Cookbook #143: All-Time Favorite Casserole Recipes, Better Homes and Gardens, Meredith Corporation, Des Moines, Iowa, 1977.
A history of casserole-fear lurks in my household. Tuna casseroles prepared by my husband’s immediate family gave casseroles a bad name, as I discussed in a previous post, The ABC of Casseroles. Bottom line, for years I called a casserole dish by its ingredients rather than “such-and-such-casserole”.
On the other hand, I had a lot of good-tasting casseroles from my own mother’s kitchen in the 50s and 60s. Casseroles were great for gatherings, and leftovers made an easy meal the next day. Granted, many of the casseroles of that era relied on canned soups and vegetables; many were calorie-laden with rich creams and cheese. But delicious? Yes!
So I pulled All-Time Favorite Casserole Recipes from the shelf with mixed feelings. A good or a bad casserole book? And whose book was this? Mine, I guess. Published in 1977. No notes in it at all. Hmmm.
I turn the pages. The first recipe is “Sunday Chicken-Rice Bake”. Cream of mushroom soup, dried onion soup mix, canned mushrooms, frozen peas and carrots. I used to love a chicken-rice casserole made by my father’s mother – maybe this is the recipe! I continue through the pages, and find that about every fourth recipe interests me. Granted, many rely on food products I would rather avoid, like canned soups and vegetables and too much butter, but light makeovers could straighten that out. I like this cook book!
The chapters are: For the Family, For One or Two Servings (perfect for us!), For Entertaining, International Specialties, and Rounding Out the Meal.
I found a gem in the “For Entertaining” chapter: Tetrazzini Crepes.
This is a recipe for crepes filled with a turkey-ala-king-like mixture. In tetrazzini crepes, the mixture includes olives and cheese and sherry. Don’t I already make something like that? I searched my computer for “tetrazzini” but found nothing. Not ready to give up, I searched for “crepes” in my poultry recipe documents. “Turkey Crepe Casserole” has steamed vegetables in a white sauce, no that’s not it . . . “Tetrazini Crepes” – that’s it! I spelled tetrazzini with only one “z”. I do have a saved recipe for tetrazzini crepes in my repertoire!
I gleefully read my own Tetrazzini Crepes recipe. Here is the note I wrote to myself in my recipe document:
“This recipe is from one of my own recipe cards, typed on a lined 3×5-inch card. This indicates that it probably dates it to the 1970s. I made it again in 2012 and decided the recipe is a keeper! I’m not sure of the origin of the recipe, whether I found it myself or if I got it from Mother. I don’t remember it well, so I didn’t make it a lot, although I’m often looking for chicken or turkey crepe recipes. I think I forgot about it.”
The recipe typed on my recipe card is nearly word-for-word the recipe in All-Time Favorite Casserole Recipes. Here is the book version:
Here is the front and back of the recipe card that I typed in the 1970s:
Tetrazzini Crepes calls for leftover turkey, but you can always use cooked chicken instead. The sauce is a cheese sauce like you would use for macaroni and cheese, but with sherry added. Some of the sauce is reserved for the top of the crepes, and some is mixed with the turkey and olives and fresh mushrooms. (What is “tetrazzini”? An American dish named after the Italian opera star Luisa Tetrazzini.)
I made some changes to the recipe sometime over the years. The last time I made it, I made the full recipe of sauce and olives and crepes, but only used half the amounts of chicken and mushrooms. I used milk instead of cream in the sauce. For a meal for the two of us, I filled five crepes for the meal, and saved the rest of the crepes for another use (like blueberry crepes!).
I can hardly wait to make this again!
- 1/2 recipe crepes, below (I always make a full recipe and use the extras elsewhere)
- 3 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced (about 1 cup)
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1/4 cup flour
- 3/4 cup milk
- 3/4 cup chicken broth (or water)
- 1 cup grated cheddar cheese (more than the original recipe!)
- 1/4 cup dry sherry
- 1 cup chopped cooked turkey or chicken*
- 2 tablespoons sliced olives
- grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
*If you want to, you can start with one uncooked chicken breast (bone-in or boneless). Boil it in water until done, then remove the chicken from the bones (if necessary) and dice it. You can even reserve the cooking water as “chicken broth”.
Brown the mushrooms in a small amount of butter (or cook them dry until the moisture comes out) and set them aside.
Melt the 3 tablespoons butter, stir in the flour and cook until the flour is absorbed. Slowly add the chicken broth and cook until the sauce thickens, then add the milk. Add more of one of the two liquids if necessary to make it the sauciness you want. Stir in the sherry and the cheddar cheese and heat until the cheese melts. (This makes about 2 cups sauce.)
Use the filling to generously fill 5 crepes. Place in a lightly greased baking dish, cover with remaining cheese sauce (you may not use all of it, but we like things saucy). If you like, you can sprinkle with a little Parmesan cheese.
Bake at 350˚ for 15-20 minutes (just until bubbly).
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 t salt
- 1 C flour
Mix in blender, let stand 1 hour before making crepes. Makes 12 crepes.
(I discuss how I cook crepes in this post.)
These were as good as I remembered! Here is the cheese sauce mixture heating in the pan. I usually heat the mixture a bit because the turkey might be cold from the refrigerator.
Here are the filled crepes before baking. This shows how much sauce I used on top. Plus, they are prettier at this step than when cooked!
We both scarfed these up. I had some fresh, hulled English peas from Trader Joe’s that I cooked and served beside them. With bread and salad, an excellent meal.
I was curious to see what I could find about this casserole book on the web. I found that I could buy it for one penny on Amazon. Better Homes and Gardens published 18 cookbooks in the “All Time Favorites” series (circa 1970-1990); I have 3 of these books. I covered “All Time Favorite Pies” in this post. I also found that Better Homes and Gardens keeps an Our Best Recipes website. This would be a good place to search for a new casserole recipe to beat the mid-week doldrums. Some of the website’s recipes still include canned soups, but many include interesting ingredients and combinations.