Ring of Fire

The Columbo Bowl!

February 20th, 2018

marks the 50th anniversary of the very first episode of the Columbo TV series (1971-78). 


It also is the day my friend Jenny of Silver Screen Suppers releases her latest book, COOKING WITH COLUMBO – Suppers with the Shambling Sleuth.


(I’ll post details here, of where you can buy it, once Jenny announces that information.)

COOKING WITH COLUMBO  is a treasury of fabulous recipes, garnered from Columbo himself (Peter Falk) and a myriad of his amazing co-stars throughout the 9+ seasons of the world’s most beloved detective show.  The book is organized episode by episode, with coordinating dishes and tips for throwing the perfect Columbo party.  It’s a highly entertaining read, and a book you’ll refer back to over and over again, just for it’s many rare and exceptional recipes.  

Peter Falk and Johnny Cash in Columbo

In honor of the book release, Jenny’s hosting the Columbo Bowl Chili Cook-Along from Feb 1-20!  (Hence the reason for this posting…)  The cook-along is open to anyone (world wide), and there are fabulous PRIZES to be won!  Everyone is making a version of Johnny Cash’s Chili ( he appeared in the Columbo episode, Swan Song [1974]).  All you have to do, is make the chili and send her a picture.  (She’s picked a PERFECT recipe for this time of year…at least for those of us in the Northern hemisphere.)  Click the above link for details and recipes. 

Swan Song, co-starring Johnny Cash

As every Columbo fan knows, Chili is The Lieutenant’s favorite dish (and especially the chili from Barney’s Beanery in Hollywood…a favorite hangout of James Dean‘s).  In the Swan Song episode, Johnny Cash offers Lieutenant Columbo a bowl of chili made with squirrel meat…this is NOT the version Jenny is asking everyone to cook (and good thing, we don’t have any squirrels in Greece)!  The recipe for the cook-along, is Johnny’s personal one…using beef (there’s also a veggie version, adapted by Helen of the fanciful blogsite Dinner with Zelda Manners).  They’re both great!

COOKING WITH COLUMBO – Suppers with the Shambling Sleuth

Recipes4Rebels readers know there’s always a James Dean tie in…  Wellllll…according to the Oracle of Bacon (the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon game):

…that’s a Kevin Bacon number of 2.

Another Kevin Bacon number of 2.

That, I fear (along with the Barney’s Beanery tie in), is the best I can do…  It’s a double Bacon #2, with a side of beans…  Nonetheless, who doesn’t love Johnny Cash anyway?

I’m making a meatless version of Johnny Cash Chili (which differs from Helen’s version, due to the fact that I can’t get ready-made, soy-based, meat substitutes here in Greece).  I’m serving it with my recipe for a skillet cornbread (I’ll give you my recipe for that too…it’s a good one, if I do say so myself).

Alex and I are looking forward to the chili leftovers…Chili Mac is a favorite of ours (for non-US readers, Chili Mac is leftover chili [always better the next day, right?], served over spaghetti, and topped with chopped raw onion and copious amounts of shredded Cheddar cheese!).  YUM!  It’s the best!

(Although I have many, many favorite Johnny Cash songs, Ring of Fire [1963] has always been near the top of the list, partly because it was written by June Carter Cash about her love for Johnny…)



The basic recipe for Johnny Cash Chili can be found on Jenny’s blogsite, HERE.  The chili was great.  Alex exclaimed, “Yummy!  This really makes me happy!”  I worked VERY HARD to keep the heat levels down…but it still came out rather spicy hot (see my note below).  The rest of the seasonings were perfect.  A very enjoyable meal.  Invite a lot of friends over, this recipe makes a lot!  Serve for a party or plan on freezing the leftovers for fabulous, quick, hassle-free meals later.  Enjoy!

Young Johnny Cash

Here’s my cooking notes, with additions and substitutions that were made:




The only accompaniments to my chili, are shredded cheese, sometimes a dollop of sour cream, maybe saltine crackers, and definitely a big healthy slab of cornbread!  (Sorry my Brit friends…although I’m sure it’s good, I’d NEVER serve chili over rice.)

I’ve been making the same cornbread for many, many years…  It’s a fairly standard version, slightly more eggy, sweetened with honey instead of sugar, and baked in a cast iron skillet.  It’s moist, buttery, and full of sweet corn flavor on the inside, with a slightly crispy crust on the outside.  A perfect counterbalance to the wonderful, spicy, smokey, tomato-ey, meaty flavors of Johnny Cash’s chili.


1 c         all purpose flour

1 c         cornmeal

4 T        honey

2 1/2 t  baking powder

3/4 t     salt

1/3 c     butter

3            eggs

1 c         milk








What’re we cookin’ up next in the Recipe4Rebels kitchen?

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Help Silver Screen Suppers celebrate the release of COOKING WITH COLUMBO, by joining in on The Columbo Bowl Chili Cook-Along!  It’s easy, loads of fun…AND TASTY TOO!



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  1. Brilliant as usual! I love halloumi cheese so that’s definitely something worth trying.

    • Awww…thanks Zelda! Since I can’t get the usual meat substitutes here…the Halloumi is my general go to. We LOVE it prepared this way (grated and pan fried) for use in (American southern classic) biscuits and gravy. YOUR veggie version of this chili looks and sounds delicious! You were brilliant to document and share your recipe for The Columbo Bowl Chili Cook-Along and for Jenny’s book (turns out there’s a lot more of us vegetarians that one would imagine).

  2. I won’t be making the veggie version although that does sound good . I’m also not a great rice with chili person, I’d rather just have more chili and only resort to rice to bulk it out if I’ve a small amount of chili . Sometimes I’ll go with garlic bread or chips and dip . Like the sound of the cornbread though. May have a go at that and the chili mac .. Although it occurs to me that you could use a smaller pasta and perhaps bake in the oven for a while with a tortilla and cheese topping . I’ve some experimenting to do.

    • The chili mac is a nostalgic American comfort staple…popular in diners or Steak’n’Shake chain restaurants. Sometimes it’s done with elbow macaroni instead of spaghetti. Steak’n’Shake offers “Chili 3-ways” and “Chili 5-ways” ( “5-ways” includes the cheese and chopped raw onion). Sounds to me like you’re on to something there with your oven-baked chili and cheese tortilla! Sounds great! I might need to make some chili and cheese enchiladas with the leftovers in my freezer…

      • …or chili nachos (in reference to your chips and dip comment)…that sounds good too! I’ve got enough leftovers to do both these and more I think. 🙂

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