Showing posts with label comfort food. Show all posts
Showing posts with label comfort food. Show all posts

Monday, October 2, 2017

Around the Kitchen Table -- Comfort Food

LESLIE BUDEWITZ:  The seasons are changing, and with it, what we eat. No more fresh peaches or berries. Up here in the north, the pots of herbs are coming inside, there's a colander filled with the last tomatoes on the counter, and the deer and bears have left a few apples on our ancient Red Delicious tree. It's the season for comfort food.

A few years ago, a friend went into rapture, fantasizing about a fresh ragu -- an herby tomato sauce -- simmering on her stove, and called it the ultimate comfort food. I laughed -- to me, the ultimate comfort food is mac 'n cheese, smooth, creamy, maybe with a few herbs and toasted breadcrumbs for crunch, but none of the spicy bursts of flavor of a rich tomato sauce. I gave that conversation to my girl Erin in the Food Lovers' Village Mysteries, but she plays the part of the surprised Italian girl who goes to college and discovers that to others, comfort food was grilled cheese, custard, or bread pudding. Pumpkin muffins. Breakfast for dinner. (I swear, I was probably 40 when it occurred to me that my mother made pancakes and sausage for dinner occasionally not as a treat for the kids, but because she needed a little mothering herself!)

What says comfort food to you, dear readers? Include your email address in your comment for a chance to win a terrific Mystery Lovers' Kitchen tote bag! (US and Canada addresses only, please.)


Daryl: I've made it very clear, Leslie, in post after post that grilled cheese and mac and cheese say comfort to me.  I love adding all sorts of goodies to both. To grilled cheese? Avocado, bacon, shrimp. To mac and cheese, bacon. When is bacon not a comfort food?  I adore meatloaf packed with herbs and onions. This simply reminds me of my mother. She made a dynamite meatloaf, and her recipe (tweaked) is still what I use. My husband loved my meatloaf. And last but not least, ice cream! Any time of the day and night. I don't care how cold it is outside. I love ice cream. Which is probably why I like to make it. I love the sound of the churn. I love the aroma of vanilla and whatever else I add to the ice cream. And I like the way ice cream "chills" my stomach. It's like a
natural "anti-inflammatory."  LOL  Ah, comfort food. Do we need autumn and winter to enjoy it? Nope. Year-round comfort food is definitely a necessity.


Sheila: When I started thinking about my go-to comfort foods, I realized I had a few semi-scientific pieces of evidence. I've been collecting recipes and cookbooks for a long time, and the first clue is to look at my well-used cookbooks and find the pages with the most grease stains. My first copy of Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking has quite a few pages like that, mainly for beef and chicken dishes. (I could use the same test on the cookbooks I inherited from my mother: the recipe for chocolate sauce in her 1948 edition of Fanny Farmer's Boston Cooking School Cook Book may lead the pack.)

But a more important clue is how often I've made a particular dish over the years, no matter what the source. For that one, I think Apple Goody stands out. It's a recipe that comes from the mother of one of my long-ago roommates, back in the 1970s. I knew her mother for years, and I still get together regularly with my friend. The recipe is simple: apples, cinnamon, flour, sugar (brown and white) and butter. Bake and enjoy. I can't begin to count the number of times I've made that, both for guests or to take to a pot-luck, or just to eat myself. I even included it in one of my Orchard Mysteries.

So while the collected works of Julia Child are dear to my heart, Apple Goody is the all-time winner.


Linda:  When I think of something comforting, I think of my Mom. I may have mentioned that she wasn't a great cook but what she made was all we needed, or thought we needed, at the time. So I'd say my comfort food is applesauce. She'd make it from scratch and I can still remember the wonderful aroma that filled the kitchen. She'd team it up with pork chops or baked beans. Often, when I wasn't feeling well, it would be an entire meal in itself. On toast, was also a good choice.
 It makes me think of being tucked up in a soft bed under a warm comforter or sitting on the couch while a storm rages outside. Of course, I'm always eating in these thoughts -- applesauce, it would seem.

