Murder, She Wrote Cookbook | House of Hickman Chicken and the Cheddar Cheese soup saga

American actor Dwayne Hickman (b 1934) is best known as the title character in the 1960s US sitcom The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis opposite future Gilligan’s Island star Bob Denver, and appearing in a handful of American International Pictures drive-in teen flicks like How to Stuff a Wild Bikini. He and his Bikini co-star Frankie Avalon also teamed up for the 1965 Vincent Price spy spoof Dr Goldfoot & the Bikini Machine.

So when it came to testing out a recipe for Jenny Hammerton’s forthcoming culinary collection, the Murder, She Wrote Cookbook, I couldn’t resist trying out Dwayne’s House of Hickman Chicken. Little did I imagine just what a saga it would turn out to be.

Now although this is Dwayne’s recipe, it was his first wife Carol who actually did all the cooking in the Hickman household. The story goes that while Carol (who was married to Dwayne from 1963 to 1972) was spending a week in New York, some of the couple’s friends had decided to drop in on Dwayne, who then decided to cook dinner for everyone.

He remembered a favourite recipe that Carol had made with chicken and cream of mushroom soup. By mistake, however, he added in cheese soup, but it was one of those great accidents, as it went on to become the standard way to make the dish over at the Hickmans.

American actor Dwayne Hickman at home with his wife, actress Carol Christensen (1937 – 2005), circa 1965. (Photo by Graphic House/Archive Photos/Getty Images)

Here’s Dwayne’s original recipe… and what it looked like on my first attempt.

HOUSE OF HICKMAN CHICKEN
(serves 8)

INGREDIENTS
8 half chicken breasts
1 can cheddar cheese soup
1/2 can cream of celery soup
1 cup chopped mushrooms (canned or fresh)
1 onion, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

METHOD
Mix the soups, onions, and mushrooms together. Lay the chicken breasts in a casserole or baking pan. (You can serve from the casserole: if you use a baking pan, you have to put the chicken on a platter when it’s done). Sprinkle with pepper, and bake in a 350C/Gas Mark 4 oven for about an hour.

MY COOKING NOTES
* As I wasn’t serving a gang, I used four chicken breasts from my local butcher and sliced them in half. I also halved all the other measurements to serve four.
* For the soup, I used standard 295g cans of Campbell’s condensed soup – (I must admit the cream of celery was hard to find, but the cheddar cheese soup was another story – see below).
* I also sautéd some extra fresh mushrooms (pan-fried in a little butter) and added them to the top of the mixture, but also kept some aside to sprinkle on top after taking it out of the oven.

MY VERDICT
Even though I used some extra mushrooms, I actually found this dish to be rather bland. Will I try it again? Probably, but I’ll certainly be adding in a dash of tabasco or some such spicy sauce. Also – as you will read – I will probably have to make my own Cheddar Cheese Soup (the recipe is at the bottom of this post).

THE CHEDDAR CHEESE SOUP SAGA
OK, so I wanted to use the exact ingredients to learn what made this dish so popular with the Hickmans. However there was a problem. It was that serendipity ingredient – the cheese soup. It’s not readily available in any UK grocery stores.

Last November (which seems like forever, now that we are all in lockdown), while I was in New York conducting one of my Vincent Price Legacy UK tours, I thought it would be so simple to just pop into a store and get a couple of cans. Uh! Uh! I couldn’t find it anywhere. However, one of our attendees, Patricia, who lives in New Mexico and is a big foodie, said she could get them cheap at her local Smith’s grocery store and send them to me. I said, great! Well, what I didn’t know was how much a can of Campbell’s condensed Cheddar Cheese soup being sent from the US to the UK was going to end up costing me.

About a month after I had returned from my trip to the US, I got an email from Patricia asking if I had received a surprise package from her. I said I hadn’t. So I did a little sleuthing and discovered that Patricia had written the wrong postcode on the package being sent to me in London. It was now sitting in a sorting office in Exeter, even though it had originally been sent to an East London postal office not far from where I live, and a delivery was attempted to a similar address to mine in Tiverton. Thankfully the staff at Royal Mail were really helpful, and they had it delivered to me the following day.

I was really so thankful to Patricia for sending me this elusive ingredient, but the cost of shipping was ouch!!!. After working it all out, those two cans came to US$22 a piece. Oh well, at least it makes for a great dinner conversation and thankfully I have found an alternative.

