It Is Time For Comfort Food

Summer is gone and the winter months are fast approaching. The days are shorter, and with that, our appetite keeps growing.

Why is it that when it gets colder and darker, we feel like eating more? It is probably our body burning more calories to keep us warm. But I could be wrong.

Last week was one of the coldest weeks, at least for me. I felt like eating soup. A dark, rich and creamy liquid full of nutrition. I was following a recipe from my Culinary Arts class, and even though I did not have all the ingredients, I added some of my own. I was making Minestrone Soup.

Ingredients for the soup

Once I started making it, the soup turned into a red liquid and it surprised me. I have never seen or had this soup before, so I did not know what to expect. Later I realized that the color was from the tomato paste that was burning at the bottom of the pot. I added the vegetables and cooked them in the homemade chicken stock that I have made weeks before. I only had black beans at home, but I could not add them, I was afraid my soup was going to turn black. Instead, I added a shredded chicken breast that I had in my fridge.

After about 30 minutes, the soup was done and ready to be eaten. I waited for it to cool down before serving it and am glad I did. The flavors had come together, and I could taste every one of them. I served the soup with crumbled crackers, Asiago cheese and red pepper flakes.

The shredded chicken breast gave it a cream-like consistency while the red pepper flakes mixed smoothly with the sweetness of the tomatoes. The Asiago cheese highlighted the chicken flavor from the stock and the crackers combined with the vegetables made me feel like I was having al dente pasta with tomato sauce.

The warmth of the soup reminded me of home. It made me think about going to my grandmother’s house on Sundays and having soup for brunch. That night I had two bowls of soup. I was satisfied and was ready to lay down in front of the TV. This is how comfort food should make you feel.

Grateful For Pie

Just before I started baking, I was already salivating and tasting the cinnamon in the apple sauce. This was my first time in ten years making apple pie.

To be honest, I am more of an apple crumble person and not just because it is easier to make, but because I like the crunchiness of it all, versus apple pie where you just enjoy the filling and the sometimes soggy crust. The soggy crust is a memory from my last Thanksgiving.

Unlike last year, when I celebrated with my closest friends and my family in a big condo party hall, this year Thanksgiving Day was different. The people that were celebrating with me could all sit in an 6-seater dining table. It was a small group of people, easy to feed and to surprise with a homemade apple pie.

This was an experiment for me and not because of the apples, but because of the crust. I wanted to make an easy, yet savory crust that would leave my guests in awe and wanting more. It took me exactly two days until I found the easiest crust recipe. I made the crust the day before just in case something went wrong. Nothing happened, fortunately, and I did not even have to get my hands dirty. All I used to make the crust was a food processor, flour and butter. I got the recipe from this website.

I was nervous but excited, not just because of how it was going to taste, but I was afraid the crust would not cook and that would have been a disaster.

I peeled and prepped the apples for the filling using a recipe from the same website and everything was coming together perfectly. I was listening to a Disney baking playlist from Spotify and sipping some Sauv Blanc. It was truly a good day. I baked the pie for an hour, it cooked to perfection and the crust came out to be one of the best that I have done in my entire life.

I was desperate to taste it once it was ready. I think I burnt my finger trying to taste the apple sauce from the side of the baking dish. I brought it over to the house where I was having dinner, and everyone was excited to taste the pie.

After finishing with the turkey and the stuffing, the pie was brought the table to be enjoyed with a side of vanilla ice cream. It was succulent, and the crust was the protagonist that night. Everyone loved it and had seconds, just to enjoy the marvelous crust.  

So, if there is something that I am grateful for this year, is the people that got to share the pie with me, and of course grateful for the well-cooked and delicious pie.

Steak and Yucamole

The foggy mind, the crawling of my stomach and the faded voices coming from a conference call.

I kept thinking how lucky I am to have to ability to be working from home. But my stomach kept rumbling and that was distracting. I could not focus on my work. I was wondering what was on my fridge and what I could put together for a quick dinner.

The truth was I was craving guacamole, but I was also craving fried yuca. Luckily enough I had both.

I took a quick break and decided to start peeling the yuca so that it could cook while I was still working. Brought the water to boil, cut the yuca into small pieces and threw it in the boiling water. I then decided to start cutting the vegetables to put into the guacamole -onion, tomato, red pepper and garlic – thinly diced and put it in a bowl. The yuca was still cooking. It took more than forty-five minutes for the yuca to be ready. I was starving at this point. I threw the yuca, the vegetables and the avocado all together in a bowl. I called it Yucamole.

I started eating but still was not satisfied. I needed it protein.

I opened the fridge and found a thawed steak. I quickly heated a frying pan and cooked the steak. The sizzling coming from the pan made my eyes watered. Or maybe it was the onion from the yucamole that I was still tasting.

Once the steak was half-cooked, I cut it in small pieces and seasoned it with salt and pepper. I was too hungry to experiment this time. I let it cook for ten more minutes and that was enough. A pale brown color on the outside while pinkish on the inside. It was juicy, peppery and ready to be eaten.

I was eating too quickly standing up in the kitchen, so I decided to plate the pieces of steak and some yucamole and sit at the table to have a proper dinner. I was satisfied by the end of the meal. The plate was empty. The conference call had finished at this point, so I was ready to enjoy the rest of my evening.