I have versions of The Duke’s favourite cheese casserole recipe in FIVE different celebrity cookbooks so can only assume it was something he really, really liked to eat.  But only this week I found out that the recipe was also featured on that most lovable of all recipe formats, a recipe card…

One of the things that I love best about this cookery project is the wonderful people I meet through the internet.  Is there a name for these friendships that spring up through a shared intensely niche interest?  There should be.  The lovely Lauren Hairston of The Past on a Plate in Wichita (who I have only met through the ether) tweeted a link to my blog last week.  This led to Emily of Dinner is Served 1972 in Pittsburgh popping over to visit (virtually).  She is cooking her way through the 118 recipe cards in her Dinner Is Served box set from 1972 and her blog is fabulous.  She very kindly sent me the link to the John Wayne Cheese Casserole recipe card that was posted on the Vintage Recipe Cards site. What a cascade of excitement thanks to the internet!  Sometimes I worry about how ecstatically happy the sight of a film star recipe card can make me…

I have made John Wayne’s Cheese Casserole once before and very much enjoyed it.  I see from my previous post that it was exceedingly cheesy and in fact, had that kind of “I have eaten too much fondue” effect the next day when you feel like your whole body is made of cheese.  But getting the link to the recipe card also reminded me that lovely Helen Coniam tested this recipe for me as I am thinking of including it in the Silver Screen Suppers book.  I’ve translated all the American cup measurements into grams and wanted to make sure I’d got it right.

Helen felt the recipe could do with a bit of extra oomph and made it twice.  Once to John’s original recipe and once with the addition of red and yellow pepper, some lentils to give it a bit of substance and a few drops of Tabasco.  I loved her summing up as follows:

“I’d love to make this for JW and argue with him that my version is better. I think he was too busy drinking and throwing his weight around to consider what makes the difference between a good meal and a ‘make-shift’. I really think that if ‘Dallas’ in Stagecoach had served this up for The Ringo Kid (according to his original recipe) he would have dropped her off at the door of her hovel and walked away without a second glance, however good she was at helping to deliver babies.  Maybe John Ford knew that she would add a few lentils…”

Why don’t they make chocolate boxes like that any more?!

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