Those extra sautéd mushrooms really helped.

HOMEMADE CHEDDAR CHEESE SOUP
I haven’t tried this as yet as I still have one can left for another attempt, but if I do then I’ll be trying this recipe which looks like the perfect substitute for the hard to find Campbell’s Soup canned variety. Will just have to readjust the measurements, I suppose.

INGREDIENTS
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon salt (Kosher)
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
1 cup milk
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

METHOD
1) In a small saucepan add the butter and melt over low heat.
2) Add in the flour and whisk, cooking for about a minute (but stop if it turns brown at all).
3) Add in the salt, mustard and milk and whisk until smooth.
4) Add in the cheese and whisk until smooth

Prep time (5mins), Cook time (10mins)
Serves 1, Calories 712kcal

If you’d like to test a recipe for the Murder, She Wrote Cookbook, just click on the link to register.

Dwayne was also a bit of a crooner in the day… so I’ll leave you with this little ditty

Share This:

Three new interactive group events coming at ya!

Vincent Price Legacy: Virtual Visual Vincent: For the Love of Art
Sunday 17 May, 8pm (BST)

Join Victoria Price, Peter Fuller & global fans for this interactive Group Event. Peter will share rare clips showcasing Vincent’s lifelong love of the visual arts. Victoria will show slides and tell stories about her father’s favourite artists and works of art. And we invite fans and artists to share their art work, their Vincent tattoos, or the ways that Vincent has inspired your own love or art. Show items from your collection or the work of favourite artists. Let’s celebrate our Love of Art!

Sign up now: https://victoriaprice.as.me/schedule.php?appointmentType=category%3AVincent+Price+Legacy

Vincent Price Legacy: Victoria Price presents: Vincent Price: Master of Menace, Lover of Life (A Photographic Talk followed by a Q&A)
Wednesday 27 May, 7.30pm (BST)

Victoria Price has shared her popular talks about her father’s life with audiences all over the world. But this year on his birthday, she’s excited to celebrate it virtually, with people who may not have been able to meet her in person — as well as those who may have heard her speak before.

She will be giving two talks on the evening of what would have been her father’s 109th birthday, 27 May. One for European and UK audiences and one for US audiences. Featuring rare photos and lots of stories.

Sign up now: https://victoriaprice.as.me/schedule.php?appointmentType=category%3AVincent+Price+Legacy

Vincent Price Legacy: The Birthday Boys: A Virtual Vincent Celebration
Sunday 31 May, 9pm (BST)

Join Vincent Price’s daughter Victoria & Vincent Price expert Peter Fuller host a birthday celebration and Q&A about House of the Long Shadows — starring birthday boys Peter Cushing (May 26), Christopher Lee (May 27) and Vincent Price (May 27). Dress up for the occasion and we’ll raise a toast to Vincent with special cocktails — as we answer Q&As about Vincent and The House of the Long Shadows.

Sign up now: https://victoriaprice.as.me/schedule.php?appointmentType=category%3AVincent+Price+Legacy

Share This:

No jacket required | Our Virtual Cook-up was a taste sensation

Over the past three weeks Victoria and myself have been hosting weekly interactive Q&A’s via zoom and our latest saw us celebrating Vincent’s culinary legacy with over 40 fans tuning in from all around North America and the UK. It was another great success with cooking, clips, cocktails and chat being the menu de jour.

The different time zones meant some attendees where making brunch, others lunch, while in the UK, it was dinner time – and everyone got into the spirit sourcing their inspiration from Vincent and Mary Price’s three classic cookbooks: A Treasury of Great Recipes, Come Into the Kitchen and Cooking Price-Wise. Here’s just a sample of what was dished up.

Stateside, Sara crafted her own hibiscus and mezcal cocktail: Masque of the Red Death
Jaime prepared blueberry muffins, banana bread (no nuts) and iced coffee
David whipped up some of Luchow’s German pancakes and as Vincent always did himself, gave the first one to his dog
Jaime served up Spanish beans
Michele prepared some fruit-filled French Toast Santa Fe
Over in the UK, Chris and Pippa made a boozy trifle
Sarah made a very meaty spaghetti bolognese
Selene served up moussaka but with a Keto kink, while we all enjoyed a rare never-before-seen clip from Vincent’s 1971 TV show, Cooking Price-Wise
Jenny, my collaborator on the forthcoming Co*Star Cookbook, made Cannelloni alla Passetto

Our next session takes place on Sunday 17 May (8pm BST), where the theme will be art and collecting – so show us your art, tats and the pieces that inspire you, plus will have clips and a discussion on Vincent’s lifelong passion for the visual arts. SIGN UP HERE

Then, on Sunday 31 May (9pm BST), we celebrate the birthdays of Vincent, Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing. Just watch the film beforehand and then join in our Q&A session about their friendships and collaborations on film, TV and even radio.

