You must by now, assuming you are a regular reader, know how much I enjoy this 500 series from Apple Press. These chunky little volumes are packed with recipes and photographs. They offer a wealth of information and support for the novice and a raft of ideas for the more experienced home cook.
Rebecca Baugniet, the author, has written two others in the 500 series: 500 Pies and Tarts, and 500 Pizzas and Flatbreads, and was food consultant on two more. She is a freelance writer living on Canada’s West Coast. She has penned a book which offers both traditional and contemporary dishes and with 500 recipes to document it’s safe to say that nothing much has been overlooked.
The colder weather will soon be with us… unless you live south of the equator in which case I wish you a wonderful summer. We are drawn to the fireside or the chair nearest the radiator and we yearn for warm and hearty fare. Casseroles and stews are some of the most practical and the least labour-intensive dishes around. That should be music to the ears of those who are either strapped for time or long to be a stranger to the inside of a kitchen.
These dishes are quick to prepare. They might take a bit of time to cook but you don’t have to sit with the food. They use, mostly, one dish and they often improve with keeping overnight. Entertaining couldn’t be easier: make your main dish the day before. Feeding a crowd can be economic as casseroles can take advantage of cheaper cuts of meat.
Risotto isn’t a dish that one might immediately consider as a candidate for a book entitled 500 Casseroles and Stews, but on reflection it’s reasonable to include it. The International Favourites chapter offers Italian Risotto with Scallops. This is a one-pot (with 5 minutes use of a frying pan) meal and very stylish. It only takes 20 minutes or so to cook and the preparation can be done in advance.
Quick and Easy Casseroles lists the traditional Cottage Pie. This is Shepherd’s Pie but made with minced beef rather than lamb. Hamburger Stroganoff is another recipe which has good-value minced beef as its key ingredient. Nothing wrong with that but get the best meat you can afford. An alternative would be Minced Turkey Stroganoff.
My favourite from this book is Chilaquile Casserole. This is vibrant and zesty and a Mexican-inspired layered dish which, although vegetarian, is gutsy enough for carnivores to appreciate. Makes a change from the ubiquitous tortillas or tacos. It’s comfort food with a difference.
500 Casseroles and Stews is a book for cooks. Yes, it’s attractive but it’s a book to use. The recipes are well written and consider vegetarians and meat-eaters alike. The dishes are tempting and simple with options for posh dinners with friends as well as family meals. This is a lot of book for under a tenner.
500 Casseroles and Stews
Author: Rebecca Baugniet
Published by: Apple Press
Cookbook review by Chrissie Walker © 2018