Tag Archives: mash

Comfort Food

5 Dec

Angel Kitten has taken a 1 month vow of vegetarianism. I am so proud of her, I just cant even begin to tell you. She was so moved by information she found on the PETA website, that she took a pledge to be a vegetarian for a month. I think thats amazing, and I truly believe she will feel wonderful after that month is over – so much so, that may be it will inspire her to eat vegetarian once a week or so. We have had several discussions about the choice to live a vegetarian life. I dont really try and “convert” people, but I do strongly believe that living a life of love and gentleness often includes making a choice not to eat animals.

However, I also believe strongly that if one chooses a carnivorous life, then thats OK too — especially if the choices about what meats one eats are made with care and forethought. For example, choosing to eat at the Golden Arches or the like, where the meat and chicken have lived largely painful lives, and been processed in a way that is wholesale, rather than respectful, is very different from choosing to occasionally eat meat that is free range and fed organic, non steriod, non hormone food. I would posit that the latter is much more delicious, even if much more expensive. I think if one wants to or has to eat a carnivorous diet, the logical, kind and respectful choice is to eat meat that has been treated with kindness and respect. May be not as often as highly processed meats and chickens, unless one is rich beyond the need to consider such things, but with much more satisfaction and enjoyment.

Anyway, thats me off my hobbyhorse 😉 As part of my support of AngelKitten’s choice, I really wanted to make her food that will encourage her to see how satisfying eating a vegetarian diet is. This meal is one of her all time favourites, and we often order it in restaurants together, as a conglomeration of side dishes which we share. It could be completely vegan if you mashed the potatoes with olive oil instead of butter and cream… but I leave that choice to you 😉 For us, we used organic cream and butter and were very happy with that choice.

For dinner last night, we had sauteed spinach and french beans with garlic, roasted broccoli with soy and balsamic (which Ezril said tasted meaty and immensely satisfying), and mashed potatoes with roasted garlic. It was sublime. So simple, so easy, so delicious. It was ultimate comfort food for us, and got me to thinking about what comfort food really is. Its not fancy, overly thought through, complex food. Rather, its simple, well cooked, well sourced ingredients that are cooked so their essential deliciousness shines through. We used organic spinach, french beans and broccoli – and organic milk and cream in the potatoes. If you wanted more protein in this meal, you could add some toasted almonds to the vegetables, but I dont think its necessary. I think that if you eat a balance of food through a week or so, high in protein sometimes, high in greens others, youre fine. Balance is as much about listening to what your body wants and needs at a given time as following strictures and formulas.

And by the way, these are not so much recipes, as memories of what we ate that night, in celebration of AngelKitten’s pledge. We love the juxtaposition of the clean bright freshness of the spinach and beans, the roasted dark stickiness of the broccoli, and the pure decadence of the potatoes. Its all about balance isnt it? 🙂 So here are the three recipes we put together for our comfort dinner. I am glad to say that AngelKitten took the leftovers home, and hopefully, they will nurture her and feed her for a few days more to come 🙂

Serves 4 – 6 people (with leftovers of the potatoes, most definitely)

with Garlic!

Sauteed Spinach and French Beans

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp butter (or additional olive oil for vegan)
  • 3 + 3 minced garlic cloves
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 – 2 cups washed, topped and tailed and chopped French beans
  • 2 – 3 cups washed and roughly chopped spinach

In a large saucepan or frying pan, over medium low heat, combine the olive oil and butter, and gently heat until the butter melts. Add 3 minced garlic cloves, and cook, stirring gently, until the garlic releases its unique scent, and goes glossy and soft. Add a bit of salt and pepper to the garlic, and toss in your prepared French beans.

Stir the beans until completely coated with garlic and oil, and continue cooking until the beans change colour – they will go bright green. Taste and adjust salt and pepper.

Throw in the spinach. Its OK if a little water still clings to the leaves, but you dont want the spinach to be soaking wet. I usually squeeze it to dry it, then chop it and add it to the pan.

Stir until the spinach wilts and turns bright green, which should finish cooking the beans perfectly. Add the remaining 3 cloves of minced garlic, stir and taste for salt and pepper.

Place in a large serving bowl, and set aside. Can be served hot or at room temperature. Its even delicious, in large spoonfuls, straight from the fridge.

Mmmmmmm

Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp mixed herbs or herbes de Provence
  • Salt and pepper
  • Cloves from 3 heads of garlic (about 30 – 35 cloves)
  • 8 – 10 large potatoes (I usually use a mix)
  • 1 stick of butter (or 4 – 6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil)
  • 1/2 cup cream (optional)

Preheat oven to 200C (400F). Line a baking sheet or pan with parchment paper.

Place olive oil, balsamic vinegar, white wine vinegar, herbs, salt and pepper to taste and garlic cloves in a bowl. Toss to combine.

Place the garlic on the baking sheet in a single layer, and pour over any remaining liquid.

Roast the garlic in the oven until it is soft, burnt, glossy and slightly caramelised, about 20 minutes or so. Remove from the oven, and set aside.

