Tag Archives: comfort

Cauliflower Gratin with Leeks and White Cheddar

19 May

I’m pretty well convinced that nothing made with heavy cream can be bad. When I saw this recipe in the New York Times I knew I had to make it, because I happened to have a half a large leek (which I figured was the equivalent of the small leek called for) and a package of white cheddar cheese in my fridge. Of course I had to go out and buy a cauliflower and the heavy cream, but it was worth a little effort! Give it a try — it could be your new definition of “comfort food”!

Ingredients:

1 smallish head cauliflower (about 2 lb), green leaves removed
Olive oil, for drizzling
1 small leek, white and light green part only, very thinly sliced
kosher salt and black pepper
¾ cup heavy cream
6 oz. sharp white cheddar, grated (about 1½ cups)

Directions:

Heat oven to 425 degrees.

Slice cauliflower head lengthwise into half-inch thick slices, including the core and inner leaves. Save any small bits that fall away.

Drizzle olive oil onto the bottom of a 2-quart baking dish (round, oval, square or rectangular). Layer about a third of the cauliflower along the bottom, and about a third of the leeks. Season with salt and pepper and repeat until all the cauliflower and leeks are used. Toss in any “crumbs” of cauliflower you have left on your cutting board.

Season with salt and pepper and drizzle the cream over the cauliflower and leeks. Scatter the cheese on top and season again with salt and pepper. Cover ligjtly with foil and place in the oven.

Bake until the cauliflower is nearly tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to bake until the cream has thickened and reduced nearly completely and the top is golden brown and crisp, 35 to 40 minutes. If you want a little extra crunch, scatter some breadcrumbs tossed in olive oil over the top after you remove the foil.

Remove from the oven and cool for a few minutes before serving

Serves 4

Mushroom-Barley Soup

2 Jun

This is a quintesential comfort food, so it’s been a great panedemic recipe. Leftovers will keep for a week or more in the fridge.

The last time I made it I realized as I was getting started that I had no fresh mushrooms! That didn’t matter much — what’s really essential is the dried mushrooms. We once got a huge jar of them at Costco, and it lasted us about 10 years. Sadly, Costco no longer carries the product. You can find dried mushrooms in bulk food stores and some supermarkets. Or you can buy them online. Don’t freak out at the sky-high per-pound price; you need very little and they weigh next to nothing, so an ounce or two will last you a long time (and they don’t spoil).

If you have porcini mushroom caps, use 3 to 5 of them. If your dried mushrooms are in bits and flakes, measure out about 3 tablespoons of pieces.

Ingredients:

3 to 5 dried porcini mushrooms or 3 tbs. dried mushroom pieces
1 Tbs. vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped
1-2 carrots, chopped
1-2 stalks celery, chopped
4 – 8 oz. fresh mushrooms, sliced
6 cups stock (vegetable, beef, chicken)
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can Great Northern or cannelini beans
1 bay leaf
¼ cup fresh chopped parsley or 1 Tbs. dried parsley
½ cup pearled barley
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Soak the dried mushrooms in boiling water to cover for a half hour.

Heat the oil in a large pot and sautee the chopped onions for about 2 minutes. Add the carrots and celery and continue cooking until the vegetables are soft, another 3-5 minutes. Add the fresh mushrooms and cook until soft.

Add the stock and the canned tomatoes and stir.

Drain the dried mushrooms, slice them thin and add to the pot. (You can use the liquid that you drain off, but put it through a strainer first.)

Add the canned beans, bayleaf and parsley.

Bring the soup to the boil, then add the barley. Return to the boil, Reduce to a simmer, and cook, covered, for about 30 minutes.

The soup is better if you make it at least several hours before you want to serve it and reheat.

Serves 8