Monday, November 3, 2008

Mad Men and Casseroles

I enjoy cooking theme dinners and treats when the occasion arises. Some of the best ones have been muffin tops for the DVD release of “Seinfeld” and baked ziti for the series finale of “The Sopranos.” Mr. Penpen and I started watching the first season of “Mad Men” On Demand this summer, and it immediately became our new favorite show. Even though Season Two premiered just a couple weeks after our viewing of the first season, I decided it definitely merited a theme dinner. And what is more sixties than a casserole? We were over at Mr. Penpen’s parents’ house the Friday before “Mad Men” started, and, luckily for me, his mother had a Better Homes and Gardens Casserole Cook Book published in 1962! I borrowed it and made a classic tuna noodle casserole. Mr. Penpen enjoyed it and it was super-easy, but unfortunately, a recipe containing mayonnaise, cheese, and potato chips cannot be made on a regular basis. This recipe rated a 7 for D (deliciousness) and 3 for E (effort), giving it a pretty good EDR of 2.3.

Since we enjoyed the gooey, unhealthy casserole so much, I decided that I should find another occasion to make one. AMC had the nerve to take a one week break from “Mad Men” for the Emmys, so we had to wait a whole two weeks for a new epi. I happened to go running twice on the Sunday it returned, so I figured it was a good time for a hearty casserole. I didn’t go retro this time, instead I made a Creamy Chicken Biscuit Bake from America’s Test Kitchen’s Fast & Fresh issue. The recipe is available with a (paid) subscription via the Cook’s Country web site. I did make some modifications to the recipe (I kept all the cheese and cream, though) but I’ve read that the people at ATK/Cook’s Illustrated/Cook’s Country get testy about their recipes being printed without permission. I apologize as I do cook quite a few recipes from their magazines (which are usually available with a paid subscription online as well), therefore my blog will contain a lot of recipes that I cannot provide links to. The casserole was tasty and fed us for many meals, which is certainly another consideration when rating the effort. This rated a solid 8 for D and 3 for E, giving it a very impressive EDR of 3.33.

Speaking of which: the third casserole, made in celebration of the “Mad Men” season finale, was from my beloved copy of Cook’s Illustrated’s “Fall Entertaining” issue. This was an updated, homemade version of the classic Campbell’s Green Bean Casserole. Campbell’s recipe originated in the fifties, so I was not being entirely period specific (again). It was certainly more work than dumping a can of soup and green beans together and baking it; however, the flavor of the homemade sauce and the texture of the topping mixture made it well worth it. Cook’s Illustrated does not give free access to this recipe on their site, and I feel uncomfortable breaking their rules and putting the recipe on my blog, but I did find the same one on Recipezaar. This was certainly my favorite of the troika of casseroles. This dish gets a 10 for D and 5 for E, giving it an EDR of 2.

Now that “Mad Men” has ended its second season and we are mad for casseroles, I must start thinking of other fun theme dinners and excuses to make casseroles.

1 comment:

Ras Yeti said...

The Cook's Illustrated green bean casserole is a Thanksgiving tradition around here (stoked on the leftovers in my fridge from today's festivities!). Last year for a lark and with no family around, we got Indian take away for our Thanksgiving dinner, but we still had to have our green bean casserole. It's just not Thanksgiving without it. Good thing it tastes great with with chicken tikka masala!