The 50 Best Casserole Recipes by [download new books]


  • Full Title : The 50 Best Casserole Recipes: Tasty, fresh, and easy to make!
  • Autor: 
  • Print Length: 101 pages
  • Publisher: Adams Media
  • Publication Date: November 1, 2011
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: B0062ACQ6S
  • ISBN-13: 
  • Download File Format: epub

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They’re tasty. They’re easy to make. And they’re right at your fingertips. The 50 Best Casserole Recipes is an appetizing selection of delicious dishes that each provide a new, flavorful take on an old favorite. From Maple French Toast to Greek Chicken and Spinach Pie, there’s plenty included so you can whip up satisfying and tasty meals in no time. Enjoy! They’re tasty. They’re easy to make. And they’re right at your fingertips. The 50 Best Casserole Recipes is an appetizing selection of delicious dishes that each provide a new, flavorful take on an old favorite. From Maple French Toast to Greek Chicken and Spinach Pie, there’s plenty included so you can whip up satisfying and tasty meals in no time. Enjoy!

 

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n veered swiftly away from academics and toward la cuisine. Although I had not landed at a restaurant, much less Les Frères Troisgros, by any design, observing this routine became all-consuming. As soon as I got home from school, I headed for the kitchen to watch, listen, and take notes. Jean relished calling me Mata Hari, and he punctuated the accusation with a thrust of his meat fork, which was his favorite all-purpose kitchen tool. Having made the joke, Jean would return to the piano {the edge of the stove}, pause, and then dispense a bit of culinary wisdom as he checked the doneness of a côte de bœuf.

“Do you see how this pan is à taille {the right size}? This is the first and most important thing to know. Always choose a pan that is the right size. Too small, and you crowd the meat and steam it; too large, and you burn the fat you are cooking in, and it’s not so good for the pan either. This is why we have the batterie de cuisine.”

He turned to the array of copper casseroles, six to eighteen inches wide, hanging behind him. Jean could always explain cooking techniques in a practical and logical way.

Following this unplanned curriculum, I learned many of the lessons I still apply daily, although I never really cooked at Les Frères Troisgros. Timidity and respect for their métier held me back. I occasionally summoned the confidence to help sort through spinach leaves with a commis {beginning cook}, or gingerly pluck a thrush before dropping it whole into a Robot-Coupe for their famous mousse de grives, but mostly I watched, and wrote.* But if my hesitation cost me hands-on experience, Jean, Pierre, and their cooks compensated; they made sure I tasted as many dishes, as frequently, and in as many stages of preparation, as possible.

“It tastes different today, the cream, n’est-ce pas? You see? It’s more acidic and thicker. We’ll use less lemon in the sauce.”

Or, “Taste this. Do you like it? It’s a truffle. First of the year. But they’ll get better.”

Jean had just popped a whole truffle steamed over Sauternes in my mouth.

I watched Pierre measure portions of aged Charollais beef by eye, carve them with nonchalant precision, and then taste a sliver of the raw meat that clung to his knife. Always checking. A lesson I have never forgotten.

A parade of Troisgros devotees from a dozen countries passed through the kitchen that year and most confided to me that this was not the usual three-star restaurant. It was not just the best food, it was also the simplest and purest, and the restaurant the most convivial. The seasonality and regional character of the food, coupled with lack of pretension, brought clients back over and over. The most frequent diners were business people, purveyors, neighbors, fellow restaurateurs, and the local taxman, all of whom stopped in the kitchen for a visit before Jean or Pierre prepared a simple lunch for them “off-menu.” Les amis dined on a plain dish~an omelette, half a roast chicken left from the repas du personnel {staff meal}, or the signature Troisgros escalope of salmon, but without their legendary sorrel sauce~just perfect local salmon, barely cooked, strewn with freshly chopped herbs, and moistened with olive oil and lemon juice. These clients ate very, very well.

And I learned from le Patron, Jean-Baptiste Troisgros, Jean and Pierre’s father. I shared some of my most memorable meals with him. A proud Burgundian, Jean-Baptiste was the patriarch of the house, who held court at table and struck a mix of fear and adoration in all who attended to him. The Patron, feisty at seventy-five, wore wire-rimmed glasses with dark gray lenses that enhanced his mystique tremendously. Although he could have anything he wanted, on or off the menu, Jean-Baptiste favored simple food and became utterly euphoric when presented with a carefully fried egg deglazed with sherry vinegar, flanked by pain grillé {toast}, and followed by a salad of pissenlits au lard {dandelion greens and bacon}. Likewise, he was never more irritated than when he thought a dish was even slightly overwrought, not honest or “généreux.” Le Patron admonished me never to be taken in by “cinéma dans la cuisine”~akin to saying “food for show.” His culinary edicts were always passionate, and I wrote all of them down.

