HELPING FAMILY FARMS FLOURISH. HELPING FEED THE HUNGRY.
Showing posts with label Comfort Food. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Comfort Food. Show all posts

Friday, December 19, 2014

Carla Hall's Spiced Lamb and Potato Pie

        

Who can forget Carla Hall? Twice a contestant on Top Chef, she was voted “Fan Favorite” her second time around, which is equivalent to being named “Miss Congeniality” in the old Miss America days.  She was lots of fun to watch and never an unkind word came out of her mouth, a trait sadly missing from Top Chefs most of the time.  She made it all the way to the finals, her recipe for Chicken Pot Pie landing her an appearance on Jimmy Fallon.   Sadly she suffered major equipment failures in the finals and was bounced off the show.  But talk about bouncing back.  She is now a fixture on ABC’s “The Chew” where she enlivens the proceedings with her philosophy of ‘Cooking with Love’ which became the name of her first Book subtitled ‘Comfort Food that hugs you’ (Simon and Schuster 2012).   Since “The Chew” is taped within walking distance of our New York apartment, I was not surprised to see Chef Hall in our local supermarket where she greeted one all with her fabulous smile.  My next encounter with Carla was in Food and Wine’s “Chef’s Easy Weeknight Dinners” (Time Affluent Media Group 2014).  Her contribution to the book is a Mediterranean influenced riff on Shepherd’s Pie.  And it’s well worth the 45 minutes it takes to make the whole thing.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Cottage Pie with a hand from Tamasin Day-Lewis in Saveur Magazine

        
Growing up in Canada, the Sunday Roast was a tradition in our house.  An enormous piece of beef would appear on the dinner table and our extended family would dig in.  And it was almost always beef because my parents had no great affection for lamb or, heaven forbid, pork which could cause a disease called "Trichinosis", the very sound of which sent shivers up our spines.  So beef it was. In the week after the roast, my mother would make Shepherd’s Pie, which is what she always called it.  This is a really old English recipe.  The first time it was printed was in an anonymous writer’s cookbook in 1737 called “The Whole Duty of a Woman”. (Can you imagine the response that title would arouse today? )  Shepherd’s Pie has evolved since then. In the Victorian era, the hand-cranked meat grinder was introduced so that turning the leftover roast into minced meat was infinitely easier. Mixed with onions and, sometimes, leftover vegetables, the filling was then topped with mashed potatoes and reheated in the oven.  I loved it.  And it was a good thing because it was a weekly staple in our house for years and years.  But when Andrew and I got together he cringed at the very thought of Shepherd’s Pie.  Apparently when he was in school in England, in his own words, ‘you can just imagine how badly it could be made’.   But having already made hash with some leftover prime rib, I still had leftovers. I decided to prove him wrong.  But first I had to correct something wrong about my mother’s Shepherd’s Pie.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Short Ribs in a Cinnamon and Red Wine Sauce: An East Indian take on a North American Classic


           
          This was one of the first posts I published back in 2010 when I started to blog.  Because my readership was nowhere near what it is now, I should not have been as surprised as I was to see that it never really attracted a big audience. That struck me as a shame because it is a spectacularly interesting take by a master of Indian cooking who invented one of the most unique cooking styles anywhere--a fusion between Indian inflected spices and great Canadian ingredients--in this case the country's phenomenal grass fed beef.  As to its seasonality, I say it would be as good in July as it would be in January.  After all, it's a variation on that summer staple--Ribs.  What makes it a particularly attractive take on Ribs is that it doesn't require firing up a grill.  Instead it cooks away in the oven for hours.   So here, a reprise of something awfully good that I hope will get the attention it deserves.
          If you’ve had any luck in life, you’ve had the good fortune to visit Vancouver, British Columbia. It’s a city that’s got it all. They say in winter you can sail and ski on the same day. Surrounded by water and a little over an hour from the slopes at Whistler, that sounds highly possible. Yes, it has that Pacific Northwest climate with a few more rainy days than I’d find ideal, but it’s blessedly warmer than the rest of Canada in winter and temperate all summer. And Vancouver is a foodie’s delight. In fact, Mimi Sheraton thinks the best Asian cuisine in North America is found there. I’d add that the best South Asian food in Vancouver is served at Vij’s, Vikram VijDescription: http://www.assoc-amazon.com/e/ir?t=52246-20&l=btl&camp=213689&creative=392969&o=1&a=1553651847’s no reservation restaurant at 1480 West 11th Street in the South Granville area of the city. And I wouldn’t be alone. The New York Times called Vij’s “Easily among the finest Indian restaurants in the world.” 

