Tag Archives: Comfort Food

New England Fish Chowder with Rosemary and Thyme-Scented Crackers

Fish_Chowder1 (1 of 1)One of the nice things about New England is the availability of really good fish chowder (and of course, clam chowder) in restaurants. However, I find it’s also nice to prepare my own at home — this mouth-watering, creamy (although not exactly slim!) version so easy to make, and the herbed crackers are really what make this dish. Delicious! Hope you’ll give this a try!

3 Tbsp butter
1/2 tsp dried thyme, chopped (or 1 tsp fresh)
1/2 tsp dried rosemary, chopped (or 1 tsp fresh)
3 cups oyster crackers
3 slices bacon, finely chopped
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
2 celery ribs, finely chopped
2 Tbsp butter
4 tsp flour
1 tsp ground paprika
2 8-oz bottles clam juice
2 cups water
1 cup heavy cream
2 baking potatoes (about 1 lb tot.), peeled and cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1 1/2 lbs firm white fish (cod, halibut, etc.), cut into 1-inch pieces
1 1/2 tsp salt, plus a pinch
1/2 tsp ground black pepper, plus a pinch
3 Tbsp chopped parsley

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Melt 3 Tbsp butter with thyme and rosemary in a large sauce pan over medium heat. Add a pinch each of salt and ground black pepper. Add oyster crackers and stir well to combine. Spread cracker mixture out in a single layer on a baking sheet. Place in oven and bake 10 minutes, until golden brown.

Cook bacon over medium-high heat in a large sauce pan or Dutch oven. Stir until crisp, then transfer to paper towels using a slotted spoon. Drain off fat. Add onions, carrots, celery and 2 Tbsp butter to pan. Reduce heat to medium. Cook until vegetables have softened, about 10 minutes.

Sprinkle flour over onion mixture and stir 3 minutes. Add paprika and stir another 30 seconds. Add clam juice, water and cream. Increase heat to medium high, add potatoes and stir until mixture comes to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 12 minutes (stirring occasionally). Stir in fish and cook 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in parsley, 1 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp black pepper. Serve with the prepared crackers.

Serves 4.


Italian Meatloaf

Italian_Meatloaf2 (1 of 1)Some of my readers may recall that I have a thing for meatloaf. Well, it’s been a while since my last meatloaf post, so here we go (again). This fantastic version comes from central Italy — its ingredients are simple, but make for a delicious meatloaf and sauce! Really easy to prepare — hope you’ll try it out!


Two thick slices bread, torn into pieces and soaked in about a cup of milk
1 lb lean ground beef
1 lb lean ground pork
1/4 lb pancetta, finely chopped
3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 chopped parsley
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 cup dry white wine
2  14-oz cans diced tomatoes with juice

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Drain milk from bread, squeezing out excess liquid. Combine bread and next 8 ingredients (ground beef through black pepper) in a large bowl. Mix well with hands.

Coat lidded casserole with cooking spray. Add meat mixture to casserole and form into a Italian_Meatloaf1 (1 of 1)10-inch x 5-inch loaf. Combine tomatoes and wine, together with a pinch of additional salt in a bowl. Pour tomato mixture around loaf. Cover, place in oven and bake 20 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 45 minutes. Remove casserole from oven and let stand, uncovered, for 15 minutes. Slice meatloaf in casserole into 1-inch slices. Serve with hot pasta.

Serves 8.


Greek Stewed White Beans with Tomatoes, Oregano and Olive Oil

Fasolada1 (1 of 1)My best friend growing up is half Greek. Her family often had me over for dinner. The meals were always spectacular, and typically featured Greek cuisine. This is where I tasted my first fasolada (φασολάδα). It was delicious! It’s a comfort food in Greece, and I’ve finally decided to make it myself — I don’t know why I didn’t do it sooner because it is so simple to prepare, and I think this version is really good. I remember my friend’s mother’s version as having more tomatoes and less carrots, and lots of olive oil (and I’ll try that next time), but again, I really enjoy this version. Give it a try and let me know what you think! (Note:  this also does well in a slow cooker, on low, 7 – 8 hours).

1 lb cannellini beans, soaked overnight or flash-soaked by bringing to a boil in 8 cups cold water, boiling 2 minutes, removing from heat and letting stand for 1 hour, then draining
1 large onion, diced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
3 stalks celery, diced
1 28-oz can whole, peeled tomatoes, crushed in a bowl with hands
2 Tbsp tomato paste
5 Tbsp olive oil
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
5 cups cold water
3 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
Additional olive oil for serving
Additional chopped parsley for garnish

In a large Dutch oven or similar pan, bring beans and 5 cups cold water to a boil. Add all other ingredients except salt and pepper (I’ve read that adding the seasoning during the cooking process makes the beans tough — wouldn’t want that!). Bring back to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 1/2 hours. My version is a bit thicker than others, so add additional water if you prefer soupy. Remove from heat, season with the salt and pepper. Garnish individual servings and drizzle with a bit more olive oil and parsley. Serve with crusty bread.

