2016-01-22 / Columns

January is the time for comfort food

Cooking on Purpose
By Connie Wendell Special to the Post

Now that winter is really here or at least most days feel like winter, many of us seem to crave comfort food. For some it is sweet, some salty, some creamy – we’re all different.

I have included a few recipes that are great comfort food. See if one of them fits your craving.

Slow cooker corn chowder

1 tablespoon vegetable oil; 1 cup finely chopped carrots (2 medium); ½ cup finely chopped celery (1 stalk); ½ cup finely chopped onion; (1 small); 3 cups peeled and cubed russet potatoes (about 1 pound); 3 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth; 1 bay leaf; ¾ teaspoon salt; ¾ teaspoon dried thyme, crushed; teaspoon paprika; 4 cups frozen whole kernel corn; 2 cups milk; 3 tablespoon cornstarch; 2 tablespoons dry white wine; 1 tablespoon snipped fresh thyme; 4 slices bacon, crisp cooked, drained and crumbled and freshly ground black pepper.

In a medium saucepan heat oil over medium high heat. Add carrots, celery and onion; cook about 7 minutes or until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally. Transfer mixture to a 4 to 6-quart slow cooker. Stir in potatoes, broth, bay leaf, salt, dried thyme and paprika.

Cover and cook on low heat setting about 3 hours or on high heat setting about 1 ½ hours or until potatoes are tender. Stir in corn and milk. Cover and cook about 1 hour or until heated through.

In a small bowl stir together cornstarch and wine; stir into mixture in cooker. Cover and cook for 10 minutes more. Stir in fresh thyme.

Using a potato masher, gently mash potatoes until soup is slightly thickened. Sprinkle each serving with crumbled bacon and pepper.

Serves six.

Lamb (or beef) shanks with barley

1 tablespoon vegetable oil; 3 pounds meaty lamb or beef shanks; 4 carrots, cut into ½-inch slices (1 ½ cups); 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained; 1 (14 ounce) can chicken broth; 1 cup regular barley; ½ cup chopped onion (1 medium); 1/3 cup water; ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper; 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (optional); and snipped fresh rosemary (optional).

In a large skillet heat oil over medium heat. Cook meat in hot oil until brown on all sides; drain fat.

In a 5–6 quart slow cooker combine carrots, celery, tomatoes, broth, barley, onion, water and pepper. Add meat to cooker.

Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 7 to 9 hours (do not use high-heat setting) or until lamb pulls easily from bones and barley is tender.

Remove meat from slow cooker; transfer to a serving platter. Skim off fat from vegetable-barley mixture. If desired, stir in vinegar. Serve with lamb. If desired, top each serving with fresh snipped rosemary. Serves six.

Blueberry crisp

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour; 2 tablespoons granulated sugar; 6 cups fresh blueberries; ¼ cup lemon juice; 1 cup packed brown sugar; ¾ cup all-purpose flour; ¾ cup quick-cooking rolled oats; 1 ¼ teaspoons ground cinnamon; ½ cup cold butter; and vanilla ice cream for serving.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, stir together the 3 tablespoons flour and the granulated sugar. Add blueberries and lemon juice; toss gently to combine. Spread berry mixture evenly in an ungreased 3-quart rectangular baking dish; set aside.

For topping, in a medium bowl, combine brown sugar, the ¾ cup flour, oats and cinnamon. Using a pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle topping over berry mixture.

Bake uncovered for about 30 minutes or until topping is golden brown and edges are bubbly. Cool on a wire rack about 45 minutes. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

Serves eight.

Enjoy being comforted and until next time, keep Cooking on Purpose.

Connie Wendell can be reached at conniewendell27@gmail.com.

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