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Meat Mushroom and Potato Skillet Gratin Adapted from Melissa Clark in The New York Times



         At the risk of people believing I must be going steady with Melissa Clark, I am rushing this out in advance of the latest winter storm.  Even though I just shared Melissa’s superb Pork Chop recipe the middle of last month, I could not resist posting this latest triumph from last Wednesday’s “A Good Appetite” column.  This is stuck-in-the house, freezing-cold-outside food at its finest.  It’s Melissa’s inspired combination of elements you find in a crisp potato gratin and in a cottage or shepherd’s pie.  It’s cheesy, rich and come to think of it, gluten-free!  It’s not the fastest dish in the world to cook which makes me think that if you’re going to be housebound for any length of time, it will be the perfect thing to prepare.  It also has the great advantage of being a one-pot dinner.  Well, that is unless like me and Melissa you feel it would look a whole lot better on a plate with a nice big green salad tossed in a lemon vinaigrette.  So what changes did I make to Melissa’s original recipe?  Don’t think I didn’t try to make the original....      

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Salute to Canada! Chuck Hughes' Duck Breasts with Red Wine Sauce on a bed of Duck-Fat Fried Fingerlings and Mushrooms

        

         As most of my readers know, I am Canadian by birth and mighty proud of it.  I am also mighty proud that Canada racked up a total of 10 Gold Medals at the Sochi Olympics.  This would be quite a feat no matter what country achieved it.  But to put it in context, Canada, a country of 35,000,000 people came in third in the medal count after Russia with 143,000,000 and these United States with a population of 317,000,000.    It was something I wanted to celebrate. So as Andrew headed off the morning the Canadian Women’s Hockey team won Gold, I told him to prepare for a Canadian dinner. 

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Toad in the Hole, British Comfort Food at its best.

        
Bangers and Mash
I have a weakness for English dishes with picturesque names. Even the simplest of these is a riddle.  “Bangers and Mash”, or Sausage and Mashed Potatoes, is the simplest to understand.  The sausages used in the original recipe, which first came on the scene during World War I when times were tough, were so full of water that they sometimes exploded (Bang!) when they met the heat of the pan.  Other dishes are even
Bubble and Squeak
less descriptive.  “Bubble and Squeak”, a fried patty, is made with leftover vegetables that accompanied the Sunday Roast. It could likely form the basis of an interesting guessing game at the dinner table.   “Angels on Horseback” is completely oblique.  It’s an appetizer or savory dish that followed the main course at a formal British dinner. "Angels" are oysters, or sometimes scallops, wrapped in bacon, "Horseback". Try as I did to
Angels on Horseback
find out how on earth this name came about, I was stymied.  One British food historian simply gave up and suggested that the dish was actually French and called "Anges en Cheval". This might be the first occurence ever of the British conceding anything to the French. "Angels" are 
close cousins of “Devils on Horseback” in which dried fruit replaces the oyster.  Both “Angels” and “Devils” have made it to
Devils on Horseback 
North America even if their names have not.   Then we come to "Toad in the Hole”.  It may be the oldest of all these dishes and to me, it’s one of the most delicious.  It has no pretensions: It’s an inexpensive one-dish comfort food that makes a great one plate dinner.  And what exactly is “Toad in the Hole” ?
       

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Vinegar Braised Chicken and Onions or Poulet Saute au Vinaigre


Catherine de Medici
Mother of 3 French
Kings
       As far back as the 16th century, Lyon, not Paris, has been the gastronomical capital of France.  It was then that Catherine de Medici, the Queen Consort of King Henry II, an Italian noblewoman by birth, brought cooks from Florence to the French court.  They prepared dishes from the agricultural products from the various regions of France. This was revolutionary, combining the know-how of the Italian cooks with the unmatched produce of France.  The resulting regional dishes were elevated in status because they were, after all, what royalty and the nobility were eating.  The cuisine created in Lyon represented the crossroads of many regional specialties.  A terrific variety of ingredients were available: summer vegetables from farms in Bresse—to say nothing of its famous chickens—and neighboring Charolais, game from the Dombes, fish from lakes in Savoy, spring’s first fruits and vegetables from Drome and Ardeche and of course, the wines of Beaujolais and the Rhone Valley. 