I have to admit, I've never made applesauce but obviously, with such good memories attached, I should make the effort real soon. Maybe you can supply me with a tasty recipe, Sheila! 


Krista: Linda, I remember my mom grating apples as a home remedy when I was a kid. She made applesauce, too, but it's the raw grated apples that I recall because I never could figure out why they were supposed cure anything.

Mac and cheese is a favorite comfort food for me. We never had it growing up. Never!  I don't often make it now, but I do love that creaminess.

Like Daryl, I'm a complete fool for ice cream, but mostly in the summer. As the weather cools, my consumption drops off until the special flavors come around for the holidays. Peppermint anyone?

But I'll go out on a limb here and suggest something that I have been known to whip up very late on cold nights-warm chocolate pudding. Pudding is fine when it's cold, but there's nothing quite as soothing as warm pudding, eaten straight from the pot.  


Peg: Like Krista, we never had mac and cheese growing up! I don't really remember any comfort foods from my childhood--the association is really with things I make now like shepherd's pie and sauce bolognese and pretty much any kind of soup except tomato (which I don't care for!).  I could eat a whole bowl of mashed potatoes for dinner--that's comfort to me.  And pair them with roast chicken, and I'm in heaven!  

Lucy: I love love macaroni and cheese, but eating salty stuff is a no-no for me right now. On Sundays as a kid, we had cheese toast, baked beans, and potato salad on TV trays in front of whatever program was on--that's comfort food to me. All those carbs! These days, how about a nice peach or cherry cobbler, right out of the oven, with whipped cream?? Or a chicken pot pie?


Victoria:  I find this whole discussion very comforting.  Food in general offers comfort to me, but there's something special about the smell of fresh bread or biscuits, warm from the oven and served up with butter. I love it when they area bit savory, like these with chives. There should be a pot of tea nearby and someone to chat with, over the warm biscuits.

Cleo: All of your comfort foods sound good to me! I'll add homemade cookies to that list...
Angel Wings (aka) Italian Bow Tie Cookies
For the recipe, click here.

As a little girl, I loved helping my Italian-born Aunt Mary make what she called "Italian Bow Tie" cookies. Some of you may remember them as "Angel Wings" or Chrusciki (the Polish version). In Hungary, they are called Csöröge. In France, Bugnes Lyonnaises. In the Ukraine, Verhuny. In any language, they are delicious and sweet comfort for those of us who remember eating them as children.

May you, too, eat with comfort and joy!


🍒  🍞  🍇  🍕 

What says comfort food to you, dear readers? 


Thursday, November 5, 2015

Mashed Potatoes and Turnips #comfortfood #recipe @lucyburdette

LUCY BURDETTE: I was mulling over recently what to make for this blog for our Thanksgiving week. Both my mother and sister-in-law had mashed rutabagas on their menu (the German influence)--my mother made them separately and Margaret mashed them right in with the potatoes.
the last of my gorgeous zinnias

Then I spotted a gorgeous purple turnip at the farmer's market and decided this was meant to be. If you are using rutabagas (yellow flesh, larger than turnips, and often waxed in the supermarket), you will need to cook them longer than the potatoes. Fresh turnips (purple skin and white flesh) are softer--I cooked them right in with the potatoes.


Ingredients for two people

3 red or yellow potatoes
1 good-sized turnip
1/3 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter
salt and pepper, as desired


Peel the turnip and potatoes and cut them into bite-sized pieces.

Simmer about twenty minutes in a pot of water to cover until soft and easily pierced with a fork.

Drain the vegetables while you warm the milk and butter together. 

Add the potatoes and turnips back into the pot and mash with a hand mixer until smooth.

Serve with anything, in this case meatloaf. Comfort food at its finest!

KILLER TAKEOUT is coming next April, but available for pre-order today!

And you can follow Lucy on Facebook,



and Instagram


Thursday, November 6, 2014

Chicken and Dumplings in Tomatillo Sauce @LucyBurdette #Recipe #booksale

LUCY BURDETTE: By now, you can probably predict what each of us at Mystery Lovers Kitchen is going to contribute, based on the recipes we've chosen to make in the past. Right? 

