Well. That was something, wasn’t it? Thanks to a repaired line (which had been flooded and severed, the latter they think by a mouse), I’m now back, linked with the Internet world again and, short of any other rodents or rainstorms getting in my way, back on my regular posting schedule.
And, since downpours followed by hot sunshine followed by rain followed by hot sunshine followed by no Internet followed by two trips shopping without buying anything are the kind of things to make a girl want some comfort, that’s what I’m bringing today. Comfort casseroles, in fact.
I like casseroles. They go in one dish, which means less to clean up and less to carry to a dinner party or potluck (which they’re perfect for!). They are warm and comforting, served piping hot out of the oven and filled with ooey-gooey cheese or a wonderful hash of rich flavors. And they are straight out of a 1940s photograph, my grandma in her classic vintage apron, standing over her white oven, preparing dinner.
What do you think of, when you think of casseroles? My mind first goes to Thanksgiving and the delicious, albeit totally common, green been casserole my mom makes, taken right off the french fried onion container. It’s my favorite part of the meal—well, along with the sweet potatoes, the rolls, the turkey, the dressing, OK, maybe they’re all my favorite. But beyond Thanksgiving’s green beans, my life hasn’t had too many good casseroles: there were a variety of medleys in the college dining hall—a tuna surprise something stands out infamously in memory—but they weren’t the kind of things to really make your mouth water or to be especially comforting.
Today, casseroles are kind of old-fashioned, have you noticed? When your office has a holiday party, there will be fruit salads and veggie trays and all kinds of desserts, but who really make a casserole anymore? It’s a shame, I think. The kind of thing someone should do something about.
That someone, as it turns out, is Emily Farris, a 20-something Brooklyn resident who has become famous for her annual casserole parties, complete with winners and prizes and media coverage. And what she’s has done, in redeeming the casserole, is bring back this almost-forgotten world of delicious, often simple meals that are the epitome of comfort food, as well as highlight trendier, kicked-up versions of the original idea.
The generous people at Penguin Books sent me a preview copy of Emily’s book, Casserole Crazy, a few weeks ago, and I’ve started trying some of the recipes, all of which have been oustanding.
My favorite so far, the Spinach & Artichoke Dip, could rival any restaurant and is absolutely to-die-for delicious with some big tortilla chips. Because I used the recipe almost exactly and because the book has yet to release, I won’t reproduce it here, except to say that, apparently, when you take a can of artichokes, a pack of frozen spinach, some garlic, some onions, cream cheese, mayo, parmesan cheese and some herbs, mix it all together and stick it in the oven, you come out with something so good that it will make you sigh with pleasure. I could eat an entire pan (and almost have).
As if that’s not enough to sell you, here’s another fun fact about most casseroles: they are supereasy to reheat. As with this dip, you just stick the dish back in the oven in its original pan and give it a few minutes, anytime you want some of it hot and steamy.
Farris’s book, Casserole Crazy, will be released October 7, 2008 and is already available for pre-order online. You’re going to want a copy. Trust me.
About Shanna Mallon
Shanna holds an MA in writing from DePaul University. Her mantra? Restoring order and celebrating beauty through creative content, photography, and food. Shanna's work has been featured in Bon Appetit, The Kitchn, MSN.com, Everyday Health, Better Homes & Gardens, Houzz.com, Food News Journal, Food52, Zeit Magazine, Chew the World, Mom.me, Babble, Delish.com, Parade, Foodista, Entrepreneur and Ragan PR.