The Troisgros sœur, Madeleine Troisgros Serraille, also did her part. At least twice a week she’d fetch me from her brothers’ restaurant and calmly produce a perfect family meal in her own modest kitchen~a blanquette de veau, pot-au-feu, or gratin de nouilles {macaroni and cheese, sort of}. I loved her miroton, a homey beef and onion casserole, based on the leftover pot-au-feu she had deliberately made too much of. Madeleine was a champion of the salad course and was rigorous about its seasonality~she was visibly thrilled to dress the first mâche or tender dandelion of the season. She loved every leafy thing you could eat en salade~escarole, frisée, watercress, endive, roquette {arugula}, Batavia or butter lettuce~and had a knack for choosing one or two nonleafy things~nuts, or croûtons, or hard-cooked egg~that made the salad more satisfying. Every leaf was in impeccable condition, and the ritual of dressing it at table was an important moment in every meal. There was never a leaf left over. Then, before clearing the salad plates, Madeleine served the cheese. This course, never omitted, consisted of a few perfect cheeses, always in season, and just right for the dishes that had preceded~whether a local goat cheese, the regional Fourme d’Ambert, or a chunk of Beaufort she had brought back from the Alps. She never offered too many choices, lest they compete or clash or overwhelm. She tended to sample only one herself, knowing which was the best that day. Madeleine fashioned perfect meals; beyond being generous in flavor and tradition, there was a balance and focus to the menu: everything complemented everything else in an uncanny way. And there was always a simple dish with the goût du revenez-y~”the taste you return to” for another nibble that prolongs the meal. Her cooking never demanded your attention, it simply kindled conviviality.

Within a very few months, I had succumbed to the philosophy that guides Zuni cooking today. While growing international attention swirled around the more glamorous three-star restaurants, and parades of gastronomic pilgrims clamored after the fanciest, cleverest, and most exclusive truffle, lobster, and foie gras dishes incorporating exotic fruits and Japanese garnishes, I was taking thorough notes on how Michel made hachis parmentier {shepherd’s pie à la française} for the staff meal. Or I was heading for the slightly drab but friendly café up the street with Jean on his night off for a hanger steak and perfect pommes frites. My mentor always congratulated the café owner on the delicious bifteck and insisted this was as good a meal as any, lest one think classical or nouvelle cuisine could challenge the virtues of simplicity. There was surely a place for creative new restaurant cooking, and even for classical cuisine, but it wasn’t for every day. And Jean constantly reminded me that the food we eat every day ought to be taken just as seriously. It deserved to be just as well prepared, and just as celebrated.

WHEN I RETURNED TO AMERICA IN 1974, I HAD NO PLANS TO BECOME A COOK, much less a chef or restaurateur; it was obviously too late. A commis at Troisgros enrolled by age fourteen, and I was already seventeen. I headed to California to college. But late in 1977, a friend told me about an unusual restaurant in Berkeley where the menu was based on the best seasonal ingredients, and changed daily. She was already working at Chez Panisse and described a community of passionate cooks and kindred spirits. I booked a table a few weeks later and walked into Chez Panisse with a stack of Troisgros recipes, my meticulous food logs, and the tantalizing hope that the enchantments of that year in France could be conjured in America. I was not disappointed. Alice Waters pushed the Patron’s notion of cuisine généreuse into new territory~no effort was spared to offer the most delicious, beguiling, satisfying meals. Every detail of preparation and presentation was favored with care, from the handwritten menus to the extraordinary flowers that graced the dining room. When Alice shocked me with the proposal that I help out at Saturday lunch, I discarded a stack of graduate school applications and asked her what cookbooks to buy. It was too good to be true, but I was scared to death. I graduated a few months later to cooking lunch every day by myself, although the convenient title “lunch chef” was not really apt, since I was “chief” to no one. But being in charge of myself was plenty, given that I had never actually cooked many of the things I had so carefully recorded. I rapidly learned that a simple pan of crispy, golden sautéed potatoes, no problem for the tenderest commis chez Troisgros, was beyond my reach. My potatoes often stuck viciously to the pan~when they didn’t jump to the floor. And when they didn’t stick, I had no idea why. I did begin each day with an exceptional advantage: the delicious leftovers from the night before~I just had to avoid wrecking them. However, considering my limited skills, even this was fraught with risks and resulted in plenty of nervous scrambles. But Alice made a point of coming through the kitchen in the late morning, when she carefully tasted and corrected my troubled efforts~she seemed to sense where a dish should go and could always make it better {or gently suggest that we did not have to serve it, which was a revelation to me}. I wasn’t sure how she arrived at these miraculous fixes, but her example ingrained in me the habit of reconsidering every option at every stage of preparation. Alice and her colleague, pastry chef Lindsey Shere, along with chefs Jean-Pierre Moullé and Mark Miller, were generous, inspiring, adventurous, and patient. I managed, thanks to them, and to the very best leftovers in America, to look competent. I am convinced there was no better place in America to learn to cook.

