“So what exactly is comfort food? It’s food that’s not just nourishing but it’s also emotionally satisfying.” Ina Garten
Without a doubt, 2020 has been a stressful and emotionally unsettling year. In times like these, many of us turn to food to soothe our frayed and jangled nerves. Which foods help you to feel better? Is it grilled cheese and tomato soup, pancakes, nachos, ice cream, chocolate chip cookies, macaroni and cheese or all of the above? No matter if it is hot, cold, salty, sweet, crunchy or creamy, you’ll discover something new or nostalgic to enjoy in the following cookbooks.
Ina Garten’s twelfth cookbook couldn’t have arrived at a better time and is appropriately titled, “Modern Comfort Food.” In it, you’ll find many familiar recipes that have been given an ‘Ina upgrade.’ These include Ultimate Beef Stew made with tender boneless short ribs, pancetta and a splash of Cognac to enrich this timeless meat and potato dish. Creamy Tomato Bisque served alongside Cheddar & Chutney Grilled Cheese sandwiches, are a welcome lunchtime duo. Roasted Sausages, Peppers and Onions are delicious by themselves, spooned atop a hoagie roll or over Fresh Corn Polenta. For something sweet and decadent, Ina has Bittersweet Chocolate Cake which is rich and dense like a brownie or lava cake, Milk Chocolate Oreo Ice Cream and Giant Crinkled Chocolate Chip Cookies sprinkled with sea salt while still warm from the oven.
Since 2011, Melina Davies has been keeping Angelinos well fed at her restaurants. Now you can duplicate Melina’s sought-after dishes in your kitchen with her debut cookbook, “Olive & Thyme.” Roasted chicken coated with an aromatic spice rub and slowly cooked in the oven with or without a nest of vegetables makes for a classic and satisfying meal. Any leftover meat may be used in a Classic Cobb Salad, Curry Chicken Salad or Spicy Chicken Bowtie Pasta with feta, cilantro and scallions tossed in a creamy Russian dressing with a kick. For some, mac and cheese is the quintessential comfort food. If you agree, then get ready for Melina’s version of this beloved dish. Bacon, Macaroni and Cheese blends parmesan, sharp white cheddar and gruyere cheeses with pasta and smoky bacon. The casserole receives a layer of toasted breadcrumbs for a crunchy golden crust. The photo alone is irresistible!
Muffins, biscuits, cornbread, cookies, pies and cakes are all here in “The Good Book of Southern Baking” by Kelly Fields. Flaky, multi-layered golden biscuits are attainable with Kelly’s The Baker’s Biscuits recipe. Other varieties to try are Angel, Drop, Beaten and Sweet Potato Biscuits. A Southern baking book would not be complete without cornbread. Willa Jean Cornbread is Kelly’s version which is baked in a cast iron skillet. For those who are short on time, grab a box of Jiffy corn bread mix and use the ideas listed on page 37 for additional sweet or savory ideas. Thanksgiving is almost upon us and this is the holiday to show off your mad pie baking skills. There are 18 delicious offerings to crown your feast like Apple Streusel, Sweet Potato and Toasted Honey Marshmallow or Pumpkin Pie with Roasted White Chocolate Cream.
Lastly, is a trio of books written by or about familiar people from television. They are “The Happy in a Hurry Cookbook” by Steve and Kathy Doocy, “Just Feed Me” by Jessie James Decker and “Friends: The Official Cookbook” by Amanda Yee with recipes for Bathtub Fried Chicken, Central Perk’s “Birthday” Muffins and The Moist Maker Sandwich.
The staff here at Smiley Public Library wishes all of you a safe and peaceful holiday season.