One of my favorite kinds of retro cookbooks are the ones that feature celebrity recipes – and I use the term “celebrity” fairly loosely, depending on the book. Good Housekeeping put one of these out in 1958, called Who’s Who Cooks: Favorite Recipes of Famous People. They tracked down “actors and authors, musicians and milliners, statesmen and skaters, and puppeteers” and asked them what they liked on their celebrity tables. Some of them didn’t cook, not surprisingly, so in that case you are getting the cuisine “perfected by their jewels-of-cooks.”
In the case of Ray Bolger (who was as you probably remember the Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz), “he takes his recipes to favorite restaurants and has them made to order.” Because he doesn’t have time to cook, you see. But wouldn’t schlepping all the way to some restaurant and trying to get a busy chef to make you Flaming Filet of Beef – one of Ray’s favorites, apparently – take more time than bunging it in the oven yourself? And why didn’t he have a jewel-of-a-cook?
Oh, never mind.
The celebrities range from people like writer/explorer Lowell Thomas and newscaster John Cameron Swayze, to less famous ones like Sally Victor (famous in the 1950s for her hats) and Bil and Cora Baird (the puppeteers). I’ll write about some of their offerings down the road, but today I can’t resist sharing one of my favorites – Alfred Hitchcock’s Quiche Lorraine.
Who knew that Alfred Hitchcock was so crazy about quiche? I thought Real Men Didn’t Eat Quiche, and all that (remember that book from 1982, anyone?). He was clearly a man ahead of his time. Good Housekeeping informs us that Hitchcock told his friends that “I’m not a heavy eater. I’m just heavy, and I eat.” Whatever you say, Sir Alfred – just as long as you don’t bring any flocks of birds along to dinner, or anything.
Note the explanation in parentheses after the title – quiche was pretty exotic stuff back in 1958.
Hitchcock’s Quiche Lorraine (Swiss-Cheese Pie)
Sift together 1 1/2 cups sifted cake flour and 1/2 tsp salt. With finger tips, work in until crumbly: 1/4 cup butter or margarine (1/2 cup). Slowly add, stirring with fork: 1/4 cup cold water. Shape into ball; roll in waxed paper; refrigerate about 1/2 hour, or until easy to roll. Then start heating oven to 425 F. On floured board, roll dough into large circle, about 14″ in diameter. Fit into 11″ pie plate. Make attractive fluted edge. With fork, prick well. Place in refrigerator about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, make filling. Fry until crisp:
12 slices bacon
Crumble bacon into small pieces. Now, using fine grater, grate:
1/4 lb. natural Swiss cheese (makes about 1 cup)
Into bowl, break 4 eggs. Then add:
2 cups heavy cream
3/4 tsp salt
Generous pinch sugar
Plenty of freshly ground black pepper
Beat with egg beater just long enough to mix thoroughly. Now spread pastry shell with about 1 Tb soft butter or margarine. Sprinkle bacon bits, then grated cheese, in bottom of pie shell. Pour cream mixture over all. Bake 15 minutes. Then reduce oven temperature to 300 F; bake 20 minutes longer, or until silver knife inserted in center comes out clean. Serve hot, cut into wedges. Makes 20 hors d’oeuvres, or 8 main-dish servings.
I am not sure about the sugar and the cayenne, or about the butter on top of the pie crust (followed by bacon) – but Hitchcock’s “great interest and good taste in food are sort of a legend,” and this is the way he liked his quiche. Let’s just be glad he didn’t put anything really strange in it.