The Best Casserole Cookbook Ever Paperback – Sep 1 2008
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About the Author
Beatrice Ojakangas has written over 20 cookbooks. She teaches cooking classes in her home near Duluth, Minnesota.
Susie Cushner is a Boston-based photographer.
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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.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Aside from that, this book very well lives up to its title as "The Best Casserole Cookbook Ever".
Ojakangas opens with a history of the casserole and again incorporates her Minnesota background by explaining that the casserole in those parts is called a "hot dish". I have consumed many a "hot dish" at gatherings in Minnesota. And many a casserole at home, where such dishes are a favorite in a busy household.
This book already has lots of pages flagged - because it is loaded with great recipes. We had one this week, a chicken noodle casserole, that was absolutely scrumptious.
After an introduction to the basics of casseroles (e.g., sauces, etc.), she moves into the goodies: 16 chapters of yummies. (I admit to not liking fish and shellfish, but I include that chapter in the count anyway.)
Appetizers & First Courses
No-Knead Casserole Breads
Breakfasst & Brunch Casseroles
Lamb, Veal & Game Casseroles
Grain & Legume Casseroles
Fish & Shellfish Casseroles
Casseroles For Crowds
Casseroles For Kids
More than 500 recipes, many of them that set my mouth watering at first reading.
Most of the recipes are reasonably simple and quick to prepare. Lots of fun new (to me) things to try like a No-Egg Breakfast Potato Hot Dish and a Curried Chicken Breast Casserole.
A couple of small negatives. The recipes are printed in a reddish ink and somewhat difficult to read. There aren't enough illustrations. Neither of these is a show stopper.
Overall, a great treasure for those who like "hot dishes" or, as the rest of the country calls them, casseroles. And having written this review and browsed the recipes once more, I'm hungry. Fortunately, I can look forward to the Ancho Chicken Breast With Corn for dinner tomorrow night.
Food snobs may well take note of recipes like Summer Salmon Casserole and the side dishes that include pilafs and whole grains not commonly cooked in casseroles, such as barley, bulgar, millet, and quinoa. I count myself among those who enjoy cooking and eating quality food. This book provides numerous choices--without sacrificing quality--for days when time is short.
I'm a little surprised by the negative reviews from people on low-sodium and/or low-fat diets. While it's true that many of the recipes include heavy cream and salt, the author notes that evaporated milk (granted, not necessarily a taste favorite) may be substituted for the cream to reduce fat content. Also, most people on low-sodium diets are already aware of the need to reduce stated amounts of salt in any recipe or to substitute an herb blend like Mrs. Dash to perk up a dish. However, with a little extra reading through this recipe collection, even individuals on restricted diets will find something new and pleasing.
First I made the Finnish Salmon Casserole so I could work some fish into the menu. The casserole is basically potatoes, onions, and salmon, none of which really has an assertive flavor, and it ended up very bland. The second casserole was Chicken with Mushrooms and Artichokes. This one was much better than the salmon, but it still felt like something was missing. Third was the Baked Spaghetti Casserole. This is basically spaghetti baked in a dish with cheese, and it was good, but I think heating up some jarred pasta sauce would have given me the same result and would have meant less work. For the fourth I tried something off the wall, since I was looking for flavor and hadn't found it. I picked the Chicken Curry Casserole. This was the strangest one, and honestly, the leftovers went in the trash. The combination of coconut milk, Indian curry powder, and green pimento-stuffed olives was really bizarre and definitely clashed. The last casserole I tried was the Chicken Diane, which was good, but also could have used some more flavor.
I guess I could doctor up each of these casseroles so that they're a little more interesting flavor-wise, but that kind of defeats the purpose of buying a quick casserole book. On nights when I get home late, I just want to read the instructions and cook, not analyze the recipe for weaknesses. I'm honestly a bit sad that it hasn't worked out, and I kept the book on my shelf for over a year in the hopes I would find something I liked, but it just recently made the trip to my local used bookstore. However, if you have eaters that don't like a lot of spice, this may be the ideal book for your family.