Friday, November 29, 2013

Monte's Bourbon Chili



         This perfect day-after Thanksgiving recipe first made its appearance here last year.  The thermometer has been flirting with very cold temperatures in the East this weekend.  This morning it was 20 degrees. As it looks like it is going to stay cold this weekend, big bowls of chili make all the sense in the world.  This recipe is no all-day affair. You will be in and out of the kitchen in a half hour.  Then the pot sits on the stove for another hour. You can easily double or triple the recipe so you can make a big batch this weekend and then ladle it out all next week.  When I came across a recipe for Bourbon Chili, I was intrigued.  But the original recipe included the cardinal sin that true chili makers just won’t stand for.  The thing was chock-a-block full of beans—back beans and garbanzo beans.  Now if you’ve ever looked at my previous chili recipe http://www.chewingthefat.us.com/2011/12/texas-beef-brisket-chili-with-butternut.html, you may remember the phrase “If you know beans about chili, you know chili has no beans.”  So I set out to make a bowl of Bourbon Chili minus the beans.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Jamie Oliver's Beef and Guinness Pie


 
It's not exactly freezing but it the time of year when I start thinking about meals that, for lack of a better word are 'manly'.  I would happily make this recipe a Steak and Kidney Pie although that would quickly mean that most of it ended up un-eaten.  But this  wonderfully robust pie is something I wrote about in a very early entry on this blog.  Well over 3500 people have visited this recipe.  The very lucky few have tasted this savory pie, a rich melange of meat and mushrooms and cheese left to be uncovered when the puff pastry topping is lifted.  And it's from a Chef I admire as much for  his caring as I do for his cooking.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Herb-Butter Roasted Chicken with Tuscan-Style Bread Salad adapted from Chef Ryan Hardy in Food and Wine Magazine




Sometimes when I write a post, the food gods seem to be hovering overhead.  This recipe came to my attention when it was posted as a great idea for a Mother’s Day meal. Talk about timely.  Mother’s Day is Sunday, May 12th this year.  Since presumably Mother will be given the day off, it will fall on some lesser cook’s shoulders to make a meal that any mother could love.  So right off the bat, you know this recipe cannot be terribly complicated.  Dear old Dad should be able to pull this one off whatever his level of kitchen competency.  If that’s not enough of a reason to make this dish, perhaps your ears will perk up when I tell you it’s the invention of a Chef called Ryan Hardy.   Chef Hardy, I have since found out, is about to open one of New York’s most anticipated new restaurants. The James Beard Award nominee's new place is  called Charlie Bird and it will open on May 15th, at 5 King Street in Soho.   Since it won’t yet have opened, there’s no taking Mother there for her big day.  But anyone can celebrate with this dish.   It looks like you’ve gone to a lot of trouble, but in truth, it’s not hard to pull off at all.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

White Chicken Pot Pie inspired by Melissa Clark in The New York Times



        
It’s awfully close to putting-away-the-pot-pie-recipes time.  But this one is so good, I hope it gets in under the wire and if not, do save it for a rainy day.  It’s that good.  The reason I rushed to make it was that I’d managed to end up with not one but two half-eaten rotisserie chickens. They’re perfect for a recipe calling for cooked chicken. In fact, they eliminate a whole step.  They are a stand-in for poached boneless, skinless chicken breasts so they cut cooking time down. While you don’t end up with the poaching liquid called for in the original recipe, Chicken Broth is a perfectly suitable substitution.
        
Dahlia and Melissa in the Kitchen
The genesis for this recipe was an article Melissa Clark wrote about the ‘white food’ diet her 4 year old daughter Dahlia rigidly clings to.  Dahlia likes carb-laden dishes like Mac and Cheese and this Chicken Pot Pie, which would be relentlessly white were it not for an optional cup of peas.  I latched onto the peas to make some gesture to Spring’s arrival.   Now Dahlia is not the first person to embrace white food.

Monday, April 15, 2013

The Perfect Patty Melt and it's most imperfect imitator, "The Midtown Melt"



        
Last week, I had the strongest craving for a Patty Melt.  I confess that the Patty Melt is far and away my absolute favorite chopped meat sandwich. You must never call a Patty Melt a hamburger because to purists, the Patty Melt is emphatically not one.  To those afficianados like me, it has just four non-negotiable elements that set it apart from any hamburger or cheeseburger: A beef patty, rye bread, sautéed onions and Swiss cheese.  There can be no deviation from this ingredient list.  Furthermore, the patty must be oval to match the shape of the rye bread. The rye bread must be griddled, never toasted.  The onions must be sliced very thin and cooked until caramelized.  The cheese offers a little flexibility: it can be Swiss or Gruyere or a mixture of the two, grated or sliced.   What emerges from this recipe is decadently rich; the cheese permeating the bread and meat and that crisp, buttered rye bread is essential to the character of the dish, its aroma inextricably linked to the pleasure of the Patty Melt.  It’s completely decadent, there’s no denying it.  And there’s also no denying that I tried to resist it all last week.  I even went vegan.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Cazuelas de Atun y Farfalle from Grace Parisi in Food and Wine Magazine



