cocoa and one of Barbara Stanwyck’s Kipfels. If you have a big enough crew, whip up a batch of Robert Mitchum’s Eggnog, it serves 20! And that’s just a small taste of the contents. Christmas in Tinseltown is filled with recipes from a bygone era and is an ideal gift for the movie buff on your Christmas list.
White Christmas is one of my favorite holiday movies, so I was delighted to test and share one of Rosemary Clooney‘s recipes. Who could forget her sizzling performance “Love You Didn’t Do Right By Me” in that va-va-voom black gown? Funny enough, Rosemary Clooney, who was not Italian, was mostly known for her kitschy hits “Come On-a My House” and “Mambo Italiano.” She wasn’t Austrian either, yet here we have her Viennese Goulash. No liverwurst sandwiches and buttermilk tonight!
First, line up the ingredients. The recipe calls for dried marjoram, but since I had some fresh marjoram on hand, I used that instead. You can never go wrong with fresh herbs.
The recipe also calls for grinding the caraway seeds, garlic, lemon peel, and marjoram using a mortar and pestle, which is something I don’t have. While I could have used my molcajete, I decided to go with the chopping bowl and mezzaluna instead and was pleased with the results. You could always use a food processor too.
This mixture is going to get sauteed in a pan with the butter and tomato paste. Note, I couldn’t bring myself to use that much butter, so I reduced it slightly to 1 cube.
Meanwhile, slice up those two pounds of onions.Â By now you’re probably thinking some onion goggles would sure be handy. I know. I cried.
Add the onions to the pan and saute until golden. Stir in the paprika, then the beef, plus salt and pepper.Â Add the water, then cover and simmer for 90 minutes.
The onions practically melt into the gravy, which is rich and delicious. Goulash is perfect served over buttered noodles or boiled potatoes.
- 2 tsp marjoram
- 1 tsp caraway seeds
- 1 tsp finely chopped lemon rind
- 1 clove garlic
- ¾ cup butter
- 1 tsp tomato paste
- 2 lbs onions, sliced
- 1 tbsp sweet Hungarian paprika
- 2 lbs chuck, rump, or round beef, cut into large chunks
- 1½ cups water
- Salt, to taste
- ¼ cup flour, optional
- Using a mortar and pestle, or a small grinder, crush together the marjoram, caraway seeds, lemon rind, and garlic.
- In a Dutch oven, melt the butter, add the tomato paste and crushed seasoning and stir to combine. Add the sliced onions and, stirring constantly, sautÃ© until golden. Add the paprika and cook for a minute more, stirring constantly. Add the beef, one cup of water, and salt to taste.
- Cover and simmer until the beef is tender, about 90 minutes. Add more water during cooking, if needed. Before the goulash is done, add another half cup of water and bring the sauce to a boil. If more sauce is desired, sprinkle the meat with ¼ cup flour and add another cup of water and bring to a boil.
- Serve the goulash with egg noodles or boiled potatoes.
Note: HCI Books generously provided a copy of this book to review, and all opinions expressed above are my own. Rosemary Clooney’s Viennese Goulash is reprinted with permission. Also note, I earn a modest commission for any purchases made through any Amazon.com links within this article.
Recipes from The Dead Celebrity Cookbook Presents: Christmas in Tinseltown
by Frank DeCaro. (HCI; October 2012; $14.95/Paperback: ISBN-13:978-0757317002).