One of the ways I've found to indulge my passion for cookbooks without breaking the piggy bank is to watch the Kindle specials. Beatrice Ojakangas is one of my favorite cookbook authors, one whose recipes have never steered me wrong. Her Blueberry-Cream Cheese Coffee Cake from Beatrice Ojakangas' Great Holiday Baking Book
is a recipe I've made time and again and even featured on my blog (June 28, 2012). So, I was overjoyed to find The Best Casserole Cookbook Ever: With More Than 500 Recipes!
on special a couple of weeks ago.
Long before there was such a thing as the Crock Pot, busy women relied on casseroles to make week-night meals quick and easy while recycling "leftovers" into something new. Put your casserole together the night before or in the morning before you go to work and then all that needs to be done is to heat it in the oven, something even the kitchen-challenged husbands of yesterday could manage. This is a huge volume, one that will really stretch your definition of just what a casserole is. You'll find dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner, appetizers for parties, casseroles big enough to feed the multitudes or small enough to feed just two, even dessert. Some rely on leftovers or pantry staples, others on fresh ingredients like the excess zucchini that magically appears in our gardens come August.
I found dozens of old favorites and as many more that I'm dying to try, but my favorite part of the book are the directions that Beatrice gives for making your own fresh substitute for the "cream of" soups that were so commonly part of casserole recipes in our mothers' day.
You'll find dishes for every appetite and taste, but do remember to taste as you go. You may like more salt or chile than a given recipe calls for.
I did find a couple of errors in the Kindle version - nothing at all unusual in a volume this size (one recent volume I've acquired has 6 full pages of errata) - so I contacted Beatrice about them. Here are the two that I found and Beatrice' reply.
The Green Bean, Mushroom and Onion Casserole omits onion from both the ingredients list and the directions. Beatrice says 'The mistake here was that the onion wasn't removed from the title. It should read: "Green Bean and Mushroom Casserole"'.
The Salmon Soufflé (in the chapter of casseroles for 2) omits the instructions of what to do with the salmon. Beatrice says "In the salmon souffle, the ingredient line should have read "1/2 cup canned or cooked salmon, flaked" and it is to be added last of all to the basic sauce in Step 2. That also means that the salmon should be listed right after the shredded sharp Cheddar cheese."
If you've a Kindle you can just note those changes at the appropriate place in the recipes.
Here's one very similar to a casserole I often made when we lived out west -
SOUTHWESTERN BREAKFAST CASSEROLE
I first had this spicy egg, cheese, and sausage casserole for breakfast in a wonderful inn in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
6 ounces bulk-style chorizo sausage
1/2 onion, finely chopped
4 cans (4 ounces each) whole mild green chiles, drained
1/2 pound queso fresco (Mexican farmers' cheese), finely crumbled
8 large eggs, beaten
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Tomato salsa for serving
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter an 8-inch square baking dish.
Place a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chorizo and cook, breaking up with a fork, until browned, about 4 minutes. Add the onion and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes longer, stirring, until the onion is tender. Remove from the heat.
Cut each chile lengthwise in half and remove the membranes and seeds. Line the bottom of the dish with half the chiles, arranging them cut-sides up.
Sprinkle half of the chorizo mixture over the chiles and cover with half of the cheese.
Beat the eggs in a medium bowl and add the ground pepper. Cover the cheese layer with half of the beaten eggs. Top with the remaining chiles in one layer, and layer the remaining chorizo and then the cheese on top. Pour the remaining egg mixture over the cheese.
Bake, uncovered, for 30 to 40 minutes, until the casserole is set. Let stand for about 5 minutes before cutting into squares. Serve the squares topped with salsa.
Ojakangas, Beatrice; Cushner, Susie (2008-09-10). The Best Casserole Cookbook Ever: With More Than 500 Recipes! (Kindle Locations 2406-2429). Chronicle Books. Kindle Edition.
NOTE - I have no trouble finding fresh chorizo and queso fresco at Walmart, where I sometimes can also find large 28 ounce cans of whole green chile. Don't forget the tortillas. This recipe could easily be cut in half.
Grandma's $0.02 - There is something for everyone in the pages of The Best Casserole Cookbook Ever: With More Than 500 Recipes!
Delightful - and highly recommended!