#1970s #1980s #1990s #2000s
Chilli-ng out with the TV detective, Columbo…
And when his guest star, was none other than a Country and Western singer by the name of Johnny Cash.
Columbo Opening Titles, ShowTitles
Recently, I got an exciting and unique invitation as a wee entertainment blogger. It wasn’t from a celebrity to join them in an on-location, one to one in-depth interview (but interested if you are, Leonardo DiCaprio or Lee Grant) or ghostwrite their autobiography (but consider me more than keen, Joan Collins). But it did get my interest straight away.
It was to join a cook-along. But before you comment that this is not a cooking blog, it was an entertainment themed cook-along starring the titular TV Detective, Columbo. So intrigued on how just how cooking and this celebrated TV series – of the same name – would mix, I wrote for more information…
I then received an email from the lovely Jenny Hammerton from the alliteration themed friendly, Silver Screen Suppers asking if I could join her to help promote her new book Cooking with Columbo, Suppers with the Shambling Sleuth (2018). This is seen on the enticing cover featuring the man himself and his equally succulent looking pumpkin lasagna.
The book additionally contains a mouth-watering list of recipes from a plethora of Columbo’s guest stars from the 10 seasons and movie specials of this show. Naturally, I agreed to this once in a lifetime opportunity to kinda cook with a star.
This is Jenny’s second book, having compiled her first recipe book, Cooking with Joan Crawford with signature dishes from the Golden Hollywood actress. These guys and gals include such scrumptious sounding meals as Pork Chops and Fried Apple Rings and Crepes Suzette.
So onto a wee bit more on the famous TV detective Columbo. The Columbo (1971-2003) TV show tells of the murder cases encountered and solved by the almost dishevelled looking homicide detective. He was played by Peter Falk and the show was set in Los Angeles.
Columbo himself was often associated with his crumpled trench coat and cigar. And his unique way of unravelling cases such as his first in 1971 Ransom for a Dead Man to his last in 2003’s Columbo Likes the Nightlife. It did not have its own theme tune, but many tunes are associated with it throughout its series run, notably The Mystery Movie Theme by Henry Mancini.
And – confession time – I’ve only watched the TV series once. In the famous sleuth’s TV episode with Billy Connolly to be exact. However, I loved its wee series twist in showing you the culprit carrying out the murder in the opening scenes. Which admittedly confused me then on my first viewing. This, therefore, was mansplained to me by my bemused Darlin Husband.
This twist was a great inventive touch to a detective show, as admittedly there’s been many a time I’ve watched an Agatha Christie film again and again just to see if the murderer gives the game away a wee bit in the first scenes with his victim.
And then Columbo more often and not concluding proceedings with his most famous quote “Just one more thing..” It leads to confession time from the culprit and flashback time to the events leading up to the murder then ending with the sleuth’s denouement.
Darlin Husband was shocked I hadn’t seen more episodes of Columbo due to its more than impressive guest star list. And on reading more it’s like who’s who of the 1960s to early 2000s Hollywood with a number of them featured in Jenny’s book. Columbo’s acting and culinary talent come from Ricardo Montalban’s Asparagus Soup, William Shatner’s Lime-Garlic Broiled Chicken to George Hamilton’s Ginger Snap Dandy. To name just 3…
Famous names in the Columbo guest star list – that are not featured in Jenny’s book – also include Leslie Neilsen, George Gaynes, Dabney Coleman and Tyne Daly. And of course – as no Realweegiemidget post is completed without it – Dallas stars included… Jared Martin (Dusty Farlow), Molly Hagan ie Miss Ellie in (Dallas the Early Years (1986), Greg Evigan (Willie Guest) and Martha Scott (Sue Ellen’s mother). Columbo episodes were famously directed by Steven Spielberg and Jonathan Demme.
On February the 20th 2018, it’s 50 years since Columbo first hit our TV screens. And in a wee spooky twist of fate – that I’m sure Falk himself would have approved of – Jenny’s book is to be published then too. So just recently, I donned my apron to join in the fun to celebrate both.
For the cook along, Jenny asked us to join her by making Country and Western singer – and one time Columbo special guest star – Johnny Cash’s chilli. (Leading to an inevitable Ring of Fire joke from Darlin Husband). And chilli is one of Columbo’s favourite foods.
This admittedly was a wee bit out of my comfort zone, as chilli is Darlin Husband’s signature dish. I used Cash’s chilli recipe here (with a vegetarian version too) .. which I made using chicken and significantly less cumin and chilli. And substituting the beer with chicken broth.. with the before and after photos below.
Oh and just one more thing… a square of plain chocolate instead of sugar (which you add at the same time as the beans!)
Finally, I should just mention… very tasty it was too. With even one of the stepdudes approving.
I’d implore you to check out Jenny’s site, where you can cook with Joan Crawford, Peter Falk and many, many more. There are lots of lovely tasty looking recipes with equally yummy looking photos of those dishes accompanied by those of your favourite stars. These from then and now and of the big screen and the wee screen.
Thank you again Jenny for this wonderful invite, as you’ve really whetted my appetite to try out so many more of these scrumptiously tasty looking recipes. I for one am now looking forward to trying out Diana Rigg’s Goulash followed by Tyne Daly’s Key Lime Pie. Count me in for your next cookalong, as I donned my apron with the best of them.