Why write an entire cookbook on casseroles specifically?
Crystal Cook: Our goal is to make it easier for families to gather around the dinner table. Casseroles accomplish that because they’re a full meal.
Sandy Pollock: I grew up on casseroles. My mom used to make these meals from beginning to end. I remember being so comforted and happy with this whole meal, and it stuck with me.
Not only do you guys cook old school, you dress that way, too.
SP: It’s a complete concept, not just about the meals, but every facet of entertaining. So if we are doing an appearance or are on book tour, we’ve got on our pearls, heels and aprons every time.
How is this cookbook different from your first?
SP: Every meal in our first book was made in a 9-by-13-inch pan. All fantastic recipes, but we got a lot of feedback on tour about wanting to know what to serve on the side. So we added side dishes to round out meals and really make it possible to plan your whole dinner using this book.
You also include a ton of healthy adaptations for recipes.
CC: Sandy and I both worked with a nutritionist to find out what simple substitutes can make something gluten-free or make something diabetic-friendly. And there are vegetarian options, too.
Is this book only for novice chefs?
CC: We tried to make this book accessible to all levels of cooks. If some people have time and want to make their own tomato sauce, we’ve got a recipe for that. But in the same breath, we don’t pooh-pooh anyone from using a jar of marinara sauce. If that’s what’s going to get them in the kitchen, we encourage it.
The book is not just focused on recipes. Why did you include party planning and craft ideas?
SP: For us, it’s always been a broader story. Yes, we are the Casserole Queens, but it’s because we identify with that period [the mid-20th century] and the whole concept of economical ways to entertain at home.
How did you adapt these classic recipes for modern times?
CC: We included more modern spices and herbs. We suggest using white wine and special teas. Also, there are a lot more cheeses out there than there used to be. We really tried to deliver ideas for a more modern palate while still staying true to the simplicity of the meal.