Monday, August 09, 2010

60s Food Rejiggered for Style

If anyone even tries a version of this robust tapas dish, I will be amazed and flattered.
I mean, tuna, beans and mushrooms? Gack. And whaddup with the white drizzle over it all?
It was inspired by a pseudo-gourmet casserole my mom used to make in the early, pseudo-gourmet 60s. A simple assemblage of a can of tuna, a can of mushrooms, a box of frozen baby limas, all draped with sour cream (which must have been diluted somehow).
I loved that casserole, even if it never really all came together. It was just mouthful after mouthful of discrete food chunks, barely bound by the cream. The flavors were good, as odd as that may sound.
These days I tend to adore small plates, snazzy little samples of good tastes.
We recently bought some proper canned tuna (sustainable, yadda), and I know Cranky is always ready to cook beans in our little Crock Pot. It so happens Cranky had just simmered up a cauldron of fresh vegetable stock, made fragrant with empty pea pods, stripped corncobs, herbs, a few fennel fronds and, and, and. It would make a delicious simmering medium for white beans (and it did).
It was my job to marinate some mushrooms. So easy. Why don't I do it more often?
Assembly: Strew beans across plate. Heap tuna chunks on one side and mushrooms on the other (and spoon lots of the marinade over everything.
Top with a squirt of creme fraiche and a snowfall of minced parsley.
I won't blame you for not trying this silly little meal (though we thought it was insanely good).
If nothing else, though, please promise you will cook white beans in vegetable stock.
And if you have read this far, thank you and you're welcome.


Denise | Chez Danisse said...

My mom made a casserole involving tuna in the 70s. There were several cans and frozen things in the recipe. We loved it. Maybe it was the Midwest version. Every once in a while I make it and relive those tuna casserole memories.

cookiecrumb said...

Denise: I eschewed casseroles for the longest time (as you can imagine, having grown up on them). Then, in the 90s, I started cooking nostalgic food: tuna cassserole, mac & cheese. Then... I found out how to make things better, by using better food.
I'd like to hear about your dish.

Zoomie said...

Isn't it fun when foods go together that you really wouldn't think of? I have nostalgia for a few of my mother's '50s and '60s dishes, but this must be a California specialty - Mom never made anything like that. It actually sounds good, in an unexpected way.

Ms Brown Mouse said...

Oooo I think I might try it, later, when it warms up and stops raining. I've made something similar, sans 'shrooms. I think 'shrooms woudld make it better.
Whatdaya marinate the little bugger in then?

cook eat FRET said...

that sounds awesome. but it's late and i'm hungry. still, i love a good tuna casserole. good being the key word. i used to make them all the time with fresh tuna, but i still used that campbell's can of soup. i wouldn't/couldn't now. but you know, it didn't suck - not even a little.

Kelly said...

gack! :-)

Greg said...

Cookiecrumb goes retro or perhaps redux? The older I get it seems like if you hang around long enough everything comes back(well maybe not my chin).Good food and good times!

cookiecrumb said...

Zoomie: I doubt I'd have combined these if it hadn't been for their debonaire predecessor. To this day, I really love the flavors together. :)

Mouse: Yeah, this is unheated food; wait for a nice day. 'Shrooms is really the trick here. I simply cut buttons into quarters and simmered them very low in olive oil, spectacular vinegar, herbs, S&P. Pop 'em into a jar in the fridge; they're ready the next day. (Mushrooms softened in salad dressing, basically!)

Claudia: The key question being, was it cream of mushroom soup or cream of celery? I used them too, and could never again. Still, we crave comfort food, and we have the chops nowadays to zing it up and still be comforting. xx

Kelly: You are entirely entitled to a ::GACK::. Party on!

cook eat FRET said...

cookie - one of each

peter said...

I cook beans in smoked chicken stock whenever possible. I had tuna casserole exactly once, at a friend's house during High School. It was very salty and greasy and I saw the appeal. Your neo-post-retro-deconstruction sounds very au courant.

cookiecrumb said...

peter: (one-hand typing; dog in lap.)
ah! done and done. got some smoked pork/chicken stock in the freezer. that sounds good.
so, yeah, deconstructing. i feel like the recipe page of nyt magazine. it's fun.

Kate said...

I may give that a go. Except. Except, except. The garden, the garden. It would be eggplant instead of tuna, and maybe even potatoes instead of mushrooms. But the beans and parsley and sour cream? Right there with you, baby. Solar cooked, even. Yeah.

cookiecrumb said...

Kate: That sounds great. I envy you the solar cooking; I'm scouring your blog now. (Just got hung up on trashcan smoker, heh).
Enjoy your harvest.

Denise | Chez Danisse said...

Mom's dish is just the basic old school tuna casserole with canned cream of mushroom soup, frozen peas, etc. I'm sure I could make a contemporary beauty, but there is just something about this old version that I don't want to give up. It's funny, I only think of it once every five years or so.

cookiecrumb said...

Denise: My mom's old-school tuna casserole involved lots and lots of potato chips. STILL have to have that from time to time. Five year interval sounds about right.

Denise | Chez Danisse said...

Potato chips? Now that would be fun. We should do posts the next time we hit our five year markers.