Posts Tagged comfort food
Now that the weather is getting a bit chilly – it’s time for COMFORT FOOD!! I recently tweaked this recipe from Cooking Light magazine for chicken pot pie. It was way, way better than the chicken pot pies of my childhood (sorry Swanson’s). I was impressed with how easy it was and the way it filled my kitchen with the aromas of chicken and Herbs de Provence. It’s become a fall staple in the Vino household. In fact, one recent rainy day I was craving something warm and comforting and couldn’t decide between the pot pie or a loaded baked potato. Voila, the Chicken Pot Potato was born. Recipes below – thanks to everyone who asked me to post them. Enjoy.
CHICKEN POT PIE
(Adapted from Cooking Light)
Serve with Morovino 2011 Cabernet Franc
1 T Canola oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
2 ribs of celery, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 c. all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 C chicken stock (unsalted, low fat)
2 C shredded chicken *SEE NOTE
1 package refrigerator biscuits (like Pillsbury) or your own biscuit dough
1 c. frozen peas
2 heaping teaspoons of Herbs de Provence (read the label and make sure it includes lavender – that’s what makes the dish)
2 large russet potatos, baked (for Pot Potato)
Preheat the oven to 425. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat. Add onion, carrot and celery and saute 4 minutes or until softened. Add the garlic and saute an additional 1 minute. Sprinkle the veggies in the saucepan with the 1/4 C of flour, the salt and pepper. Stir constantly for about a minute. Add the 4 cups of broth and bring everything to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 8 minutes, stirring occasionially until the sauce thickens. Add chicken, Herbs de Provence and peas, simmer for 5 minutes until peas are warmed. You won’t believe how good your kitchen smells at this point. (Note: time elapsed is about 18 minutes – 23 if you include chopping time. Mrs. Vino thinks the popular belief is that comfort food is complicated and takes a long time to prepare – not so!)
For Pot Pie – Pour filling into a 2 QT baking dish. Top with the refrigerator biscuits (you don’t have to use all of them – any biscuits that don’t fit on top can be baked on a piece of foil beside the baking dish). Biscuits should just touch each other. Put baking dish in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes or until the biscuits are golden brown on top. Serve with a nice green salad and a glass of Cabernet Franc for the perfect comfort meal.
For Chicken Pot Potato – take the baked russet potatoes and split them in half lengthwise. Then split them in half again. Put two potato quarters on each plate and spoon a heaping helping of the pot pie filling on top. Top with a dollop of Greek Yogurt and a sprinkle of green onions. Add a side salad and a glass of Cabernet Franc. Serves 4.
A NOTE ABOUT THE CHICKEN: You can use any cooked chicken for this recipe – rotisserie chicken from your grocery store, left over chicken breasts. I usually use poached boneless skinless chicken breasts for this. I usually poach the breasts the night before (for the most juicy and delicious result). And I usually double this recipe – cuz chopped poached chicken breasts freeze beautifully. They are great to have in your freezer for . . . emergency chicken pot pies.
BONUS RECIPE: Poached Chicken Breasts – in a large saucepan, place 1C chicken broth, 1/2 C. wine, 1 smashed garlic clove, some pepper and a bay leaf. Add 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (thawed). Bring to a simmer over medium low heat. Simmer (don’t boil – it makes the chicken tough) for about 30 minutes (or until internal temperature is about 165 degrees). Pull the saucepan off the heat and let the chicken cool in the broth. If you do this the night before, just cover the saucepan and put it in the fridge overnight. Prior to serving/cooking – take the breasts out of the broth and shred or cube the meat. Beautiful juicy chicken every time!
I LOVE this great recipe for slow cooker rice pudding! The only trick to this is at the 4 hour mark you do have to keep an eye on it – it comes together very quickly at the end. Enjoy!
Coconut Rice Pudding
Serve with your favorite light dessert wine like Cosa Dolce, a sweet Riesling or a late harvest . . . something or other.