SIGN UP HERE

Here’s the link to the film: https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x1x6uxh

Share This:

Vincent Price’s scrumptious Banana Nut Bread

Have you, like me, been letting your bananas get a little too ripe lately? Well don’t throw them away as I’ve got another tasty recipe from Mary and Vincent Price’s A Treasury of Great Recipes cookbook – Banana Nut Bread. It really is so simple to make and you can scoff a slice or two for breakfast, morning or afternoon tea, or even as a late-night snack.

Here’s how to make it and at the end of the post, there’s a video of me making it. Hope you enjoy!

INGREDIENTS
Butter
Sugar
All-purpose flour
Baking soda
Salt
Bananas
Walnuts

METHOD
1. Preheat oven to moderate (350F/4).

2. Cream together until lights: 1/2 cup (113g) butter and 1 cup (200g) sugar.

3. Beat in 2 eggs.

4. Sift together 2 cups flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Stir into butter-sugar mixture, blending well.

5. Stir in 1 cup mashed ripe bananas and 1/2 cup (40g) chopped walnuts.

2. Spoon batter into a well buttered 1-pound bread tin (9 1/2 x 5 1/2 x 2 3/4) and bake in moderate over for 1 hour, or until loaf tests done.

7. Cool for 5 minutes, then turn out on rack to cool completely.

MY TIPS
When creaming the butter and sugar, ensure the butter is at room temperature to ensure a smooth mixture. Sometimes I cheat and put the butter in the microwave for 1min using the quick defrost setting. Just don’t let it turn to liquid.

As for the eggs, I always take them out of the fridge a couple of house before using them. Like the butter, they work best at room temperature. I also lightly beat them separately before folding them gently into the mixture. This helps with the rise of the loaf I suspect.

If you don’t have any walnuts around, try toasted almonds or cashews (40g) or even chia seeds (1tsp).

As for the bananas – the riper then better I say. And rather than waste them if you have more than 1 cup mashed, just throw the whole lot in and give the baking an extra few minutes. Just so long as you knife comes out clean you will be OK.

Looking pretty sad, but look what they can become (below)…

MY VERDICT
A winner! This has become a firm favourite in my household, and we are now making it once a week. Great toasted with some butter and jam.

Here’s a demo of how to make this delicious dish from scratch.

Share This:

The Vincent Price Co*Star Cookbook | Join in the fun and test a recipe

Call out for test cooks! Absolutely everyone welcome, whatever your cooking prowess – there is even a GREEN SALAD recipe up for grabs folks! Choose a recipe and spread the word….

I’m excited to announce that I am working with Jenny Hammerton of Silver Screen Suppers on a new book featuring 100 movie star recipes. I will be writing about 50 of Vincent’s films and co stars and Jenny has chosen two dishes to accompany each movie. There will be a Vincent Price recipe for each, with a Co*Star accompaniment.

All you have to do is select a recipe from the list, which is being hosted on the Silver Screen Suppers website, and leave Jenny a message in the comments box. She will then send out the recipe to you.

We are allocating one test cook per recipe for the book, but if you’d like to try more than one, Jenny will be happy to send them out to you.

We totally understand that during the Covid-19 epidemic certain ingredients might be difficult to obtain but we can discuss suitable substitutions. Take the plunge and pick something, it will be fun, we guarantee it!

All test cooks will be thanked in our acknowledgements, and we may use some of your feedback about the recipe to add some FLAVOUR to the book!

SO HEAD OVER TO SILVER SCREEN SUPPERS NOW

Share This:

You are invited to two Vincent Price Movie Q&A’s – 18 & 25 April

You are cordially invited to join Vincent Price’s daughter, Victoria, and Vincent Price Legacy UK curator, Peter Fuller, for two exclusive Movie Night Q&A’s taking place on Saturday 18 and 25 April, in which we discuss two of Vinnie’s all-time classic chillers – House on Haunted Hill and The Abominable Dr. Phibes.

