Throughout our March 2012 issue, we celebrate the meaning of comfort food. Editor Scott Mowbray shared his comfort-food favorites and opened the discussion up to you, posing the question: What's your Top 10 comfort food list? Here are some of our favorites. Add your own list to the collection in the comments section below.
My personal Top 10 as a vegetarian:
1. Polish Tofu with mashed potatoes (an adaptation of a Moosewood recipe)
2. My version of colcannon
3. My sister's brownies
4. Tortilla casserole
5. Take out Indian food
6. Creme brulée
7. Lentil Loaf
8. Stir fry with my own peanut sauce
9. Cuban black beans and rice
10. Bailey's stew (not vegetarian; I cook for my dog due to his cancer)
Don't Mess With Texas
Comfort food of a native Texas transplanted to New Mexico for almost 40 years:
Green chili stew
Red chili cheese enchiladas
Split pea soup
Texas red chili
Dried beans and cornbread
Special recipe mac and cheese
Green chili chicken enchiladas
A glass of chardonnay
Lemon meringue pie
A Dreamy Variety
These foods are not in any special order. I just closed my eyes and started to dream about all the foods that I eat when I need any type of comfort!
1. Italian spaghetti and turkey meatballs are my all time favorite comfort food. My grandparents came from Italy and with them brought many Italian recipes. Every Sunday, since I can remember, my family would gather at their house and have the most delicious spaghetti. We were always allowed to dunk our Italian bread in the sauce before we sat down. My Grandfather's homemade wine was in the center of the table. What a celebration of tradition! My parents continued serving spaghetti every Sunday and when my family was young I did the same. Now everyone gathers at my house a couple times a year for this meal. Even though I now make turkey meatballs no one seems to mind!!
2. A toasted cheese mozzarella sandwich on Italian bread. The melted mozzarella is delicious and fun. Each bite contains a piece of cheese that stretches from the sandwich to your mouth. Add a cold glass of crisp white wine….heaven!
3. Rosemary garlic chicken that is baked in the oven until it is gooey and brown. As the chicken is baking your mouth starts to water just from the aroma of the herbs. You really can't just have one piece. This recipe is still used at our Italian reunions. Yum!
4. Homemade Apple Crisp…a savory apple cinnamon combination topped with a wonderful buttery sugary crisp topping. Served right out of the oven with French vanilla ice cream or homemade whipping cream…beyond yummy!!
5. Tuna noodle casserole is a favorite of my whole family. This casserole is made with kluski noodles…fresh sautéed mushrooms…a little cheddar cheese…and baby peas (I serve this on the side to be mixed in). My husband requests this dish often and sits at the table and tries to finish anything that is left. The cheese on the top leaves this dish crunchy and wonderful.
6. On a cold winter day—or when I am just not feeling myself— I put a pot of vegetable soup on the stove and in a few minutes create a thick soup that is filled with zucchini, carrots, celery, cabbage, onions, white beans and a small amount of canned diced tomatoes. This soup makes me feel fuzzy and good immediately after the first bite. Served with a crispy French loaf of warmed bread and playing some jazz music in the background is all that one needs to have a great meal.
7. Pizza with homemade dough and sauce is surely one of my favorite comfy foods. The recipe I use is from my Dad. He would often make this on a weekend night inviting any family member that wanted a Pizza that is like no other pizza you can buy at the store. Sautéed mushrooms…roasted red peppers…black olives…anchovies melted in olive oil…pepperoni are just a few toppings he would put on the table for one to build their own. My son and son-in-law make this pizza often. We often have a pizza cook-off to see whose pizza is the best!! It's pretty close…all delicious…all homemade and all served with a red wine or a cold, cold beer!!
8. Pancakes with a sunny side up egg. I love the melting of the butter…the warm syrup…the runny yolk all mixed together to create a mixture to dunk your pancake in. I eat this any time of the day. A pick me up that is forever perfect. A hot cup of coffee or tea is a great addition.
—Mary Ann DiLoreto McCarthy
I read, with interest, your top 10 comfort foods article in the March Cooking Light. Thought I would give you my favorite comfort foods. Have a bunch, hard to narrow it to 10. I love to cook and these are family favorites. My grandkids and their friends call almost everything, "Grandma's Famous".
1. Chicken and dumplings, top of the list of my grand kids: "Grandma's famous Chicken & Dumplings" My signature dish.
2. Chicken noodle soup with homemade broth and noodles, a few carrots and celery, and lots of chicken chunks
3. Baked chicken with dressing
4. Mashed potatoes…with everything
5. Spaghetti with meat sauce or balls.
6. Pot roast in the slow cooker, potatoes, carrots, celery, mushrooms and baby corn cobs
7. Beef stew with macaroni
8. Vegetable barley soup, made with hamburger and lots of barley
9. Prime rib with mashed potatoes, gravy, and Yorkshire pudding
10. Grilled cheese and ham sandwiches on homemade bread. "Grandma's Famous"
11. Banana cream pie with whole bananas and whipped cream topping. "Grandma's Famous" My grandson—especially, and I are banana creamers.
"They all want that soup"
1. Forever favorite: Hungarian filled peppers with boiled potatoes or mamaliga (cornmeal mush or polenta)
2. Beef goulash with farina dumplings (my own recipe)
3. Chicken dumpling soup with those same farina dumplings
4. Spicy chickpeas with spinach and pasta ( I pulled my leftovers out of the freezer and am eating it now).
5. Hot open-face tuna melts
6. Braised lamb shanks
7. Creme brûlée
9. Any homemade bread
10. Hungarian fish stew
Hmmm only one sweet. I need another list for those top ten! Now I'm really hungry! My chicken soup uses seasonings that I never see in recipes. When I see how different mine is, I can't imagine what those versions taste like. Mine uses small amounts of ginger, cinnamon, allspice, saffron, pepper and nutmeg. Fresh parsley is added at the end. A pinch of nutmeg goes in the dumplings, too. When my family and friends are under the weather, they all want that soup!
Tried and True Southern Favorites
While I enjoy the Cooking Light magazine and have found some very interesting recipes with a lighter touch, my Top 10 Comfort Food List does not include any "light" recipes, but tried and true Southern Comfort Foods. Back in 1997 I published a recipe/family history cookbook. It's a compilation of my mother's family roots and recipes from her mother and descendants of the two families, most all of whom were fabulous cooks.
Sweetened Iced Tea
Chicken and Dressing with Giblet Gravy
Apple Float and Boiled Custard
Country Fried Steak with Gravy
Pork Chops/Rice Casserole
My list could go on and on, but this is my top 10. I'm now 74 years old, and I still eat all the above. At my age, there's not much else for me to do. I hope the vegan/light phase is just that – a phase. I would be remiss if I didn't suggest that young people try these recipes – if only once – to see why Southern cuisine is the envy of the world.
—Peggy P. Allen