Recipe Roundup :: Comfort Foods

Before long, it'll be rainy day, gray skies and cooler weather. There's just something about curling up on the couch with a good book and a bowl mac and cheese. Comfort foods are called so for a reason, but I'm always on the hunt for an interesting twist. Here's a few of my recent finds.

I recently learned about a new trend "waffling," essentially putting unexpected foods into a waffle iron to see what happens. I'll admit I was skeptical at first, but then the idea actually intrigued me. However while waffles are a brunch staple, I'll order in a restaurant, a waffle iron is one of the few gadgets missing from my kitchen. I've never really been able to justify it, knowing it would probably gather more dust than oil. But this recipe from FWx has me wanting to run to the store right now. It throws some of my favorite flavors into the same dish, ones I might never have put together. Cheddar and beer are perfect compliments, I don't know why I never considered using them together in a biscuit batter or waffles as FWx did. And the honey and sriracha, perhaps unexpected, sound like a great spicy-sweet glaze for fried chicken.

My breakfast staple. I could eat eggs over easy day in day out, even with all the talk that eggs can lead to bad cholesterol. I loved this roundup from Food 52 because it speaks to one of my favorite aspects of cooking. No two cooks are the same, give them the same recipe and every person will put their own spin. Even with a simple fried egg, there are endless ways to make it. My preferred technique is similar to Emily Vikre's -- a frying pan on medium-high heat and a pad of butter, and I remove the pan from the heat when I flip my egg. It's been fun trying these other methodologies to see how the end result differs.

Mac and cheese, I've been known to make lists of restaurants to try based on hearing they have a great macaroni and cheese, I've got one entire cookbook devoted entirely to the dish, and I will constantly experiment with different cheeses and mix-ins. I made these macaroni and cheese muffins for a going-away potluck a while back, and they're much easier to eat while mingling carrying around a bowl and spoon. What's great about this recipe is the addition of the Dijon mustard and butternut squash puree.

I immediately cut out the recipe card for this from the back of this past month's Real Simple magazine. Of course, it's got bourbon, apple and vanilla, an absolutely delightful combination of flavors. But what really intrigued me was the use of grits in the cake batter. This is definitely on my "Must Bake" list, and I can't wait to share with you how it turns out. 

Bourbon has been my spirit of choice now for a while. While I usually drink it neat or with one or two ice cubes, I do enjoy finding creative cocktails that utilize it. The bourbon brulé from NY Times Cooking combines some flavors I wouldn't have imagined trying together all at once -- bourbon, orange, ginger and sherry. If it tastes as good as it looks in the picture, it'll make a worthy drink for holiday celebrations.

I love sweet potato fries. What I really need to find is a place that serves endless baskets. But let's be serious, they're really not that difficult to make at home, I've just never tried. I found this great recipe on NY Times Cooking, just six ingredients and barely any time at all. What took me so long?

Recipe Roundup :: Meal inspiration

Before I get into the recipes in today's roundup, I wanted to share where I go for my meal inspiration. While I have a bookcase overflowing with cookbooks and numerous links and magazines I love to peruse, Bon Appétit continues to be my favored resource. It's even surpassed at this point my admiration for the shuttered Gourmet, which seamlessly wove together my love of food and travel. Bon Appétit, even with it's drool-worthy photography, sense of adventure and sophistication, is still approachable. The staff is dedicated to making even the most complex recipes, easy for cooks of any experience level to follow and recreate. And the editors share a joie de vivre that comes through in the magazine's voice. I anxiously await the arrival of each month's issue in my mailbox and then proceed to sit on my patio armed with sticky notes and a cup of coffee. I obsess over Andrew Knowlton's instagram feed, subscribe to daily Bon Appétit recipe blasts, peruse the same issues again on my iPad delighting in the interactivity and reread the annual Travel Issue and Best New Restaurants list at least a few times.

I keep just one cookbook on my kitchen counter. While the others sit on a bookshelf in my living room, this one has stains from over-zealous mixing. The red-plaid Better Homes & Gardens New Cookbook was a gift from my mom, and it's where I learned the pancake recipe I now know by heart and refer to when I forget cooking times or temperatures for meat and vegetables. My other favorite anthologies are Gourmet Today, Bon Appétit Desserts and The Williams-Sonoma Cookbook. The rest of my cookbooks tend to be a single-subject, whether its brunch, mac & cheese, Irish pub cooking or one of my favorites foods, the potato.

Often I turn online for inspiration. Sometimes I search with a specific idea of a dish I'd like to make, other times it's about perusing through email blasts and blogs until a recipe catches my eye. My favorite websites right now are Food 52 and the new New York Times Cooking site. Food 52 is an online cooking community, where readers can share recipes, ask questions and find columns and blogs on specific food-related topics. The New York Times Cooking site is a home for the New York Times' library of over 10,000 recipes. It's a beauty and the recipes are searchable by ingredient, skill level, meal and more. I really enjoy Editor Sam Sifton's weekly newsletter where he shares his tips and ideas for what to cook.

Recipe Roundup
Click on names to link to the original recipe

Spaghetti with strawberry tomato sauce
This recipe is from Bon Appétit's pick for Best New Restaurant 2014. I was in D.C. in May (expect a post soon about my food finds) and regret not making it to Rose's Luxury. So now it's at the top of my list for my next visit. In the meantime, I am looking forward to this spicy-sweet take on traditional spaghetti.

Roasted apple butter
I won't let a season stop me from eating apples, but nothing feels more autumn to me than apple pie and apple butter. For a while my mom kept sending me jars of apple butter from trips to different farms in California. But now I've found a surprisingly easy recipe to make my own. It's perfect timing too, I'm running low!

Company eggs
Eggs are one of my favorite things to cook with, a necessity in baking and perfect for any meal from a simple fried egg for breakfast to a complex quiche for dinner. These company eggs sound like the sort of thing I'll want to eat all day.

Whole roasted cauliflower with whipped goat cheese
Remember my new found appreciation for cauliflower, well now I found a delightfully decadent recipe to try. This recipe features three kinds of goat cheese, white wine and roasted cauliflower. I can't wait to share how this one turns out.