Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Vincent Price

There's no need to argue that Vincent Price was a fine thespian. I should say that his work in The Tomb of Legia ("I tried to kill a stray cat with a cabbage, and all but made love to the Lady Rowena....") and The Tingler speaks for itself. But many might not realize that Mr. Price was quite the gourmet and also wrote a few cookbooks. The Library has two of his culinary works in our collection, both of which he co-wrote with his wife Mary Price.

A Treasury of Great Recipes is not simply a recipe book, but a celebration of fine dining around the world, something the Price's - no doubt - were very familiar with. Restaurants throughout Europe, Mexico, and the United States are all represented, from Restaurant de la Pyramide in Vienne, France to Chavez Ravine in Los Angeles. The menus of these establishments are printed inside, along with lush color photographs of the dining rooms.

It's so nice (yet rare) to have photographs of restaurant interiors. It's one question I get asked frequently by scholars researching historical restaurants. Yet we sadly have very few restaurant photographs unless images of the interior are part of the menu (La Côte Basque for example), or are included in the Library's extensive postcard collection.

Also in the Price family oeuvre is a five-volume set celebrating our nation's culinary history. Called A National Treasury of Cookery, each volume celebrates a different historical movement of American history and food. From the recipes of Early America (pickled oysters and chicken pudding) to Victorian America (Bonne Femme Soup and Beef Roulade), these quick little volumes feature surprisingly appetizing recipes with beautiful prints and photographs. Any lingering bad memories of cooking in costume at Philipsburg Manor* in grade school have suddenly vanished with the Price's recipe for Roast Duck with Virginia Cornbread Stuffing.

Gâteau Grand Marnier
from Hostellerie de la Poste, Avallon FRANCE
(adapted from A Treasury of Great Recipes)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream one cup butter with one cup sugar until pale and fluffy.
Beat in 3 egg yolks, one at a time.
Add 1 teaspoon Grand Marnier
Sift together 2 cups all purpose flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, and 1 teaspoon baking soda.
Add dry ingredients to batter, alternating with 1 1/4 cups sour cream, beginning and ending with dry ingredients and mixing until smooth.
Stir in grated rind of one orange, and 1 cup chopped walnuts.
Beat in 3 egg whites until stiff, and fold into batter. Pour batter into greased 9" tube pan.
Bake in the over for 50 to 55 minutes, or until cake tests done.

Combine 1/2 cup sugar, 1 cup orange juice, and 1/3 cup Grand Marnier. Pour over hot cake while it is in the pan. Sprinkle with blanched slivered almonds and let cake cool before removing from pan.

* I may have spoken too soon! The Philipsburg Manor website now features recipes, (How 1750 of them...) and I have to admit, they look pretty tasty.


Mary Coleman said...

i haven't thought about Vincent Price's cookbooks in years. I used to love to read them, much less look at the pictures and the people they dined with.
And that recipe is divine. That will be done soon at this house.
You have a wonderful blog and I do so enjoy reading it.
Mary Coleman

Deborah Dowd said...

This was one of the first cookbooks I received as a gift, and I treasure it, although my kids mainly know Vincent Price as the narrator of Michael Jackson's Thriller!

Brian said...

Hey I got a first edition of Vincent Price's cookbook last week and decided to try this Grand Marnier cake. It came out fantastic.

The cookbook itself is a work of art. It's around 500 pages!

Anonymous said...

OMG. Vincent Price. I loooooove him! He's so dashing in this picture. <3

So cool to find out he was an awesome cook!

I mainly know him as Ratigan from my Childhood and the narrator in MJ's Thriller. He has such a scary and seductive voice.

He was such a good looking man, and so very talented! <3

I'd so buy that cookbook!

Lya de Putti said...

Lovely to stumble upon this. Vincent was a brilliant cook and he had a show in the UK called "Cooking Price Wise" which is GENIUS. I've got lots of his recipe books (a paperback was released to tie in with the series) and right now have his GOULASH cooking away in my slow cooker to be consumed tomorrow for our New Year's Eve dinner. Many thanks for the post - Jenny over at Silver Screen Suppers.