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

Play associated audio

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/.


'Star Wars' Editors Defy Hollywood Conventions

In a film industry often dominated by men, there's at least one exception: Many editors are women. Maryann Brandon and Mary Jo Markey speak about their work on the new Star Wars.

Florida Says Its Fruits, Vegetables Are Safe From Invasive Fruit Fly

Since September, Florida has been fighting an infestation of the Oriental fruit fly, an invasive pest that threatened more than 400 crops. The state declared the insect eradicated as of Saturday.

7 Things To Know About Presidential Appointments To The Supreme Court

Republicans are adamant they will stop anyone President Obama names to replace for Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court. It's possible Obama's nominee would face the longest wait in history for a vote.

West Point Students' Plan To Counter ISIS Online Strategy

The State Department sponsored a contest to find the best ways to combat ISIS propaganda online. A group of cadets from West Point got second prize. Rachel Martin speaks with team member CJ Drew.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.