Krista's all about pork and muffins and cupcakes with photos so mouth-watering they leap off the page. And Cleo's the queen of fun recipes, broken down so we can all make them. And Daryl/Avery is the cheese lady and the standard-bearer for tasty gluten-free. And Sheila loves fish and old-timey things made in her flea market conquests. And Peg makes clever meals for working folks. And Victoria/MJ is always having a party--or she makes it seem that way!

Chicken and Dumplings in Tomatillo Sauce
And I seem to veer from garden vegetables to decadent cakes, with comfort food in between.  

Now that I'm headed toward the launch of DEATH WITH ALL THE TRIMMINGS, I'm in the comfort food phase. If you happen to have some frozen green tomatillo sauce, this recipe is so easy. Also easy to whip that sauce up, so if you see tomatillos in the supermarket, grab them! I'll link to the recipe for the sauce below. This is chicken and dumplings with a Tex-Mex twist--oh my mouth is watering...



Half a cooked chicken deboned and broken into pieces
(could also use leftover turkey, about 2 cups)
2 tablespoons butter

1/4 cup flour

2 1/2 cups salsa Verde, also called tomatillo sauce *See Cook's note

1/2 cup milk

Dumpling ingredients

1 cup milk

3 tablespoons butter

One and a half cups all-purpose flour unbleached

1/2 cup cornmeal

1 tablespoon baking powder

One bunch scallions, cleaned and sliced

One handful (about 1/4 cup) fresh cilantro, chopped

To make the chicken, melt the butter in a large saucepan, and stir in the flour to make a paste. Cook for a minute or two longer, being careful not to burn the butter or flour.

Mix in the half cup milk and stir until slightly thickened. Then add the salsa Verde and cook a little longer, until the mixture is bubbling and thick. Add the chicken pieces. Set aside. Preheat the oven to 400.

To make the dumplings


In a medium pan over low heat, heat the milk and butter until steaming. Then stir in the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, scallions, and cilantro.


Pour the hot salsa Verde and chicken mixture into a well buttered Pyrex bowl. Drop hunks of dough into the chicken. Cover the casserole and bake until the dumplings are cooked through. This may take 20 to 25 minutes. Keep checking.

*Cook's note: I've made a similar recipe using jarred green salsa and it was salty to the point of being inedible. So, worth it to make the salsa yourself if you can find the tomatillos. Recipe here.


DEATH WITH ALL THE TRIMMINGS will be out on December 2, just in time for Christmas stockings! 

Pre-order it here.  

Breaking news! If you *forgot* to buy your ebook copy of AN APPETITE FOR MURDER, it's on sale for $1.99 through the weekend! 

Here's the Amazon link, the others to come. 

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Corn meal muffins with chilies: easy comfort food

Brought to you with warm affection by Victoria Abbott aka Victoria and Mary Jane Maffini


Up here in beautiful Manotick and Kars, Ontario, it's cold and snowy. That makes it the perfect season for comfort food. We put cornmeal muffins high on that list. 

Years ago MJ dug through many cookbooks looking for a cornmeal muffin recipe and finally found one that she really liked. She did not grow up with corn meal muffins and found them exotic and irresistible. The recipe was a hit with family and friends. That recipe called for buttermilk and it continues to be a bit of a staple. However, MJ had planned to make corn meal muffins for an event with friends last week and apparently, there was a run on buttermilk in our local stores. Huh.

Lucky she had sour cream in the house and found it a good alternative to rejig the recipe.
We've now made this new version three times and may now wipe out the sour cream supply. We'll head out for more because we are planning a big family lunch next week. We will have folks from one to ninety-one as the song goes and they'll have a mountain of these as part of the fun.

Savory Sour Cream Cornmeal Muffins

1/4 cup butter (softened)
3 Tablespoons sugar
2 eggs at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup milk
2/3 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons canned green chilies (we use Old El Paso – they are mild)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Combine butter and sugar in a bowl of a standing mixer.  Beat at medium speed, scraping down side of bowl often, until creamy.  Add 1 egg at a time, beating well after each addition.  Stir in sour cream and milk. 


