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Ann B. Davis's What's Up, Welsh RabbitBy Vicki McClure Davidson
Actress Ann B. Davis played the incomparable, amusing, and lovable Alice, housekeeper and cook on the popular 1960s family sitcom The Brady Bunch.
Show creator and producer Sherwood Schwartz has explained that of all character actresses in Hollywood, Davis was his one and only choice in the role of Alice. At the time, however, Davis was performing a one-woman show in Seattle, and so, massive efforts to find an actress to cast in the role ensued. Schwartz was looking for someone like Davis who had a warm sense of humor and easy-going comedic timing, as well as her heart and conveyance of reality working with the Brady parents and children. She was to be a barometer for the storms that cropped up in the blended family, and had to come across as genuine during the show's dramatic scenes.
The studio discovered that there was no other actress like Davis who could convincingly pull off the role of Alice. Despite the cost, Schwartz finally advised Paramount Studio to buy out the two remaining weeks of her Seattle contract. As Schwartz recalled, "She's one of a kind... When they told me that would be expensive, I replied, 'Good things are often expensive.'" He attributed much of the show's success and five-year run to Davis.
Prior to The Brady Bunch, Davis played the role of Charmaine 'Schultzy' Schultz on The Bob Cummings Show during the mid to late 1950s. Her popularity in that role was tremendous, and it earned her a number of acting nominations, as well as two Emmys and three TV Land awards. She also had a recurring role in the 1960s on The John Forsythe Show.
Collaborating with two writers, Davis published Alice's Brady Bunch Cookbook in 1994. The cookbook is chock full of easy, inexpensive recipes, most of which are designed for kids to like them. This is but one of those recipes. The cookbook also has fascinating behind-the-scenes recollections of Davis' from the sitcom.
Source: Davis, Alice B., with Ron Newcomer and Diane Smolen, Alice's Brady Bunch Cookbook, Rutledge Hill Press, Nashville, TN, 1994.
Welsh rabbit (also known as Welsh rarebit) is delicious peasant food that originated from 18th-century Great Britain. It is a dish made with a savory sauce of melted cheese and other ingredients, such as ale, mustard, ground cayenne pepper, paprika, and/or Worcestershire sauce, and the resulting cheese sauce is served hot over toast or almost stale, hard bread. It's especially good for dinner on cold nights and takes very little time to make. I find that while you can substitute cheese in this recipe, it is better to stick with sharp Cheddar. The flavor it imparts is perfect for Welsh rabbit (and no, there is no rabbit in this dish!). Don't use regular yellow mustard. It doesn't have the same rich flavor as Dijon, and the results could be disappointing.
English muffins that have been lightly toasted are a good substitute for the wheat bread. You can sprinkle a bit of paprika on the top for a bit more flavor and color, if desired.
Ann B. Davis's What's Up, Welsh Rabbit
- 1/4 c. butter or margarine
- 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
- 2 c. dark beer
- 2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
- 1/4 c. country Dijon mustard
- Salt to taste
- 4 c. grated sharp Cheddar cheese
- 8 slices whole wheat bread, toasted and buttered
In a large skillet, melt the butter or margarine over medium heat. Slowly blend in the flour until smooth. Stirring constantly, slowly add the beer. Cook until the sauce thickens. Add the Worcestershire sauce, mustard, and salt, and blend well. Add the cheese and cook until there are no lumps. Arrange the bread slices on a platter or on individual plates and spoon the sauce over.
Alice's Note: I think this is a family favorite because there really isn't a little bunny in the recipe.Makes 8 servings.
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Davis, Alice B., with Ron Newcomer and Diane Smolen, Alice's Brady Bunch Cookbook, Rutledge Hill Press, Nashville, TN, 1994.
IMDb website, 'Ann B. Davis,' (http://imdb.com).