Each Q&A costs US$5 (that’s around UK£4) and you can sign up here for either or both: VINCENT PRICE.

WATCH the film(s) at home BEFORE our session and sign up for our online Q&s. You can then send in one question for Peter and/or Victoria when you register (sorry but only questions sent in with registration will be answered).

JOIN our virtual Q&A to learn some fascinating facts about the films and hear wonderful stories about Vincent first-hand from Victoria.

We have limited places available, so sign up now!

If you already own the films, please re-watch them before our Q&A, and if you want to stream them, you can find them on YouTube. Here are some links that may work for you.

You can stream House on Haunted Hill here: https://youtu.be/T8W4GOf5m_4

You can stream The Abominable Dr. Phibes here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9QfsQB_He0g

Share This:

Vincent Price’s Pasticcio di polenta – a rich, but simple lockdown larder recipe

As we are all in lockdown mode at the moment, I’ve been trying to avoid heading out to the shops as much as possible and so am relying on what’s in my kitchen cupboards to rustle up some tasty dishes with the minimum amount of ingredients and fuss.

Well, I found some leftover cornmeal (AKA polenta) that I had bought to make a lemon drizzle cake ages ago and decided that would be my key ingredient. OK, the expiry date was 2014!!!!, but I was not going to throw it out. Now what to make?

My go-to…. Mary and Vincent Price’s A Treasury of Great Recipes

My go-to book is Mary and Vincent Price’s A Treasury of Great Recipes which was first published in 1965, and got a 50th anniversary reprint in 2015. I have tried quite a few now (check them out in the Cooking with Vincent and his Co*Stars section of this website), and I found one that seemed not to elaborate and required just some basic ingredients: Pasticcio Di Polenta – or Cornmeal with Mushrooms.

INGREDIENTS
Yellow cornmeal
Salt
Butter (I used unsalted)
Bread crumbs (I used panko)
Mushrooms (I used chestnut)
Cream, (I used double)
Parmesan cheese, grated

POLENTA
Vincent and Mary’s method of making polenta required a double boiler, which I do not have. So I used two saucepans. Also there was no amount given as to how much cornmeal to add to the quart of water, so I just made a guess (it worked I think).

Firstly, I brought the water (3 UK cups) to the boil, added salt, then gradually mixed in the polenta (I used 2 cups as I wanted to use up what I had left in the packet), and stir quickly.

Once it had thickened (which was very quick), I placed the saucepan on top of another one half filled with boiling water, covered it, and left it to simmer for 2 hours.

Then I poured it into a casserole dish (there was too much mixture for a loaf shape dish, which is in the original recipe) and chilled it overnight.

PASTICCIO
1. Preheat oven to moderate (350/4).
2. Turn out chilled polenta and slice it into 3 horizontal layers.
3. Butter the baking dish and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of bread crumbs.
4. Place a sliced layer of polenta on bottom of dish. Dot with 1 tablespoon butter. Cover with: 1/2 cup sliced mushroom caps and 3 tablespoons cream. Sprinkle with: 1 tablespoon grated parmesan.
5. Do the same with the second slice.
6. Put last slice on top. Dot with 1 tablespoon butter and sprinkle with 1 tablespoons grated parmesan. Cover and bake 1 1/2hours in a moderate oven.

Not the most even of horizontal slices are they?
I used two mushroom caps for each layer. Top tip: there’s no need to waste those leftover mushroom stalks, keep them for use in a stir fry or soup
Yum! Was it rich? Yes siree!

MY VERDICT
Delicious with a capital D and It didn’t matter that the cornmeal was four years past its expiry date. Although in retrospect I think a loaf tin would have given me extra thickness so as to cut the three slices more evenly.

Now what also attracted me to making polenta, was that it is very versatile. I’ve already made chips (which went very well with the homemade strawberry and chilli jam that I had made a few days ago with some strawberries that were just about to go off), and I shall next try Vincent’s suggesting of frying some slices, then wrapping them in bacon and baking them until golden brown and crisp. I’ve also found another packet of cornmeal, so I think I’m going to whip up some muffins next.

