Merv Griffin 1925-2007
Between his start as a big band singer and becoming a stinking-rich businessman, Merv Griffin created the two greatest game shows ever, Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune, and he hosted a must-watch TV talk show. Gabbing with all manner of celebrities, the “eternally jovial Irishman,” as the New York Times called him in his obituary, created a cocktail party atmosphere on his show and thus managed to get the biggest stars to let it all hang out. Although rumor has it he was gay, Griffin was often seen on the arm of Eva Gabor, whose goulash recipe appears in Chapter 13. When asked at age 80 about his sexuality, he told interviewers to “get a life.” An astute businessman who bought casinos and hotels — and relished his rivalry with Donald Trump — Griffin made what was possibly his smartest move when he wrote the theme song to Jeopardy! and then maintained the rights to it, even after selling the show. He bragged that his royalties from the song earned him upwards of $80 million. That’s a lot of stuffed squash.
Merv Griffin’s Stuffed Squash
In a large bowl, toss together stuffing, lemon juice with zest, pineapple with water, dried apricots, onions, nuts, coconut, and butter. Stuff squash with mixture. Bake squash halves for one hour in a preheated 325° oven. Garnish with the 2 tablespoons of toasted coconut.
12 ounces cornbread stuffing mix
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
1 can (20 ounces) pineapple chunks in water
1½ cups dried apricots, slivered
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup walnuts, pecans, or macadamia nuts, coarsely chopped
½ cup flaked coconut (reserve 2 tablespoons for toasting)
½ cup melted butter
4 small acorn, golden nugget, or sweet dumpling squash, halved and seeded
This recipe makes way more stuffing than you need to fill eight squash halves, but who ever complained about having leftover stuffing? With or without the squash, the fruity flavors of the stuffing make a great accompaniment to pork chops, ham, or even chicken. Yum!