What is Comfort Food and Why Do We Love It So Much?

What is Comfort Food and Why Do We Love It So Much?

 

Green Split Peas Soup with Bacon, comfort food,

A Soup Made for a Blizzard

We just made it through one of the worst storms the American east coast has ever seen. That was in October of 2012. And now this blizzard that brought us more than a 2 feet of snow. I think that calls for some serious comfort food. The famous green split pea soup. A comfort soup made for cold and snowed in days. Luckily we didn’t lose power but others where not so lucky. I can’t think of another storm destroying our house it’s too nerve wrecking. Even month after the Hurricane left us we are still in renovation mode. For those of you who missed my Hurricane post, follow this link: Wood stove cooking and romantic candle light dinners

Snowy days ideal for comfort food

A Culinary Tradition that Carries On for Centuries.

I loved snow during my childhood – nowadays not so much. I remember on really cold days my mom would always cook up some comfort food such as a green split pea soup. I don’t know if it’s just me who craves comfort food on cold days. What about you?

The funny thing is My wife comes from the Caribbean and she has a comfort food too. It’s a curry, whether it’s made with chicken, fish or goat. But it’s not cold there. So how do you define comfort food? Does it has something to do with the weather or our emotions? I would love to know your take on it?

Green Split Peas

What is comfort food and why do we love it so much?

According to The Free dictionary by Farlex the definition for comfort food is: ” Simply prepared food that gives a sense of well-being: usually foods with a higher content of  sugar or carbohydrates, which can be associated with childhood or home cooking”. There we have it, what ever is in our comfort food gives us a sense of emotional satisfaction.

A study by the School of Hotel Administration at Cornell University suggest that men crave comfort food during positive times while women yearn for comfort food in stressful times. Isn’t that interesting? What are you craving in comfort food?

Split peas soup as comfort food

Health Benefits of Green Split Peas

Split peas whether they are green or yellow are loaded with proteins and fibers. 95 % of all split peas come in dried form, which doesn’t diminish its health benefits. They are also packed with anti inflammatory properties and antioxidants. Studies have shown that peas in general have great health benefits such as lowering blood sugar levels, heart healthy, cancer fighting and cholesterol lowering properties, just to mention a few. For more info on health benefits on split peas follow the link. Linus Pauling Institute

Even though a split peas soup is loaded with “good” carbohydrates and calories I can say that this comfort food is quite healthy. Storm or no storm I will definitely stick to my comfort food as long as they are loaded with peas 🙂

 

Green Split Pea Soup with Bacon cooked in a Slow Cooker

Recipe Type: Soup, Entre, Comfort Food, Organic,
Cuisine: German
Author: Kraemers Culinary Blog
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4
I cooked this green split peas soup in my fancy rice cooker, which is also a slow cooker. If you don’t have the time to slow cook use a stainless steel pot. You just have to keep the heat on low to medium and stir frequently. The cooking time will also be shorter around: 1:30 minutes.
Ingredients
  • 3 slices bacon, diced
  • 4 oz / 115 g butter
  • 10 oz / 290 g / 1 1/4 cup organic green split peas
  • 4 oz / 115g / 1 cup organic onions, finely chopped
  • 4 oz / 115 g / 1 cup organic carrots, cut in 1/3 inch cubes
  • 2 oz / 60 g / 1/2 cup organic celery, finely chopped
  • 1 large organic potato cut in 1/3 inch cubes
  • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp mild vinegar,
  • 2 1/4 cup water
  • 3 cups organic chicken broth, low sodium
Instructions
  1. In a stainless steel pan saute bacon over medium heat until golden brown.
  2. Discard fat and place bacon in slow cooker.
  3. Turn on slow cooker and time for 2 hours. Remember I used a rice cooker with a slow cooking option. The temperature of my slow cooker might be different than yours.
  4. Add butter, onions, garlic, celery and oregano.
  5. Saute until translucent.
  6. Now add all other ingredients stir once, close the cover and let cook.
  7. Give it a stir once or twice during the entire cooking process.
  8. Seasoned split pea soup with black pepper and salt if necessary.
Notes
Tip: For more pork flavor try adding a small ham hock or pieces of that. I prefer a smoked one, either way it will give the split pea soup a well-rounded satisfying flavor. Well, of course way more calories too.

 

So what comfort food are you craving?

 

 

 

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Chilled Two Melon Soup with Mint

Chilled Two Melon Soup with Mint

The weather is hot here in New York and what could be better than a chilled two melon soup with a splash of Orange liquor. Decorated with a dollop of vanilla yogurt and a sprig of mint leaves make this soup, appetizer or cocktail, however you want to call it; a wonderful refreshment.  I’m sorry, but I already had two and they made my day :-).

Two melon soup with fresh mint

Two melon soup with fresh mint

 

I remember a few years ago when I was living in the Caribbean we served a chilled two melon soup in my restaurant and since it was hot all the time they flew off the shelf. However, melon soup is not every ones cup of coffee. Some people don’t like the sweet flavor that comes naturally with melons. Luckily there is a way to spice it up literally. The use of yogurt, Tabasco, lemon juice and a little mint goes a long way to improve the flavor dramatically. I prefer the natural flavor of the water melons, though I like to mix it with Cantaloupe melon, which gives it a bit more depth.The funny thing about water melon is once it’s blended it doesn’t taste the same any more. It is not as refreshing as if you would bite into a melon, that’s why I added the” melon caviar” to it to recreate that refreshing taste.

