by Virginia Willis in Recipes, May 2nd, 2014
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.
by Virginia Willis in Recipes, April 4th, 2014
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.
by Virginia Willis in Recipes, March 28th, 2014
The Chesapeake Bay, Atlantic coast and Gulf of Mexico are riddled with numerous shallow muddy inlets of brackish water, the perfect home for blue crabs. Blue Crabs are found abundantly in rivers, inlets and bayous and are one of the most popular of the more than 4,500 species of crabs found worldwide. Cracking steamed crabs is an eating sport of sorts; the eater has to really dive in to reap the rewards. There might be a bit too much work for it to be considered comfort food. Cheesy, warm crab dip moves in the right direction, but crispy on the outside, tender on the inside crab cake? That, my friends, is pure down-home comfort.
The best crab cakes contain ingredients that enhance the flavor of the crab yet don’t compete with it, like raw red peppers that are usually added simply for color but do little to improve the flavor of the dish. Crab cakes are best when they are left alone to be crab cakes, not crab-and-breading cakes, or worse, breading-and-crab cakes. You need just enough of a binder to hold them together.
by Amy Reiter in News, March 26th, 2014
Country-fried steak is called chicken-fried steak in Texas and pan-fried steak, cube steak or smothered steak in other regions; but frankly, once you taste this dish of down-home comfort, you’re not going to care what it’s called. This is pure meat and potatoes — simple country cooking that is as basic as basic can be.
When considering classic comfort food dishes, it’s often a bit of a mystery where they came from and how they became so exalted. Although it’s not a great feat of culinary genius to consider breading meat and frying it in a skillet, the dish does enjoy uber-celebrity status in Texas. This may be due to the German settlements in the Hill Country near Austin. If you think about it, chicken-fried steak is just a Texas two-step away from das schnitzel.
by Allison Milam in Recipes, March 26th, 2014
Casseroles have gotten such a bad rap in recent years, dismissed with sneers about soup cans, that those who love casseroles (and who, secretly, doesn’t love a good casserole?) may have felt compelled to keep their comfort-food cravings to themselves.
Now, finally, casserole fans can come clean: The humble one-dish meal has found a champion to defend its honor and bring it the respect it needs.
New York Times food columnist Melissa Clark writes that the casserole, though cozy, is not, inherently, “dowdy in its DNA,” nor must it be “bland or one-note,” and it “does not have to contain even a single strand of melted cheese, or be dusted with crushed potato chips.”
In fact, she suggests, “The casserole can be nuanced and urbane, with room for fresh ingredients, clever details and a vivid palette of flavors,” adding that “there’s nothing wrong with baking assorted ingredients together in a dish” and that “when done just right, the elements merge in the oven’s heat, building on one another until the flavors unite into a delicious whole, preferably one with a golden top and appealingly moist center.”
by Allison Milam in How-to, Recipes, March 25th, 2014
In life, we don’t always recommend you cut corners. But, hey, in the kitchen? Now that’s a different story. Feast your eyes on some of the best kitchen shortcuts to grace mankind — and we’re not talkin’ sliced bread or the can opener. Thanks to some handy store-bought ingredients, restaurant-worthy dishes known for toil and trouble are ready in no time. Here are three of our favorites:
30-Minute Coq au Vin —This classic French dish typically takes hours on end to prepare. Thing is, dinner needed to be on the table a half-hour ago. Don’t go giving up on the craving though, because at a supermarket near you, juicy rotisserie chickens are already rotating to plump perfection. Take one home, get a red wine sauce simmering— think bacon, mushrooms and frozen (plus pre-peeled!) pearl onions — and slip in pieces of chicken when no one’s looking. Read more
by Sara Levine in Recipes, March 24th, 2014
Traditional banana pudding and Italian tiramisu may hail from drastically different places — compare an Italian trattoria to the kitchen of your Southern grandmother — but, trust us, these two go together without a hitch. Maybe it’s the layering, maybe it’s that inspired combination of coffee, bananas and cream. All we know is that with a comforting dessert mash-up like Banana Pudding Tiramisu, there’s never been a more pressing reason to whip out those trifle dishes.
Check out a step-by-step how-to for this banana and espresso cream bliss. Assemble yours the night before for the best results.
by FN Dish Editor in Community, March 23rd, 2014
Surfing the wave of mash-up mania that brought the world the Cronut™ and ramen burger, we decided to beat winter by partnering with our brilliant culinary team in Food Network Kitchen to come up with THE most comforting comfort food. Together with Cooking Channel, we’ve mashed up some classics to create all-new recipes that deliver double the comfort. Over the next several weeks, we’ll be revealing the ways we mixed and remixed some of our favorite dishes, with one recipe appearing on Food Network and another on Cooking Channel.
For this week’s remixed mash-up finale, we bring you two spectacular desserts that marry doughnuts not with croissants, but with a treat that’s even more festive: colorful confetti birthday cake. Read more
by Virginia Willis in Recipes, March 21st, 2014
Ree’s chicken and spaghetti casserole is pure comfort food — and it’s also this week’s Most Popular Pin of the Week. She makes it easy by cooking all the ingredients in one pot, transferring that into a casserole dish and baking until the cheese topper becomes a bubbly. Don’t worry about twirling strands; Ree breaks the spaghetti into pieces beforehand for easy eating.
For more everyday recipe inspiration, visit Food Network’s Let’s Cook: Main Dishes board on Pinterest.
Get the Recipe: The Pioneer Woman’s Chicken Spaghetti
There’s nostalgia associated with comfort food. Comfort food is food that is simple, solid and reminds us of childhood. Buttery, rich pound cake might very well be the ultimate down-home comfort dessert. It’s the cake that consoles as well as celebrates. It’s the all-purpose cake that’s perfect for birthdays, baby showers, funerals and everything in between. Pound cake is the slice of cake served with gossip and coffee to the neighbor down the street as well as for a baby’s first birthday. It’s the solid understudy waiting patiently under the cake dome, ready to step in at a moment’s notice. Read more