Tag Archives: comfort food

Something warm and tasty

Autumn brings with it a whole new menu. Out are the grilled veggies and burgers and in come roasted root vegetables, soups and stews. In the summer, the thought of turning on the oven or even stove-top can be exhausting. The heat of summer means you don’t want to make your house any more uncomfortable. Everything changes though in September and October, suddenly cooking is appealing, baking cookies a joy.

Looking for something tasty to welcome autumn? Here is a recipe for one of my favorites, beans and greens. This dish can be used as a main meal or as a side to braised short-ribs, pork chops or a perfectly baked chicken.

Beans and Greens

1 medium onion, chopped
1 t. thyme
1 t. red pepper flakes
1 bunch greens (kale or chard) sliced thin
2 cloves garlic, finely diced
1 can white beans (small white beans or cannellini beans)
2 c. diced tomatoes
1/2 shredded Romano cheese
  1. In a large saute pan, heat about 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add onions and cook for about three to four minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Stir in kale stems and cook for another three minutes or until the onions begin to look translucent. Mix in the kale leaves and add the thyme and red pepper. Set on a medium-low heat and let cook for fifteen minutes or until the greens are soft.
  3. When kale is tender, stir in the drained can of beans. Once warmed through, mix in the diced tomatoes and let cook for an additional 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Remove from heat and sprinkle the Romano cheese on top. Serve.
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We all need something cheery

There are many things we turn to when we need comfort and we all need comfort right now. Personally, I bake and eat and bake again. This weekend I’ve been compulsively baking a new, delicious, truly comforting cake that makes you feel safe and satisfied and, believe it or not, a little in the holiday mood. The end product is a dense, chewy cake not quite like a muffin, not quite like a bread…something I can’t find a comparison to.

I’d recommend you try these simple, easy cakes today or tomorrow or whenever you need a little cheer over the next few weeks.

Eggnog Cakes

2 1/2 c. all purpose flour
1T baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. nutmeg
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 c. sugar
1/4 c. butter
2T honey
2 eggs
1 t. vanilla
 1 3/4 c. buttermilk
1/4 c. whiskey

Pre-heat to 400 F.

  1. Melt butter and add honey. Take off heat and let cool slightly while you mix dry ingredients.
  2. In large bowl combine dry ingredients and whisk together so it is evenly mixed.
  3. In medium bowl lightly beat eggs, buttermilk, vanilla and whiskey. Continue to mix as you slowly drizzle butter into wet mixture.
  4. Add wet to dry until fully combined. Dough will be sticky and thick but to loosen a little you may add 2 to 3 T buttermilk or cream.
  5. Spray 10 inch round spring-form pan. Spoon batter into pan, using back of spatula to even out. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when poked into center of the cake.

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Savoring a short season

Fall has barreled its way for a far too short stay. In Upstate New York, Spring fails to commit, Summer creeps in them lays heavy in the air, Fall suddenly arrives with gorgeous colors and cooling crispness only to be quickly butted out by bitter, clingy, miserable Winter…Can you tell how much I looove winter?

Anyway, the truth is that September is my favorite month. This is the kind of weather we should have for 12 months not just one. It has clear, sunny skies. Warm, crisp days and chilly nights. September even offers a few wicked rainstorms to keep you on your toes.

Veggies are still abundant in backyard gardens and roadside stands. Summer foods, dinners made entirely of sweet corn are even still possible. But the chilly breezes also make you crave chicken soup, pot roast, clam chowder and stew. Warm, hearty and delicious friends that took a vacation while the sun shone and the humidity hovered. This past week I made my first lasagna of the year, Friday was a roast chicken and Sunday afternoon stew simmered away on the stove top. Soon I’ll have regular pot of chicken stock bubbling and boiling. I’ll freeze the stock by the quart to help me get through the winter.

For now though, I’m going to savor each moment Fall has to offer. Pumpking ice cream, apple pie, roast chicken, sweet potatoes and all the while enjoying the last bits of summer that hang on…sweet corn, salad greens, tomatoes and the like. September means combining all the things I love in the happiest, most relaxed and truly delicious ways. Following is my recipe for Beef Stew. The ingredients list may seem a little overwhelming, but really the whole process is pretty simple.

Beef Stew

2 – 2 1/2 lbs. stew meat or diced chuck
1 T. parsley pesto
1 T. Worcester sauce
1 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
2 T. olive oil
1/2 c. red wine
1 med. onion (1 inch dice)
1/2 green bell (1 inch dice)
2 cloves garlic – diced
2 large celery ribs (1/2 to 1 inch slices)
2 large carrots (1/2 to 1 inch slices)
1 can petite diced tomatoes (or 2 c. freshly diced tomatoes)
3/4 c. beef stock
1 T. fresh oregano (chopped)
1 large potato (1 inch dice)
1 T. parsley pesto

Marinate the Meat

1. In a large bowl mix meat and parsley pesto. Add salt, pepper and Worcester sauce. Combine completely, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 to 3 hours.

Make Stew

  1. Heat oil in a dutch oven or large stock pot. Add meat in groups of 7 to 10 pieces. Sear pieces and remove to paper towel lined plate, repeating until all meat has been seared.
  2. Add red wine and onions. Stir to deglaze the pan. Stir in bell pepper, garlic, celery and carrots. Return meat to pan. Mix in tomatoes, stock and oregano. Cover. Reduce heat to low. Leave for 30 to 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Stir in potatoes. Cover and cook for another 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  4. Add parsley pesto and any additional frozen vegetables (corn, green beans, lima beans). Stir to combine and let cook for additional 10 to 15 minutes.