Slowly add all remaining ingredients.  Reduce speed to low; beat just until mixed. 


Add green chilies at the end and blend evenly.


Decision time: if you want smaller muffins, use a quarter cup measure to fill your muffin tins. You should end up with a dozen.  


 However, we found we liked them better if we used 1/3 cup measure and got nine of the larger version.  I suppose I should mention that we doubled the recipe anyway and could afford this largesse. 

Bake for 15 – 18 minutes (depending on size etc)

Remove and cool just a bit.   


These are best served warm with a dab of butter and they’re especially good if you then add a good-sized bite of sharp Cheddar. 



They freeze very well in zippered plastic bags and reheat well too. 

We're building our collection of frozen corn meal muffins for a big family lunch this month. We’re planning to pass on the rest of the recipes too.

 Here's a little bit more about Victoria Abbott, author of the book collector mysteries. 

Victoria is an artist and photographer and MJ is the author of 13 books in three other series, as Mary Jane Maffini.  They really really like dogs.

They also really love their book collector mysteries (contain dogs!) and are happily at work on The Wolfe Widow, third in the series.   They're very excited about the The Sayers Swindle which is out now!

The Sayers Swindle, the second in the book collector mysteries is now available.

You can click here to order The Sayers Swindle!

Or here for the Kindle version!

Or order through your favorite bookstore - in person or online.

And don't forget to ....

Watch the trailer for The Sayers Swindle!


The Christie Curse, the first book collector mystery, launched in March 2013 to great reviews.

The Christie Curse is also available in Large Print! Tell your local librarian!

 Walter, the pug in the series is a dead ringer for Peachy, Victoria's new best friend. 

 Come over and friend Victoria on Facebook

Tell  her  you love the pug!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Arroz con Pollo

by Sheila Connolly

I know, our delightful guest Victoria Hamilton gave a recipe for this dish only a few short months ago. But I've found that there are more variations to this than you can shake a stick at.  My husband makes one that involves tomato paste and peas.  Mine is comfort food, from a recipe my mother used.

There's a backstory to this dish.  My great-grandmother was wealthy, and her only child, my grandfather, was not exactly a go-getter.  When he married, at twenty, Mom bought him and his lovely bride…an orange plantation in Cuba.  So for several years they spent part of each year in Cuba, doing who knows what. "Managing," I assume, since they weren't working the groves themselves, I'm sure. The last trip they made there was in 1928, when my mother was a toddler. That year a hurricane wiped out the house, and they never rebuilt it.  But they held on to the property (and paid the taxes on it!) until the Communist takeover in the 1950s. I still have the deeds.

I may have mentioned before that my grandmother didn't cook, but somehow she passed on this recipe to my mother, so I guess that makes this a Cuban version.  My mother made it regularly when I was growing up, and that's why I know about saffron, which is an essential part of the dish.

About a half teaspoon
Saffron is expensive, and sometimes hard to find, but its flavor is unique.  And you can't skimp on it in this dish or it's wasted, so use it generously.  It also imparts a wonderful color to the rice.

My Mother's Arroz con Pollo (Rice with Chicken)

Note:  Since there are only two of us at home, I usually cook this using two bone-in chicken breasts.  You can easily double it, or use other chicken pieces.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Vegetable oil for sauteing
2 chicken breasts
Salt and pepper
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 cups chicken stock
1/2 tsp dried saffron
1 1/2 cups rice (not instant)

Season both sides of the chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Heat a thin layer of oil in a sauté pan and sear the breasts, turning once.  Put the chicken pieces in a greased baking dish that has a lid.

Saute the onion in the same pan over medium heat, until soft but not browned.  Spread the cooked onions over the chicken pieces.  Add the stock and saffron to the pan and stir, scraping up any browned bits in the pan.  (You should taste it at this point, and if the stock is not too salty, add salt.)

Pour the liquid over the chicken pieces.  Add the rice and distribute evenly in the liquid (note:  make sure you get all the rice submerged and there's none left sitting on the chicken, or those bits will not cook).

