What do you think about when you say comfort food? To me, it’s the kind of food that offers a ray of light on a not so good day. It’s the kind of finger-licking, luscious food that makes you feel all nice and warm inside. It’s the kind of food that makes you say “Damn, I’ve eaten too much!”( at least I say that quite often). In one word, comfort food is joy.
Over time, we’ve created our own menu of comfort dishes that we resort to whenever we feel like it. So, if you are looking for ideas, here is my list of comfort food dishes that are worth trying.
This traditionally Hungarian dish is hands down my favourite comfort food. It’s not at all difficult to make, although it takes a little bit of time to cook. But I promise you, it’s worth it!
Cooking Time: 1h30
Ingredients: Diced up beef or pork, bell peppers, carrots, onion, potatoes, tomatoes, garlic, salt, pepper, hot and sweet paprika( loads of it), bay leaves and tomato purée.
Method: In a large pot, put a little oil, add the diced beef and brown it on all sides, then take it out of the pot and set it aside for a bit. In the same pot, add a bit more oils and put all the veggies (except the potatoes!!), which were also diced previously. Let them soften up for about 10 minutes, then put the beef back and add just enough water to cover the ingredients. Cover the pot with a lid and let it cook for about 30 min.
Add the tomato purée and the bay leaves and let it cook uncovered for another 20 min, stirring occasionally. Check the beef; if it’s soft and pulls apart in flakes then you can add the diced potatoes. If not, let the meat cook a little longer. Now you can also start seasoning the Goulash. Add the garlic (I like adding the garlic later in the cooking so it stays firm but you can add it earlier than this), salt, pepper, the sweet and hot paprika. I usually add the seasoning little by little, so that I don’t over-season (I have a long history of doing that). Cook until the potatoes are done. Optionally, after you turn off the heat, you can add some chopped up parsley.
As you’ve noticed, I didn’t write any quantities because this is one of the great things about Goulash- you can add as much or as little of an ingredient as you wish, as much or as little seasoning and you can cut the ingredients as big or as small as you wish. It’s all up to you.
This is not the traditional recipe, but more of an adapted version that I and my family love.
This is another recipe that is not necessarily easy on the stomach (mainly because you tend to eat too much) but well worth it.
Cooking time: about 1h
Ingredients: minced beef or pork, onion, carrots, bell peppers, potatoes, garlic, red wine, salt, pepper, thyme, hot paprika (optional- only if you want it spicy), Worcestershire sauce and tomato purée. Butter and milk for the mashed potatoes
Method: In a large pan, add some oil, brown the minced meat and then put it aside. Add some more oil in the pan and put the diced onions, carrots and bell peppers. Let them soften for a few minutes and then put the meat back. Add about a cup of red wine (you can replace wine with water) and let it cook on medium heat until the wine has evaporated. Add the tomato purée, season to taste and let it cook for another 15-20 min, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, boil the diced potatoes.
When they are done, make a light and fluffy mashed potatoes with plenty of milk and butter (don’t forget to season the mash with some salt). By now the sauce should be ready. Put it in a tray, add the mashed potatoes on top and sprinkle some cheese (I usually use either Parmigiano or Cheddar). Put it in the oven until the cheese has melted and slightly browned.
As with the Goulash, the quantity of ingredients is entirely up to you. I can assure you that there will be some happy tummies after you eat this Shepard’s Pie!
This is one of the easiest and quickest recipes. So, when you’re pressed for time but still want something delicious and healthy to eat, this dish is for you.
Level: super easy
Cooking time: 30min
Ingredients: pretty much any veggies you prefer. I usually use a medium-sized cauliflower, 3-4 carrots, a big zucchini, an onion, 2-3 small potatoes, sour cream, chorizo, salt, and pepper.
Method: boil all the veggies in a pot. When done, use a hand blender to turn the veggies into a watery purée. Add the sour cream and season to taste. I usually put some spicy chorizo in, that gives the soup and incredible taste. Serve it with croutons. *Depending on how thick or watery you want the soup to be, add more or less water when you boil the veggies.
This is the very definition of simplicity that happens to be extraordinarily tasty and healthy. 2 birds with 1 stone.
I love oriental food and this dish has quickly become a weekly occurrence in our kitchen. It is quick and bursting with flavour.
Cooking time: about 20 min
Ingredients: 500g chicken breast, 3 bell peppers cut julienne, a big onion julienne as well (if you have green onion, even better), a jar of bamboo shards, 2-3 garlic cloves, 1 piece of ginger finely chopped, sesame seeds, 4-5 tablespoons sweet and sour sauce, 3 tablespoons soya sauce, 3 tablespoons oyster sauce, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper, ½ teaspoon coriander, ½ teaspoon cumin. Serve it either with noodles or basmati rice.
Method: Cook the chicken in a pan until it turns white, then put it aside. Put some oil in a large wok, put the garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant. Add the onion, bell peppers and bamboo. Turn the heat on to maximum and cook for about 10-15 min stirring constantly. The high heat will cook the veggies but they will remain firm and crunchy. After veggies are done, stir in the chicken and start adding the sauces and the sesame seeds. Cook for another 5 min on medium heat. I like serving it with noodles but it works very well with rice, too.
And there you have it! An oriental dish bursting with flavour.
If you ask someone what they had for dinner last night and they answer stewed cabbage, you will probably be less than impressed and maybe even think “Yeew”. But I promise you, this recipe is unbelievably delicious and quite cheap to make. Not to mention that cabbage has numerous health benefits. You can find out more about this amazing vegetable here.
Cooking time: 1h30
Ingredients: 500g pork meat diced, a medium sized cabbage, 2 onions, 1 red pepper diced (optional), 1 tablespoon of cumin, a ½ teaspoon of thyme, salt, pepper, 100-150ml white wine (can be replaced with water)
Method: fry the pork meat in a pot or a wok. Season it with the salt, pepper and the cumin seeds. Add in the diced onion and let it soften for 2-3 minutes. Pour the wine and let it cook until it evaporates then add about 100ml of water, cover the pot with a lid and let it cook on medium heat for about 40 min. Check it regularly and add more water if needed. Meanwhile, cut the cabbage in long strips, put it in a bowl and salt it. When the meat is almost done (they should be tender), put in the cabbage and the pepper. Stir everything in and add the thyme. Put the lid back on and let it cook for another 20 min or until the cabbage is soft. Serve it with fresh bread and sour cream if desired.
Can’t begin to tell you the wonderful smell that fills the kitchen whenever I make this dish, not to mention the taste when it’s done. This is good, wholesome food perfect for a cold winter’s evening.