What is it with winter and the craving of comfort foods? Our winter has been pretty easy so far, no big major storms or deathly cold temps yet (although I'm sure that will come) but I have been craving comfort foods like crazy... Do you do that too? Surely it's not just me! It seems the only supper ideas I come up with these days are things like chili, beef stew, homemade soup, spaghetti, potato scallop and meatloaf.... I made a big batch of chicken curry a few weeks ago and there are several containers in the freezer, so that's an easy "pull out and thaw" comfort food meal... Last night I made Shepherd's Pie and served it with Caesar Salad (my yummy dressing recipe is here) and fresh warm rolls. Yummmm. I was comforted! :)
So what are your thoughts on "comfort food?" Why do we crave it so? Is it the pleasant memory of childhood and happy family suppers around the table? Is it our wishing for some of Mum's home-cookin'? Is it the fond memory of how good the house smelled at suppertime when we came in from being in the fresh cold winter air after skating or sliding? What is your favourite "comfort" food?
Here's my Shepherd's Pie recipe, which came from Canadian Living magazine years ago...
2 lbs. potatoes
3 tblsp. vegetable oil
2 onions, chopped
1or 2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup sliced mushrooms (I use more)
1 lb. medium or lean ground beef
1/2 cup beef stock
1 tblsp. tomato paste
1 tblsp. horseradish
1 tsp. dry mustard
1/2 tsp. thyme
salt and pepper
1.5 cups chopped peppers, red and green (yellow too if you want it really colourful!)
1/3 cup hot milk
2 eggs, separated
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Peel and quarter potatoes, cook in lightly salted water until tender. Drain well.
Meanwhile, in skillet, heat 2 tblsp. oil, cook onions and garlic until softened. Add mushrooms, cook for several minutes until golden. Transfer to 8 cup (2 qt.) casserole or baking dish and set aside.
In same skillet, cook beef, breaking up into small pieces, until evenly browned. Drain off fat and add meat to onion mixture.
In skillet, bring stock and tomato paste to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in mustard, horseradish, thyme, 1/2 tsp. salt and pepper to taste. Add to meat mixture, mixing well.
In clean skillet, heat remaining oil and cook peppers until tender crisp. Spread over meat mixture.
Mash potatoes. Add hot milk, egg yolks, cheese, salt and pepper to taste. Mix well. Beat egg whites until stiff, fold into potato mixture. Spread evenly over meat mixture.
Bake in 425° F oven for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 350°F and bake for 20 minutes longer, or until meat is bubbly and top golden. Makes 4-6 servings.
** I sometimes omit the horseradish if I don't have it on hand, to no detriment. Also I often add a layer of green peas (frozen, not canned) on top of the peppers... that's good too!
"Food, like a loving touch or a glimpse of divine power, has that ability to comfort." ~ Norman Kolpas