Good things to eat

Posts tagged ‘comfort food’

A little taste of comfort

It’s that time of year again.

When all we want is to snuggle up with something warm and comforting to put in our bellies!

This remains one of my Fall / Winter favorites.

Give it a try and see what I mean.

Click here for instructions

stuffed-cabbage030

Bacalao – soup, stew or casserole?

We had the pleasure of dinner at a friend’s last night where she served us Bacalao which she described as a Brazilian dish.

It was a tasty  casserole consisting of alternating layers of salt cod, thinly sliced potato and onion, sort of like fish scalloped potato.  Baked until cooked and then topped with sliced hard-boiled egg and olives.

It was delicious and comforting.

The trouble is, I was pretty sure I myself had made a dish that went by the name Bacalao but was NOTHING like this dish.

I looked back through my old blogs and sure enough I found my version of what I believed to be the dish which is definitely more of a soup style offering and what I believed to be a Portuguese dish.

[Click here to see my version]

So then thoroughly confused I of course went to the internet for some clarification and found many pictures of Bacalao but only to find that there are pictures of what could only be described as BOTH of our versions and many more!

So please, tell me what YOU know about this dish?  Do you have a different version?

Which ever version you do happen to make, with summer’s end rapidly approaching, you might want to think about bringing it back into rotation.

Cod

Cockle Warmer

Well we all knew it would happen sooner or later, that the weather would turn on us! I hope not as bad for you as it has been for some!

Now that we have changed the clocks back to standard time here in North America,  it is time to turn to our comfort food.

The “Cockle Warmers” if you will.

Here’s a little impromptu dish I whipped up for a dreary night.

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I started with the base of my “Butter Chicken” recipe but went the lazy route.

Here is what you will need:

  • boneless, skinless chicken breast cut into cubes
  • 1 large onion sliced
  • 2-3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 inch minced fresh ginger

Start by browning the chicken is a deep skillet.  When the chicken is no longer pink, toss in the onions, garlic and ginger and keep stirring around till everything is looking a bit “sweaty”.

Now I just happened to have some grape tomatoes that were about on their last days so I tossed them in.   But you could use any chopped or canned tomato if you like.

Keep cooking till the tomatoes get a bit wrinkly looking.

Then add your spices.  Curry type dishes can be very personal from heat to intensity.   I hate to admit but I really have no rhyme nor reason to my combos.  I have a big drawer full of old pickled artichoke jars that I fill with my herbs and spices.  I open the drawer and see what takes me.   On this occasion I added, more or less a “good sprinkle of”:

  • cumin
  • coriander
  • chili flakes
  • turmeric
  • commercial curry powder
  • smokie paprika
  • garam masala
  • salt & pepper

Sprinkle all of those over the chicken and then stir in thoroughly till you can smell them.

Then add about 1/2 cup or more of cream.

Stir that in well and then cover and let simmer for at least 10 minutes till the flavours get good and acquainted.

You COULD stop here.

But I also happened to have some left over chick peas in the fridge that I tossed in and then some nice kale that I chopped up and added in at the last minute.

Put the lid back on for a few minutes until the chick peas heat and the kale wilts.

Then you are good to go!   Just add it to some rice or your favorite grain.

Or in my house, we even put this sort of thing on pasta!

I quickly whipped up a little cucumber salad to have something fresh along with it.

Finely slice either by hand or on a mandolin slicer some:

  • Cucumber
  • red bell pepper
  • red onion

Toss them in a little rice wine vinegar with a drizzle of something sweet, sugar, honey, agave etc and a little salt and pepper.    Let the vegetables sit in this for a little before serving.   But I like to leave as much of the liquid behind when serving.

And there you have a quick Wednesday night type dinner that was very easy and you can hide all sorts of good for you things in there!!

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A little help from my friends

One of the best things about the blogging world is all the lovely people who you meet, even if only in the virtual world,  and all the things that they share with you!

So here is a wonderfully warming meal that is made up of dishes I got from other people!

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So let’s start with the Masoor Daal because that is the one that takes the longest to make.

This recipe comes to us from my friend at Peri’s Spice Ladle, a delightful blog of exotic dishes.

I followed this recipe exactly except for one thing, I didn’t add the Bay leaf, because I didn’t have any.  And as a friend of mine likes to say “I’ve never met anyone who while commenting on a dish, say ‘this would be good, it only it had a little more Bay!'”  So if you don’t have any, let me assure you, it is just as delightful without!

And I made the crock pot version so the aromas could permeate the house all afternoon!  Splendid!

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Next on the list is Chapati bread.

This one comes from my friend at Soul of Spice, whose blog is filled with warming and comforting creations!

