‘Tis the Season to Eat Comfort Food
With summer having left the building, (although not that many of us heard it knock in the first place), it is now officially the season of comforting food. Autumn combines grey skies and plentiful food supplies and it’s a great time for a whole range of warm, filling comforting recipes. Not traditionally known for its focus on diet friendly cooking, autumn is a time for stocking up our cupboards and our bodies. In the darker, colder months we all need to keep our energy levels up and while it’s important to eat healthily at all times of the year, this time of year can provide an excuse or two for adding a few extra calories to our plates. As long as you keep an eye on those portion sizes, autumn is a good time to bring into play the old say ‘a little of what you fancy does you good’!
For perfect mash every time all you need is a little milk and butter, which does sound a little fattening! It probably is, but a little is the key word here. Once you’ve softened your potatoes mash them with a dash of milk and a knob of butter, plus salt and pepper to taste. Give a final blitz with a whisk to create the perfect, filling, tasty and comfort-food mix. If you really don’t care about the calories add cheese to create cheesy mash.
Chicken pie is not only a classic food it’s a great make-do-and-mend dish; it often features as Monday’s Tea, as a way to make Sunday’s leftovers earn their keep. If you’re splashing out on a chicken especially for the pie you’ll need a medium sized one. If you’re being sensible and efficient get a big one for Sunday and don’t let the kids see where you’ve hidden the leftovers. The chicken should be combined with some onions that have been fried off, steamed vegetables, carrots and/or leftover vegetables from the Sunday roast are a great idea. Pastry, unless you’re a die-hard cook, can be bought and rolled out but the classic white sauce should be home-made. Two ounces of butter, two of plain flour and half a pint of milk should be enough to make a good quantity. Place chicken, veg and sauce into your pastry casing, top with more pastry and bake for around twenty five minutes.
A comforting winter addition to the breakfast table is the home-made pancake. Obviously we’re not talking the Monday-Friday breakfast table here. Although simple to make pancakes fall under the “faffy” section in most peoples’ minds, with fairly good reason. For a warming winter twist, add a dash of ginger to the recipe, which adds an unexpected kick. Essential for happy families and a messy kitchen is a good smothering of maple syrup. Again, not exactly calorie counting friendly, but Monday-Friday breakfasts are for that; we all deserve a treat at the weekend!
Bonfires and Bangers
With firework displays and outdoor Christmas markets pressing upon us, one great dish for parents faced with not only their own but several lucky friends and neighbours kids to cater for, consider a mass batch of Toad in the Hole. The big advantage to Toad in the Hole is that it’s not exactly a high-octane cooking event. For large batches it’s best to use several baking trays. The batter recipe is basically the same as Yorkshire pudding batter and can be found easily online. For large quantities use 5 eggs per tray and scale up the other ingredients to match. Ten sausages should hopefully be enough per tray, and once the batter is ready and the oven heated to around 220C it takes no more than 30 minutes to cook. Onion gravy is a welcome addition in most cases. It may be calorie filled and cheap but it is very definitely cheerful!
All of these dishes contain a healthy dose of dairy products, particularly milk, which is a great source of calcium and vitamins for growing bodies. While not exactly low on calories skimmed milk and healthier butter alternatives can be added, without compromising on taste or essential goodness. Dairy products, carbohydrates and protein filled pies may not sound exactly good for your diet, but at this time of year a little comfort food can help your body to build your immune system and keep you healthy.