Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Wordcraft -- Show us the mac and cheese!

The Casserole Queens Cookbook

by Crystal Cook and Sandy Pollock


The thing that most caught my eye the first time I visited A Real Bookstore in Fairview was the cooking demonstration theater. But I had to wait until the women behind Austin’s Casserole Queens food delivery service dished out the mac and cheese last Sunday to see the kitchen in use.

When I entered, Sandy Pollock and the appropriately named Crystal Cook were already whipping up a recipe -- Lunch Lady Doris’s Spicy Mac and Cheese (page 122 in their cookbook). It was nothing like any school cafeteria I ever ate at!

For one thing, it had veggies -- broccoli and sun-dried tomatoes.

For another, well, the Queens do like their cayenne. The recipe calls for two teaspoons for a 9x 13-inch casserole dish, but Crystal (the one with the cayenne-red hair) just shook it from the container. “When you get a little too much, you can feel it up in your nose,” she told the crowd.

And then there’s the cheese: sharp cheddar, Gruyere, and Gouda. “But whatever cheese you have,” brunette Sandy said, “just use the right amount.”

“I don’t know how casseroles stay together without cheese,” Crystal added.

The amazingly slim duo -- they have to be, to fit into their trademark retro fashions -- offer tips in their book for cutting calories in the recipes. And although they’re okay with using canned items to save time, they also provide recipes for “from scratch” versions of kitchen staples.

The Casserole Queens have been delivering their one-dish dishes (their broad definition of “casserole”) in Austin for more than four years and have appeared on the Food Network’s Throwdown! With Bobby Flay. Sorry to report to Austin residents, they’ll be on tour for their book until September 3.

Until then, or until we all move to Austin, we’ll have to cook our own food -- maybe Gooey Apple Butter Cake (page 166). Can you smell the cinnamon and Granny Smiths?

In the Austin area, see for information on the delivery service. In North Texas, The Casserole Queens Cookbook is available through Barnes and Noble and A Real Bookstore,

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