Author Interviews
7:04 am
Sat April 12, 2014

Jackie Collins' Mob Princess Serves Up A Cookbook You Can't Refuse

Originally published on Mon April 14, 2014 11:52 am

Lucky Santangelo is a household name — at least, in those households where the shelves are packed with Jackie Collins novels. And considering there are more than 500 million copies sold, well, Santangelo's certainly got a fan base.

She's the heroine, more or less, of seven Collins novels, including Vendetta: Lucky's Revenge, Dangerous Kiss, Drop Dead Beautiful, and Goddess of Vengeance. And Santangelo herself is a bit all of those things: the beautiful daughter of a former mob boss who has her own way of making offers people can't refuse. One of Santangelo's weapons is food, which is lavishly prepared for the people she cherishes — unless, of course, they get in her way.

Collins' latest book, The Lucky Santangelo Cookbook, is a peek into her character's kitchen. It's full of recipes for everything from meatloaf to creme fraiche with chocolate mousse. One thing you won't find is a focus on nutrition: "It's not a healthy book," Collins tells NPR's Scott Simon.

Collins discusses her approach to cooking vegetables, shares the inspiration behind her first novel and — to Simon's shock — reveals that she once threw Alec Guinness over her shoulder.


Interview Highlights

On her cheesy cauliflower au gratin

That is absolutely delicious. I mean, you just cover everything in this fabulous cheese, and you melt it, and you make the vegetables very ... edible. Because most kids are used to vegetables that they get at school, and they're disgusting! So they go off vegetables ... if I'm going to do vegetables, then I want them to be absolutely delicious and delectable.

On why she moved from acting in movies to writing novels

Actually, I was always an out-of-work writer, and I only did movies when I was a teenager and I was expelled from school, and my parents said to me, "Oh, you know, your sister [Joan Collins] is doing movies in Hollywood, she's a big star out there, you can go and do the same thing, you're not bad-looking." And I thought, "Well, I'll make some money making these movies playing the Italian girl," which is what I always seemed to be cast as. And I did it for, you know, a couple of years when I was a teenager — I had to throw Alec Guinness over my shoulder in one movie.

... And then I said, this is ridiculous, I have to start on my writing career. So I wrote a book called The World is Full of Married Men, because I found that in my teenage years married men would be chasing me everywhere and going, "Oh, yeah, well, my wife is different, but you know, she doesn't really understand me." And I thought, "This is so interesting!" And I wanted to write and turn the double standard on its head. And then eventually I created Lucky Santangelo. ... She's such a brilliant character because she does all the things that women would like to do, she says all the things they would like to say, and she gets away with it.

On the lemon linguine, a Santangelo family favorite.

It is a family favorite, and they love it with the creamy sauce... I know, it's terrible the way I use cream and butter. But I think if you're going to indulge yourself, you may as well indulge, you know? And that's what the family does. I do think you can treat yourself. And I believe in chocolate — there's some great chocolate desserts [in the cookbook], like the molten chocolate and some pies and things like that.

... So I have used a lot of things in the book that probably are forbidden in most books. Because I look on the bestseller lists and I see "how to be healthy," "how to eat healthy," "how to do this" and "how to do that." But what the hell, we're only here once. Let's have some fun.


The Jackie Collins, by Wolfgang Puck

Yield: 1 Jackie Collins cocktail

Muddle the raspberries with the simple syrup. Add the vodka and lemonade into a cocktail shaker. Squeeze the lime over the vodka mixture. Add the ice cubes, and shake the cocktail shaker hard for 30 seconds. Pour in the club soda, shake once, and strain into a highball glass. Garnish with a raspberry and a fresh mint leaf.

6 raspberries plus an additional raspberry, for garnish
Splash of simple syrup (1 ounce or less)
2 ounces vodka
2 ounces lemonade, preferably Perricone's
1/2 lime
4 to 6 ice cubes
1 1/2 ounces club soda
Fresh mint leaf, for garnish

From THE LUCKY SANTANGELO COOKBOOK by Jackie Collins. Copyright 2014 by Chances, Inc. and reprinted by permission of St. Martin's Press, LLC.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Lucky Santangelo is a household name in a lot of those households which house some of the more than 500 million copies sold of the novels of Jackie Collins. Ms. Santangelo, as we put it here on NPR, is the heroine, more or less, of seven of them, including "Lucky," "Vendetta: Lucky's Revenge," "Dangerous Kiss," "Drop Dead Beautiful" and "Goddess of Vengeance." She's kind of all those things - the beautiful daughter of a former mob boss, who has her own way of making offers that people can't refuse, including the food, which is lavishly prepared for the people that Lucky Santangelo cherishes, unless of course they get in her way.

