by Beatrice Ojakangas
The subtitle of this book says it all "With More Than 500 Recipes." This book is truly an amazing collection of recipes. I heard an interview with Duluth, MN, author, Beatrice Ojakangas on Tony Nasello's The Lost Italian radio show out of Fargo. I was immediately on my library page to request it.
Ms. Ojakangas begins with extensive introductory pages which include basic definitions, cooking techniques, utensils and cookware, and food prep and storage suggestions.
I appreciate that her main recipe section starts with a chapter on preparing basic casserole ingredients such as homemade sauces and broths, hard cooked eggs, caramelized onions, etc. Ms. Ojakangas advises preparing one's own sauces and broths in order to avoid the additives in store-bought, processed foods.
The ensuing chapters are organized by casserole purpose and type, such as appetizer or breakfast casseroles; poultry, beef or shellfish casseroles; vegetarian casseroles, and many other categories. She includes chapters on cooking for large groups and for two people and for kids. She includes many interesting ethnically based dishes. Indeed the idea of a "Minnesota hotdish" has expanded.
The recipes are designed with an eye to healthful eating. Ms. Ojakangas recommends throwing out the fat that congeals on the top of one's homemade broth. If you want to include more meat fats in your diet, you'll have to ignore some of the instructions. With a quick perusal, I don't find any vegetable oils called for, except olive. Most of her cooking fat is butter. Many of her recipes include dairy products such as cream and sour cream. Many of the casserole breads are sweetened with honey instead of sugar. In her grain and legume chapters Ms. Ojakangas includes recipes for a wide variety of whole grains such as barley, millet, and quinoa; and of course, being from Minnesota, she included several wild rice recipes.
I have to cook with a gluten free diet, so I tend to avoid accumulating cookbooks, most of whose recipes I wouldn't be able to use. But I think with a few minor adaptions, I could use many of these. I will definitely be putting this book on my Christmas wish list.