These polenta crisps were light and crispy.
Here’s the actual recipe (with my notes) from A Treasury of Great Recipes
This classic culinary tome got a 50th Anniversary reprint in 2015

Share This:

The Mad Magician on Blu-ray

Produced on the back of the expected success of 1953’s House of Wax, The Mad Magician returned Vincent Price to the world of three-dimensional horror for a third time (Dangerous Mission was released in March 1954, with The Mad Magician following in May).

Here he plays Don Gallico, a creator of illusions for stage magicians, including the Great Rinaldi (John Emery). But his opening night is thwarted by his boss, Ormond (Donald Randolph), who has already stolen Gallico’s wife (Eva Gabor) and now wants his latest invention – the buzz saw. In a moment of madness, Gallico decapitates his employer.

To cover up the crime and the ones that follow, Gallico dons a series of elaborate disguises, but he hasn’t counted on his assistant Karen (Mary Murphy), her detective boyfriend Alan (Patrick O’Neal) and mystery writer Alice (Lenita Lane) from getting in his way…

Originally released on Blu-ray in the US by Twilight, The Mad Magician gets its UK premiere Blu-ray from Indicator with a Limited Edition (3,000) release featuring the following special features…

• 2K restoration
• 3D and 2D presentations
• Original mono audio
• New audio commentary with film historians Jonathan Rigby and Kevin Lyons
Three-Dimensional Magic (2020): and appreciation of The Mad Magician and the 3D filmmaking boom of the 1950s by cinematographer Frank Passingham and archivist Tom Vincent, presented in 3D and 2D
• Super 8 version: cut-down home cinema presentation in anaglyphic 3D
Pardon My Backfire (1953), Three Stooges short presented in 3D and 2D
Spooks! (1953), Three Stooges short presented in 3D and 2D
• Image gallery
• Original theatrical trailer
• New and improved English subtitles
• Limited edition exclusive booklet with a new essay by Kat Ellinger on Merv Taylor, a look at the career of producer Bryan Foy, an archival interview with director John Brahm by David Del Valle, the promotional campaign of The Mad Magician, contemporary critical responses, Jeff Billington on the Three Stooges’ 3D shorts, and film credits

READ MORE ABOUT THE FILM HERE

Check out the trailer and a gallery of shots from the Indicator Blu-ray

Share This:

Screaming now – Vincent Price-wise on Amazon Prime in the UK

As we are all now at home in lockdown, if you have an Amazon Prime subscription, then why not check out what’s screaming now – Vincent Price-wise here in the UK!

And decorate your at-home workspace with these wicked limited edition posters from Mad Duck Posters : https://bit.ly/39Bpv2h

FILMS:
The Invisible Man Returns (1940) – £0.00 with a Studio Universal Classics trial
Shock (1946)
The Bat (1959)
House on Haunted Hill (1959) – Original b/w and colourised versions available
The Tingler (1959)
Nefertiti, Queen of the Nile (1961)
The Last Man on Earth (1964)– Original b/w and colourised versions available
Theatre of Blood (1973)
The Monster Club (1981)
Escapes (1986)
Backtrack (1990)
Trailers From Hell: The House of Poe – £0.00 with a Full Moon trial

TV:
A Christmas Carol (1949)
Mooch Goes to Hollywood (1974)
The Red Skelton Hour – He Who Steals My Robot Steals Trash (1968)
Red Skelton’s Christmas Dinner (1981)
Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In – Episode #5.11 (1971)

COMING SOON! THE BEST OF VINCENT ON YOUTUBE…

And if you are based in the US, follow this link to find out what’s streaming there: https://www.facebook.com/MasterofMenace/photos/a.715232391837670/3411724472188435/?type=3&theater

Share This:

Please vote for Into the Velvet Darkness: A Celebration of Vincent Price for a Rondo Award

Fantastic news everyone! Into The Velvet Darkness: A Celebration of Vincent Price is one of the nominees for Best Book of the Year in this year’s Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Awards, which honour the best in classic horror research, creativity and film preservations.

But in order for it to win, it needs your vote.

Can you please send off an email to taraco@aol.com with – I vote for Into the Velvet Darkness: A Celebration of Vincent Price for Book of the Year – in the both the subject and message lines, and include your name in the message.

The ballot closes at midnight, 29 March 2020.

If you’d like to vote for any of the other great talent up for gongs, then here’s the link to the full ballot: https://rondoaward.com/rondoaward.com/blog/

Thank you so much for your help!

Share This: