Gourmet Galley: Recipe heavy on powder, cumin, similar to kind made in La., Texas

Advocate staff photo by CATHERINE THRELKELD  --  Elizabeth Taylor's Chili is said to have been a favorite dish of the actress. Show caption
Advocate staff photo by CATHERINE THRELKELD -- Elizabeth Taylor's Chili is said to have been a favorite dish of the actress.

In straightening my cookbooks, I noticed a tag hanging out from “The View From Our Kitchen” cookbook. I had marked Kay Toups’ recipe for Elizabeth Taylor Chili.

Toups told me her mother found this recipe many years ago in one of the ladies magazines — Redbook, Ladies Home Journal, Collier’s, McCall’s — she didn’t know which.

Her mother, Cherrie Hale, loved cooking and entertaining so, of course, she was always clipping recipes from books or newspapers. She never minded the extra effort it took to put something special on the table and, if there was a story connected to it, that was even better.

This recipe lead-in, as Kay Toups remembers, said this recipe from a fashionable restaurant was a favorite of actress Elizabeth Taylor and was flown from Los Angeles to Rome, packed in dry ice, to be served to her while she was filming “Cleopatra” with Richard Burton.

After making the recipe, I think the chef must have been from Texas or Louisiana because it’s very similar to the chili we make. This recipe is very heavy on chili powder and the cumin; you might want to start with less and add more as needed.

It also calls for cumin seed. Unless you buy it roasted, you should lightly toast it in a heavy skillet then grind it with a mortar and pestle or the back of a spoon in a shallow bowl.

Heat, or toast cumin seeds, just until the aroma is emitted; toasting too dark makes it very bitter.

If you are using ground cumin, use half of the amount called for in seeds.

Corinne Cook is a columnist for The Advocate. Reach her at food@theadvocate.com.