I unfortunately didn’t have quite as much luck with this one, but through no fault of the instructions!

As I’ve mentioned, I’ve been trying to live a gluten-free lifestyle so I took it upon myself to try and make the Chapati with chick pea flour instead.

In theory, it probably should have worked, but I think I had my ratios off and they were terribly sticky to work with and I ended up probably using 3 times the flour called for.

They actually had good flavour, but they were a little hard…..and heavy.

But I definitely vow to try them again!

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And then to round off the meal, I made a batch of my own Roasted Cauliflower which always adds a little comfort to anything you have it with!

Add to all this, a little steamed brown rice and a little tahini yogurt sauce and you have yourself a VERY comforting and satisfying meal!

A new twist on “Pork n Beans”

The weather finally took a turn.

Hasn’t rained since June and now it hasn’t stopped raining for three days!

Time to get back to some more “stick to the ribs” kinda food to help with the beginning of the hibernation process!

This dish is certainly NOT your gramma’s Pork & Beans by any means.

I started with the basic concept of my old favorite go to dish Nelson’s Beans but then added a few twists and turns.

Pork n Beans

Heat a  heavy skillet, add a little olive oil and then:

Sear off one pork tenderloin, quickly cooking on all sides.

Once it is done on all sides ( don’t forget the ends) add:

  • 1 large onion sliced in full rounds
  • 2 – 3 cloves of minced garlic
  • 1 cup chopped mushrooms
  • 1/2 bell pepper of your choice
  • 1 finely chopped jalapeno pepper

Keep stirring till the vegetable are well sweated then add some favorite spices:

  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp coriander
  • 1 tbsp oregano
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp smokie paprika

Mix those in well to your cooking veg, working around the pork.

Then add 1 tin of crushed or diced tomato AND 1 tin of tomato paste.

And then add a little water if there wasn’t enough juice in the tomatoes.

Stir that all well and then put a lid on it for about 10 minutes till it is all well heated and the pork cooked.

Then the last thing you will add is one or two ( depending on how much you are making) tins of beans.  Nelson’s beans call for Pinto but for this I just used navy.

Stir them in well to everything else and heat for another 5 minutes.

When you are ready to go to the plate, remove the pork loin from the beans.

Slice the pork into nice attractive disks.

Spoon out a few spoonfuls of beans on to the plate of your choice and then top with a few rounds  of pork and then sprinkle with fresh cilantro and a good squeeze of lime juice!!

Now THAT is a stick to your ribs kind of dinner!!

Roasted Squash Soup

The Chef and I have taken up yoga.

Well, to be honest, I’ve done yoga for years, but the Chef, not so much.

I give him an A for effort!  And I think he is somewhat comforted ( and so was I frankly cause this is the first time this has ever happened!) by the fact that there are actually a few other dudes in the class too!

My only complaint is with the when to eat situation.

You don’t really want to eat before going, what with the twisting and squeezing and upside downness of it all because you will end up with indigestion, or worse.

But because class is in the evening, you don’t want to be eating too late and then having trouble sleeping or what have you.

So I needed to come up with a solution.

How about a nice hearty soup after class.  Substantial enough to sustain but not too heavy to interfere?

And now that the weather is finally starting to feel a little like Fall ( people were still in shorts and T-shirts last weekend at Thanksgiving!!) it is time to return to the comfort food!

Roasted Squash Soup

So here’s what you will need to do.

Start by turning on the oven to 400 degrees.

I had a butter nut squash, but I imagine any nice winter squash will do.

Cut it in half and remove seeds and debris and then lay both sides cut side down in a greased baking dish.

Pop them in the heated oven for about half hour ( depending on size) and give it a head start baking.

Meanwhile chop up:

  • 1 yam ( skin on)
  • 1 medium onion
  • 5 -6 cremini mushrooms

After about half an hour poke the squash with a knife to check doneness.   If they are almost done, carefully cut them into smaller pieces ( like 3 to 4 pieces per half) and then add the chopped vegetables to the dish with the squash.  Add a little olive oil to coat and a bit of poultry seasoning, toss well.

Bake in the oven until everything is nice and roasted.

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While that is going on in the oven.   Get out your heavy pot and add:

  • 1 finely diced carrot
  • 1 rib finely diced celery
  • anything else that seems to go…I used some chopped kale

Wilt those up in a little olive oil.

Then add the roasted vegetables ( make sure to take the skin off the squash at some point before putting in the soup!).

Then add water, or the stock of your choice.

I then added:

  • 1/2 tsp chili flakes
  • 1 tsp pumpkin spice

But that’s the kinda crazy chick I am!  A little salt and pepper will do fine too.

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Let that simmer for a bit till you are sure all the various vegs are nice and cooked and then turn it off.

