Monday, January 31, 2011

"The Mike Douglas Cookbook" - Mike Douglas' mother's Skillet Luau

Date I made this recipe: January 30, 2011

The Mike Douglas Cookbook – Recipes Made Famous on the Mike Douglas Television Show by Mike Douglas with Dan Morris
Published by: Funk & Wagnalls
Recipe: Mother Dowd’s (Mike Douglas’ mother) Skillet Luau – p. 123

People, my guess is that you are either in the crowd who recognized the name Mike Douglas right away or you aren’t. And so perhaps a history lesson is in order—television history, that is.

Mike Douglas was a talk show host in the 60’s and 70’s. Dick Cavett and Merv Griffin were also talk show hosts. Big time talk show hosts. Think “pre-Oprah.” Oh, and white. And uh…male.

At any rate, I watched a lot of TV during that time period but I have no recollection of watching any of these shows at my house. My friends’ homes, yes, but mine, no. Either we didn’t get them on the channels we had (for the longest time we only had one station – CBS) or my mother was watching something else. (That being said, my parents religiously watched The Tonight Show staring Johnny Carson on NBC but as the title indicates, that show was at night. It was a rite of passage to finally be allowed to stay up late to watch Johnny who came on in my area at 11:30 at night).

Still, you had to be living under a rock not to know who these three hosts were. Out of the three, only Dick Cavett is still alive and kicking and writing hilarious editorials for the New York Times. (And I mean hilarious…and educational. Things you never knew about a particular guest are now being revealed; it’s like reading the Enquirer only better. I mean, it is the New York Times after all!)

Anyway, the other day after reading one of Dick’s columns, I decided I was in the mood for some talk show-host fare and so went and retrieved Mike’s cookbook from the chef. Dick, if you read this and you have a cookbook, do tell—I promise to give you equal “air” time.

One of the things about Mike Douglas that I figured out is that “Dowd” was his real last name, as evidenced by recipes titled “Mother Dowd’s (whatever) that came from his mom’s collection. I think that’s sweet…and very telling of the time. Many a person referred to his or her mom or in-law back then as Mother “Smith” or Mother “Anderson” or Mother [Insert your last name here]. Actually, to this day, I still refer to one of my best friend’s moms as “Mother Erdman.”

And as it happens, we ended up making one of Mother Dowd’s dishes but not before perusing the likes of recipes submitted by: Sammy Davis, Jr., Kaye Ballard, Carol Burnett, Sebastian Cabot (Mr. French from the TV show, Family Affair), Louis Nye and a whole lot more. With the exception of Carol Burnett, some of you may be puzzled by these names and so if you acquire this cookbook, I urge you to start Googling these people and educate yourself on these late (for the most part), great actors.

Now it’s probably a good thing that Mike Douglas passed away before I wrote this because his mom’s recipe for skillet luau was okay but not great. In fact, the flavor profile was pretty flat. I’m thinking it would have been better with the addition of some onion and the substitution of the cream of chicken soup for a mixture of cornstarch and water. But that’s just me. I will tell you this – my kitchen still smells of curry (yet another dish to make in the summer!). Luckily, I like the smell of curry although all of a sudden I have this overwhelming desire to fly to India!

This recipe is a breeze to make so play with it a little and adjust the ingredients to see if you can hit the mark that I missed. And when you have a moment, go to YouTube and put in “Mike Douglas Show” or “Dick Cavett show” or “Merv Griffin” show and see how it’s done – masters, all of them!

Mother Dowd’s Skillet Luau – serves 3-4
½ green pepper, cut into ¼-inch strips
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tsps. curry powder
2 Tbs. butter
1 can cream of chicken soup, undiluted, about 10 ¼ ozs.
½ cup water
2 cups cooked chicken, ½-inch cubes
½ cup pineapple tidbits, drained
Toasted slivered almonds for garnish

Note: you can spend a buck or two (or three or four) and buy already-cooked and cut chicken or you can buy a package of boneless, skinless breasts and microwave them until done.

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, saute pepper, garlic and curry in the butter over low heat until peppers are tender. Add remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil stirring constantly.

Serve over rice. Garnish with toasted slivered almonds.

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