Review and Recipe: The Dead Celebrity Cookbook

When I first discovered The Dead Celebrity Cookbook it was a near hit at the back of Entertainment Weekly’s The Bullseye feature. Frank Decaro, best know for being the movie critic on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, drew inspiration for the book from a college party in the 80’s. All of Decaro’s friends dressed as a dead celebrity, but the party had a fatal flaw — it lacked food. So, over the years Decaro collected a mass of cookbooks, magazines and other sources of recipes from celebrities who are now dead. If you can get past the morbidity of the book it really is a great collection of recipes, with no particular rhyme or reason other than they’re each supposedly a favorite of a deceased famous person. Who’d have thought Johnny Casrson cooked? Whitefish, no less.

If you can convince yourself that these people actually cooked, let alone had a favorite recipe worth keeping note of, then it’s worth having as an addition to your collection of cookbooks. Plus, most  the recipes are pretty basic. Dean Martin’s burgers and bourbon consists of three ingredients — beef, salt and bourbon — at least he seasoned (what, you’re expecting molecular gastronomy?) My favorite chapter is chapter 25, Thank You for Feeding a Friend, which includes Bea Arthur’s veggie breakfast and Rue McClanahan’s non-dairy cheesecake, among other Golden Girls goodies. And to get your started, here’s one fabulous recipe from the DCD.

How does one catch a salmon, why with a wire clothes hanger of course…


Joan Crawford, 1905-1977, Poached Salmon

3lb single piece of 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
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

Rinse and dry fresh. Cut lemons in thin slices, place slices on both sides of the fish. Wrap fish in double thickness of a cheesecloth, secure with kitchen string. In a deep saucepan with a rack (or fish poacher) pour the water, onions, celery, parsley, bay leaves, crushed peppercorns and a pinch of salt and pepper. Place fish on the rack, ensuring it is half submerged in water. Cover and slowly simmer, approximately 40 minutes. Place fish on a platter removing the cheesecloth and lemon slices.

Combine the mayonnaise, mustard and lemon juice. Mix well. Serve with salmon.

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One comment

  • sam January 4, 2012  

    I got this as a gift. It is a real enjoyable read, (if you’re like me and enjoy reading cookbooks). I would recommend it to anyone who is a pop-culture nerd, and if you love cooking

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