Make sure to let it  cool a bit before blending with the hand blender so if you should get splattered, it won’t hurt as much.

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Then when you get back from yoga class, just reheat ( shouldn’t need much cause it probably hasn’t fully cooled yet!).

And then I added a CRAZY topping!!  Instead of croutons, I added a little of the left over turkey stuffing from Thanksgiving!  I KNOW!!  Crazy stuff, but it worked!  And then a little chopped toasted hazelnut ( cause it happened to be on the counter!)

But a dollop of plain yoghurt or sour cream would do well too.

Warm, satisfying, FULL of vegetables and doesn’t make you feel bad before bed!!

Namaste indeed!

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Kinda lasagna sorta

The worst part about moving of course, is trying to find anything!

All the best and most organized packing in the world can still result in a lot of things being “misplaced”.  That is what is so disruptive about moving and makes you feel so unsafe.

I’ve probably mentioned this before, but they say moving is up there with the top 10 most stressful happenings in life……up there with divorce or deaths!!

And when you are packing, you tend to do crazy things that must seem a good idea at the time and perhaps even logical.  But on the unpacking end you often find your self asking “WHAT was I thinking there??”

So this past weekend was the first time the Chef and I have both had the whole weekend off together and been able really get a handle on the new place.  Most of the stuff has been unpacked for a bit, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it is in the right place.

I kid you not, we spent almost four hours arranging and rearranging the living room.        We purchased some new furniture that will be arriving in “two to four weeks” so it is even harder when you don’t even really know what things will look like.

We had already had a number of configurations that we had tried for a week or a few days at a time, but nothing felt right.   But I think we finally found one we can work with……until the furniture comes and then we have to start all over of course!

But we did manage to finally arrange the pantry.

It’s been hard to cook or eat because we didn’t know where anything was….or if you thought of a dish you might only have half the ingredients, but then only to discover in a different cupboard the other stuff you would need.  It’s been chaos!

So after a long day of “arranging” neither of us felt like going out to a store, nor did we really feel like cooking but…….you gotta eat right?

So this is what I came up with.

Baked cabbage with cheese and veg

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I present this as only a guideline of what you can do with a bunch of random stuff.  Please feel free to substitute or omit  as needed.

First I cooked up a pot of green lentils.  At first I thought I would make some sort of lentil dish fried up with onions and veg on rice etc.

But then I found a cabbage in the fridge.  When I say “found” you know what I mean, a recently purchased one, not one that came with the fridge!

And so I thought I’d really like to use that too.

There were also some nice Portobello mushrooms and some red peppers.

Hmmm….what next?

Okay.

So in a large skillet with a little oil add:

  • 1 -2 chopped onion
  • 1-2 cups sliced mushroom
  • 1 red, green, yellow or combo sliced pepper

Cook those down until nice and soft, feel free to add any herb or spice flavours that inspire you.

When these are cooked, toss them into a flat baking or lasagna style dish and spread them around.

Then add in the cooked lentils and mix them in well.

Meanwhile, in the same skillet, add a little more oil then add finely sliced cabbage.  Sliced very thin like you are making coleslaw but don’t stuff the pan too much.

I used a whole small cabbage.  But cook it in batches so that it cooks down nicely and it is okay if it gets brown bits on it.  Adds flavour!!

As you finish each batch of cabbage, add it to the baking dish and continue to mix it in with the other vegetables.

Once you have done about half the cabbage, sprinkle with a layer of good melting cheese like mozzarella or other cheese you might use in a lasagna or pizza.

Once all the cabbage is added then add a tin of tomato  or prepared spaghetti sauce and thoroughly mix through everything.  I only had half of a tin on hand, but it really needed a whole one!

Once it is well mixed, layer with another layer of the melting cheese and then a bit of what ever other cheese you might have just as an accent.  I used some orange cheddar and some blue cheese.

Then bung it in the oven at 350 for about half hour ( it’s mostly all cooked just need to heat and melt cheese) and then pop it under the broiler for a few minutes till the cheese on top starts to brown a little.

There you have it!

Kinda lasagna sorta

Now I will admit, if I had to do it again, there would be a few things I would do differently.  Like make sure I had enough sauce.   And I would probably put some extra fried onions on top.  Or even better, those old school crispy onions that Grandmothers seem to like to put on green bean casseroles at the holidays!!

It would make a fine Vegetarian supper with a salad and some nice bread.  Or actually it would do fine as a side dish.

The point is, you can usually make something out of nothing when you have to!  Be creative!

We did end up getting to have some Thanksgiving Turkey dinner after all and it went very well, just missing a couple things…..like the gravy ladle.

It will show up….with the damn blue lampshade I can’t seem to find.

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