My Comfort Foods (From Mother with Love…)
If you were to google comfort food you would yield the following result:
“Comfort food is food that provides a nostalgic or sentimental value to someone, and may be characterized by its high caloric nature, high carbohydrate level, or simple preparation. The nostalgia may be specific to an individual, or it may apply to a specific culture.”
What that means to me is something decadent, rich and delicious, typically from my youth, and most likely a dish that my mom used to make. In reality, comfort food is wholly specific to the individual and can vary greatly.
I’d like to share a couple of recipes that bring me back to my youth and which always remind me of crisp fall/winter days.. The food that immediately brings me back to my old home, with warm fires and my family tucked in around the dinner table by my side.
While my mother is an amazing cook, I’m taking some of her recipes and “tweaking” them a bit to fit my “Chefy” persona. Sorry Mom!
- Roasted Red Pepper Soup with Goat’s Cheese Crostini
- Navarin of Lamb (French Lamb Stew)
- Judge’s Pudding (Upside Down Chocolate Pudding Cake)
Roasted Red Pepper Soup With Goat’s Cheese Crostini
This soup reminds me of coming home from hockey and walking in the door to fresh homemade soup and bread. It’s rich, sweet, smokey and delicious. I’m kicking it up a notch with my ode to tomato soup and grilled cheese by offering up the crostini with goat’s cheese. This has also appeared on a restaurant menu or two…
- 4 Red Peppers medium sized (Various Producers)
- 2 Yellow Onions medium sized (Sudo Farms)
- 3 Roma Tomatoes (Various Producers)
- 3 Stalks Celery
- 4 Garlic Cloves (Various Producers - Sudo Farms)
- 1 Large Can Diced Tomatoes (with juice)
- 1 Medium Can Roasted Red Peppers (with juice)
- 1 tsp Dried Oregano (Township 27)
- 1 tbsp Red Wine Vinegar (Alchemist)
- 1 tbsp Chili Honey (Mob Honey)
- 1/2 tbsp Smoked Paprika (Township 27)
- 2 L Chicken Stock (Made Foods)
- 1 Ciabatta Roll (Good Bread)
- 3 tbsp Fresh Goat Cheese (Fairwind Farms)
- 1 bottle Organic Cream 250ml (Vital Greens)
- Olive Oil (Nefiss Lezizz)
- 1 Tbsp Chives
- Salt and Pepper (Township 27)
Mince the garlic and chop all the vegetables into 1 inch pieces. Saute the vegetables in olive oil on medium to high heat. Cook out and sweat the vegetables, get some good colour on them. Add your dry spices and saute for a minute. Stir in the honey and add chicken stock, canned tomatoes and canned peppers with all the juices. The vegetables should be submerged in stock, if not, add water to top off. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer, cook for an hour with a lid on, stirring occasionally.
Blend/Puree the soup in small batches, careful when pureeing hot soup! Pour the soup back into a clean pot. Add half the cream, stir in and season with salt and pepper. If the soup needs more cream, add in a little at a time. Adjust acid and sweetness to your palate.
Preheat your oven to 400 F. Slice Crostini and rub with olive oil, season with salt. Bake for 7-10min, or until golden brown. Whip the goat’s cheese with a fork to lighten, season with a little salt and add a tbsp of olive oil and mix. Spoon goat’s cheese onto warm crostini and garnish with chopped chives.
Navarin of Lamb (French Lamb Stew)
My mother is from England and we grew up eating a lot of lamb. I find myself fortunate enough to have been introduced to lamb at an early age and have loved it ever since. The one lamb dish that I truly remember and love is her Lamb Stew.
- 1lb Lamb Shoulder cubed (Lambtastic Farms)
- 1 Yellow Onion (Various Producers - Sudo Farms) 1” dice
- 3 Garlic Cloves (Various Producers - Sudo Farms)
- 2 Parsnips (Poplar Bluff Farms) 1” pieces
- 1 Rutabaga or Turnip cubed 1” pieces
- 2 Carrots (Poplar Bluff Farms) 1” pieces
- 2 Yellow Colomba Potatoes (Various Producers - Phoenix Farms) 1” dice
- 1 cup Frozen Peas
- 1 can Tomato Paste
- 1 cup White Wine
- 1 L Beef Broth
- 1 can Crushed Tomatoes and juice
- 1-2 tbsp All Purpose Unbleached White Flour (Grain Works)
- 1 Sprig Fresh Rosemary
- 1 Sprig Fresh Thyme
- 3 Bay Leaves
- 3 tbsp Flat Leaf Parsley chopped (Lunds Organics)
- 2 tbsp Sea Salt Butter (Foothills Creamery)
Pre-heat a large dutch oven on high. Season the cubed lamb shoulder heavily with salt and pepper. Add a ¼ cup canola oil to the dutch oven and add your lamb. Sear the cubes on all sides until golden brown and caramelized. Remove the lamb from the dutch oven. In the reserved oil, add all your vegetables (except for the peas) and saute. Add the butter and continue to saute until the vegetables are browning slightly. Add your flour and blend in, add your tomato paste and stir everything together. Deglaze the dish with the white wine, add your crushed tomatoes and beef stock. Throw in the sprigs of thyme, Rosemary and Bay leaf. Add your lamb back in and stir. Bring the dish to a boil, stirring very well. Throw on the lid and place in a preheated oven (350F) for an hour and half. Test the lamb for tenderness and ensure the vegetables are cooked, add the frozen peas. If the gravy of the dish is too loose, remove the lid and allow to cook further and reduce. Season with salt and pepper.
Judge’s Pudding (Upside Down Chocolate Pudding Cake)
I’m not a huge dessert fan, honestly. I typically prefer the more savoury endings to a meal such as some nice cheese but this is an exception. Everyone in my family goes nuts for this dessert and it has since been introduced to my children and the tradition continues. Serve this with a great gelato or ice cream and you will understand why there are never any leftovers.
Cake Part -
- 1 cup All Purpose Unbleached Flour (Grain Works)
- 2 tsp Baking Powder
- ¾ cup White Granulated Sugar
- ½ tsp Salt
- 3 tbsp Cocoa
- ½ cup 3.5% Milk (Vital Greens Farm)
- 2 tbsp Unsalted Butter melted (Foothills Creamery)
- ¾ cup Brown Sugar
- ½ cup Cocoa
- 2 cup Water Boiling
Serve with: Bourbon Vanilla Bean Gelato (Noto Gelato)
Preheat the oven to 350F.
In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt and cocoa. In another bowl, add the melted butter and milk. Add the dry mix to the wet, ½ half at a time and fold in, ensuring it’s mixed evenly, do not over mix. Pour batter into a greased ovenproof dish. This mixture will be pretty stiff. Combine the boiling water, brown sugar and cocoa and pour it over the batter. Bake in the oven for 45min. Allow to cool and set for 5-7 minutes. The cake will have a soft pudding like center with a cakey exterior.
Serve with Vanilla Bean Gelato!