 

Water Melon Caviar

Water Melon Caviar

By the way did you know that water melons are good for your skin in particular when you got a sunburn? Recent studies have shown that when water melon is consumed just before or after a sunburn it will speed up the process of healing the skin or even prevent a mild sunburn in the first place. Sounds great doesn’t it? So eat your water melon before going in the sun.

 

Chilled Two Melon Soup with Fresh Mint
Recipe Type: Appetizer, Soup,
Author: Kraemers Culinary Blog
Prep time: 45 mins
Total time: 45 mins
Serves: 4
Remember this soup is designed to be consumed by adults! If you have children around simply leave out the liquor and your kids will have a blast.
Ingredients
  • 4 cups of cubed watermelon,
  • Juice from one lemon
  • 7-8 mint leaves chopped
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 2 dashes Tabasco
  • 1 cantaloupe melon
  • Juice from two limes
  • A dash of Tabasco
  • 1.5 tsp honey
  • 2 tbsp of orange Liquor
  • 1 big wedge of water melon (for water melon caviar)
  • 1/8 of a cantaloupe (for cantaloupe caviar)
  • 1 container vanilla yogurt
  • 4 sprigs of mint
Instructions
  1. For the water melon soup, blend the first five ingredients in a blender and place in refrigerator.
  2. Blend the next four ingredients for the cantaloupe soup in a separate blender. Chill both soups.
  3. With a Parisienne spoon make about 1 cup of small cantaloupe & water melon caviar (small tiny cute melon balls)
  4. In a martini glass fill about a 1/4 cup of water melon caviar.
  5. Now pour water melon soup until the melon caviar is covered.
  6. Add 2 tbsp of cantaloupe caviar on top.
  7. Pour about 1/4 cup of cantaloupe soup to cover all melon caviar.
  8. Add a dollop of vanilla yogurt in the center.
  9. Decorate with a little melon caviar and fresh mint leaves. Enjoy
Notes

Depending on the size of your glasses you might have left over soup.
Tip: This dish is also ideal as an intermezzo between appetizer and main course. As an intermezzo it is best to increase the orange liquor to 4 tbsp and double the lemon juice, since the acidity clears the taste buds between courses.

 

 

Do you like melon soup? Maybe you have your own way of preparing it. Would you share it with us? Leave a comment.

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Chicken Stock

Chicken Stock

Chicken Stock

Ingredients:
2-3 lbs of chicken bones and scraps
or 1 whole chicken
3.5 qt of water or enough water to cover bones
1 onion
1 large carrot
1/2 stalk of celery
Cut all vegetables in 2 inch pieces
2 bay leaves
A hand full of parsley including stems
3-4 sprigs of thyme
1 Tbsp salt

Equipment needed:
4-5 qt stainless steel or enameled cast iron such as Le Creuset
Cutting board, Chef Knife, Peeler, Strainer, Cheesecloth, Ladle

Makes about 3 qt of stock

A cook’s best friend is definitely the stock whether it is made from chicken, beef, or fish. It is a fundamental recipe used in the professional kitchen. It always elevates the taste of your recipes, due to its unmistakable flavor. Not to mention that it will make your life a lot easier. It is very simple to cook a stock and the process is always the same regardless of what type of meat, game or poultry is used. If you don’t have enough bones as described above, substitute it by using a whole chicken, which you could use later for a chicken fricassee. Important is that cold water is used to start the chicken stock, that principle remains the same for other stocks whether it is beef or fish. Why cold water? The bones and the remaining meat on the bones will release its flavor into the water where as hot water seals the meat and fewer flavors are released. The vegetables used in this stock are called mirepoix, which consist of chopped onions, carrots and celery. When I cook at home I try to prepare more stock than I need for the day so I can use it the next day.

Adding mirepoix to the chicken broth

The herbs used for this stock are called bouquet garni and usually consist of parsley, thyme and bay leaves. Depending on the application rosemary or sage and other herbs can be added.

Tip: If you plan to serve your stock as a standalone dish such as a clear chicken soup substitute the chopped onions with one or two charred onions. Do this by cutting a whole onion in half and placing it in a pan without oil on medium heat until the onion is charred. This will give your soup golden color. If you rather like  a brown chicken stock you have to roast or saute the bones first, then proceed as described below.

Cooking Instructions:
The bones can be chopped in 2-3 inch pieces and washed under running water. In addition the bones and scraps can be cleaned with salt and lemon as it is a tradition in warmer climates such as the Caribbean. Important is that no more blood is running out of the bones, that is in particular important when cooking fish bouillon. Place the bones into the pot with the required amount of water and bring to a simmer on low to medium heat. The lower the heat the more flavor is being released into the stock, the longer it will take to finish, however the flavor will be better. Don’t be afraid to speed up the process by increasing the heat, you’ll still get a good stock. Once the chicken stock comes to a simmer use a ladle to skim the foam that builds up at the surface. Then add all vegetables and flavorings including the roasted onion.  Let it simmer for about 2 hours and replenish the evaporated water. Finally, taste the broth and season to your liking. Use a strainer to separate the stock from the bones and flavorings. Chicken Broth

You may use your stock immediately to further cooking or strain it again through a cheesecloth if you would like to have a very clear broth. Once the stock has cooled place it in a refrigerator and chill over night. Discard the hardened fat, which is floating at the top o the stock. In most cases it is a big chunk of white looking chicken fat that is easy to lift off. A great stock looks similar to jelly and will become completely liquid when reheated. Use your stock to refine sauces, clear and cream soups, risotto, fricassees, stews and much more.

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