Lost in Translation

Norwegian, that is.

A few months ago, Miss T had a delightful post about the Hotdish Haiku recipe book she’d bought, which combines recipes for hotdish with hotdish-related Haiku.

I felt strangely compelled to buy the book. I can’t explain it. Although I like casseroles, I have a little bit of a problem with recipes that are often a combination of cream-of-something soup and some sort of starchy, refined carbohydrate. Not that I don’t LIKE them, of course. Show me a dish of Funeral Potatoes and I may dive in head first. A few other versions of the recipe can be found here (scroll down). And don’t involve me in the shredded vs. diced potatoes controversy. Just give me a fork.

No, it’s certainly not that I don’t enjoy that kind of recipe. But I’d prefer to avoid the MSG and sodium in the canned soups, and let’s face it, high-fat, high-carb dishes aren’t aren’t exactly healthy. And of course, the Pontiff is pescetarian, which totally leaves out anything with meat or poultry. And even worse, although he likes tuna, he won’t eat canned tuna. Something to do with rats in the processing plants at the wharves. Don’t ask.

But still, I yearned for this book. Maybe it was the Haiku. Maybe it was my childhood memories of macaroni and cheese, and tuna casserole. Maybe it’s the addictiveness of the combination of fat and carbs – ah, such comfort food!  Or maybe it has something to do with the fact that I was conceived in Wisconsin.

Whatever my reasons, after Miss T told me that there were indeed some vegetarian and seafood recipes included, I simply couldn’t help myself from putting the book into my Amazon wish list. It’s one of those small-priced items that I like to keep a list of so that when I buy something that isn’t quite enough to get free shipping, I can add in one or two wish list items.

Eventually, it made its way into my cart. And even if I’d never made a single recipe from it, it was worth the price just to read it. The poems and the recipe names are priceless. This would totally be a great gift.

In all reality, even before I heard of this book, I had been thinking about finding a good made-from-scratch substitute for cans of cream soup, so that I could modify some of my old family recipes, because I really do like them. And once in a while, you just have to go for the fat and carbs. And convenience foods. That’s why I still make macaroni and cheese once in a while. And I even use Velveeta. So I thought this book might be a fun way for me to experiment. And many of these recipes use chow mein noodles. I could just give the Pontiff a bag of dry chow mein noodles for dinner and he’d be happy. He used to buy huge bags of them at the Oriental markets and eat them as a snack.

The first recipe I tried was the Kyoto Fishing Opener, which uses shrimp and cream-of-shrimp soup. And chow mein noodles, of course. DH was in heaven. I was a bit mixed about it. I’m not quite sure if it was the shrimp I used, or the cream-of-shrimp soup (which I’d never had before), but something tasted a bit too fishy. But I tried it a second time using cream-of-celery soup (and of course, different shrimp), and I was happy.

Last night I tried another one. And it was also a winner. I did make some modifications, which are noted below, but here’s the original recipe:

Lost in Norwegian Translation

Lost In (Norwegian) Translation
From “Hotdish Haiku“, edited by Pat Dennis, used with permission.

1 cup chopped celery
1 cup cashews
2 Tbsp minced dry onions
2 cups chow mein noodles
1/4 cup condensed milk
1 can cream of mushroom soup
14 oz canned tuna

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Drain tuna and break apart. Mix milk and soup in a bowl. Add other ingredients, reserving 1 cup chow mein noodles, and mix well. Place in greased casserole dish and top with the reserved noodles. Bake 15-20 minutes at 375 degrees.

My changes:

This one called for canned tuna, which of course, is a problem for DH. I’ve learned to get around that by buying tuna or marlin steaks and steaming them, then freezing them in half-pound packages, which will substitute for the drained weight of two 6-oz cans of tuna. I used one package instead of the canned tuna in the recipe.

I used only 1/2 cup of cashews, because that’s what I had – and it was plenty. I think you could use regular milk or half-and-half instead of the condensed milk if you prefer, and not notice a difference.

I also used this as a trial run for a home-made cream soup substitute. It was great! I’ll definitely use this from now on. Healthier and much cheaper than the cans. Even if you like using the canned soup, you might want to keep this recipe around in case you’re out of it when you want to make something:

Substitute for 1 can of CONDENSED Cream of Mushroom Soup

2 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. salad oil
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
2 fresh mushrooms, chopped
10 ounces milk (whatever fat content you prefer)

Heat the butter and oil then add flour and salt, stirring to make a roux. Add mushrooms and cook about a minute, just to soften. Add milk and stir until thickened.

For cream of chicken soup, omit the mushrooms and add 1 tsp chicken base or bouillon, and substitute chicken broth or stock for half of the milk.

For cream of celery soup, substitute celery for the mushrooms. Hmmm. How much? I should have measured the chopped mushrooms. Maybe 1/4 cup? Eh, whatever looks good.

If you want to just make soup to eat, add another 10 oz of milk and you’re set.

Thanks to Miss T, for alerting me to this book, to its editor, Pat Dennis, and to the writers who helped create it.

I think my next recipe from the book may have to be Buddha’s Lutefisk Delight (“The delight in this dish is that there is no lutefisk.”)

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8 Responses to Lost in Translation

  1. margene says:

    I get a tummy ache just thinking about Funeral Potatoes but changes you made to the other recipe make it sound delish!

  2. Cookie says:

    I wonder if he would be okay with the tuna that Trader Joe sells. They are line caught vs net caught. I’m not sure about how they processed, but I think they are less fishy than other brands.

    I live in California. I don’t know anything about this hotdish business.

  3. Miss T says:

    Aha! A Wisconsin girl! That explains everything. :o) Thanks for the Cream Of Soup substitute recipe–I’ll definitely try that. I think the Buddha’s Lutefisk Delight is on my to-try list, too.

  4. Carrie says:

    ROFLMAO @ Buddha’s lutefisk delight. Dying. Also seriously dying from the funeral potatoes link. Lock your twelve kids in the back yard… snort.
    Hmmm, I might need to try that recipe that you posted… yum…

  5. Amy says:

    The only way Buddha’s lutefisk delight would be delightful would be to not have lutefisk in it.

  6. Nora says:

    That’s so funny – I thought the term “hotdish” was only used on the South Side of Milwaukee.

    No Lutefisk, please.

  7. Chris says:

    EXACTLY what Amy wrote.

  8. Carrie K says:

    That sounds excellent, I’ll have to try that. I get to use canned tuna. Rat free canned tuna. Or maybe I’ll be buying ahi steaks. Thanks, dude.

    The teaser recipe? The lack of lutefisk does make it sound more delightful.

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