Murder, She Cooked, is a Classic TV Show Inspired Cookbook!
by Betheny Rose
Two of my favorite things ever are quirky detective shows and cooking. That’s why the first time I discovered a cookbook called Cooking with Columbo, I didn’t hesitate to grab a copy. Fast forward a couple years and I was contemplating throwing myself a birthday party, which is something you can totally do when you’re an adult. Browsing my bookshelf, I spied my large collection of Murder, She Wrote books, collection of movies and the television series, and the Murder, She Wrote game and puzzles I have, and I couldn’t think of a more perfect theme. Since JB Fletcher is from Cabot Cove, Maine, I immediately thought some seafood dishes, like lobster rolls, would be a great idea for the menu. But I wanted to really research some ideas, so I took to the Internet to search for other Murder, She Wrote themed recipes and inspiration. That’s when I spied a link to the Silver Screen Suppers blog by Jenny Hammerton and discovered she was working on a new book Murder, She Cooked. I was ecstatic. Hammerton is the author of my coveted Cooking with Columbo cookbook, so I knew I was in for a treat when I clicked the link.
Now, the cookbook celebrating everyone’s favorite mystery novelist and potential serial killer (thanks to some tongue-in-cheek conspiracies) is ready to make its debut. So what, exactly, is a Murder, She Wrote themed cookbook? Hammerton meticulously researched the show, which is known for having some of the most famous classic film and television stars do guest appearances. Often, these stars had a signature recipe, or a family recipe, that they shared in a previous cookbook or article that was published during the height of their career. These recipes faced being forgotten forever, but thanks to Hammerton, the dishes and the spirit of the times are revived.
The cookbook delightfully highlights episodes from each season of the show. After providing the episode title, Hammerton provides a description of the episode that is part synopsis, part tie-in to any food-related scenes featured. She then provides the reader with a fun fact or a special quote from one of the cookbook’s recipe testers. Did the original recipe feature a hard-to-find item that the tester had to substitute? Did it seem like the amount of time suggested for cooking an item was a bit too long? Hammerton and her diligent testers will inform you, which is something you don’t get to see a lot in a traditional cookbook. Instead of pretending every recipe is perfect and easy to do, you know exactly what you’re getting into prior to attempting any of the recipes.
If you’ve never looked at many old-fashioned recipes, you might be surprised at how vague some of them can be. Are you used to knowing what temperature you should set your oven to? How much of an ingredient you should use? The method of preparation you should use? Then you’re probably not used to vintage cooking, which can leave out any one of these items and provide a two-sentence set of instructions that says little more than “combine all ingredients and cook.” Because of the meticulous effort Hammerton puts into the process of each cookbook, readers are able to get a more complete recipe with instructions that chefs of all levels can follow, while still maintaining the integrity and fun of the original recipe.
Because the show ran for so many seasons and featured a plethora of guest stars, there is no shortage of recipes in this book, and they run the gamut from appetizers, to entrees, and, of course, desserts. Some noteworthy recipes you’ll want to try include “Martin Landau’s Jerk Beef Steak,” “Diana Canova’s ‘Amazing’ Meatloaf,” “Lynda Day George’s Fresh Peach Omelet,” and “Jerry Orbach’s Tough Guy’s Dessert.” The latter is a recipe so simple yet so fantastic, you’ll wonder why you never tried it before (I’ll give you one hint—it combines ice cream and booze).
After you check out the Murder, She Cooked book, which is available on Amazon on September 30th, you’ll definitely want to scope out some of Hammerton’s other books, like Cooking with Joan Crawford and Supper with the Stars.