Serves 6.

Spanish Cannelloni (Canelones Rellenos)

Canalones1 (1 of 1)Although cannelloni are of Italian origin, canelones rellenos is a popular dish in Barcelona, Spain (thought to have been brought there by Italian migrants in the 19th century). With a unique use of herbs and sherry, the fantastic flavors of this dish are distinctly Spanish. These canelones are delicious, so I hope you’ll give them a try tonight!

2 Tbsp olive oil
4 1/2 oz ground beef
4 1/2 oz ground pork
3 oz chicken liver, chopped
1 medium onion, diced
1 leek (white part), chopped
3 tsp salt, divided
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
2 1/2 Tbsp sherry
1 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme (or 1 1/2 tsp dried thyme)
1 14-oz can diced tomatoes
4 Tbsp chopped parsley
9 oz dried cannelloni tubes
3 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup flour
1/8 tsp grated nutmeg
4 cups milk
4 oz tomato purée
1 cup grated parmesan or manchego cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add beef, pork, chicken liver, onion, leek, 1 1/2 tsp Canalones2 (1 of 1)salt and 1/4 ground black pepper. Cook 10 minutes, breaking up lumps with the back of a wooden spoon. Add sherry, thyme, diced tomatoes and 2 Tbsp of the parsley. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and cook an additional 3 minutes. Remove from heat and let cook to room temperature.

Using your hands, fill the cannelloni tubes with the meat mixture and place them in a 13×9-inch ovenproof dish that has been sprayed with cooking oil.

Meanwhile, make a white sauce by melting the butter in a medium sauce pan. Whisk in the flour and cook 2 minutes, until you have a nice, pale yellow roux. Add nutmeg and 1 1/2 tsp salt. Gradually whisk in the milk. Return to medium heat and whisk constantly for 15 minutes, until thickened.

Pour white sauce evenly over cannelloni. Scatter dollops of the tomato purée over the top. Sprinkle evenly with the cheese. Bake for about 45 minutes, until lightly browned. Garnish with remaining parsley and serve.

Serves 6.

Baked Mac and Cheese with Gruyère, Cabbage and Sage

Mac_n_Cheese1 (1 of 1)What could possibly be better than the combined flavors of garlic and sage! Add cheese and throw in some pasta, bake it, and you have heaven in a dish! This mac and cheese is delicious, and so easy to prepare. Serve with a green salad, and you have a meal. This recipe can easily be cooked in a single casserole, but I made it in individual ramekins, because I thought they’d be more photogenic. Anyway, I hope you’ll try this dish!

1/4 olive oil
1 small onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, finely grated or minced
6 sage leaves, torn into small pieces
10 oz uncooked rigatoni pasta
1 large Yukon gold potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
5 cups savoy cabbage, thinly sliced into 1/2-inch strips
1 cup grated gruyère cheese
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat oil in a frying pan over medium-low heat. Add onion and saute about 5 minutes. Add garlic and sage; saute another minute. Remove from heat and set aside.

Cook pasta according to package instructions. Strain pasta, reserving water. Place cooked pasta in a large bowl; set aside.

Bring reserved pasta water to a boil in a pot. Add potatoes and cook 7 minutes. Add cabbage and cook 1 more minute. Strain.

Combine potatoes and cabbage with pasta. Stir in 1/2 cup of the grated gruyère,  parmesan, salt and pepper.  Divide equally into 6 single-serving size ramekins that have been sprayed with cooking oil. Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup gruyère (or more!) over ramekins. Place into oven on a cookie sheet. Bake 15 minutes, then broil for a couple of minutes until nicely browned. Serve.

Serves 6.

Mediterranean “Stir-Fry” of Chicken, Olives and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Chicken_with_Sundried_Tomatoes_and_Olives1 (1 of 1)Cooking with a wok is great, and can be very healthy. As the name indicates, this dish is a stir-fry, but in cooking method only — it’s quick and healthy, and its delicious ingredients are distinctly Mediterranean (for the most part). Try this dish tonight!

1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 3 large), thinly sliced crosswise
1 (smallish) red onion, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced or very finely grated
2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
1 Tbsp sambal ulek
1 Tbsp lemon juice
12 Kalamata olives, pitted and quartered lengthwise
1 1/2 oz (about 1/4 cup) sun-dried tomatoes (I prefer those that are not packed on oil or water; just dry, but soak in boiling water 10 minutes, then drain), cut into very thin strips
1 Tbsp chopped parsley, plus some coarsely chopped for garnish

Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in wok over medium-high heat.

