This post was part of my month-long celebration of Vincent Price–TCM’s October Star of the Month in 2013.
Since moving to the Napa Valley–one of America’s premiere ‘foodie’ capitols–three years ago I’ve been trying to teach myself how to cook. Decades of city apartment living had turned me into a takeout junkie and I could barely remember how to put a proper sandwich together. Why bother when you have a great Italian deli just a block away? So far my cooking adventures have yielded mixed results but I’m always on the lookout for new recipes and cooking ideas so I recently turned to Vincent Price for inspiration.
Vincent Price was many things besides being an accomplished actor and the “Crown Price of Horror.” He was a loving father, a respected art collector, an avid reader, a self-proclaimed Anglophile and a big game fisherman. He was also a skilled gourmet chef who wrote a number of critically acclaimed cookbooks and became the Ambassador of California Wine in 1965.
He appeared on various television programs showcasing his chef skills and eventually went on to host his own cooking show in Britain in the 1970s called Cooking Price-Wise. Price’s cooking adventures have intrigued his fans for many years and according to the popular used book site Book Finders Price’s cookbook, A Treasury of Great Recipes (originally published in 1965), is still a strong seller.
“Eating from home can become far too taken for granted when actually it should always be a very special occasion. The grab-a-bite-on-the-run routine so many of us live with in this fast-paced nation not only spoils are digestion but deprives us of the pleasures and relaxation afforded by good food and interesting people . . . we’ve tried to bring together some of the special dishes we prepare, some of the things we do to make our meals more fun and interesting (napkins folded in attractive shapes, wines carefully selected–even for informal outdoor dining) so home can rival the most exciting restaurant in the world.”
– Vincent Price from A Treasury of Great Recipes
While scanning the pages of this fascinating cookbook I began to quickly understand why it has appealed to generations of foodies and aspiring chefs. First and foremost, Price’s writing is warm, inviting and unmistakably his own. He makes the richest meals seem appealing to the common man while elevating common meals such as the good old American ballpark frank (“No hot dog ever tastes as good as the ones at the ballpark.” – Vincent Price).
Most of the recipes are borrowed from some of the world’s most established restaurants at the time but Price also includes family recipes that have been improvised in his own kitchen. And best of all he makes me want to cook. His enthusiasm for cooking encourages me to be a better chef and I suspect that this is one of the many reasons why his cookbooks are still selling. If he can inspire me to cook, he can inspire anyone!
“Because my father was often away, I came to think of every day I spent alone with him as our own private special occasion, always imbued with a kind of magic. This extended to his cooking. I always loved to watch his enormous, yet elegant and gentle, hands breaking the eggs for a soufflé or tossing a salad. He made the most extraordinary soufflé . . .”
– Victoria Price from Vincent Price: A Daughter’s Biography
According to Vincent Price’s daughter Victoria, her father was particularly adept at making a good soufflé so I thought I’d share one of his soufflé related recipes from A Treasury of Great Recipes. This was adapted from a recipe that originally came from the Pierre Grill in New York city circa 1965 and although I haven’t had the chance to try it myself it sounds wonderful so I hope to give it a go soon.
If Price’s Soufflé Pudding Pierre recipe doesn’t grab your attention you might find some of his other recipes appealing. One that might be of particular interest this holiday season is Vincent Price’s Pumpkin Pie recipe which can be found at the wonderful Silver Screen Suppers blog. This month Silver Screen Suppers is holding a Vincent Price Halloween Cookalong and anyone and everyone is invited to participate. Just bake up a Vincent Price Pumpkin Pie or throw together some of his Ghoulish Goulash on Halloween night and contact Silver Screen Suppers to share your results.
In the meantime, you can get warmed up for the Vincent Price Halloween Cookalong by trying one of the many recipes that I’ve compiled below. The following links will take you to text recipes as well as cooking videos that might encourage you to cook up some of your own Vincent Price-inspired delicacies.
“The point of all this is to make meals fun for ourselves, our family and friends. We know a lot of people with plenty of this world’s good and even more with little. Too often the ones with little feel that they can’t compete with the ones with a lot, while the later think plenty tastes good just because there’s plenty of it. The ones we enjoy seeing and dining with are the ones that do plenty with what they have.”
– Vincent Price from A Treasury of Great Recipes
by Kimberly Lindbergs originally written for TCM.com and published October 24, 2013