Rushville Republican

March 29, 2013

Cook's Corner: Casseroles

Ron Tolliver
Rushville Republican

RUSHVILLE — To the average American the word casserole is basically a one-dish meal or a simple side dish.  Actually  the origins of casserole denoted a kind of stew pot, which is the diminutive of casse that in my understanding is French for an open mouthed pan of large proportions. The definition has evolved to include both the pan and the food.

In America a casserole, as a rule is cooked in an oven while in Europe it is just as likely to be cooked on top of the stove. Technically a casserole as a food is a dish that has two or more ingredients. The food can be very easy to combine and cook or very complex. I try to stay with the easy ones if I can. I work on the K I S S principle of keep it simple stupid. It works for me.

Casseroles have achieved a lot of favor because of their simplicity. Casseroles normally require less attention so that it frees up time for the cook to do other things. They can be used for your family and guests except for the very formal of occasions.

The shape of casserole range from round, oval, rectangular or square. Any of these work  and will not make a difference in your food. With that being said the depth does make a difference. If a recipe calls for a shallow dish and you use a deep dish your cooking time changes. This may very well cause the food to cook slower and increase the amount of evaporation of moisture changing the texture of food. The one rule of thumb I use is that if the ingredients take up less than half of the pan I will use a shallower dish. Another rule not to forget is that never cook anything with acidity in an aluminum pot or pan. Also be aware that it is good practice to butter the insides of your cooking dish before placing the ingredients inside. There are a few recipes that call for a unbuttered dish but they are really the exception. I prefer to use a glass or enameled steel casserole dish. I feel that the enameled is the best not only because they are usually more ornate but that they can be used on the stove top in preparation stages of cooking if necessary.

One of the more useful things I like about casseroles is that I can make the main dish along with side dishes and dessert all at the same time. Thereby utilizing more efficiency of my oven. If you are planning a favorite casserole you may want to make two of them and freeze one. This is a very simple operation. Place aluminum foil in a baking dish and just under cook. Leave enough foil on the edges to wrap the food later. Remove from heat and allow to cool, then while keeping the food in baking dish fold over the foil and place in freezer. When frozen remove from dish and put in a resealable plastic bag. It will last up to several weeks and will finish cooking when being reheated.

