Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Comfort food

I'm not a huge fan of the winter. I do like the seasons, but I either want a lot of snow, or for it to be some what warm. Being that it's cold and we have some snow on the ground, it brings out my want and need to cook and bake. Two words: Comfort Food. What justifies Comfort food for you? Is it food that you had as a child? Something that reminds you of a special event? Something a favorite relative made for you? Or is just a warm delicious meal, that fills you with good feelings?
For me it's all of the above. My Grandmothers baked Macaroni and cheese, with layers of macaroni and cheddar cheese a bit of milk, and baked into creamy goodness. (or as my tasteless husband calls it, Mac and milk) It brings fond memories of spending the summer in Long Island. They lived on the water, and my Grandfather and I would go out and fish, and come home to a smell so heavenly, I'd run off the boat and into the house. She made the greatest fish balls. (I know, sounds weird) Cod fish with mashed potatoes, shaped into balls, dredged in cracker meal and fried. You flattened them with your fork, in a certain way, added a dollop of Ketchup and your taste buds would sing. My grandmother was probably where I unknowingly at the time, got my love of food. Almost everyday we would make fresh bread. Is there anything better on earth, then a slice of fresh bread from the oven, slathered with butter?!
My Mother is an excellent cook also. She just fears the knife, and that's a hindrance in the kitchen. I taught knife skills classes, and did she sign up? No! And why didn't she? Because she knows I will come to her house, hear her in the kitchen snipping herbs with scissors, or something crazy like that, and although I try with every bone in my body, I will eventually come flying into the kitchen Yelling for her to remove herself from the room, before I lose it. She does it, because she know that I can chop, dice, julienne, brunoise and sliver in the time it would take her to peel a carrot. She reads me like I book. My Mother was fond of making what we called "wing-it's) meaning she just throw a bunch of stuff together and hope that it came out good. I have to give her credit, 95% of the time, they were good.
Aaaahhhh now onto my own menu for this week. Monday I made a cross between authentic bechamel lasagna. (Lasagna Bolognese) and the traditional Lasagna Napolitana, with ricotta, mozzarella, and Parmesan cheeses. Now, I will admit that I do not cook lasagna noodles anymore. I LOVE the Barilla no cook noodles. The stay firm, not soggy, like some other brands. I learned this through process of elimination, while teaching a basic cooking skills coarse. I layered noodles, bechamel (cream sauce) added dollops of ricotta, generously sprinkled shredded mozz, and then the sauce. I did four layers, topped it with lots of mozz and Parmesan. The key to not letting the foil stick to the cheese is to lightly spray the underside of the foil with cooking spray. I baked it, made a post of meatballs and sausage with sauce, and awaited a taste bud party. Well, I loved it, it was so creamy, and but still held up so nicely. my 2 year old loved it. (he's a cheese fiend) My husband loved it. My 8 year old...not so much. Oh well, I can't win them all.
Today I'm take a huge piece of beef chuck, adding finely diced onions, some green chilli's, cumin, cilantro, a pinch of coriander, and a bit of beef stock. I'll slow cook it in a cast iron dutch oven, all day and then take it out and shredded it. I'll let the heavily scented juices reduced a bit and with the meat added back in. When it's done, I'll make soft tacos or quesadillas, whatever they're in the mood for. Cheddar cheese, tender meat, fresh mango salsa, a dollop of sour cream, whatever they crave. This is my 8 year old's favorite meal. It fill my heart and soul to know, that I am creating memories of comfort food for her. She cooks at my Mom's house, but I don't really let her do to much here. I have gas, my mom has electric, I have extremely sharp knives, and honestly it's sad to say, I don't have the patience to teach children. I must have total control in the kitchen, or have someone to bark orders to, and I don't want to do that to her yet.
So, I hope I haven't left you starving...(I am). If I have, think about your favorite comfort food and find the time to make it. It really does make you feel good.


meleah rebeccah said...

I miss PASTA...Oh so much...and my beloved Mac N Cheese.

(food allergies SUCK donkey balls).

For me (right now) 'comfort food' is anything I can eat, that will stay DOWN or IN my body.....

chefmom said...

Mel: I can't imagine having to deal with what you go through. My poor girl, You'll have to tell me what you an eat and I'll write something yummy about it :)

meleah rebeccah said...

Im starving all the time!

chefmom said...

I would have to think that you are! I was allergic to most fresh fruit and veggies when I was younger, but outgrew most of them. And I would only get hives, by the sound of it, you get very sick :(

The Beginning of the Middle of the End said...

Fish balls... mac n cheese... how i miss hte comfort foods from grandma