Tips and tricks to making your own favourite comfort meals
Many people associate comfort food with energy dense meals high in calories and rich in flavour. The flavour part I can agree on, but comfort food does not have to be a heavy affair.
To me, it is the warmth of a tasty and almost soothing meal. I often make meals that you can eat from a bowl and that can be cooked up in a large pot, like stews, curries, dal, mashes, soups etc. I incorporate seasonal ingredients and flavours, which at the moment include: beets, sweet potatoes and other root vegetables, pumpkin, cabbage, apples and chestnuts. You can easily go vegetarian, and for instance make dal – but including a nice piece of meat like beef or venison does magic to your comfort meal.
I also like to enhance the flavour of my comfort food. Adding a good broth or stock can boost the flavour and create a really tasty meal. I believe that serving a dish with extra attention to the flavour tends to do the trick, making a meal feel like a big hug. Tap into as many senses as possible. Serving something hot, with intense flavour that even looks cosy in a bowl and can enjoyed with a spoon can be magical.
Top 3 ideas for comfy meals
Soups are always a great choice. My seasonal go-to soup is simply adding whatever root vegetables I have on hand to a large pot + some onions, top it off with a good broth and some spices. Let it simmer for 30 minutes until the veg is tender. Blend everything, make it nice and creamy with a little cream or crème fraiche, season to taste and serve with warm bread.
I love a good mash and here pumpkin, potato and celeriac are my favourites. Boil them in salted water until tender. Add a splash of milk, a dollop of butter and some salt and blend everything into a creamy or chunky mash. I serve my mash with all manner of stews or top them with crisp bacon, a little cheese and fresh herbs.
Lasagne is definitely worth mentioning when it comes to comfort meals. The beauty about lasagne is that you can vary it like crazy. You can even make a shepherd’s pie and push it into the lasagne category. I make everything from vegetarian lentil lasagne to protein-rich chicken and cottage cheese lasagne. I almost always make a double portion and freeze 2-3 small lasagnes layered in foil trays. That way, we have a quick comfort meal on busy days, too.
The sweet comfort food
Comfort food is not just a savoury bowl of steaming creamy potato soup served on a cold night. It can also be an apple pie served straight from the oven served with a dollop of crème fraiche and a piping mug of tea, a slice of cake filled with warm spices, a chai latte, a bowl of elderberry soup with cream or a pile of homemade waffles.
Since apples and pears are in season right now and for the many next months and some lucky people are drowning in their own produce, they can create a wonderful base for several sweet, or even savoury comfort foods. Pie is definitely my favourite sweet comfy treat, but quite often I cook up a large batch of apple and/or pear compote. Simply peel and chop the fruit, let it simmer for 30 minutes in a pot with a little water, sugar and vanilla and voilà. It can be stored in the fridge for 3-4 weeks or stocked in the freezer and used on almost anything. I love warm compote with a splash of cream and a little chocolate on top. Another favourite is adding a little compote to my breakfast porridge and topping it with roasted nuts. That’s what I call a sweet comfort breakfast.