Happy New Year to everyone!
I know it has been a while since I have posted a new blog, thank you for hanging in there. I have been under the weather for some time now suffering with Fibromyalgia, not my idea of a fun time. When I am feeling better and having a good day I am working very hard to get my new cookbook completed and to the publisher before the end of February. My resolution though is to try and get at least one blog a week, if not more, out to my followers.
Having said all of that I want to talk about comfort foods; what they are, what they mean to us, and share some of your comfort foods that you told me about. First Wikipedia tells us that the definition of comfort foods is this:
The term "comfort food" (first used, according to Webster's Dictionary, in 1977) refers to foods consumed to achieve some level of improved emotional status, whether to relieve negative psychological affect or to increase positive. More generally, comfort food can be defined as food that brings some form or measure of comfort, sense of well-being, or easy satisfaction. Such food choices may consist of the simple and familiar. Dishes may be warm and filling such as a dish made with a staple food, or basically pleasing such as sweets or desserts. Some definitions suggest that home-prepared dishes are most typical, or consumed in informal restaurants, but according to Wansink and Sangerman, Americans tend to select prepared foods and fast food for comfort uses, with ice cream, potato chips and chocolate ranking near the top. However, the term is meaningful not as a list of particular items, which will vary considerably from individual to individual, as well as culturally and by situation and emotional trigger, but as a psychological category of behavior.
In asking my friends and family what their comfort food is I was a little surprised that the big winner was vegetables. We all seemed to want something in the vegetable category such as fresh vegetables picked right from our very own garden, vegetable and chicken soup or my personal favorite, mashed potatoes smothered in gravy.
If you were to ask my children they would all tell you the same thing, macaroni and cheese, more specifically they would have this meal that they would tell you about that they all call, "The Yellow Meal". When they were younger I would make this dinner which consisted of Pork Chops coated with Shake N Bake, macaroni and cheese, cream style corn and corn bread. Why it may not have been the healthiest of meals, it has remained a meal of comfort for my children. In fact they told me that when they make this meal for their family they think of me. Since we live thousands of miles apart it makes them feel closer to me, I guess, and that makes me feel warm and comforted to know.
Since some of you told me that chocolate is a follow-up comfort for you I thought we would begin with dessert and a recipe for a decedent chocolate cake. I found this recipe from Tyler Florence and thought I would share it with you. It is very very good. Now that is what I call comfort!!
Enjoy and may God bless you all.
A Gooey, Decadent Chocolate Cake
2 1/2 cups cake flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
3 1/2 ounces semisweet or bittersweet dark chocolate, melted and cooled
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups cold water
Chambourd raspberry liqueur, for drizzling
Chocolate Chip Butter Cream, recipe follows
Dark chocolate shavings, for decoration
Position an oven rack in the center of the oven and pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy. Add the cooled chocolate and vanilla and beat for 3 minutes to incorporate. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat for another 3 minutes. Gradually mix in the dry ingredients in 3 batches, alternating with the cold water. Beat for 1 minute after each addition to incorporate the ingredients. Mix until the batter is smooth.
Coat 2 (9-inch) round cake pans with non-stick cooking spray. Cut 2 circles of parchment paper to fit the pan bottoms and place them inside the pans; then spray the paper for added non-stick insurance. Pour batter into the prepared pans and smooth the surface with a spatula; the pans should be 2/3 full. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, see Cook's note*.
Leave to cool for 40 minutes. Turn the cakes out of the pans and remove the paper. Drizzle them with a few tablespoons of Chambourd. With a metal spatula, spread 1/2 cup butter cream on top 1 of the layers. Start in the center and work your way out. Carefully place the second layer on top. Smooth the sides with butter cream, then spread the rest over the top so that the cake is completely covered. Refrigerate for 5 minutes before decorating or cutting.
With a large knife scrape some shavings from a block of dark chocolate. Scatter shavings over cake.
*Cook's note. The cake is cooked when a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean and the cake springs back when touched
Chocolate Chip Butter Cream:
3 cups powdered sugar
7 tablespoons hot water
4 ounces dark chocolate, melted and cooled
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup semisweet dark chocolate, finely chopped
In the bowl of an electric mixer, dissolve the sugar and water at low speed. Beat in the dark chocolate and vanilla. Add butter gradually in small bits. Mix until everything is completely incorporated. Using a spatula, fold in the chopped chocolate and give a final quick spin.
Yield: 6 to 8 servings