3 C water
1 C dry Arborio (Risotto) rice
1 15-ounce can of cream of coconut (like you use for Pina Coladas, not coconut milk – I find it in the liquor aisle in my store)
1 12 ounce can evaporated milk (not sweetened condensed milk)
¼ C raisins (cuz it’s not rice pudding without raisins)
2/3 c. sweetened flaked coconut (optional)
Slow cooker. 2. Comfort food. 3. Super Easy! In a 4.5 to 6 quart slow cooker, combine the water, rice, cream of coconut and evaporated milk and stir to blend. Cover slow cooker and cook for 4.5 hours on low. Add raisins in last ½ hour. Start checking this at about 3.5 to 4 hours – slow cookers do vary. When the mixture in the slow cooker reaches a rice-puddingy (puddingie?) consistency, remove bowl from slow cooker. While pudding stands (10 minutes) toast coconut flakes – either in a small nonstick skillet or on a rimmed baking sheet in the oven at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. To serve, transfer pudding to individual serving bowls and top with toasted coconut. Extra credit points: top each bowl of rice pudding with a spoonful of crushed pineapple before topping with coconut. Mmmmm.
Serve with a crisp white like Morovino 2011 Pinot Grigio Rose
2 Kohlrabi, peeled
2 Turnips, peeled
2 large Carrots, peeled
½ cup non-fat plain yogurt
1 T. Dijon mustard
1 t. sugar
2T Rice Wine vinegar
1T prepared horseradish
Salt & Pepper
Shred kohlrabi, turnips and carrots using a box grater, or, even better, the shredding blade on your food processor. Dissolve sugar in Rice Wine Vinegar. Add yogurt, Dijon and horseradish to vinegar and stir well. Place veggies in a non-reactive bowl. Add yogurt mixture and stir to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate for ½ hour before serving.
Many of you know that cooking wasn’t my mother’s passion. But my father came from a long line of wonderful cooks. In fact, it’s impossible for me to remember my father without thinking of food. Because he was a typical 50′s dad, he didn’t end up in the kitchen much when we were kids, but he was the ultimate hunter/gatherer. He loved his vegetable garden – he grew the largest zucchini in town (I was 21 before I realized zucchini were only supposed to be 4-5″ long, not the 24-36″ size he loved). He was an avid fisherman. He introduced to clamming in Pismo Beach at a very early age!
Dad always told my mother that he was going to take over all cooking duties when he retired – something my mother completely supported. And he started collecting recipes from many different sources. He always told me he was going to write a cookbook for my brother, my sisters and me. Dad was absolutely in love with bizarre ingredients. Today, he’d rival Andrew Zimmern and have his own show on the cooking or travel channels.
Unfortunately, Dad never made it to retirement. A few months after his passing, when we were putting away some of his belongings, I found his file of recipes. I laughed and cried my way through his folder of “Hot recipes from Sumatra” and his folder on “Tripe and other organ meats.” That year, I compiled the cookbook he was never able to complete and gave it to my family. “Rich’s Recipes” was a huge hit, although I don’t think my siblings actually prepared many of the recipes in there. Me? I take after my dad. I worked my way through most of “Tripe and other organ meats,” but I did put my foot down on the Sumatran recipes.
Here is one of my favorites from his cookbook: Eggplant Caponata. Miss you, Dad.
RICH’S CAPONATA Pair with Morovino Barbera or Dolcetto
2 medium eggplant, stems trimmed
2 medium zucchini, ends trimmed
2 large red, yellow or green bell peppers
1 large onion
2 large ripe plum tomatoes, seeded
½ c. red wine vinegar
2 t. sugar
1 bay leaf
½ c. green olives stuffed with sundried tomatoes (or other green or black olive-stuffed is better)
¼ c. olive oil
1 ½ t. salt
1 bulb garlic, cloves peeled, but whole
1 large bulb fennel (optional, but it really adds to the dish)
Fire up the oven to 400 degrees and let it preheat. Cut eggplant into 1” cubes. Place in a colander with 1 ½ t. salt. Let stand for 20 minutes to draw off the liquid, rinse lightly, drain and pat dry with paper towels. Cut zucchini into 1” cubes. Cut red pepper into 1” cubes (notice a trend here?). Cut the fennel into (say it with me) 1” dice. Cut the onion into large dice. Place all cut veggies into an 11 x 17” roasting pan. In a blender, food processor or big measuring cup with your stick blender, whirl the tomatoes, vinegar and sugar until smooth. Add the tomato mixture, the olives, the garlic and the bay leaf to the veggies. Drizzle on the olive oil and stir well to coat.