Add chicken and stir fry 5 minutes. Remove from wok.

Add the other 1 Tbsp olive oil. Heat and add onions. Stir fry until golden brown, about 5Chicken_with_Sundried_Tomatoes_and_Olives2 (1 of 1) minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 minute. Add back chicken. Add vinegar, sambal ulek and lemon juice. Toss well.

Stir in olives, sun-dried tomatoes. Season with additional salt and ground black pepper, if desired. Serve over cous cous and garnish with parsley.

Serves 4.

Goulash of Pork Tenderloin with Sauerkraut, Dill and Sour Cream (Székely Gulyás)

Szeleky_Goulash1 (1 of 1)This version of goulash comes from the ethnic Hungarians who live in a region (Székely Land) which is now part of Romania. Székely goulash is characterized by its use of sauerkraut and sour cream, and it is delicious! Like many Hungarian recipes, goulash tends to call for lots of fat (lard, etc.). I’ve tried to slim down this goulash without compromising its great flavor by using a lean cut of pork, a small amount good quality, smoked bacon, omitting oil and using reduced-fat sour cream (one recipe I saw called for a slab of bacon and 1/4 cup of oil to brown it in! Yuck!). Anyway, this is a good, hearty dish for a cold winter’s evening. I hope you’ll try it and let me know what you think!

1 lb pork tenderloin, trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes
2 slices good quality, smoked bacon (about 2 oz), finely diced
3 large onions, thinly sliced
1 large green bell pepper, seeded and sliced lengthwise into thin strips, then strips sliced in half
2 cloves garlic, finely grated or minced
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp crushed caraway seeds
3 tsp salt
3 cups beef or vegetable stock
4 Tbsp tomato paste
3 Tbsp sweet paprika
1 lb sauerkraut, rinsed, drained and chopped
1 apple, peeled, cored and diced
1 large baking potato, peeled and diced
1/4 cup dry red wine
2/3 cup reduced-fat sour cream
Additional salt and 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp hot paprika
1 Tbsp coarsely chopped dill
1 Hungarian wax pepper, sliced crosswise into thin rings, seeds removed

Heat bacon in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Cook until brown and fat is rendered, about 4 minutes. Add the pork and saute until browned, about 4 more minutes.

Lower heat to medium. Add the onions, bell pepper, garlic, thyme, caraway and salt to the pork Szeleky_Goulash2 (1 of 1)mixture. Saute until vegetables have softened, about 7 minutes. Add 4 Tbsp of the stock, together with tomato paste and sweet paprika. Cook for 5 minutes. Stir in sauerkraut, potatoes and apples, and cook for another 5 minutes.

Pour rest of the stock into the pork mixture. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 1 1/4 hours, stirring after 30 minutes.

Stir in wine, sour cream and paprika. Increase heat to medium and cook for 15 minutes. Remove from heat. Season with additional salt to taste (I added another 2 tsp salt), ground black pepper and hot paprika. Serve over hot spätzle. Garnish with pepper rings and dill.

Serves 6.

Chicken Simmered in a Creamy Mushroom-Thyme Sauce

Chicken_with_Mushrooms1 (1 of 1)There’s nothing that makes me happier than meat done with sour cream (some recipes call for heavy cream, but in something like this, I like to use reduced-fat sour cream). This dish is a perfect example of that — all the right ingredients; chicken, butter, olive oil, mushrooms, red wine, sherry and thyme (just to name a few!). This is a great dish — please try it!

1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp olive oil
8 oz sliced white button mushrooms
1/4 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced into thin, 3-inch segments
1 1/2 lbs skinless, boneless chicken breasts (about 3 large), cut into 1-inch pieces
1 1/2 tsp salt, divided
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
2 Tbsp flour
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup red wine
2 Tbsp sherry
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
1 cup reduced-fat sour cream
4 spring onions, finely chopped (white and green parts)
1 Tbsp chopped parsley
8 oz dried egg pasta (wide noodles), cooked to package instructions and tossed with 1 tsp butter and 1/4 tsp salt

Heat the butter and olive oil in a large sauce pan over medium-high heat. Stir in the mushrooms and red bell pepper. Cook for about 4 minutes, until soft. Remove mushroom and peppers with a slotted spoon;  set aside.

Combine flour, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 ground black pepper, turmeric.

Combine chicken stock, red wine, sherry, thyme and 1 tsp salt

Decrease heat to medium and add chicken. Stir for about 3 minutes, until browned. Add flour mixture and cook for 2 minutes. Add wine mixture; bring to a boil and deglaze pan. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.

