Showing posts with label Comfort Food. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Comfort Food. Show all posts

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie: Grandma's All-Occasion Sugar Cookies

Just the name says sweet, cosy comfort food don't you think? I don't really have much experience with sugar cookies. I remember making a few as a child and decorating them garishly but they've never been a big thing in our family.

I was originally planning on cutting shapes from these but after reading how puffy and mishapen they could be I went for the easier slice and bake option.

Again, no problems making, chilling, cutting or cooking these. I love it when things go according to plan!

The taste test ...

Oh. My. God. How can something so simple taste so good?? I only baked 1/4 of the dough and the instant they came out of the oven I was wishing I'd done more. They were sweet without being overpowering, slightly crispy around the edges and a little chewy in the middle. Absolute cookie perfection. I was planning on adding a basic lemon glaze but honestly they didn't need anything. Thank you Dorie's Grandma and Ulrike of Küchenlatein!

Update - I have since made the rest of the batch, sprinkling some with cinnamon sugar after baking, and rolling a log in raw sugar before slicing and baking. Both divine! These have ended up on some Christmas gift plates and been very well received!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie: Black & White Arborio Rice Pudding

First let me say I adore rice pudding. It is pure creamy comfort in a bowl. But oh how I wish I had read the P&Q before making this one!

I did a few double takes while reading this recipe. First at just 1/4 cup of rice with that much liquid for 4 serves. Ummmm, what the...? Next at just 30 minutes cooking time to absorb 80% of the liquid into such a teeny tiny amount of rice? Eeek.

I have made rice pudding with arborio many times and we always have it in the pantry. The parboiling worked well but there simply was not enough rice. Even after close to 50 minutes cooking time it was still pretty soupy and never really thickened in the fridge.

The taste test ...

Despite the soupiness this was lovely. I much preferred the plain vanilla to the chocolate, partly because the chocolate flavour was too intense but also because it ended up with an odd grainy texture which was not at all appealing. Let the record show that N disagrees with this point - he is all about the texture. So, next time more rice, more cooking and less chocolate. Then we will have a winner!

Thank you to Isabelle of Les Gourmandises d’Isa for this week's pick. Even the weather cooperated, with temps dropping from mid 30s to low 20s (celsius). Perfect for rice pudding!

Next week: Thanksgiving Twofer Pie.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Jam Doughnut Muffins

Oh. My. God. I'm actually a little worried that I made these because now I know how easy it is I could make them all the time! I've had doughnuts on the brain for the past week or so and while I considered making some the whole vat of hot oil thing does scare me a little. Then I remembered these little beauties that I bookmarked months ago and voila ... doughnuts! Well doughnut muffins to be exact but the end result is truly awesome.

The recipe says it makes 6 and I made 6 jumbo sized ones. It is telling that I ate a whole one but take my advice and make them smaller ... your hips will thank you!

Jam Doughnut Muffins
recipe from

300g (2 cups) self-raising flour
2/3 cup caster sugar, plus 1/3 cup extra to coat
80ml (1/3 cup) vegetable oil (I used melted butter)
1 large egg
175ml buttermilk (I made my own with 1 tbs apple cider vinegar topped up with milk)
1 tsp vanilla extract (I just realised now that I forgot to add this!)
6 tsp good-quality strawberry jam
100g unsalted butter
1 tsp ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 180°C and grease a 6-hole muffin pan. Sift the flour into a medium bowl, then add a pinch of salt and the caster sugar.

In a jug, combine the vegetable oil, egg, buttermilk and vanilla extract. Add to the dry mixture and stir to only just combine.

Place a spoonful of the mixture in each muffin hole and make an indent in the centre. Fill each indent with a generous 1/2 teaspoon of strawberry jam. (I misjudged slightly so my jam ended up in the bottom third of the mix). Cover the jam with the remaining muffin mixture and bake for 20 minutes.

Remove from the oven and set aside to cool slightly.

Meanwhile, melt the butter. Combine the extra sugar and the cinnamon in a large bowl. When the muffins are cool enough to handle, brush each muffin with the melted butter, then roll in the cinnamon sugar.

Serve while still a little warm (the jam in the middle really holds its heat so watch out!)

Monday, October 6, 2008

The price of gluttony is $12.95

This is all that remains of a bag of mini Reese's. Despite my best intentions we ate the entire bag in 24 hours!

A few years ago (actually 7 but it makes me sound old) I spent a summer at Marquette University in Milwaukee finishing off my law degree plus some extra time travelling around. The food was definitely a highlight ... real bagels in New York, deep dish pizza in Chicago, frozen custard in Wisconsin. Yum!