         What’s in a name?  Plenty.  Today’s dish is an homage to Spain which may not need much homage as it has firmly planted itself on the New York restaurant scene.  I count no fewer than 42 tapas restaurants in Manhattan alone on http://spanishtapasnyc.com/. But if you want something really Spanish, I suggest you head there. Because this dish has its roots firmly planted in the US of A.  It was a mainstay in many a household when I was growing up.  It was prized for its simplicity and the speed with which it could appear on the dinner table. So if Spanish isn’t your strong suit, here’s the translation: Tuna Noodle Casserole.  But would you have stopped to read a post about Tuna Noodle Casserole?  I didn’t think so. 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Irish Onion Soup from James Klucharit of ABV Restaurant, NYC, Courtesy of Tasting Table


         If you don’t subscribe to Tasting Table (www.TastingTable.com), you’re missing out.  The site is just over 4 years old but in that time, it’s gone from 50 readers a day to editions that cover New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington DC and Chicago and attract thousands of readers.  Local  editors are selected for their expertise in each city.  They have ‘tested, tasted, sipped or supped on’ whatever item is featured that day.  This year, in partnership with Williams-Sonoma, there’s a once a week feature that alone is worth signing up for. It's the Sous Chef Series.  It features some of the city’s hardest working chefs—they’re all sous chefs at prominent local restaurants and they get their turn to shine every Monday.  Visitors to Tasting Table meet the chefs, see what’s behind the scenes at their restaurants and are treated to one of the Sous Chefs own recipes. Not long ago, they featured a young chef called James Klucharit. 

Monday, February 18, 2013

Chicken and Mushroom Hash with Poached Eggs



         Judging from the popularity of James Beard’s recipe for Roast Beef Hash, which has had 3801 pageviews, and that of Ina Garten’s Chicken Hash at 682, Hash has a special place on the tables of our readers.   It certainly is at our house.  Unfortunately, one of the downsides of writing a blog like this is that I virtually never make the same dish twice. This doesn’t really present a problem as the world is full of wonderful things to cook and wonderful ways to cook them.  But it does mean that old favorites like the two hashes, once they are ready for their appearance on Chewing the Fat, seldom, if ever, appear on our table again.  So when I came across Saveur magazine’s new take recipe on the dish, I was delighted.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Veal Short Ribs alla Marsala adapted from Chef Michael Ponzio. And my first encounter with Fresh Direct



Chef Michael Ponzio of Chicago's
Rosebud on Rush
         When I saw a special for Veal Short Ribs at 4.99 a lb, it was like discovering a new protein!  I’d never even heard of the cut and never seen it on a restaurant menu.  I couldn’t wait to try them.  In searching around for the perfect recipe for them, I quickly discovered that a sizeable number of cooks just switch out beef short ribs for veal and call it a day.  The recipes were all standard short ribs recipes. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.  In frigid New York, Andrew and I had stopped in at Epicerie Boulud (1900 Broadway NY NY) this weekend and Andrew had a bowl of Short Rib Chili which he pronounced delicious.  But when you discover something as auspicious as a new protein, surely you want a recipe created just for Veal.  I stumbled across one.  It was from Chef Michael Ponzio whose cooking is done at “Rosebud on Rush”, a venerable Chicago restaurant at 720 N. Rush St. (at Superior St.) Chicago, IL 60611 Tel: 312-266-6444.  Though Chef Ponzio’s recipe is nowhere to be found on the restaurant’s current menu, there were enough dishes on it to know the man knows his way around a piece of Veal. So I set out to make my first Veal Short Ribs.  But how I got the ribs in the first place is worth telling. 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Burgundy Beef Stew adapted from Saveur's "New Comfort Food"


Confession Time:  Those vegetables that look like potatoes?
They are potatoes served alongside the dish the night before.
Since I didn't get a photograph then, this picture was taken the next day
with the leftovers potatoes added to the stew.