While at Chez Panisse, I set out to learn the repertory of French cuisine, classical and traditional, reading cookbooks every night after work. I pored over Richard Olney’s Simple French Food~the thorough, practical lessons reminded me of Jean. I cooked through Elizabeth David’s volumes on French food, partially in the kitchen and partially in my head, and, almost incidentally, made tentative forays into her brilliant compendium of Italian food. This too sounded like the generous, honest cooking Jean-Baptiste craved and demanded. And I fell for Waverley Root when I saw he subdivided France based on cooking fats.

TWO YEARS LATER, I RETURNED TO FRANCE, THIS TIME TO TRAVEL. At the urging of a friend in Paris, I headed to the Southwest into Les Landes, an idyllic region of pine forests, two-lane roads, and small farms. My friend arranged a ride for me and mentioned I’d be dropped off at a friend’s restaurant. {She had also told her friend I’d like to stay and cook there. I hadn’t heard that part.} Thus I happened into an apprenticeship with Pepette Arbulo at l’Estanquet, her tiny café-bar-restaurant-inn-tabac-post office in a village of twenty people and hundreds of ducks. In her care, Pepette made sure I learned how to use every part of that bird, and did her best to convince me there was no place for butter in the kitchen except on toast in the morning. La graisse {duck fat} was the choice for every preparation. I admired her gentle dogmatism, and more, I loved her ultratraditional food, especially the offbeat things like preserved goose gizzards, carcasses grillées {roasted bones}, graisserons {a scrappy sort of gelée-bound terrine made from the leavings at the bottom of the confit pot}, and merveilles {pastry fried in duck fat}. Pepette had a foolproof method for preserving fresh anchovies, and simple ones for putting up porcini mushrooms {in duck fat, of course} and for stockpiling stone fruits in a stunning amount of Armagnac. In Pepette’s kitchen, foie gras was not an aristocratic exclusivity to embellish and transform for special occasions, it was simply a treasured regional staple whose delicacy you did your best not to violate. Her favorite recipe for foie gras calls for foie gras, sea salt, and experience. Pepette’s was not really restaurant food; it was farmhouse cooking at a restaurant.

I stayed in France until I ran out of money, and after returning to California, I turned to Alice for advice. She suggested that I meet with her friend Marion Cunningham, who needed a chef for an American restaurant project she was working on. And so I stumbled into good luck again, and had the chance to work with Marion at the Union Hotel in Benicia. Her commitment to unpretentious American cooking was irresistible. It felt odd to set aside French Country Cooking, but the assignment~to prepare a set menu of simple, traditional American dishes~could not have been more timely. Marion’s work on The Fannie Farmer Cookbook had breathed new life into American food. She was persuading America that delicious food did not have to be French, and that home cooking belonged in restaurants too. The menu featured pickled beets and eggs, scrapple, spoon bread, and oyster loaf. And Marion put Caesar salad on the menu, which at the time was considered a bit retro~hard to imagine now. The panfried chicken, cured in rock salt, then soaked in milk, was unusually succulent, and became too popular~with only six burners, we couldn’t fry enough fast enough.

I first heard the phrase “New American Cooking” about three months later. And I recognized that this homey, American fare had a lot in common with traditional French cuisine. Jean-Baptiste would have loved scrapple. And we could make a boiled dinner as lovingly as Madeleine made her pot-au-feu. Thinking of Pepette, I preserved and pickled every fruit and vegetable in season. When we ground our hamburger in-house daily, I remembered the Patron declaring a great steak haché could be worth an entrecôte à la moelle, if made with the same care. Inspired by these memories, I was determined to explore the entire repertory of regional American cooking and New World ingredients. To do this, the set menu had to go.

