In the Kitchen with Miss Piggy: Recipe Review
It's been some time since I have cooked anything for the blog. I think I was just waiting for the right thing to cross my path and I am happy to say that it finally has. Several of the ladies get quite the kick out of vintage (and sometimes gimmicky) cookbooks. This is especially true when the books come from properties that are near and dear to our hearts. If you are interested in our past adventures with silly cookbooks, might I direct you to part one of the DC and Marvel Recipe Book Showdown. Just don't forget to come back and see what else we have managed to dig up. In the Kitchen with Miss Piggy: Fabulous Recipes from My Celebrity Friends was a gift from a friend who found it while in the process of moving to a new house. I want to give her a shout out before diving in. Without you, this culinary adventure would not have been possible.
In the Kitchen with Miss Piggy is just as much parody as it is cookbook. Yes, it contains several recipes from celebrities, but is also has the added bonus of Miss Piggy's commentary. She provides not only a bit of feedback on each of the recipes, but the first few sections are filled with Piggy's tips on stocking a pantry (with chocolate) and how to host parties that both impress your friends, but also make you look like a superstar. While I can't vouch for the validity of these tips, they are certainly cute and mildly entertaining to read. It sets the tone to remind us that Piggy is a lot more interested in herself and eating than she is in actually preparing the food. As if food preparation is even an option for those satin-gloved felted fingers of hers.
As much as Miss Piggy would hate for me to stop talking about her and move on to the recipes, I know that is what most of us are here for. At this point, you could be very well asking yourself any of the following questions: What celebrities contributed recipes? Are any of these celebrities actually good cooks? Do any of these recipes contain pork and how awkward was that for Miss Piggy to include in her book?
Well, I am certainly not planning to answer all of these questions in great detail, but I did pick out two recipes for testing. Let's see how we did!
Recipe 1: Elizabeth Taylor's Chicken
In full disclosure, I will admit to making one adjustment to the recipe. I purchased a whole chicken with the honest intention to cut it up and skin it per the recipe. Sadly, at the time of the planned chicken attack, I realized that I would rather use the whole chicken for roasting instead (maybe using Tim Curry's recipe from the book?) and instead used some pre-cut and skinned chicken thighs I already had. I like to think of it as my way of honoring Miss Piggy's own habit of generously interpreting directions or rules.
Overall, this recipe is a simple one and uses ingredients that are easily found in most grocery stores. There was just one major problem, and I wonder if you can guess what is is. What essential ingredient is missing from this recipe? If you guessed salt, then you would be right! The biggest complaint I received from my panel of intrepid (and slightly drunk) taste testers was the chicken -while being the chickeniest chicken that ever chickened- was also bland and would benefit from at least 65% more flavor.
Final Verdict: OK to make again, but would add a lot more grated fresh ginger, cut the amount of chopped onion in half (it mostly fell off the food and through the grill anyway) and add salt at some point. A little salt in the spice mix too might have helped the onions sweat a little and meld more with the chicken and spices before cooking. I think Elizabeth Taylor was on to something here and I applaud her use of curry, but I think that referring to this recipe as spicy is a bit of a stretch. I was hoping for something as hot and fiery as some of her most iconic roles. Instead, I feel like this was less sultry Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and more Cleopatra -with its long prep time and lukewarm reviews.
Recipe 2: Gene Shalit's Movie Crumb Cake
I already want to call foul on this one. This is a just a crumb cake, not a movie crumb cake. I have no idea what would make any baked good a movie cake actually, but I don't think this recipe is it. Thankfully, the awful jokes shoehorned into the recipe almost makes up for it. ALMOST.
Quiz time again kiddies. Look at the pics above, does something seem off to you? Wait, are you trying to tell me that you don't regularly eat cake covered in sunken craters? Especially when the cake is referred to as being a "crumb" cake. Like the previous recipe I tested, I feel like we have another essential ingredient missing, and that is a little bit of flour in the crumb mix to give it body and prevent the butter and sugar from simply melting into the cake. While I do admit to using butter instead of margarine, I am quite sure that the result would have been the same. So, while certainly not the prettiest cake at the Cake Ball, all that butter on top certainly kept things moist.
Final Verdict: Two Thumbs up, 4 out of 5 stars...or whatever terms of measurement Gene used in his reviews. This cake is moist, tasty, and was a hit with my panel. I found it a little too sweet for my taste, but unlike the chicken, there were requests for seconds and enthusiastic nods! So enthusiastic! So much nodding! I actually do think that I might give this recipe another shot with a few adjustments to the crumble. I think it would be a good use for leftover sour cream and a welcome addition to office potlucks. Now if only I could think of some awful pun to go along with it so that I can make Gene proud. Sadly, all my ideas have been kinda half-baked. Wham!!!
Final Take on the Book Itself: When purchasing these sorts of recipe books, I think it is important to remember exactly what it is about the book that makes you want to own it. Are you buying it because you love everything Miss Piggy and want a bunch of pics of Miss Piggy decked out on her mid-90s fashion finest? Well, then I won't stop you. Heck, you might even enjoy trying out some of the recipes if you are really into any of the celebs. If you are more interested in the art of fine cooking, I think you already know that this isn't the book for you. Most recipes are for things that you could either find online or might just already have a preferred recipe for. I'll be keeping mine as a welcome addition to my shelf of other Muppet books. I will think of it more as a Muppet collectible rather than a useful recipe book.
Thinking of trying either of these recipes for yourself? Any wacky cook books you'd like to suggest we try? Know a way we could improve on these recipes a bit more? Let us know in the comment section below!