         When we entertain, I love to do things that will keep me out of the kitchen once the guests have arrived.  And in winter, a great braise is a perfect way to do it.  And if you’re choosing a great beef dish, Boeuf Bourguignon is an obvious choice.  However, who can forget Julie and Julia, the movie where the young blogger cooks her way through Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking?  In case you have forgotten, Julie was doing fine until the day she arrived at Julia’s recipe for Beef Bourguignon.   There she failed miserably. I am not entirely sure of the details but Julie fell asleep and the stew went awry.  As ridiculous as it sounds, that scared me off Julia’s recipe. Instead, I pulled out Saveur’s “The New Comfort Food. Home Cooking from around the World” (Chronicle Books 2011). I have used this cookbook with great success. In fact, I find Saveur and James Oseland, editor of both this book and the magazine, are completely trustworthy where recipes are concerned.  This recipe was listed as “Burgundy-Style Beef Stew”.  There’s not necessarily a lot different about it from the recipe for Boeuf Bourguignon.  At least there wasn’t until I started fiddling with it.

Monday, January 7, 2013

1770 House Meatloaf with Garlic Sauce from Ina Garten's "Barefoot Contessa Foolproof"


         
          Meatloaf is an intensely personal experience.  Every family has a meatloaf recipe that is so dearly loved, it achieves iconic status.  This family recipe should not be abridged or changed in any way or else the cook, in self-defense, should consider locking the kitchen door after serving his or her variation.  This fall, a recipe for something called a “Meatloaf Cake” got a lot of play in the New York Times.  As a lover of many meatloaves, I was quick to cook it up.  I served it to Andrew and it was met with a ‘meh’.  It was perfectly fine, if cloyingly sweet, and nothing to write home about.  Although, had my last name been Romney, I am sure it would have been another experience altogether. It certainly is for one Mitt Romney, for whom it is reportedly the ultimate comfort food, eaten in good times and bad.  Meatloaf has that effect on people.  It is part memory and part magic meal, conjuring up visions of home and mashed potatoes and green beans.  At least that’s the version I cook for the homeless shelter. (http://www.chewingthefat.us.com/2009/11/bacon-and-beef-meatloaf.html I think if I altered that recipe, the men at the shelter might not welcome me back.   So what would possess me to take out my brand new copy of Ina Garten’s “Barefoot Contessa Foolproof” (Clarkson Potter 2012) and, out of all its recipes, choose to make meatloaf?  

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Chicken, Sausages and Sage: One dish cooking at its best.

In the roasting pan, a one dish wonder!


         The bones for this recipe came from a famous English cook and television personality who shall remain nameless.  It’s not that I don’t devour the prose in the cookbooks the chef’s written.  It’s beautiful and seductive.  But when it comes to the recipes I’ve tried, I am sure the chef in question would request anonymity.  In my experience, they’ve led to some seriously flawed dishes.  A curry that was swimming in more liquid than Lake Ontario comes immediately to mind.  A cake that collapsed, on not just the first attempt at baking it, but the next as well.  I am not sure what the cause is.  Translating metric ingredients into cups and ounces?  Un-tested recipes?  So you may ask why then would I tempt fate again?  I was seduced by a photograph showing deeply golden chicken and perfectly browned sausages.   The dish not only looked fantastic, it had been vetted at the kitchens of Food and Wine Magazine under the supervision of the great Grace Parisi, for whom I have undying respect.  So I tossed aside worries about its principle author and made it for a Sunday supper, adding a few ideas of my own.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Indian Pot Roast from Whole Foods Market


  
         If you are thinking “native American”, this recipe probably wouldn’t raise an eyebrow.  But we’ve long since stopped calling Native Americans “Indians”.  No, the name of this dish refers to the Asian sub-continent of India.  And that may be even more surprising.  The cow is considered sacred by most Hindus.  That makes beef taboo in all but two Indian states: Goa on the west coast and Kerala at the southern tip of India.  There you will find it sold in restaurants.  But in the rest of India, you’ll have to seek out international restaurants catering to Western customers who simply can’t live without their beef. 
Sacred Cow in front of McDonald's...
never inside!
Behold the Maharaja Mac
Where, I wondered, does that leave McDonald’s? There are over 250 McDonald’s in 12 Indian cities and not one Big Mac to be found in any of them.  Instead the offerings are limited to the McVeggie—bread, peas, carrots, potatoes, Indian spices, lettuce and Mayo on a sesame seed bun. The McChicken is self explanatory. The Filet o Fish sounds exactly like the one at home.  And what is the Big Mac equivalent?  Two browned chicken breasts, onions, lettuce, tomatoes and cheese on “ Sesame bedecked bread buns”.  Top of the line, it’s called the Chicken Maharaja-Mac. And it costs just 60 rupees. That’s 1.30 cents. So what’s with Whole Foods “Indian Pot Roast”?