by Virginia Willis in In Season, Recipes, October 10th, 2014
by Maria Russo in Shows, October 4th, 2014
In my family, fall means a trip to the mountains for apple picking and apple cider. We love buying a variety of different kinds of apples — some to refrigerate and keep for eating, some to make jelly, and always, always a couple of pounds of cooking apples for apple pie and crisp. While I adore apple pie, I have to admit that an apple crisp is so simple and easy that it’s my go-to apple dessert. There’s no pastry to make and no dough to roll out, and with a little pep in your prep you can have dessert in under an hour.
Crisps, along with their culinary cousins — crumbles, grunts, brown betties and pandowdies — are all simple, old-fashioned, homey desserts. The desserts in this genre use a streusel-like mixture of flour or breadcrumbs, sugar, warm spices and butter, along with rolled oats and nuts. I especially love to use fresh, in-season Georgia pecans in the fall, but almonds and walnuts are great, too. Crisps are flat-out easy, and everyone loves a piping-hot fruit dessert with a sweet, buttery topping. You can serve the crisp with ice cream, whipped cream, or even creme fraiche for an ultra-indulgent dose of down-home comfort. Read more
by Virginia Willis in Recipes, October 3rd, 2014
In the spirit of fall’s shorter days and colder nights, The Kitchen co-hosts dedicated an entire episode this morning to one of autumn’s most-anticipated indulgences: comfort food. From rich casseroles to hearty stews and extra-creamy desserts, few things are better than cozying up to a satisfying meal this time of year, and The Kitchen has you covered when it comes to enjoying both savory and sweet recipes.
FN Dish wants to know, now that the change of seasons is upon us and autumn is in full swing, what comfort food is you all-time-favorite decadence? Do you keep coming back for treats like double-layer cakes or piled-high pies, or do you prefer cheesier selects like bubbly lasagna or baked macaroni and cheese? Cast your vote in the poll below to tell us your go-to pick for comfort food.
by Virginia Willis in Recipes, September 12th, 2014
Somewhere along the way when women were being “liberated” from the kitchen, processed and convenience foods became dinner du jour. One-pot casseroles became a go-to for many busy moms and families. One of my favorites growing up was Broccoli, Chicken and Rice Casserole. What’s not to love? It’s filling chicken and rice with creamy gravy, topped with cheese. It’s real down-home comfort.
Most often this indulgent casserole is made with frozen broccoli and a couple of familiar red-and-white cans of cream of mushroom soup. This version is made with fresh, wholesome ingredients. It takes just a smidgen more time, but the results are absolutely extraordinary. I’m pretty adamant that down-home comfort can be made without bags and boxes. The truth of the matter is that all too often those shortcuts aren’t really timesavers and they are packed with salt and food additives. I personally really like recipes with ingredients that you can pronounce and don’t need a degree in chemistry to decipher. That gives me a very deep, satisfying feeling of comfort.
by Ricky Smith in Recipes, September 8th, 2014
What? Biscuits and Chocolate Gravy. That sounds like something a devious 6-year-old would make up, doesn’t it? Tender, buttery biscuits enrobed in dark, rich rivulets of creamy, chocolate gravy. Yes, it may sound very Willy Wonka-inspired, but Biscuits and Chocolate Gravy is actually a very old-school traditional breakfast of the Upland South.
People talk about Southern food as if it’s one cuisine, when in actuality it has many variations and subtleties, often region by region. The South can be subdivided into two principal larger areas: the Upper South and the Lower, or Deep, South. The Upper, or Upland, South is the northern border of what we define as the South in the United States. It runs from Virginia and North Carolina westward through West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee and Arkansas, dipping into the northern realms of Alabama and Georgia. The Upland South doesn’t conform neatly to state lines, but instead is influenced by the terrain, history and culture. It’s the landscape of a diverse society and what could generally be defined as Appalachia, an area at once both incredibly poor and culturally rich.
by Virginia Willis in Recipes, September 5th, 2014
Comfort food is notoriously indulgent. Butter, cheese and potatoes make appearances in nearly every dish. Even though it’s not the healthiest cuisine in the world, we turn our heads away from the calorie count in the name of comfort and deliciousness. But even these down-home dishes can be lightened up by replacing fat-laden ingredients and opting for the oven instead of the fryer. By being more conscious about ingredients, you can enjoy these classics with a little less guilt.
