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Satisfying flavors of comfort food

08 October 2017

By Jo Campos

There is nothing like home-cooked meals. The personal touch of our mother’s favorite recipes, homegrown ingredients and the aroma of herbs and spices filling the entire kitchen is simply a feel-good everyday experience.

Wikipedia’s definition of the term ”comfort food” has been traced back to at least 1966, when the The Palm Beach Post used it in a story: “Adults, when under severe emotional stress, turn to what could be called ‘comfort food’—food associated with the security of childhood, like mother’s poached eggs or famous chicken soup.

In the Philippines, Nanay’s kare-kare or pinakbet, sinigang and caldereta, to name a few, are considered as comfort food. They are seen to soothe frayed nerves, obliterate negative feelings, and provide a great coping mechanism for those who are under stress.

The identification of particular items as comfort food may be idiosyncratic, though there are detectable patterns. In one study of American preferences, “males preferred warm, hearty, meal-related comfort foods, such as steak, casseroles, and soup”. On the other hand, females and younger people, or those below 55 years of age, preferred snack-related treats, such as chocolate and ice cream.

The study also revealed strong connections between consumption of comfort foods and feelings of guilt. An article, “The Myth of Comfort Food” asserted that men tend to choose these types of savory comfort foods because they remind them of being “pampered” or spoiled, while women choose snack-related foods because they are associated with low amounts of work and less “cleanup.” It also suggested that women are more likely to reach for unhealthier foods in times of stress due to more weight-conscious mindsets.

Restaurants and fast food chains serving comfort foods are usually among the best sellers. It somehow brings back the nostalgic feeling of eating at home. For this issue, I am sharing some easy to make- hassle free comfort food recipes from Delish website that I have cooked, and one of the most requested dishes from my f JC The Foodie Catering Services: beef caldereta.

But wait, there’s more! Starting this issue, I am inserting JC The Foodie quotes for inspiration and good vibes.

“This is my advice to people: Learn how to cook, try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun”-Julia Child

Fettuccine Alfredo
lb. fettuccine
kosher salt
1/2 c. butter
1/2 c. heavy cream
1/2 c. freshly grated parmesan, plus more for sprinkling
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp. chopped parsley

1. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta according to package instructions. Reserve about 1 cup of pasta water then drain.
2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium heat, add cream and butter. Cook until the butter is melted and the cream is heated through. Whisk in parmesan and season with salt and pepper. If the sauce is too thick, add reserved pasta water, 1 tablespoon at a time. Remove from heat.
3. Add cooked pasta and toss until coated in sauce. Garnish with parsley and serve immediately.

Salisbury Steak
For the patties:
1 lb. ground beef
1 large egg
1/3 cup bread crumbs
1 tbsp. ketchup
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 garlic clove, minced
kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

For the gravy
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 onion, chopped
2 sprigs thyme
1/2 c. mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp. tomato paste
1 c. beef stock
kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

1. Make patties: In a large bowl, combine beef, egg, bread crumbs, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce and garlic. Season with salt and pepper and form into 4 oval patties.
2. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat oil. Sear both sides of the patties until a crust forms, about 5 minutes per side. Remove onto a plate.
3. Make gravy: Wipe out skillet and add butter. Add onions and thyme and stir until onion becomes translucent. Add mushrooms and cook until browned and tender, about 4 minutes. Sprinkle onions and mushrooms with flour, and stir until they are fully coated. Cook another 2 minutes, then add Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste, and beef stock. Stir to combine and season with salt and pepper.
4. Bring the gravy to a simmer and return the patties to the skillet. Cover and cook for 10 to 15 more minutes, until the patties are done and the sauce has thickened. Plate the patties and top with more gravy. Serve.

Beef Caldereta
1 kilo beef brisket
carrots, cut into cubes
potatoes, cut into cubes
red and green bell peppers, sliced
green peas
black olives
2 onions, chopped
garlic, crushed
2 tbsp. paprika
2 tbsp. chili powder
bay leaves
salt and pepper
chopped tomatoes in can
Worcestershire sauce
3 tbsp. soy sauce
fresh or dried thyme
1 small can liver spread or pate

1. Cut beef brisket into cubes.
2. In a large Ziploc bag, combine paprika, salt and pepper, chili powder, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, ½ of the chopped onion and garlic, some chopped bell peppers and a piece of bay leaf.
3. Add the beef brisket to the mixture in the plastic bag and rub well to cover the meat. Seal the bag and leave to marinate for a few hours or preferably overnight.
4. Lightly fry potatoes and carrots, set aside.
5. In a large pan, sauté onion and garlic, add marinated beef and cook till brown. Add chopped tomatoes, thyme and bay leaf. Adjust seasoning by adding more paprika, chili powder accordingly. Stir in liver spread.
6. Add enough water to cover the meat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer till the meat is tender.
7. Add olives, carrots and potatoes, then continue to simmer until the sauce is reduced and has thickened slightly.
8. Add green peas and bell peppers; then stir all ingredients together.
9. Serve hot.
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