School for Scandal
Murder, She Wrote - S2:E4
Polly Bergen plays Professor Jocelyn Laird, an academic under extreme stress. I think the best word to describe her character would be "imperious." She orders people around, wearing her spectacles on a chain around her neck - because, of course, her mind is on higher things than having to work out where she has absent-mindedly left them. There is a lesson to be learned for me here, I think.
I want this blouse, by the way…
Jessica and Professor Laird respect each other's writing, and we can see they are equals despite their different writing genres. "I'm so glad I met you; we could become great friends." laughs Professor Laird when Jessica, knowing she is up to something, tries to catch her out via a typewriter. But, of course, this is a tool of the trade for both of them.
Professor Laird is known for her work on Walt Whitman, but she likes a good murder mystery too. Jessica is not snobby about writing either and appreciates both Professor Laird's academic writing and the work of her force of nature daughter, Daphne, who is famous for a very different kind of book. The racy kind!
My test cook for the forthcoming book told me that Polly's recipe for chilli is very good, but recommends adjust the heat factor to your taste. She made it a lot spicier. If you are catering for a crowd, you could also make some exquisite punch with an unusual flavour as Polly's character does in this episode. As one of her guests observes, regarding that elusive flavour, "That's one thing about Jocelyn, she really is so inventive." Invent away!
Polly Bergen’s Chilli
4 lbs ground round/beef
3 x 16-oz cans of tomatoes
2 small cans Italian tomato paste
4 x 16-oz cans red kidney beans, drained
6 large onions, chopped
4 large bell peppers, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
¼ cup chili powder or to taste
3 dashes cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 bay leaf
Cover the bottom of a large deep pan with olive oil. Heat and sauté the garlic. Crumble in the beef, quite loosely, and slowly cook for ten minutes on a low flame, stirring to brown it all over. After cooking for five minutes, pour some of the liquid from the pan into another frying pan. Add the onion and green pepper to this second pan, and sauté until tender. Add the mixture to the beef. Next pour in the tomatoes, cutting lightly with two knives so that they won’t be in large chunks. Add the kidney beans, tomato paste, chilli powder, vinegar and cayenne pepper. Season to taste with salt and ground black pepper. Cook over a low flame for one hour, covered with a lid. Check the liquid content. If it’s too dry add an extra can of tomatoes; if there is too much liquid, remove the lid and let it simmer longer. This can be cooked in 40 minutes and served. However the longer it simmers on a low flame, the better it is.
Next time on Murder, She Cooked a recipe from the kitchen of Glynis Johns.
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15 years of movie star recipe adventures can be found over at
Links to my three published cookbooks
This one will be next…
My friend Tim’s live Murder, She Wrote shows are an absolute HOOT. Why not spend an evening with lots of other Fangelas?!
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