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Frank Sinatra at the stove

September 1, 2008 |  5:35 pm


Last week the LA Times looked at political cookbooks, including one from 1960 -- "Many Happy Returns: Or How to Cook a G.O.P. Goose" -- with a forward by Frank Sinatra.

Which sent me to my shelf of vintage cookbooks. There he was again: Frank Sinatra appeared in "Cook . . . With the Stars," sharing his meatball recipe. "Cook . . . With the Stars" was produced, judging by the illustrations, in the late 1950s or early '60s by Southern California radio station KMPC. It's a slender cookbook, a pamphlet, really, but KMPC nevertheless got some of the best vocalists of the day to contribute their favorite recipes.

For Sammy Davis Jr., that was shrimp Creole; Bing Crosby, turkey and eggs; Nat "King" Cole, veal Parmesan; Doris Day, peach angel food cake. Imagine Crosby, a precursor to Jamie Oliver, getting home late after a show, throwing slices of turkey, a couple of eggs and some cream in a pan, sprinkling it with salt and pepper and tossing it in the oven.

But can you picture Cole standing over a simmering meat sauce for two hours? Or Fred MacMurray buttering a cake pan? Sinatra had a reputation for eating well -- but a brief tour through Kitty Kelley's biography "His Way" doesn't reveal any big cooking scenes. Of course, the biography was unauthorized, and Kelley only spoke to one of his children and one of his wives, so it doesn't really cover the domestic life of his adulthood. Maybe he did come home from making "From Here to Eternity," or recording "In the Wee Small Hours," and decide he just had to whip up a batch of meatballs.

Whether he ever cooked it or not, Frank Sinatra's meatball recipe is after the jump.

--Carolyn Kellogg

Frank Sinatra's meatballs:

Mix 2 eggs with 1/2 cup water. Add one cup fine bread crumbs, 3/4 teaspoon salt, a few grains pepper, one clove garlic (chopped fine). Let stand five minutes.

Mix 3/4 lb. ground beef, 1/4 lb. ground pork, 1/2 cup grated Italian cheese. Combine with bread mixture and mix thoroughly.

Shape into balls of desired size (not too large), flattening slightly. Fry on both sides in olive oil over medium flame.

-- Carolyn Kellogg