The casserole, paraphrased M.F.K. Fisher, ""is probably one of the greatest modern inventions since aspirin."" Unfortunately, casseroles have also been used as last resort catchalls for ill-assorted, canned soup-swathed leftovers. Fobel (James Beard Award winner for Big Flavors) rescues the casserole more than 85 times with recipes that deftly combine fresh, complementary ingredients served up in a selection of entrees as suitable for dinner parties as the supper table. Revived are such old standards as Shepherd's Pie (with red wine, fresh herbs and scallion-spiked mashed potatoes) and Tuna Noodle, transformed with lemon-marinated tuna steak. Roasted red peppers meld with scalloped potatoes and Gorgonzola to wake up the flavor of classic macaroni and cheese. Most of these dishes are not for the dieter, oozing as they frequently do with cheese, sour cream, potatoes and pasta, although some feature low-fat ingredients (Tuna and Potato Casserole with Leeks). Nor are they always quickly prepared, although all can be made ahead and reheated with minimal fuss or loss of flavor. Recipes are arranged according to main ingredients (Poultry, Meat, Seafood, Meatless, with a Cheese Glossary at the end) and draw on many cultures. Casseroles such as Artichoke Lasagna, an updated Party Moussaka and Black Bean Tamale Pie offer themselves as worthy modern inventions and banish for good the specter of the steam table. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 02/02/1997 Release date: 02/01/1997 Genre: Nonfiction
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