Put the roasting pan with the veggies et. al. Into the oven. Pop your favorite movie into the DVD player, cuz these guys are gonna roast for 90 minutes to 2 hours. Stir every half an hour or so – when you get up to get a glass of wine! The caponata is ready when the veggies are very soft and most of the liquid is evaporated. Add a bit of salt and pepper to taste.
You can make this dish ahead – cover and chill it for up to a week. How to use it?? As an appetizer with garlic toast (ummmmm). As a vegetable, either warm, chilled or room temperature. Or, in my classic family tradition, spread a big dollop between two pieces of rye bread, top with Asiago cheese and eat it as a sandwich!
Serve with Barbera or Sangiovese.
1 9-oz package of fresh ravioli or tortellini (try to find small, bit sized pasta. Mrs. Vino uses Buitoni whole wheat four-cheese ravioli because they are bite sized.)
1 49.5-oz can reduced fat chicken broth (that’s right, the BIG can)
½ head of fresh fennel, chopped
1 medium red onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, chopped
1 10-oz box frozen chopped spinach, thawed or microwaved (extra credit – use chopped Kale or Mustard Greens)
2 links sweet Italian sausage
¼ lb pancetta, sliced thick by the deli, then chopped by you
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes with green peppers
Lemon pepper to taste
Juice of ½ lemon
Shaved or shredded Asiago, Parmesan or Romano cheese to garnish
Now that the weather is FINALLY turning cold in Avila, Mrs. Vino is craving one of her favorite hearty soups. Here is the recipe to share. Heat the olive oil over medium high heat in a large stock pot. Slice the sausage lengthwise, remove the casing and chop or break into small pieces. Brown the sausage and pancetta in the olive oil for 3-4 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and add the onion, fennel and garlic. Continue browning until the onion and garlic soften and begin to take on color (on Mrs. Vino’s burners it’s another 3-4 minutes). Carefully dump in the broth, and the can of tomatoes with their juice. Bring to a simmer. Add the thawed spinach and lemon pepper to taste. Add the ravioli and simmer in the broth for the time recommended on the package—don’t boil or the pasta will fall apart! Finish with the juice of ½ lemon.
Put into biiiiiggggg bowls, top with the shredded cheese and serve with warm rustic bread—This has enough veggies in it that even Mrs. Vino’s mother would have considered it a balanced meal.
Serve with sangiovese or Pinot Grigio (any of them)
If there is something more comforting than chicken soup, I don’t know what it is!!? This soup, adapted from a Marth Stewart recipe, is also relatively healthy and absolutely delicious. It’s warming enough to enjoy in the dead of winter. But light enough to enjoy in spring or a foggy Pismo Beach summer evening.
4 carrots, cut into ½” slices
3 turnips (rutabegas also work), peeled and cut into 1/2” cubes
1 large onion, cut into 1/2″ dice
1 4-lb (ish) chicken
Put veggies in a VERY large pot. Add the chicken breast side down and add water just to cover (note, the chicken floats, so hold it down with a spoon as you pour the water in so the water fills the chicken cavity and it sinks a bit). Water will be about 12 cups. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to a steady simmer (medium low heat on Mrs. Vino’s stove), and cook, partially covered for about 45 minutes. Skim the foam from the top periodically, and discard it (yuck).
Remove chicken from the pot (there will be HOT water in the chicken cavity and it will want to spill all over your hands – be very careful). Place chicken on a plate and allow to cool. Turn the burner under the liquid and veggies back to high and boil to reduce for about 20 minutes. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove the skin from the chicken and discard. Remove the chicken meat from the bones and discard the bones. Dice the chicken meat into 1/2” pieces and return to the soup. I like to make this soup the day before I serve it. If you put the pot of soup in the fridge to cool, the next day you can easily remove the congealed fat from the top of the soup and end up with a delicious, healthy low fat chicken soup. Serve this soup garnished with a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime juice!