Cover the dish and place in the preheated oven.  Cook for 20-30 minutes, or until the rice has absorbed all the liquid.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

No-Guilt Comfort Food (A Healthier Potato Side Dish) from Cleo Coyle

Potatoes are one of my favorite comfort foods, and with the cold temperatures and gray skies of winter still hanging on here in New York, I'm up for all the comfort I can get! Marc (my husband and partner in crime writing) is a mashed potato fiend. Unfortunately, peeling, boiling, and mashing potatoes with butter and cream leaves us with high carbs, low fiber, and not much nutrition.

My solution has become one of my favorite quick-and-easy side dishes for dinner: garlic-carrot mashed potatoes. They're beautiful, bringing a spectacular golden-orange color to your plate, and they're delicious in the extreme. 

Cleo Coyle, comfort
food craver, is author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries

Of course, a great added bonus here are the health benefits from the garlic and carrots (more fiber and vitamins). I also leave the potato skins on for more nutrition. There is no milk or cream in the recipe, so it can be made Vegan or Kosher by replacing the butter with margarine.

The best part (especially for comfort food lovers): This recipe doesn't taste like mashed carrots. It produces a creamy, garlicky, delicious mashed potato experience, one that I certainly hope you will eat with joy...

~ Cleo

Cleo Coyle's
No-Guilt (Healthier)
Mashed Potatoes

Another thing I like about this recipebesides the creamy, flavorful taste and added nutrition of carrots, garlic, and potato skinsare the proportions. The amounts are very easy to commit to memory for whipping up a "from-scratch" dinner side dish fast: 3 Potatoes + 3 Carrots + 3 Cloves Garlic + 3 Tablespoons Butter or Margarine = 3 Cups of No-Guilt Mashed Potatoes...

(Enough to serve 4)

To download this recipe in a PDF document than you can print, save, or share, click here.


3 medium white potatoes*, scrubbed, skins on (about one pound)
3 large carrots, peeled and diced (about 8 ounces)
3 Cloves Garlic 
3 Tablespoons butter or margarine 
1 tsp. salt 
+ salt and pepper to taste

*What kind of potatoes?: White potatoes are the best for creamy, smooth, delicious tasting mashed potatoes. Yukon gold will work, as well. But do not use russet potatoes, the results will not be as appealing.


Step 1: Prep the veggies - Peel and dice the carrots into one-half inch rings. Cut the potatoes into sections about one-half inch thick, halving the sections again if too large. Peel and chop the garlic. 

Step 2: Start by boiling carrots alone - Carrots take longer to cook than potatoes so you're going to give them a head start. Bring a large saucepan of water to a rolling boil. Add the peeled and diced carrots, return to boil for 8 minutes, uncovered. 

Step 3: Add potatoes and garlic - After adding these ingredients, return the pot to a boil and simmer for approximately 20 minutes, uncovered, or until potatoes and carrots are soft enough to mash. 

Step 4: Drain well, add butter, and mash - Pour the cooked veggies and garlic into a strainer and make sure water is well drained. Transfer to a mixing bowl. Add butter or margarine and mash. Marc and I use a traditional hand-masher. Then, for a creamy finish, we whisk briskly with a fork until smooth (about 30 seconds). Salt and pepper to taste. (You can also go techno and use a hand-stick or immersion blender or throw everything into a food processor.)

Marc and I still use a hand masher. But a
hand stick (aka immersion) blender will
work great, too.

Our secret to making roughly mashed potatoes into
smoothly whipped is a vigorous 30-second beating
in a deep bowl with a simple fork.

And now we're ready to...

Eat with joy!

~ Cleo Coyle 

New York Times bestselling author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries

Friend me on facebook here
Follow me on twitter here.
Visit my online coffeehouse here.

To view the
Coffeehouse Mystery
book trailer, click here.

The Coffeehouse Mysteries are bestselling
works of amateur sleuth fiction set in a landmark
Greenwich Village 
coffeehouse, and each of the
12 titles includes the added bonus of recipes.  


The Ghost and
Mrs. McClure

Book #1 of 

The Haunted Bookshop
, which Cleo writes
under the name
Alice Kimberly

To learn more, click here.