But the real highlight for me was the discovery of these addictive little chocolate and peanut butter treats. I ate them by the bagful. The problem is here in Australia they are obviously imported and considered 'gourmet'. While we were out shopping yesterday I spotted a bag in the window of a lolly shop and had to have them despite the fact it was $12.95 for a tiny 340g (12oz) bag. Aaah!

On the way out the guy told he was about to get much bigger bags in. Bags that would be much better value. Double aaah! For the sake of my thighs we will not be going back there anytime soon. *sigh*

On a happier note Nigella has a copycat recipe that is the closest thing to Reese's I've tasted. We'll be making them again for Christmas this year (and giving most of it away). Bring on Christmas!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie: Classic Crème Brûlée

To say I was excited about this week's recipe is an understatement. Crème brûlée is one of my favourite desserts to order when we eat out and when done well, takes custard to a whole new level.

I have to say I was sceptical about the cooking method. I'm used to baked custards cooked at a higher temp in a water bath. I was also thrown by just how low the temperature was. 200F sounds low but when you convert it to celsius it's almost ridiculous!

Anyhoo, I baked my 4 little ramekins at just under 100 deg C but it took much, much longer than stated to set. After 60 minutes they were still liquid. I ended up giving them 1 hr 40 minutes and then left them in the switched off oven with the door open to cool down to room temperature.

The taste test ...

Sublime. This may be the best tasting baked custard I have ever had. The slow cooking seems to do amazing things for the texture. It was rich, lucsious and incredibly silky. Each serve looked really small but I couldn't have eaten a bigger one! We borrowed a blow torch to do the tops and it worked really well. I think we may end up buying one!

A big thank you to Mari of Mevrouw Cupcake for this week's choice. Now that I know how easy it is I will definitely be making these again, probably using some of the playing around ideas.

Next week - Caramel-Peanut-Topped Brownie Cake!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Caramel Heaven

I think I love caramel even more than chocolate. It's a big call I know but when you feel like drinking a whole jugful of caramel sauce it's pretty clear you're a caramelaholic!

Last night we had pancakes with icecream, homemade caramel sauce and crushed peanuts for dessert. Yum! The perfect Saturday night dessert really - easy, fun and delicious.

Best Ever Pancakes
From Modern Classics No 2 by Donna Hay, p 56

2 cups plain flour, sifted
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 egg
1 1/4 cups milk
3/4 cup buttermilk
75 g butter, melted

Place the flour, baking powder and sugar in a bowl. In a separate bowl place the milk, buttermilk, butter and egg and whisk until combined. Add the milk mixture to the flour mixture and whisk until smooth.

Heat a non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Pour 1/3 cup mixture for each pancake into the pan, doing as many per batch as your frypan will hold. Cook until bubbles appear on the surface then turn and cook for another minute or until golden.

Keep the pancakes warm while you cook the remaining batter. Makes 15

Caramel Sauce
From Modern Classics No 2 by Donna Hay, p 96

3/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup pure cream

Combine in a small saucepan over medium heat and stir until sugar is disolved. Increase the heat and simmer rapidly for 8 minutes or until the sauce thickens. Allow to cool until thick enough to spoon over cake or icecream.

Easy and absolutely heavenly! Probably best NOT eaten regularly :)

Friday, September 19, 2008

Bread and Butter Pudding for One

For me lunch is the trickiest meal of the day. As I work from home I generally have lots of time to think about and plan meals. Mostly I try to make enough dinner so there are leftovers to eat the next day. But when that doesn't happen I spend ages gazing into the fridge and pantry to find something yummy that won't take ages to make. Lately I've resorted to noodles or baked beans on toast and that just won't do!

Today I decided to make one of my favourite things in the world. While it feels incredibly decadent just to have dessert for lunch, this is actually pretty healthy (no cream!) and has carbs and protein and even fruit if you count the marmalade! Or at least that's what I keep telling myself :)
Bread and Butter Pudding for One
A original

2 slices of white bread
1 egg
1 tbs caster sugar
1/2 cup milk ( I use reduced fat)
2 ts soft butter
1 tbs orange marmalade (or any other jam you like - 100% fruit is best otherwise you might find it too sweet)

Preheat oven to 180 deg C.

Remove the crusts from the bread and spread one side of each evenly with butter (I actually left the crusts on this time because we had really yummy bread). Slice into quarters or whatever shape will work best for your baking dish. Layer into a greased ramekin or small baking dish. Make sure you leave lots of pointy edges facing up as these will get nice and crunchy.

In a small bowl beat the egg, sugar and marmalade together and set aside.

Place the milk into a small saucepan and bring to the simmer. Once the milk is hot pour over the egg mixture, beating constantly to ensure there are no lumps.

Pour the milk and egg mix over the bread and let sit for about 15 minutes to absorb. This will make the pudding lighter and not stodgy.

