As I’m sure is the case with many Utah Bites readers, I’ve been spending a lot more time in my kitchen lately. That’s partly out of necessity since it was impossible to eat out in restaurants during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. But I’m also choosing not to spend very much time in restaurants these days, even though some have reopened. I just feel safer at home. Well, few things can lift the spirit during difficult times like our most beloved comfort foods. So for this week, I’m sharing some of my favorite recipes from the Scheff’s Table column: comfort food dishes from around the world, from schnitzel and fried rice to chile verde and pasta with Sunday gravy. Give them a try if you’re in need of some new recipes for your home kitchen. Just click on the links to see each recipe.
One of the great all-time comfort foods is Italian-American pasta with sauce known in many Italian (and other) families as Sunday Gravy. No two recipes are identical, and most make use of leftover meats or whatever else is on hand. You could customize this recipe endlessly: add shredded rotisserie chicken, cooked ground beef or pork spareribs … the possibilities are infinite. The key to great gravy is to let it simmer for at least 5 hours or so. Mangiamo!
A favorite Chinese comfort food dish of mine is a signature dish of Sichuan cuisine: Ma-po Tofu. It’s surprisingly easy to make an authentic version at home.
When my wife gave me a Moroccan-style tagine for my birthday a few years ago, it launched me on a learning path of cooking all sorts of tagine dishes like this one: Chicken Tagine. It’s a real crowd-pleaser!
Here is a recipe for Fried Vietnamese Spring Rolls that I borrowed from famous chef/restaurateur Eric Ripert, of NYC’s Le Bernardin. He got the recipe from his mom, who used to make these spring rolls – called nems – for Eric when he was young.
Wiener Schnitzel is one of my favorite go-to comfort foods as well as one of the best known culinary specialties of Viennese cuisine and one of Austria’s most popular dishes. Thankfully, it’s super easy to make at home.
I simply love, love, love Falafel, which is one of the most popular street foods in the Middle East. It’s also pretty simple to make at home.
When I was young and lived in Japan, our family’s housekeeper/cook would sometimes make Japanese-Style Curry, which is quite different from Indian or Thai curries. It’s milder and more subtle, in my opinion.
There are few foods I can think of that scream COMFORT like Classic Cheese Fondue. Here’s a recipe for Swiss-style fondue that’s pretty much foolproof.
I’ve eaten Chile Verde in dozens of Mexican restaurants and no two were quite alike. Over the years I took notes and finally put together my own version of chile verde that I really like. Of course, you can always improvise. I put tomatoes in my chile verde, others prefer tomatillos. Take this recipe and make it your own.
Is there anyone who doesn’t love fried rice? For me, it’s the perfect comfort food. I’ve even been known to eat it warmed up for breakfast. Here is a good recipe for Chicken Fried Rice.
For an all-American comfort food classic, how about the Philly Cheesesteak? There are few sandwiches more satisfying or more controversial. Every true Philly cheesesteak lover I know has his or her own favorite cheesesteak spot and will go to the grave insisting that it’s THE BEST. Well, here’s an easy way to make a pretty darned good cheesesteak at home.
Ever since I first visited Brussels, I’ve loved Steamed Mussels and make them at home frequently. They are very easy and quick to prepare. This particular recipe is spiked with Spanish chorizo, which gives the dish a little kick.
I can’t think of many Asian dishes that are more popular with Americans than Pad Thai. It’s the ultimate street food of Thailand. Here’s a preparation that’s easy to make at home.
Culinary quote of the week:
“I prefer my oysters fried; that way I know my oysters died.” — Roy G. Blount, Jr.
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Originally trained as an anthropologist, Ted Scheffler is a seasoned food, wine & travel writer based in Utah. He loves cooking, skiing, and spends an inordinate amount of time tending to his ever-growing herd of guitars and amplifiers.
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