Friday, October 7, 2011

Recipes for Life: My Memories

By Linda Evans
New York, Vanguard Press, 2011
265 pages    Memoir, Cook Book

Linda Evans says that her two favorite things in life are “people and food.” Her memoir/cookbook is indeed called, Recipes for Life: My Memories. She acknowledges at the onset of the book that she has been blessed with a body that craves good food without consequence. (Ah, that we all should be that lucky!) 

Her memoir is a clever combination of personal history, Hollywood name dropping, photographs, and tasty recipes. Evans comes across as a thoroughly nice person, albeit a bit of a sucker for handsome ladies’ men. (I didn’t know what to think when she told about husband #2 buying her the car of her dreams in one chapter, and then in the next chapter announced that the marriage was over.) Blessed with many good friends and co-workers, she tells vignettes about events and people in her life and then includes a recipe that either came from a friend or reminds her of a friend. For instance, she discusses meeting John Wayne and then includes a recipe for his crab dip. Apparently, she is not just a home cook. In 2009 she appeared on the British cooking show, Hell’s Kitchen, which she ended up winning. Included is the recipe for her salmon dish, “Hell’s Salmon,” with which she won the competition. 

Publisher’s Weekly says the Recipes for Life is “deceptively simple.” Probably “deceptively simple” is a good description for Linda Evans, as well. I had never watched anything, movie or television, that Linda Evans was in. Last night, in honor of the book, we watched the movie Tom Horn starring Steve McQueen and Linda Evans. Although the movie suffered greatly from bad editing, McQueen was awesome as an old cowboy in a new West. Evans was the only woman in the cast, and although her part was small, she glowed with beauty and self-assurance.

I was interested in knowing that Linda Evans is only slightly older than me. Would that I looked like her! Her last chapter is aptly called, "My Just Desserts," and in it she acknowledges the gift of wisdom that comes with age.”I’m not the woman I used to be. I’m rich in experience and looking for new and wonderful adventures to add to this magical gift called life.” And with this book, she has accomplished another one of her goals.

Here is a recipe for Artichoke Dip from the book. I made it for family last night, not for a glamorous party with famous guests. It was lovely and garnered high praise. I will probably serve it for my next “glamorous” party.
Linda's Famed Artichoke Dip
By Linda Evans,
Author of Recipes For Life: My Memories
I've been making my artichoke dip for years. Practically everyone who has ever tasted it has asked me for the recipe. It's perfect for large parties or for smaller, intimate gatherings. Or when your husband's ex-wife comes to dinner! The secret here is to use the artichoke bottoms, not the hearts. Artichoke hearts may be easier to find, they don't produce the same results. The recipe easily doubles or triples for large gatherings. You can also replace the artichokes with 7 ounces of lump crab meat for a delicious variation. 
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, at room temperature
½ cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Tabasco (or more, to taste)
1½ tablespoons thinly sliced scallions (white part only)
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese (I prefer Parmigiano-Reggiano)
1 (13¾ ounce) can artichoke bottoms (not hearts), drained and finely diced 
Preheat oven to 350°F.
With an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese with the mayonnaise. One by one, blend in the Tabasco sauce, scallions, and Parmesan.
Using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, fold in the artichokes (don't use the mixer for this).
Spoon the mixture into a 3-cup baking dish and bake for 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve warm with crackers. 

Recipe for Life will be released on October 11, 2011. I received an advanced reader copy from the publicist. It would make a lovely Christmas gift for a cook or for a fan of the television show, Dynasty, which Evans starred in for nine years.

The review in Publisher’s Weekly:
Linda Evan’s website:

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