They may be retro, but the recipes in “The Casserole Queens Cookbook: Put some lovin’ in your oven with 100 easy one-dish recipes” by Crystal Cook and Sandy Pollock (Clarkson Potter/Publishers, $17.99, paperback) certainly aren’t like the average one-dish meals of the 1950s.
The authors, owners of a casserole delivery company based in Austin, Texas, say in the book’s introduction that they’re “bringing back the classic American casserole, along with other familiar recipes from a bygone era, and updating them with a retro-chic, gourmet flair. It’s the best of the ‘50s with a modern, sophisticated twist. We call it sophistakitsch.”
The pair say you don’t have to throw on an apron - although they do share a pattern for an apron - and cook every night, but they make it easier to do with their creative, healthful recipes.
Cook and Pollock admit they have “a fairly loose interpretation of what the casserole dish actually is. If it all goes into one dish, then it is a casserole.” They explain how to prepare individual and larger casseroles, how - and when not- to freeze casseroles, and how to make substitutions.
They note which recipe freezes well, is vegetarian friendly, or includes shortcuts. However, they don’t include a nutritional breakdown. And, only some of the dishes are featured in the full-color photographs found in the middle of the book.
Recipes are divided into seven chapters, including one called “Fun for the Whole Family, Neat-O!” It includes recipes for Beef Stroganoff, Traditional King Ranch Casserole, and Easy Eggplant Parmesan. Other recipes in the book include Beef Burgundy, Crawfish Casserole, Rosemary Parmesan Scalloped Potatoes, Blueberry Coffee Cake and Not-So-Square Lemon Bars.
This is a fun, charming cookbook that will bring back memories for anyone who grew up in a household where Mom often put a Tuna Noodle or other 1950s-era casserole on the table.
At left is a recipe from the book to try. Its instructions left out when to combine the pasta and chicken with the other ingredients, so I have made the correction.