Thursday, April 17, 2008

the case of the falling casserole & falling in love with the usda

I had this inkling to serve a light version of Paula Deen's corn casserole with dinner tonight and thought to save time, I would make it this morning. Trying to be hip, I dished them into individual servings. I had never made corn casserole before but, to me, it's one of the ultimate comfort foods: mushy, sweet, salty. Aside from stuffing and pie, it's my favorite Thanksgiving leftover. Everything was going great until I opened the oven door to sprinkle on the cheese during the last 5 minutes of bake time. I stood there in front of the oven with the bag of cheese sprinkling away. A curse word slipped my mouth as the cheese melted in the bag! I was hurrying to finish up and as I pushed the rack back one of the dishes toppled over and slowly slid into the warming drawer. It seemed to all happen in slow motion and I couldn't believe that after four months with my brand new stove it was christened with corn and finished with a blessing of more curse words. Above, is what I could salvage from the warming drawer and to the right, the "in casserole" version. Next time I make this, I would probably not skimp on the fat content of the cheese, sour cream, and creamed corn. If I'm going to do comfort food, I guess it's going to have to be in my roomy and comfy PJs.

In other news, I was stoked to see organic canned tomatoes, organic (from now on to be denoted by O dash) penne, O-basil, O-garlic, and O-Italian sausage in my local grocery store. Holy cow, it was a miracle. I am having such an easier time spotting organic things thanks to the usda label. I was in a "tossing together" cooking mood this morning at 0300 (I totally slept through dinner last night and my poor husband had to eat PB & J). The end result of that mood was Tomato Braised Italian Sausage over Penne. As you can see, I'm not very good at naming my own dishes. First, I seared the sausage in a pan until it got a very good black crust on it. I sliced it diagonally and set it aside (the inside was still pink). Next, with my beloved cast iron pot on medium heat, I sauteed onions and garlic in a little olive oil until the onions were semi-translucent. I tossed the sausage back in. Then, I added some basil, red pepper flakes, one big can of diced roasted tomatoes and a smaller can of fire roasted diced tomatoes. While it simmered for about 45 minutes, I made the penne. I gave the tomato sauce a little tasting and the acidity seemed a little much so I added 2 tablespoons of sugar. This seems out of the ordinary but it is something I picked up watching my mom make her prized sweet spaghetti (one day I will post all about it). I let it simmer for 10 more minutes and finished it with a healthy shaving of Parmigiano Reggiano (I had to look at the packaging in order to spell that). I was totally going to add some zucchini and squash I had picked up along with the other organic items but totally forgot about it. My husband seemed pleasantly surprised when he took a look in his lunch bag this morning.

Now, off to clean my oven.

Update: husband requested this meal next week for dinner, a good sign of success from my ultimate critic.