Place the ramekin into a larger baking dish and pour enough hot water to come half way up the sides of the ramekin. Bake for approx 20 minutes or until the top is crunchy and golden and the pudding feels set. Allow to cool for a few minutes before digging in. It will firm up as it cools. Delicious!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Chicken Pie

I love pie. There is something so homey, so comforting, so rustic about a pie. At least the way I make them anyway! They never taste the same twice but you can't go too far wrong whatever filling or flavours you decide upon. Buttery, flaky shortcrust pastry encasing a warm, savoury filling. Yum!

Basic Shortcrust Pastry
Recipe from Modern Classics No1 by Donna Hay, p155

2 cups plain flour
145g (5oz) cold butter
2-3 tbs ice cold water

Blitz the flour and butter together in a food processor until it resembles course breadcrumbs. With the mixer on low, drizzle in enough cold water to form a smooth dough.

Turn out onto a floured board and knead very lightly. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. When ready to use, roll out until 3mm thick. This quantity will line up to a 25cm (10in) pie dish.

(I normally need 1 1/2 times this quantity for my pie dish)

Chicken Pie
A Food.Baby original

There really isn't a recipe as such for this. You choose whatever vegetables and herbs you like. The only thing to watch is that you cook the filling until it is thick enough and cool it slightly before using. Here is what I used for this particular pie:

750g chicken thigh fillets, cut into small chunks
6 large field mushrooms, diced
2 large carrots in small dice
1 onion, chopped finely
3 cloves of garlic
2 leeks, quartered and chopped finely
500ml chicken stock
1 tbs plain flour
1 bouqet garni
corn flour to thicken

Heat some oil in a heavy based pan over medium-high heat. Toss the chicken pieces with the flour and then cook until they are browned on all sides. Remove and place the pan back on the heat. Add a little more oil if needed and fry the onion, garlic, carrots and leeks until they are starting to soften.

Return the chicken to the pan with the vegetables. Add the bouquet garni and any other herbs you like. Pour in the stock. Bring to the boil then reduce heat to low and simmer for around 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, add the chopped mushrooms and stir well. Simmer for another 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. If the mixture is too liquid at this stage, add a few teaspoons of cornflour mixed with a small amount of water. When you are happy with the taste and consistency, remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.

Preheat the oven to 200 deg C. Roll out 1/2 the pastry to line the base of your pie dish. Pour in the cooled filling then roll out the other half of the pastry to cover. Pinch the edges to seal and make a few slits in the middle to allow some steam to escape. Brush lightly with beaten egg.

Bake for approx 45 minutes or until the pie is puffed, bubbling and golden. Cool for 10 minutes before serving with a green salad or vegetables.

Serves 6.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Quick Macaroni and Cheese

This to me is the ultimate in comfort food and this version is quick and easy. We had this last night with pan fried pork steak on the side. No veggies as we were too lazy!

Quick Macaroni and Cheese
A Food.Baby original

500g macaroni
1 tin of tomato soup
1 tin's worth of chicken stock
1 tin's worth of milk
1 onion, chopped finely
2 cloves garlic, crushed
50g butter
2 heaped tbs plain flour
2 cups grated cheese (gruyere, a sharp cheddar or a combination of both work well)

Cook the macaroni as per packet directions until just done, drain and return to the pan (off the heat). Meanwhile, prepare the sauce. Combine the soup, stock and milk and stir well, Set aside.

In a frypan melt the butter and when it starts to foam add the onion and garlic. Saute until translucent and fragrant. Add the flour and cook, stirring continuously for 2 - 3 minutes.

A little at a time, pour the soup/stock/milk mix into the pan, stirring continuously to prevent lumps. Continue until all the liquid has been added. The sauce will thicken quite a bit. Taste and season with salt and plenty of pepper.

Pour the sauce over the macaroni and stir to combine. If you want to eat straight away, add the cheese and stir over low heat for a few minutes until hot and melty. Alternatively, add about half the cheese and stir well, then pour the mix into a large baking dish and cover with remaining cheese. Add a generous sprinkle of paprika and bake at 220 deg C for about 20 minutes or until bubbly and golden brown.

Great served with a side salad or just on its own!
Serves 6.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Fettuccine with Mushrooms and Camembert

I love cheese. In fact I can't think of anything that can't be improved by the addition of cheese in one form or another! This pasta dish is incredibly rich and flavoursome, and yes, filled with cheese. It was absolutely divine!

Fettuccine with Mushrooms and Camembert
A Food.Baby original

500g fettuccine (we used curly fettucini which I think captures the sauce better - and for some reason it tastes better too!)
500g mushrooms of any variety you like, chopped
1 red onion, sliced finely
2 cloves garlic, crushed
500ml vegetable stock
3 or 4 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 x 250g pack of camembert, as ripe as possible, chopped into small chunks
Olive oil

Cook the fettuccine according to packet instructions. Meanwhile, prepare the sauce.