But romance, variety, and discovery were not the most important rewards for that change. Chez Panisse had taught me to heed the ingredients first of all, and to change course if it meant the result would be better. A set menu often stymied that agenda. It left little room to alter a dish to improve it, and some pressure to accept less-than-brilliant, overpriced product to meet the demands of a printed page. No ingredient was spectacular all the time, and no dish was appealing every day. A short, changing daily menu eliminated these problems and was, in truth, the only way I knew how to cook. This seemed the best of both worlds, but still, with time, the Old World beckoned. Many American dishes had roots in Europe, and I started looking more closely, and longingly, at those sources when they were Italian.

IN 1983, I LEFT THE HOTEL AND BOOKED A FARMHOUSE OUTSIDE FLORENCE. From day one, I wrote down everything I ate, a time-consuming old habit, and then started making lists of everything I saw in every market. I tasted and cooked everything I could. I didn’t understand why they gave me green tomatoes when I said they were for salad, or why salt was sold with stamps and tobacco at the bar down the street, and I was shocked by how “fresh” some of the salami was {it looked raw}, but took a chance, found it tasty, and lived. The prosciutto with fur {wild boar ham} got my attention, as did the columns of little birds in the market {smaller even than the precious ortolan I’d had in France}. I caught the brief season of minutina {a salad green shaped like a blade of grass} and sampled the collection of edible weeds for sale at the Mercato Centrale. I liked the ritual of peeling raw favas to nibble with fresh pecorino, and enjoyed daily salads of slivered raw artichokes and pine nuts, remembering that Madeleine had made a similar salad, explaining that it was a Provençal specialty. I ate dozens of porchetta sandwiches {to make sure they were really supposed to be so salty}, and tried to figure out how to make rice ice cream. I pursued every rumor of “stale bread” dishes~pappa, panzanella, acquacotta, ribollita~and recorded the variations. Researching outside the markets, it was easy to find traditional food in restaurants in Italy, much easier than in France, where haute and nouvelle cuisine competed so vigorously. Stopping in Roanne on the way home, sharing travel stories with the Troisgros, I could not help but focus on how delicious the food was in Italy. I should not have been surprised that they also shared that view. So much for Gallic chauvinism. No one seemed the least bit bothered by this apparent “defection”~if anything, it was evidence I had inherited their affection for authentic, generous food to celebrate every day.

I had found a culinary home in the Tuscan idiom, and on subsequent trips, fell for the charms of Umbria, Sicily, the Abruzzo, Campania, and so on. But by the time I headed back to California that first year I had a goal. I would look for the restaurant where I could settle down to cook both French and Italian traditional food and evoke the spirit of dinner at Madeleine’s.

BILLY WEST OPENED ZUNI CAFE IN 1979, WITH A HUGE HEART AND EXACTLY TEN thousand dollars. In the early years, the restaurant consisted of a narrow storefront with a creaky mezzanine, roughly one-quarter of its current size. To capitalize on the neighboring and highly visible corner cactus shop, {where Billy had been a partner until it became clear cactus sales wouldn’t support three partners}, he hand-plastered the walls and banquettes of his new space to give it a Southwestern adobe look. He chose the name Zuni, after the Native American tribe, and decided to feature a few simple and authentic Mexican dishes, drawing inspiration from Diana Kennedy’s cookbooks. A Weber grill was an important early investment, and was rolled onto the back sidewalk for each day’s service. This unpretentious arrangement attracted writer Elizabeth David’s attention when, wandering through the neighborhood antique shops, she smelled something delicious and followed her nose to find Billy grilling chicken in the alley behind the restaurant. She came back for dinner twice that week and made a point of returning whenever she came to San Francisco. After the grill came an espresso machine, which doubled as a stove, since you could scramble eggs with the milk steamer. The waiters made this dish to order. Barely two years later, Billy hired Vince Calcagno to help run his struggling café, when helping to run the café meant not just managing the books and the entire front-of-house operations but also stripping floors and laying Mexican pavers, and making biweekly trips to the wholesale flower market and regular dawn produce runs to South San Francisco. And worrying about the kitchen as well: Vince occasionally called friends to help cook when Billy was understaffed in the kitchen. {I received one of those calls and recall a frantic but happy evening of making countless Caesar salads, harvesting sizzling croûtons from an overworked toaster oven that was tethered to the single kitchen outlet with a daisy chain of extension cords.} But, ever-resourceful and passionate, Billy and Vince made a success of the improbable restaurant. By 1986, Zuni had absorbed the adjacent storefront and spilled into the former cactus shop. That transformation created the romantic space everyone falls for today.

When Billy and Vince, now partners in the business, asked me to be chef in 1987, the restaurant was busy and well respected. The food was delicious

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