Whisk in sour cream and spring onions, and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in the mushroom, redChicken_with_Mushrooms2 (1 of 1) bell pepper mixture and the chopped parsley. Season to taste with additional salt and ground black pepper. Simmer for another 5 minutes. Serve over pasta and garnish with additional chopped parsley.

Serves 4.

German Meatloaf with Roasted Tomato and Onion Gravy (Falscher Hase)

German_Meatloaf1 (1 of 1)I think I may have mentioned this in previous posts, but I love a good meatloaf, especially on a snowy, cold night like tonight. This wonderful dish, called falscher Hase (fake rabbit), originates in Germany’s eastern regions that were formerly part of the DDR (East Germany). Adopted from my favorite German cookbook, Nadia Hassani’s Spoonfuls of Germany, this meatloaf is homey, but deliciously elegant with the roasted tomato and onion gravy. I like to serve this with steamed new red potatoes tossed in some butter, salt, ground black pepper and chopped parsley. Give this dish a try — I think you’ll like it!

1 slice bread, soaked in 1/4 cup milk for 5 minutes, then excess milk squeezed out
1 slice good quality smoked bacon
1 medium onion, peeled and diced
2 medium onions, peeled and and quartered
10 oz lean ground beef
10 oz lean ground pork
2 eggs
3 Tbsp chopped parsley
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp ground caraway seeds
1/8 tsp dried oregano
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp ground marjoram
1/8 tsp dried thyme
1/8 tsp ground coriander
1 1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 14-oz can diced tomatoes
14 1/2 oz beef stock
1/4 cup sour cream
1 tsp flour
Additional chopped parsley for garnish

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Dice bacon and saute over medium heat until crisp. Add the diced onion and saute for about 4 or 5 minutes. Remove from heat and spread mixture on paper towels and let cool for a few minutes.

In a large bowl, combine bread that you soaked in milk, bacon and onion mixture, meat, eggs, German_Meatloaf2 (1 of 1)parsley, mustard, paprika, caraway, oregano, nutmeg, cayenne, marjoram, thyme, coriander, salt and black pepper. Mix very well with your hands (add some breadcrumbs if  it seems too moist). Shape into a loaf and place in an ovenproof, lidded casserole. Pour tomato around loaf. Break up the onion quarters and sprinkle around loaf. Pour 1/4 cup stock over it.

Cover and bake for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake for an additional 40 minutes. Bake until meatloaf is brown, and the vegetables are nicely roasted, gradually adding another 1/2 cup stock.

Remove loaf from casserole and deglaze with the remaining stock. Pour mixture into a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and strain well, discarding solids. Add gravy back to sauce pan.

Whisk together the sour cream and flour, then whisk this into the gravy. Simmer for a few minutes until gravy thickens. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Slice meatloaf into 1/2-inch slices. Pour some gravy over each serving and garnish with chopped parsley.

Serves 6.

Pan-Fried Pepper Steak with Red Wine-Mushroom Sauce

Pepper_Steak1 (1 of 1)In case readers haven’t noticed, I’m a big fan of meat — I’m about as far from vegetarian as a carnivore can be, although I do enjoy vegetarian dishes (especially spicy ones!). I try to limit my intake of red meat for health reasons, but I occasionally love to prepare steak dishes, such as this one. These steaks are delicious, especially with the wine-mushroom sauce! Oh, and one last thing, butter and steak were meant for each other. Give it a try tonight!

4 5-oz top sirloin steaks, each about 1 inch thick
3/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
3 Tbsp butter
2 large shallots, peeled and sliced
1 1/2 lbs button mushrooms, thickly sliced
1 Tbsp flour
1 cup red wine
1/2 cup ruby Port
1/2 chicken stock
1 Tbsp chopped parsley

Place each steak between 2 sheets of plastic wrap; pound to a thickness of 1/2 inch. Sprinkle both sides of the steaks evenly with the black pepper and salt. Cover and set aside.

Melt 2 Tbsp of the butter in a large, non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallots andPepper_Steak2 (1 of 1) saute 2 minutes. Add mushrooms, cover and cook for 5 minutes. Remove cover and saute mixture until mushrooms are browned (about 10 minutes). Add flour and stir for 1 minute. Add the wine, port and stock. Bring to a boil and cook until sauce has thickened (about 10 minutes). Season to taste with additional salt and ground black pepper. Remove from heat and set aside.

Melt remaining 1 Tbsp butter in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add steaks and cook until done (about 2 minutes per side for medium-rare). Transfer steaks to a cutting board. I like to thinly slice the steaks prior to plating, but they can also be left whole. To serve, spoon sauce over each steak; garnish with parsley.

Serves 4.