Frank DeCaro is a groovy kind of guy. Besides being known for his flamboyant movie critic character on The Daily Show, DeCaro keeps busy as a radio host on his eponymous Sirius XM talk show and has also written for networks and publications like Comedy Central, CBS, The New York Times, Vogue, and Entertainment Weekly.
Muy impressivo, right? But what we think really solidifies DeCaro's grooviness is his personal penchant for collecting Hollywood recipes—particularly from celebrities of the '60s and '70s who shaped his childhood. Not wanting to be categorized as a mere hoarder for his hobby, DeCaro decided to do something constructive and creative with his gastronomical collectibles and hence, birthed The Dead Celebrity Cookbook.
During his research, DeCaro found it rather refreshing to discover how down-to-earth many of his dead celebrities were as cooks in the kitchen. "I was surprised to see how many celebrities would offer up dishes that used convenience foods. Harriet Nelson opening cans of cream soups. Liberace using crescent rolls from the supermarket refrigerator case to make sticky buns. I was floored by that," he admits.
To get you in the Thanksgiving mood, we asked DeCaro to share some Turkey Day-themed recipes from his book. Here, we have Michael Jackson's recipe for Sweet Potato Pie and media mogul Merv Griffin's Stuff Squashed. Gobble gobble!
MICHAEL JACKSON'S SWEET POTATO PIE
-Serves 6 to 8-
3 eggs 1⁄2 cup sugar 1⁄4 cup butter, melted 1⁄2 teaspoon salt 1⁄3 cup milk 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 2 tablespoons fresh lemon or orange juice 21⁄2 cups mashed sweet potatoes (canned or freshly cooked) 1 teaspoon nutmeg 1⁄2 cup pecan halves 1 unbaked pie shell
Beat eggs and sugar. Add melted butter, salt, milk, vanilla, and spices. Blend egg mixture with mashed sweet potatoes and lemon or orange juice. Pour into an unbaked pie shell. Garnish with pecan halves. Bake 10 minutes in a preheated 400° oven. Reduce oven temperature to 375° and bake 40 minutes longer or until golden.
MERV GRIFFIN'S STUFFED SQUASHED
12 ounces cornbread stuffing mix Juice and zest of 1 lemon 1 can (20 ounces) pineapple chunks in water 11⁄2 cups dried apricots, slivered 1 cup chopped onion 1 cup walnuts, pecans, or macadamia nuts, coarsely chopped 1⁄2 cup flaked coconut (reserve 2 tablespoons for toasting) 1⁄2 cup melted butter 4 small acorn, golden nugget, or sweet dumpling squash, halved and seeded
In a large bowl, toss together stuffing, lemon juice with zest, pineapple with water, dried apricots, onions, nuts, coconut, and butter. Stuff squash with mixture. Bake squash halves for one hour in a preheated 325° oven. Garnish with the 2 tablespoons of toasted coconut.
Be sure to check out DeCaro's Christmas edition of The Dead Celebrity Cookbook and the next volume of his series, The Dead Celebrity Italian Cookbook!