Thursday, March 21, 2013

eating for comfort - (1)

When it comes to comfort food, there are two camps; chocolate and carbs.  I'm firmly in the latter camp, although there are times when only chocolate will hit the spot.  For me tho', it's got to be a carb fest.  I'm talking potatoes, or pasta, or stodgy bread stuffed with crispy bacon.  It doesn't have to look good, in fact, now I think about it, comfort food isn't about the gourmet look, it's about taste not presentation.  For some reason I find it more comforting to see a cottage pie that's leaked its sauce over the side, than a pristine gourmet dinner.  I don't want to have to wait  long  for my comfort food either; the culinary hug has to appear quickly or my roving tastebuds will have found solace elsewhere (usually in a packet of crisps!).  Here's a selection of a few of my go-to comfort foods...

Mac'n Cheese

This has to be one of my all-time favourites.  The combination of carb and cheese, a bite of paprika and a crunchy topping is hard to beat.  There are many recipes for this, but one I go to in times of crisis when I need a quick hit involves swopping the flour/butter sauce for a tub of creme-fraiche.  Instead of making the usual roux, just heat the creme-fraiche, with mustard and cheese, pour over your cooked pasta and the bliss is all yours.  The only addition I need is Heinz Tomato Ketchup.  That's a must.

Shepherd's Pie with Spiced Parsnip Mash

Now, let's get this straight first off.  Shepherd's Pie is made with lamb, not beef!  Secondly, the topping on this pie is spoonful after spoonful of mashy delight.  The parsnips give a sweetness that is offset by the cumin seeds; couple that with the savoury denseness of the meat and there is no need for anything else.  This particular recipe comes from one of my culinary heroes - Nigel Slater - who describes himself as a cook that writes.  The thing about Nigel's recipes is that they almost read like a novel.  Not for him a bland list of ingredient, but a whole story to accompany it; the who, what, where and why, and for me that's what makes the food special.

Toad-in-the-hole (with roasted onion gravy!)

This is a fusion of golden crisp batter, soft meaty sausages, and smooth onion gravy.  What's not to love.  The secret here is to buy the best sausages you can afford, whisk up the batter and put into a very hot oven. 
If you've got time, a pile of creamy mash is the perfect accompaniament to mop up the gravy, but if you're just too sad to wait, then just tuck in straight from the pan.

My final offering today is the humble egg.  I love eggs.  They're always quick to eat, versatile and can be combined in a huge variety of ways with other ingredients, but when it comes to comfort, for me it has to be a simple boiled egg with marmite soldiers.  This could be the quickest comfort food recipe around.  Four minutes to boil your egg. Done.  I like my egg cooked for slightly longer as I can't bear the runny white of egg when it's not quite done.  My toast has to be well-done, almost burnt and then buttered whilst hot.  A final scraping of Marmite is all I need to make this comfort perfection.

What's your go-to comfort recipe?

All images: Google


  1. Great list but I'd like to make a pitch (over a bottle of fizz followed by a thumping bottle of red) for:

    - mince and dumplings
    - sausage & mash and onion gravy
    - fish & chips
    - pork belly with crispy fat
    - corned beef hash
    - fried breakfast

    I'm working on pudding list.

    Wadds x

  2. LOL! Post number two on comfort eating coming right up! As for the puddings, got that on the list too...I can guess what some of yours may be! X