If this title gave you a vision of me as a perfect tradwyfe™ who always cooks wholesome meals from scratch with organic ingredients and doesn’t spend a significant amount of money in take-aways, I’m here to reassure you that I am not. I had two take-away pizzas last week alone. But, unless I am ill or out of food and unable to go buy some due to illnesses, I tend to cook from scratch. I love cooking, as you’d expect from someone writing a cookery book, but I also have my times when I just want to feed myself something comforting and nourishing that takes little time to make. How long it takes is one of my criteria for “comfort food”, but for others, it may be different.
The official definition of “comfort food” is food that provides consolation or a feeling of well-being, typically having a high sugar or carbohydrate content and associated with childhood or home cooking. Personally, it’s food that I associate with good memories rather than my childhood home, although some of them are linked to good memories from my childhood.
Gnocchi alla Romana
Let’s get the childhood memories out of the way. I love them so much they are the second meal I had when in Rome for the Newman Canonisation only because the restaurant where I stopped didn’t have them on the menu. Cutting a roll of dough from the supermarket and slathering it in cheese and putting it in the oven is not an option in England, so I had to learn to make them myself. They have become a staple of quarantine life as for a while semolina was the only carb I could get my hands on. This recipe by A Beautiful Plate is the best one I have found in English, I, of course, phoned my mother and asked her how to make them…
Ginger Soy Mince
I found this recipe by Miss Crumbs A Lot once I had some mince around but didn’t want to make chili again. I’m used to doing Asian-inspired dishes with chunks and never thought about doing the same with mince until I found this recipe. It’s now a go-to for whenever I can’t be bothered to cook because it takes no time at all and the fluffy rice is just delightful. I think 90% of the reason I love Asian food so much is that it comes with fluffy rice.
Mind you, any version of cheese on toast appears on my list of comfort food, but I associate this with visiting the Tate Britain for the first time because I first had it in the Morphet Arms when just a tourist. While I have been known to just get it ready-made from Fortnum’s, you can’t go wrong with Kacie’s recipe over at The Rare Welsh Bit.
I make chili a lot and still I never use the same recipe twice. What I love about chilli is that it’s versatile (I make it both with mince and steak depending on how long I have to cook it), and it comes with fluffy rice. It’s also good for blocked sinuses (as is the next recipe…my mother is still shocked that I eat spicy foods when I criticise her for putting chili on everything, but then she puts it on dishes that don’t require it and so much that it ruins the dishes so am I that wrong?). For those of you who want to learn from a Texan about the spice combination, this recipe by Homesick Texan is a tomato-free alternative to my own recipe that I am eager to try.
I make curries from any place based on my mood, but they are one of the most common foods I eat because they are relatively low-maintenance to make. You can cook them a long time or make them fast, and all you need is a spice rack to be able to make them from scratch. Of course, I also have a fancy spice blender to make it from fresh ingredients too from times to times, as per my recipe for Madras Curry.