If the stew is thin, combine 1 T. flour with 1/4 c. cool water until completely smooth. Stir flour mixture into stew, allowing the stew to thicken.

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Mac ‘n cheese makes the world better

Tomorrow is the 3rd annual Mac ‘n Cheese Bowl presented by the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York. Over 30 different restaurants will be offering tastings of their own special version of mac ‘n cheese and competing for the honor of best mac ‘n cheese in the Capitol Region. The event draws nearly 2,000 people who enjoy a delicious afternoon while helping the Regional Food Bank raise funds for their fight against hunger.

The office has been a-buzz with the prep for the event, which is nearly sold out. Held at the Albany Marriott on Wolf Road, the event is hosted in two separate tasting sessions. The morning session is sold out but tickets for the afternoon session (12:30 to 2:30) are still available. If you are interested in attending (and enjoying!) please call Jessica Tanner at 518.786.3691 or you can take your chances and buy tickets at the door. I will let you know that tickets will be sold throughout the day and the sooner you arrive to purchase the tickets the better off you will be. Tickets are $15 for adults and $5 for children 5 to 12 years old. Under 5’s are free.

If you’d like more information on the event you can click-through to Table Hopping by Steve Barnes.

In honor of this special event, I thought that I’d share my own delicious and simple recipe for mac ‘n cheese. This recipe was originally posted in January 2010 but is still the go-to when I want a quick and easy version of comfort food.

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A girl’s got needs

Sometimes a thought pops into my head and I just can’t get it out. I need something…bad. It could be a run, a kiss or a sweet treat but I’ve just got to have it and my mind won’t rest until I’ve gotten whatever the “it” is.

I house-sat this week for friends in my old stomping ground. I realized just how much I missed having a space of my own, surrounded by the people and the place that make me feel complete, like the best version of me. So, maybe I’ve got some searching to do, some big changes to make and some moving in my future…I’m not sure just yet.

But, back to the craving I’ve had going around in my head for the week – oatmeal pancakes. Yes, I said pancakes. Soft and supple, hearty and sweet, I’ve had this need float around with little ambition or opportunity because seriously what’s the point in making a batch of pancakes if it’s only you who is going to eat them?

So, back on the farm, I woke up early while everyone was out in the barn this morning and made a very successful batch of oatmeal pancakes. A nice treat for those coming into the smell of comforting, warm perfection and a treat for me to see how eagerly they got snapped up.

Below is the recipe, adapted from Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone.

Oatmeal Pancakes

1 1/2 c. quick cook oats

2 c. buttermilk

2 eggs

1 t. vanilla

2 T. maple syrup

1/4 c. canola oil

1/2 t. salt

1/2 c. flour

1/2 t. baking soda

  1. Stir the oats and buttermilk together in a large bowl and let stand for 15 to 20 minutes.
  2. Beat the eggs with the vanilla, syrup and oil, then stir into the soaked oats.
  3. Combine the dry ingredients and add them to the oat mixture as well, stirring until fully combined.
  4. Cook in a skillet over medium heat. Flip when bubbles for in the center of the pancake and the edges are firm.

These pancakes are truly satisfying…and filling!

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A comfortable concoction

Comfort food carries with it more emotion than flavor. Homemade mac ‘n cheese transports memories with each fork full of Aunt Rose’s row house in Hudson. Parprikash reminds me of my grandmother (though she rarely made it) telling family secrets to her sister in Hungarian, the smell of cigarette smoke mixing with that of frying onions. And my mother’s lasagna brings back Christmas Eve buffet tables back in Connecticut.

Rarely though can you ever re-create the exact taste and texture that seemed standard when your aunt, grandmother or mother made it. My paprikash lacks the essence of Pall Mall. I recognize this and so I’ve accepted that it’s time to create some comfort food of my own – classics that friends and family will remember and love years from now, dishes that will remind them of good and bad times and the love that fed them.

My comfort food repertoire is small but growing – banana bread, humus, and mediterranean lasagna. Here is my recipe for the latter.

1 medium onion, diced

1 t. salt

2 lb. ground chicken

2 T. fresh mint, finely chopped

1/2 c. fresh parsley, coarsely chopped

2 medium cloves garlic, minced

8 oz. feta, diced

1 1/2 c. shredded mozzarella plus 1/2 c. for top

3/4 c. tomato sauce plus 2 T. and 1/4 c. or so for top

1 pk. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained

1 lb. lasagna noodles, cooked and drained

  1. In a large saute pan, heat 2 T. olive oil. Add onion and saute 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in salt and cook an additional 3 minutes or until translucent. Add chicken and cook, stirring so that chicken remains separate.
  2. When chicken is nearly done, toss in mint, parley and garlic, stir. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and place contents into a large bowl.
  3. Stir in 3/4 c. sauce, feta, 1 1/2 c. mozzarella and spinach until full combined, set aside.
  4. Take a lasagna pan and spray with non-stick oil. Spread 2 T. of sauce along bottom of pan and layer with noodles. Add layer of chicken mixture and cover with noodles, repeat until pan is full. (This recipe should make 2 complete layers.)
  5. Finish with a layer of noodles, remaining sauce and shredded cheese. Cover and refrigerate over night or freeze.
  6. Cook thawed lasagna at 375 degrees F for 45 to 60 minutes or until heated completely.

 

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