Mrs. Vino has written about the concept of “comfort food” before. For me, it is comfort food if the very scent of it being prepared takes you back to your childhood. It doesn’t matter what type of food. What matters is the emotion the food invokes.
When I was growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, it was a tradition that on your birthday, you got to pick a restaurant and the family went out to dinner. We didn’t go out very often, so this was a real treat. One of my favorite restaurants was on the SF Waterfront and was called Tokyo Sukiyaki. At this restaurant, I had my first sushi, my first tempura and my first Sukiyaki. This restaurant was a favorite of several family members – so we went there quite a bit. And this restaurant inspired my mom to find a recipe for Sukiyaki – so she could prepare it at home. She found a recipe and it became a regular dish in her repetoire. Anytime she took out the electric frying pan (hey it was the late 60′s) we knew what was coming.
When mom passed away, I ended up with her recipe box. It sat in my cupboard, I just wasn’t able to open it. As part of my massive cookbook cupboard clean out a few months ago, I took out the recipe box and looked through it. I found the recipe my mom clipped from a 1968 issue of Sunset Magazine for Sukiyaki. Just reading the ingredient list brought back my childhood. I prepared Sukiyaki for Mr. Vino for dinner the next night. When I brought it to the table and had my first taste, I burst into tears. Mr. Vino is kind of used to this behavior. Food moves me.
Sukiyaki has become a regular part of my repetoire, too. It is my ultimate 15 minute meal. Here is a slightly revised version of the recipe (cuz I don’t cook with lard and I don’t think Japanese people usually do either!) which is light, easy and delicious. Enjoy!
Beef Sukiyaki (hot pot)
Make with Morovino 2011 Pinot Grigio Rose (or sake)
Serve with Morovino 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon
3 T brown sugar
½ c. soy sauce (low sodium)
2 c. Dry Pinot Grigio, Sake or other VERY dry white wine
1 onion, very thinly sliced
½ small head of cabbage, thinly sliced
4 ounces of mushrooms (½ package) thinly sliced
1 bunch green onions, cleaned, cut in half lengthwise, then cut into 2” pieces
3 carrots, peeled and sliced very thinly
1 lb. Beef tri-tip (or boneless rib eye) sliced in 1/8” slices (Mrs. Vino buys Tri-Tip when it goes on sale, cuts in into 1lb pieces and freezes it to save for this dish.
1” of fresh ginger root, peeled and finely grated
¼ t. red pepper flake
If you don’t have the veggies listed, you can use zucchini or other squash, celery, parsnips, green pepper, green beans – pretty much anything that is seasonal and delicious.
The important thing is that you want really, really thinly sliced veggies so everything cooks quickly and takes the same amount of time. For the onion, cut in half through the core (stem-to-root, not across the circumference), then put the cut side on your board and slice very thinly (do you get the idea we are looking for THIN slices??) so that you get long skinny pieces – not onion rings. When you slice the carrots, slice across the width of the carrot, but slightly on a diagonal, so you get THIN slices. To get really thin slices of beef, start with a very sharp knife and put the beef in the freezer for an hour before slicing.
When I cook this dish, I use a 14” non-stick sauteuse (higher sides). You can also cook this in a wok or at the table using an old fashioned electric frying pan. I haven’t tried it with an electric fondue pot yet, but theoretically it should work.
Put the sugar, soy and Pinot Grigio into your pan and bring it to a vigorous simmer – just under the boil. Add the ginger and pepper flake. Now place the meat and veggies into the pan in bunches – I try to put the thickest/longest cooking temperature stuff in first – so for this dish start with the carrots, then onions, mushrooms, then beef, then cabbage, then green onions. Turn the heat down to medium. As everything cooks, make sure to press the beef and veggies into the simmering broth with the back of a wooden spoon. When the veggies are crunchy tender and the meat is still a tiny bit pink in the middle (about 5 minutes) it is done. To serve, put a spoonful of rice (brown sushi rice is my fave) in a pretty Asian bowl. Add a bit from each bunch of veggies and meat. Then top with a couple of big spoonsful of the broth. This is almost a soup, but not quite. It is a perfect pairing with Cabernet.