Add a glug of olive oil to a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic and thyme leaves and fry until fragrant and the onion is translucent. Add the mushrooms and toss to combine. Cook, stirring occasionally until the mushrooms collapse. Add the stock a little at a time. It will deglaze the pan and form the bulk of the sauce.

Reduce heat to medium-low and add the camembert. Stir until the camembert has melted. It will thicken the stock slightly.

Once the pasta is cooked, drain and return to the cooking pot. Add the liquid from the sauce mixture, either dishing it out with a large spoon or straining the mixture into the pot. Toss the pasta with the sauce and divide into serving bowls. Top each serve with a generous spoonful of the mushroom mix. Scatter with thyme leaves.

Serves 6.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

French Onion Soup

I'm becoming a soup-aholic! I could happily eat it every night of the week but I think the other members of this household might have a problem with that!

Apart from the fact that I love anything and everything French, to me this soup is pure comfort food. It's dark, rich and warming and served with cheese ... what could be better? :)

French Onion Soup
Recipe from

80g butter
4 large brown onions, sliced crossways into rings (I used 5 onions)
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tsp plain flour (I used 3 tsp)
1.5L (6 cups) beef stock
125ml (1/2 cup) dry red wine (I left this out and used all beef stock)
1 bouquet garni sachet
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
1 x 30cm baguette (French stick), cut crossways into 12 slices (I used the remnants of a ciabatta from the freezer which toasted up beautifully)
55g (1 cup) finely shredded gruyere cheese

Heat the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic, and cook, stirring, for 10 minutes or until the onions are soft and light golden. Add the flour and cook, stirring, for 1 minute or until flour bubbles and comes away from the side of the pan. Add the stock, wine and bouquet garni and bring to the boil

Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes or until soup thickens slightly. Remove bouquet garni. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

Preheat grill on high. Place baguette slices on a baking tray. Place under preheated grill and cook for 2 minutes each side or until light golden. Remove from grill and sprinkle each slice evenly with the cheese. Place under grill and cook for a further 2 minutes or until the cheese melts.

To serve, ladle soup into serving bowls and top with the bread.

Serves 4-6.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Steak, Guinness and Cheese Pie with Mushy Peas

This is another fabulous Jamie Oliver recipe and it's perfect for the arctic weather we are experiencing in Brisbane at the moment. Ok, so maybe not 'arctic' exactly but it's definitely pie weather!

Steak, Guinness and Cheese Pie
From Jamie at Home by Jamie Oliver, p342

Olive oil
3 red onions, sliced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 celery sticks, finely sliced
4 field mushrooms, peeled and chopped
1kg stewing beef, cut into 2cm cubes
a few sprigs of fresh rosemary
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 x 440ml can Guinness
2 heaped tbs plain flour
200g tasty cheese
Enough puff pastry sheets to cover the top and bottom of your pie dish
1 large egg

Preheat oven to 190 deg C.

On the stovetop, heat some olive oil in a large ovenproof pot over low heat. Add the onions and fry gently for about 10 minutes trying not to colour them too much. Turn up the heat and add the garlic, butter, carrots, celery and mushrooms. Fry for a few minutes then add the beef, rosemary, a pinch of salt and a level teaspoon of pepper. Once the beef is starting to colour, pour in the Guinness, the flour and enough water to cover (I don't normally need any water).

Bring to a simmer, cover with a lid and place in the preheated oven for about 1.5hrs. Give it a stir then place back in the oven to cook for another hour or until the meat is very tender and the stew is dark and rich looking. If there's still a lot of liquid at this point, put it back on the stove top and simmer until the sauce reduces. Remove from the heat, stir in half the cheese and leave to cool while you prepare the pastry.

Butter your pie dish and line with puff pastry, leaving the edges hanging over the sides. Tip the stew into the dish, even it out and top with the remaining cheese. Brush the edges of the pastry with beaten egg. Top with another sheet or 2 of puff pastry and fold in all the edges so the filling is sealed. Make a slit for the steam to escape.

Brush the top with beaten egg then bake for 45 minutes until the pastry is puffed and golden brown. Delicious served with mushy peas or veg of your choice.

Serves 6

Mushy Peas
A original

1 litre water or chicken stock
1 packet frozen baby peas
2 cloves garlic, whole but skin removed
60g butter
1/4 cup cream
Salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste

Bring water or stock to the boil with the garlic. Add the peas, bring back to the boil and cook for approx 5 minutes or until done. Drain well and pour into food processor or blender. Add butter and cream and blend well. Season well with salt and pepper. Enjoy!

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