Peel and chop the potatoes roughly. Place in a large saucepan or pot, and just cover with water. Over medium high heat, bring the water to a boil, and simmer until the potatoes are soft. Depending on your potatoes, and how small the chop is, this will take between 20 – 40 minutes.

Drain the potatoes, and place back in the pot. Slice butter over the potatoes, and pour over cream. Using a hand masher, ricer, or immersion blender (as I do), mash the potatoes. Taste for salt and pepper, and adjust.

Add all the garlic, and mash into the potatoes. Use a spoon or spatula to combine thoroughly, and taste and adjust for seasonings.

This can be prepared a few hours ahead, and reheated over a very low flame. It can keep warm, covered for an hour or two.

Sticky Green Goodness

Roasted Broccoli

  • 3 – 4 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 – 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 – 2 tbsp roasted sesame oil (or olive oil if you dont have it)
  • Pepper (and salt if you wish to taste, but the soy should make it salty enough)
  • 1 head of broccoli, broken down into small florets, with the larger stalk peeled and chopped into batons – about 3 – 4 cups total

Preheat oven to 200C (400F). Line a baking sheet or pan with parchment paper.

Combine the soy, balsamic, oil, and pepper in a large bowl. Toss in the prepared broccoli, and using your hands, toss well to combine. Taste the mixture and adjust seasonings if you wish.

Place the broccoli in an even layer on the baking sheet and reserve any additional liquid for later. Roast in the oven for about 20 minutes. Remove, and flip each piece of broccoli over, dipping the broccoli in the remaining liquid. Pour over any additional liquid and continue roasting in the oven for another 5 – 10 minutes or until the broccoli is sticky, browny-green and delicious.

Serve hot or at room temperature.

Caramelised Onion Jam + Truffled Garlic Mash + Sauteed Mushrooms

21 Jun

When everyone else is eating meat, this is an incredibly rich, delicious, celebratory addition to the meal which you can share (if you really love them) with the carnivores.

Caramelised Onion Jam

(adapted from Softly Simmered Onions from the Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook)

These are so delicious. They can be added to so many things – mixed with a bit of cream in a pasta sauce, whizzed with vegetable broth for an amazing onion soup, on toast rounds with feta for an astounding bruschetta, or mixed with savoury custard in a brilliant tart / quiche. I like them as they are, tumbled over some creamy dreamy mash, with a few sauteed mushrooms for extra “meatiness”

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
  • 8 cups sliced white and yellow onions
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
Melt the butter in a heavy large saucepan over low heat. While the butter is melting, prepare the onions: peel, cut in half lengthwise, and slice in thin half-rings. It helps if you keep the root intact, as an anchor.
Add the onions to the melted butter and stir well. Add all the wine, vinegar, sugar, pepper, and salt and mix to combine. Cover and cook slowly over low heat, stirring every 10 minutes or so, about 1 hour.
Remove the cover and cook 2 hours longer, stirring occasionally. You can decide how long you want to cook it – the onions will become thicker and jammier as you go. Just make sure you stir well through the bottom of the pan because it can burn. Makes about 4 cups, which will keep for at least 1 week, covered in the fridge.

Truffled Garlic Mash

Serves 8, though you can adjust as needed. The garlic will soften and sweeten when boiled with the potatoes and will add a whisp of fragrance and scent to this amazing creamy mix.
  • 9 large baking potatoes, peeled and cut into eighths
  • 8 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup cream
  • Teaspoon or so jarred, canned or fresh truffles (you could use truffle oil in a pinch)
  • Salt and pepper

In a large saucepan, over high heat, boil enough water to just cover the potatoes. Once the water is at a roiling boil, add all the potatoes and garlic at once. They should take about 10 – 15 minutes to cook through. You want to be able to put the tip of a cutting knife through a slice of potato without any resistance.

While the potatoes are boiling, combine butter, milk, cream, truffles, and salt and pepper in a small saucepan. Bring to the boil and set aside to enable the truffle to infuse the butter and milk mixture with its heady scent.

When the potatoes have been cooked through, drain thoroughly, and place in serving bowl. Using a handheld masher, mash the potatoes, while adding the butter-milk-cream-truffle mixture. Taste for salt and pepper and adjust accordingly.

Sauteed Mushrooms

For each person, use 1 – 2 very large portobello mushrooms, depending on what else you are serving

  • 2 portobello mushrooms, peeled and sliced thickly
  • 1/2 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil or truffle oil
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar (or port wine or red wine)
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • Salt and pepper to taste

You want to ensure the mushrooms are seared and not soggy. To do this, heat butter and olive oil in a large frying pan until quite hot, on high heat. Add the mushrooms, and stir to coat with butter. As the mushrooms start to let off some juice, add vinegar and then soy sauce. This will encourage some caramelisation and cause the mushrooms to sear against the heat of the pan. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.

Serve each lucky vegetarian a large scoop of mash, topped with the caramelised onion jam, and sauteed mushrooms. Yum.