Salmon And Brown Rice

serves 4

1 2lb salmon filet quartered

3 cups cooked brown rice

3 eggs well beaten

¾ cup half and half

½ cup melted butter

¾ cup fine dry bread crumbs

3 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley

2 teaspoons salt

3 tablespoons lemon juice

preheat oven to 325 degrees

butter a 8 x 12  2 inch deep baking dish

place quartered filets separately in dish

combine well beaten eggs with half and half and rice

toss well

combine melted butter and bread crumbs and mix

add to egg mixture

pour into baking dish with salmon

combine parsley, salt and lemon juice

pour over salmon

bake at 325 for 45 minute to 1 hour

or until salmon flakes easily

serve hot

Pork Chop Casseroles

serves 4

2 pkg dry onion soup mix

1 ½ cup water

4 tablespoons light brown sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

6 cups thinly sliced potatoes

3 medium sweet onions thinly sliced

6 granny smith apples cored and cut into ½ inch rings

4 thick center cut pork chops

preheat oven to 375 degrees

combine first 5 ingredients

butter a 2 inch deep baking dish

in the baking dish layer half of potatoes, onion and apples

place pork chops atop layers

then layer apples, onion and then potatoes

pour soup mixture over top

place in oven and bake at 375 for 1 ½ hours

serve hot

Fruited Beef Curry

serves 6

2 lb ground round or sirloin

1 large onion chopped

1 medium red bell pepper chopped

2 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 slice whole grain bread

1 cup half and half

2 large eggs well beaten

1 large red apple cored and chopped

1 cup dried apricots chopped

2 tablespoons curry powder

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon white pepper

preheat oven to 350 degrees

in a large heavy skillet place butter and oil

over medium heat melt butter stirring it in with the oil

add onion and bell pepper

saute over medium heat until onions are translucent

add ground beef and cook until lightly browned

remove from heat and drain off drippings

bread the bread into pieces and place into half and half

allow to soak well

add remaining ingredients to meat mixture

add bread mixture and mix well with spoon

place in a 2 quart casserole dish

bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes

serve hot

note:serve with curry condiments such

as chutney, raisins, shredded coconut and sunflower seeds

Ron's Impossible Seafood Casserole

serves 8

3 5oz cans baby clams

3 6oz cans white crab meat

1 pint fresh oysters

1/2lb bay scallops halved

1 8 oz pkg cream cheese

cut into 1/8 inch pieces

2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

4 green onions with tops diced

1 medium green bell pepper diced

1 cup diced celery

2 teaspoons cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon butter flavored shortening


4 cups Bisquick

4 eggs

1 1/2 cups milk

1 cup reserved liquor

1 ½ teaspoons salt

3/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

preheat oven to 400 degrees

drain clams, crab meat and oysters

reserving liquor

coat bottom and sides of 9 x 13 baking dish

with butter flavored shortening

mix clams, crab, oysters, scallops,cream cheese,

cheddar cheese, onions, celery and bell peppers in baking dish

sprinkle cayenne pepper over meat mixture

blend topping ingredients together until smooth

pour over meat mixture

bake at 400 degrees for 50 minutes or until golden brown

and inserted knife in middle comes out clean

remove from heat and allow to rest for 7 minutes

serve and enjoy

Easy Noodles Romanoff

serves 6

5 ounces uncooked wide egg noodles

1 cup small curd cottage cheese

1 cup sour cream

1/4cup chopped green onions with tops

1/4teaspoon garlic salt

1/4cup unseasoned dry bread crumbs

3 tablespoons melted butter

1 tablespoon dries parsley flakes

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

preheat oven to 350 degrees

butter inside of 1 1/2quart casserole dish

cook noodles to desired doneness as directed

drain and rinse in warm water

place noodles, cottage cheese, sour cream, onions and garlic salt in

buttered casserole

in a small bowl combine remaining ingredients, mixing well

spoon over noodles

bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes or until casserole is thoroughly

heated and crumbs are light golden brown

serve hot

Ron's Corn And Bacon Casserole

serves 4

1/2lb hickory smoked bacon diced

1/2cup dry unseasoned bread crumbs

1/4cup onion finely minced

1/4cup chopped green bell pepper

1 16oz can cream style corn

preheat oven to 350 degrees

in a heavy skillet fry bacon until lightly brown

remove bacon and set aside

pour 1/8cup of bacon drippings over bread crumbs

mix and set aside

discard all but 1 tablespoon of remaining drippings

return to heat and add onion and bell pepper

saute until onion is translucent

stir in corn and bacon

spoon into 1 quart baking dish

sprinkle bread crumbs over top

bake at 350 degrees until bubbly

serve hot

Zucchini And Tomato Casserole

serves 4

4 medium zucchinis sliced crossways

3 medium tomatoes sliced

2 small onion sliced

4 dashes Worcestershire sauce

1/2teaspoon salt

1/4teaspoon white pepper

dots of butter

4 slices provolone cheese

preheat oven to 350 degrees

layer zucchini then tomato then onion

repeat until done

add 4 dashes of Worcestershire sauce to top

add salt and pepper to top

place several dot of butter

bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes

layer provolone cheese over top of casserole

return to oven and bake for another 15 minutes

serve hot

Hawaiian Yam Casserole

serves 4

1 16oz can yams drained and sliced

2 bananas thickly sliced

1 16oz can crushed pineapple

1/4teaspoon salt

1/2cup flaked coconut

preheat oven to 350 degrees

layer yams then bananas in 10 x 6 x 1 1/2inch casserole dish

pour pineapple with syrup over top

making sure bananas are well moistened

sprinkle with salt

bake at 350 for 20 minutes

remove from heat

spread coconut flakes over top

return to heat and bake for another 15 minutes

serve hot