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Casserole works for brunch


Susan Harrell of Eldersburg requested a "Hash-Brown Casserole like the one served at the Cracker Barrel."

Her response came from Edith Patro of Elkton, who also added some recipe information about the book her recipe came from. She wrote, "Perhaps your readers would be interested in a book entitled 'Top Secret Restaurant Recipes,' published by Penguin Group. It's a book of 'knockoffs' of recipes from fast-food chains, and you can't tell the difference. It includes things like the Outback Steakhouse Bloomin' Onion, the Hard Rock CafM-i Baby Rock Watermelon Ribs, Houlihan's 'Shrooms, Lone Star Amarillo Cheese Fries, Planet Hollywood Pot Stickers, Red Lobster Stuffed Shrimp and lots more. It's a great book for those who want to try their favorites at home."

Hash-Brown Casserole

Serves 4 to 6 as a side dish

one 26-ounce bag frozen country-style hash browns

2 cups shredded Colby cheese (see note)

1/4 cup minced onion

1 cup milk

1/2 cup beef stock or canned broth

2 tablespoons butter, melted

dash garlic powder

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Combine frozen hash browns, cheese and onion in a large bowl. Combine milk, beef stock, half the melted butter, the garlic powder, salt and black pepper in another bowl. Mix until well blended, then pour mixture over the hash browns and mix well. Heat remaining butter in a large, ovenproof skillet over high heat (see note).

When the skillet is hot, spoon in the hash-brown mixture. Cook the hash browns, stirring occasionally, until hot and all of the cheese has melted (about 7 minutes). Put the skillet into the oven and bake for 45 to 60 minutes or until the surface of the hash browns is dark brown.

Note: If you can't find Colby cheese, you can also use Cheddar for this recipe. Colby, however, is preferred. If you don't have an ovenproof skillet, you can spoon the potatoes into a glass 9-inch-by-9-inch baking dish and microwave the potatoes until they are hot and the cheese has melted. Then put that baking dish into the 425-degree oven until the surface of the hash browns has browned.

Tester Laura Reiley's comments: "If you can, once the casserole is cooked, flip the whole pan over (remember, the handle is hot) and cut it into pie-shaped wedges. It is very pretty served this way -- if you slice directly from the skillet the pieces don't come out quite as perfectly. The result is a very crisp exterior and a moist, flavorful interior. Perfect for a buffet brunch, the casserole is just as good room temperature as it is piping hot."

Recipe requests

Donna Degen of Rapid City, S.D., wants a recipe for the kind of bourbon chicken sold "at a place called Cajun CafM-i. I've searched the Internet and find many people seeking the same recipe. I'd appreciate help."

Lucia M. Atlas of Annapolis writes that she ate a "coffee mousse in Venice that was absolute heaven, like a coffee cloud. I've had no luck finding this recipe in my Italian cookbooks."

If you are looking for a recipe or can answer a request for a hard-to-find recipe, write to Ellen Hawks, Recipe Finder, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, MD 21278. If you send more than one recipe, please put each on a separate sheet of paper with your name, address and daytime phone number. Important: Please list the ingredients in order of use, and note the number of servings each recipe makes. Please type or print contributions. Letters may be edited for clarity.

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