Lightened-Up Mac and Cheese
If you often find yourself craving a big bowl of cheesy goodness, this recipe is going to be your new best friend. Instead of heavy cream, this version uses skim milk and low-fat sour cream, and includes part-skim mozzarella and low-fat Swiss. And for a little indulgence in the flavor department, it calls for a few tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese.
by Nikhita Mahtani in Community, August 17th, 2014
Corn has been part of the American kitchen since Colonial days, as it was a hardy crop, relatively easy to grow and resistant to insects. It was a staple of the Native American diet long before the first settlers arrived and quickly became part of the settlers’ diet. It had a long harvest that extended over a longer period of time than wheat and was cultivated extensively from New England to Georgia. There’s also a long history of corn in the hills and valleys of Appalachia, as corn was better suited to the mountainous terrain than wheat or barley. Corn was eaten fresh in the summer and dried into meal for the winter months. Practicality guided it to find its way in some form, sweet or savory, into breakfast, lunch and dinner.
by Maria Russo in Recipes, August 13th, 2014
For an easy weeknight meal, soup is your best bet. It is also extremely versatile and can be made with any number of ingredients, depending on your mood. For a warming and comforting treat that’s as perfect for summer as it is for winter, look no further than Ree Drummond‘s Best Tomato Soup Ever. The heavy cream, sherry and sugar give the recipe a pop of flavor and balance the acidity of the tomatoes. This relaxing recipe is the ideal pick for this week’s Most Popular Pin of the Week.
For more feel-good recipes, check out Food Network’s Let’s Cook Comfort Food board on Pinterest.
Get the recipe: Best Tomato Soup Ever
by Virginia Willis in Recipes, May 2nd, 2014
Even at the height of a stifling summer, there are days when only warm, gooey comfort food will do, and when you’re faced with that kind of craving, macaroni and cheese is a go-to solution. From the classic stovetop variety to the creamy baked casseroles studded with bacon, there’s a mac and cheese to please every palate, and most are easy-to-make standbys that are guaranteed to wow your family. Read on below to find Food Network’s top-five macaroni and cheese recipes from Trisha Yearwood, Alton Brown, Ina Garten and more chefs.
5. Slow-Cooker Macaroni and Cheese — After combining noodles with milk, butter and cheese in the slow cooker, Trisha lets the machine do the work of preparing the dish for her.
4. Mac ‘n’ Cheese with Bacon and Cheese — Fresh thyme and crispy, salty bacon dress up Tyler Florence’s big-batch baked casserole.
by Virginia Willis in Holidays, Recipes, April 18th, 2014
Perhaps the most-famous shortcake dessert is strawberry shortcake. Depending on where you are in the United States, shortcakes can either be sponge cakes or sweet biscuits. These shortcakes are split and the bottoms are covered with a layer of strawberries and whipped cream. They are divine down-home comfort.
What’s the secret to a light, tender shortcake? This is where down-home comfort meets food science. Wheat flour contains two proteins, glutenin and gliadin. When you combine flour with water, the proteins create a strong and elastic sheet called gluten. Flours vary in their protein levels, which affects the texture of baked goods. Gluten gives structure to yeast breads but is not recommended for tender sponge cakes, biscuits and quick breads. All-purpose flour milled in the South is from soft red winter wheat, which has less gluten-forming protein. It is typically bleached, which makes it whiter, but this does not affect the protein. My family has always used White Lily flour, a staple across the South; another dependable Southern brand is Martha White.
Fresh ham is nothing like the boozy bourbon-soaked and smoked holiday ham or the candy-sweet spiral wonder. It’s essentially a pork roast with a bone — a rather big pork roast with a bone — but a pork roast nonetheless. It’s simply the upper hind leg of a pig, not processed or cured using salt or brine, nor smoked as most hams are. Fresh ham tastes like a really moist pork loin or center-cut pork chops. And, when prepared and roasted properly, a fresh ham is capped by an exquisite, burnished-gold piece of crispy skin. It’s the perfect marriage of a bone-in pork chop and cracklin’ pork belly. Fresh ham means down-home comfort, especially when served with roasted sweet potatoes.
How did serving ham for Easter become a custom? Mediterranean celebrations, including the Jewish Passover, traditionally call for lamb at spring feasts. However, in northern Europe, pigs were the primary protein and ham was often served instead for special meals. Pigs were slaughtered in the fall and the meat was salted, smoked and cured over the winter. The resulting hams were ready to eat in the spring. At the point when refrigeration became widely available and curing hams wasn’t a necessity, someone came up with the grand idea of cooking fresh ham. I am glad they did.