Miserable weather doesn't have to equal miserable dinners...
Whether it's baking chocolate chip cookies, staying in your pyjamas all day long or cocooning on the couch in front of Netflix – we all need an extra boost of comfort in these unprecedented times.
There's just something about eating warm, tasty food that puts your mind at ease and conjures up memories of simpler times. It's doesn't matter what you're craving — chicken noodle soup, baked rigatoni or even just a simple cheese toastie – nothing beats a savoury, salty, gooey dish during tough times.
Thankfully, you don't have to spend all day in the kitchen to create your favourite dishes for dinner. There are lots of quick and easy versions of your favourite comfort food recipes that provide all the flavour and warmth without slaving away in the kitchen.
So grab your apron and cooking because each of the six dishes below are essentially just hugs in a bowl.
- 4 chicken breasts, with skin on
- Salt and black pepper
- 75g butter, cubed
- 3 shallots, finely chopped
- 120g button mushrooms, sliced
- 1 tbsp brandy
- 1 tbsp plain flour
- 200ml dry white wine
- 150ml hot Chicken Stock
- 1 tsp tomato purée
- 2 tomatoes chopped
- 1 tbsp chopped parsley
- 1 tbsp chopped tarragon
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4.
- Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper.
- Place a frying pan over a medium heat. When hot, drizzle with oil and fry the breasts, skin-side down, for 5-8 minutes, or until the skin has browned on one side. Then, turn the breasts skin side up and continue cooking on low heat for a further 5 minutes or until cooked through.
- Next, over a medium-low heat, melt 50g of the butter until foaming. Add the shallots and mushrooms and stir gently for 2 minutes.
- Drizzle in the brandy, then carefully set it alight to burn off the alcohol. When the flames have gone out, add the flour and stir with a wooden spoon for one minute or so.
- Pour in the wine and stir well to deglaze the pan, scraping up any bits from the base of the pan, and smooth out any lumps.
- Add the stock, tomato purée, chopped tomatoes, parsley and tarragon, increase the heat to medium and bring to the boil, stirring constantly.
- Simmer, stirring, for 3–5 minutes, or until the sauce thickens slightly and coats the back of a spoon and the chicken is cooked through.
- Taste and season with salt and pepper if necessary.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining butter to finish the sauce. Serve immediately.
To read the full recipe courtesy of Kevin Dundon, click here.
- 4 eggs, lightly whisked
- 100g Parmesan
- 2 cloves garlic
- 8 slices pancetta, hickory-smoked rashers or lardons fumé
- 400g spaghetti or linguine
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, mixed with a small knob of butter
- 1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
- Bring a large pot of water to boil. While the water is boiling, whisk the eggs, finely grate the Parmesan, crush the garlic and cut up the rashers into small cubes.
- When the water is boiling, add 1 dessert spoon of salt, bring to the boil again and put pasta into the boiling water and simmer for approximately 10 – 12 minutes, until al dente (or cook as per packet instructions).
- Over a medium heat, fry the rashers and chilli flakes in the olive oil and butter for about eight minutes, adding the garlic towards the end. Remove from the heat, set aside and keep warm.
- Once cooked, drain the pasta and, while still hot, return it to the saucepan over a medium heat. Keep 2-3 tablespoons of the water should you need to add it at the end if there is not enough moisture.
- Drizzle with a slick of olive oil and immediately add the eggs and quickly stir through the pasta for one minute. As soon as the eggs start to turn opaque, turn off the heat and stir in the Parmesan until it melts. Lastly, stir in the fried ingredients. Season with salt (we don’t use black pepper for this one) and serve immediately.
To read the full recipe courtesy of Tim Greenwood, click here.
Smoky Vegetarian Chilli
- 150g red onions
- 1 clove garlic, peeled
- Olive oil
- 1½ teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 tablespoon smoked chipotle peppers
- 300g cracked bulgur wheat
- 300g passata
- 800ml vegetable stock
- 350g squash
- 300g red kidney beans, cooked
- 300g peppers
- 1½ teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1½ teaspoons dill
- Peel and dice the onions and garlic. Cook in olive oil without colouring.