Jackie Collins has now produced "The Lucky Santangelo Cookbook." What a wonderful excuse to talk to Jackie Collins, who joins us from New York. Thanks so much for being with us.

JACKIE COLLINS: It's my pleasure, Scott.

SIMON: Well, let me begin with a recipe I wasn't expecting, which is meatloaf.

COLLINS: Ah, yes, well...

SIMON: And you say in this book you eat meatloaf.

COLLINS: I love meatloaf. Meatloaf...

SIMON: Why am I surprised by that?

COLLINS: I don't know - meatloaf, fabulous mashed potatoes. But my favorite recipe in the book...

SIMON: Yeah.

COLLINS: ...Of all...

SIMON: Yeah.

COLLINS: ...Is something that my mother taught me, and that's the English roast potatoes.

SIMON: Oh, I saw that one and they're...

COLLINS: You've got to try those.

SIMON: Yeah.

COLLINS: You will love those. You parboil them for about 10 minutes...

SIMON: Yeah.

COLLINS: ...And then you have hot oil in your oven. And you take out the hot oil, and you throw the potatoes in. And you just leave them for an hour, and they will come out fabulously crisp on the outside and fabulously soft on the inside.

SIMON: I think children will appreciate your approach to vegetables in this cookbook...

COLLINS: (Laughing).

SIMON: ...Which is just cheese them up. You know, it's a pretty simple recipe, if I say so myself. Tell us about cheesy cauliflower au gratin.

COLLINS: Oh, well, that is absolutely delicious. I mean, you just cover everything in this fabulous cheese, and you melt it. And you make the vegetables very kind of edible, you know, because most kids are used to vegetables that they get at school. And they are disgusting, you know, and so they go off vegetables. But if you can introduce...

SIMON: ...Overcooked, limp, lifeless, pale.

COLLINS: Yeah, exactly. Didn't you get that school? I know I did.

SIMON: Yes, of course.

COLLINS: And so if I'm going to do vegetables, then I want them to be absolutely delicious and delectable.

SIMON: You did a lot of movies, like your sister, Joan Collins. What made you move into writing?

COLLINS: Well, actually, I was always an out-of-work writer. And I only did movies when I was a teenager, and I was expelled from school. And my parents said to me, oh, you know, your sister's doing movies in Hollywood. She's a big star out there. You can go and do the same thing. You're not bad-looking. And I thought, well, I'll make some money making these movies playing the Italian girl, which is what I always seemed to be cast as. And I did it for, you know, a couple of years when I was a teenager. I had to throw Alec Guinness over my shoulder in one movie and play the Italian girl in another. And I was in...

SIMON: Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. You threw Alec Guinness over your shoulder in a movie?

COLLINS: Well, we were doing this movie called "Barnacle Bill," and he was supposed to rock 'n roll with me. And, you know, he was a much older man and...

SIMON: How did you - forgive me. You threw one of the great men of the English theater over your shoulder.

COLLINS: (Laughing) There was a whole bunch of us that were rock 'n roll teenagers in this scene. And I was the one that was elected to dance with him in my tight jeans and my striped T-shirt. And I have the stills to prove it.

SIMON: My.

COLLINS: And then I said, this is ridiculous. I have to start on my writing career. So I wrote a book called "The World Is Full of Married Men" because I found that, in my teenage years, married men would be chasing me everywhere, and going, oh, yeah, well, my wife is different, but, you know, she doesn't really understand me. And I thought, this is so interesting. And I wanted to write and turn the double standard on its head. And then, eventually, I created Lucky Santangelo because she is such a brilliant character because she does all the things that women would like to do, she says all of the things they would like to say. And she gets away with it.

SIMON: Another recipe...

COLLINS: Yes.

SIMON: Lemon linguine, which is reportedly a Santangelo family favorite.

COLLINS: It is a family favorite, and they love it with the creamy sauce. Lemon...

SIMON: This is essentially lemon zest with a lot of cream and butter, over linguine.

COLLINS: I know. It's terrible the way I use cream and butter, but I think if you are going to indulge yourself, you may as well indulge, you know. And that's what the family does. I do think you can treat yourself. And I believe in chocolate. Like, there's some great chocolate desserts - the molten chocolate and the pies and things like that.

SIMON: Oh, the chocolate mousse with creme fraiche.

COLLINS: Oh, great. Don't you love creme fraiche? So I have used a lot of things in the book that probably are forbidden in most books 'cause I look on the bestseller list, and I see, how to be healthy, how to eat healthy...

SIMON: Yeah.

COLLINS: ...How to do this and how to do that. But what the hell? You know, we're only here once. Let's have some fun.

SIMON: Jackie Collins. Her new book, "The Lucky Santangelo Cookbook." Good eating to you, Ms. Collins.

COLLINS: Well, thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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