I have never been good at making casseroles, or anything in a Pyrex glass baking dish for that matter. When I was little, I wanted to impress my family by making a lasagne, so I duly laid out the dry lasagne, straight out of the package, into the dish, and poured pasta sauce over that, and shredded some cheese over the top. Whatever cheese it happened to be that we had. Could have been a blue cheese, as I recall.
I think a dentist was called for a chipped tooth on that one, and I seem to recall that Pyrex dish had to be tossed in the trash, along with the casserole, barely touched, inside it.
I’ve come a long way since then, but I still balk at casseroles. Yet they’re so ubiquitous and seemingly a must on every cook’s repertoire.
Last night, after packing up for our weekend trip to Cloudcroft, N. M., I decided we must use up some things that could go bad while we’re gone, yet we didn’t want to lug up in the desert heat for a two hour drive to our cabin. Sooooo, I grabbed the spinach, six eggs, some Monterrey jack cheese, two whole wheat tortillas, Crisco, nutmeg, salt, chili powder and paprika, and turned those ingredients into my “new” specialty: Eggs florentine casserole.
I greased the Pyrex dish with a light coating of Crisco, then lined the bottom with strips of the whole wheat tortillas. Then I beat six eggs with half a cup of whole milk and poured them over the tortillas, and on top of that a layer of chopped spinach. Then I sprinkled the spices on top of the spinach and topped that with the cheese, baking the concoction at 400 degrees for about 18 minutes.
I also made a salad of mizuna greens I’d bought at the Las Cruces Farmers’ Market, Napa cabbage, chopped onion and chopped sweet gherkins with vinaigrette, as well as buttered white rice and some leftover ranch beans from the night before.
I was totally wary of presenting my “creation” to Christian, who SHOULD be a chef by trade, and he DID look at it suspiciously. But ever the trooper, he dug in, and had seconds, too.
Whew. Another one made it.
We’ll leave tonight after work and drive to Alamogordo, N.M., where we’ll stop at Lowe’s grocery store for our Cloudcroft provisions (Cloudcroft’s got one grocery store, the Mountain Top Mercantile, which has AMAZING homemade bread, but costs an arm and a leg…for those captive audiences who forgot to bring their own food and toiletries). We’ll make sure to buy some of Marina’s Bauernbrot at Lowe’s, shipped directly from El Paso, where we will have just driven from, lol, but much more convenient since it’s on the way to our destination. And we WILL fork out $6 for a loaf of Mountain Top’s garlic cheese bread. It’s that good.
Dinner when we arrive in Cloudcroft traditionally is a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store, served with bread and salad, since we’re really in no mood to cook when we get to the cabin. It’s the rest of the meals in Cloudcroft we really look forward to, trying to find the NEXT thing we can do with garlic cheese bread. I’m seriously considering a kind of French toast with the bread, except savory. Dipped in an egg batter, as usual, but then topped with melted Munster cheese…. hmmmm.
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