- Add in the cumin, cayenne and chipotle peppers and cook for a further five minutes.
- Add in the bulgur wheat and give a good stir. Pour in the passata and vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Turn down to a simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes.
- Peel and dice the squash and toss in a little oil. Roast in a preheated oven until tender. Do the same with the peppers.
- Add the squash, peppers and cooked kidney beans to the bulgur, mix in the mustard and the chopped dill. Check for seasoning and serve.
To read the full recipe courtesy of FOOD AND WINE, click here.
- 8 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1 onion, peeled and roughly chopped
- 3cm piece of ginger, peeled and chopped
- 100g almonds
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 6 cardamom pods
- 4 cloves
- 1 stick cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 red chilli, finely chopped
- 500g firm white fish (such as cod)
- 1 bunch coriander, roughly chopped
- Blitz the garlic, onion, ginger and almonds in a blender with three tablespoons of water.
- Heat the oil in a frying pan large enough to take the fish.
- Add the cardamom pods, cloves and cinnamon. Fry for one minute and then add garlic and onion mixture. Fry for four or five minutes until the oil separates. Add the coriander, cumin and chilli, cook for two minutes and then slide the fish in. Poach for four minutes or until cooked. Stir in the coriander and serve with plain rice.
To read the full recipe courtesy of Hugo Arnold, click here.
Hot and Spicy Njuda Chilli Pizza
- Pizza dough ball, rolled out to a 12-inch size (see recipe here)
- 1 ladle tomato passata
- 100g/4oz buffalo mozzarella
- 30g/1oz njuda
- 6 slices chorizo
- 6 slices pepperoni
- 1 fresh chilli, thinly sliced
- 6 basil leave
- Roll out the pizza dough ball to a 12-inch size transfer to an oiled tray.
- With a ladle, spread a good spoon of the passata over the base, leaving about an inch from the edge.
- Tear the basil over the sauce and do the same with the mozzarella.
- Break the njuda over the pizza evenly and scatter the chorizo, pepperoni and chilli evenly all over.
- Bake in a preheated oven at 250°C/gas mark 9 in an oiled tray for 15 minutes.
- Remove and serve immediately
To read the full recipe courtesy of Paulie's Pizza, click here.
Little Potato Dumplings with Spinach Cream
For the potato dumplings:
- 500g cold cooked potatoes (about 4 medium potatoes -these can be baked or boiled)
- 150g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
- 2 egg yolks
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 40g unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
For the spinach and Parmesan cream:
- 250ml double cream
- 200g frozen spinach, thawed and chopped
- 80g Parmesan, finely grated, plus shavings to serve
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Freshly grated nutmeg, to serve
- If using baked potatoes, cut them in half and spoon the soft flesh into a large bowl (keep the skins to bake into crisps). Mash the potatoes until smooth - you can pass them through a potato ricer, but a fork and a bit of patience will do. Add the flour, egg yolks and a little sea salt, then bring the mixture together with your hands to form a soft dough. The boys tell me it feels like play-dough at this stage.
- Dust a large baking tray with flour, ready to place the dumplings on. Now divide the dough into three and on a flour-dusted work surface roll each chunk into sausage shapes about tern in diameter. Cut each sausage shape into 2cm chunks and place them on the prepared tray. Set aside.
- Bring a large pan of water and 1 teaspoon salt to a rolling boil. Drop the dumplings into the boiling water; once they rise to the surface (after 2-3 minutes), they are ready. Drain them through a sieve.
- While the dumplings are boiling, put the butter and oil into a large frying pan over a medium-high heat. Once the butter is foaming, tip the drained dumplings into the pan and fry, turning occasionally, until golden brown and crisp on all sides.
- Put the double cream and spinach into a saucepan and bring just up to the boil over a medium heat, stirring occasionally to prevent burning. Once the cream comes to the boil, tum the heat down, add the Parmesan and cook for a further minute, stirring continuously. Tum off the heat and season with pepper.
- Divide the cream between four dishes, place the dumplings on top and add a few shavings of Parmesan and a grating of nutmeg.
To read the full recipe courtesy of Anja Dunk, click here.
Main image by Youjeen Cho