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       Volume I - June 20, 2008

Comfort Foods For Man
in Our Uncertain Times

by Alice Osborne

The seasons are changing, stressful news is unrelenting, the cold-weather holidays are past, but the warm weather events are upon us. If it’s not one thing it’s another (or “your mother,” as Patty likes to say). Put all these things together, and many Americans' thoughts turn to the stability and certainty of comfort foods. After all, a guy needs to know what he can count on...

Salisbury Steak with Mushroom Gravy
(oh yeah, as long as there’s gravy, everything’s OK)

1 lb lean ground beef
1 (10-oz) can condensed cream of mushroom soup, divided
1/2 C Italian bread crumbs (seasoned, not Italian)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 C chopped onions
1 tsp steak seasoning
1 Tbsp extra virgin, cold-pressed olive oil
2 Tbsp butter, divided
1/4 C low-sodium beef broth
1 (8-oz) pkg sliced fresh mushrooms
2 C low-sodium beef broth
1 (1.2-oz) packet brown gravy mix
Cooked long-grain brown rice, for serving

In large bowl, combine beef, 1/4 can mushroom soup, bread crumbs, egg, onions, and steak seasoning. Mix thoroughly and shape into 4 oval patties. Heat oil and 1 tablespoon butter in large skillet over medium-high heat. Brown patties on both sides and transfer to a plate. Add remaining butter and beef broth (remove pan from heat when adding broth). Saute mushrooms for 7- 8 minutes. Add beef stock; whisk in gravy mix until smooth. Stir in remaining mushroom soup.
Return patties to skillet; spoon gravy over top. Cover pan and simmer for 20-25 minutes. Serve Salisbury Steaks and Mushroom Gravy over hot cooked rice.

  Download this recipe.

London Mac & Cheese
with this on the table, we can cope…
(From Macaroni & Cheese: 52 Recipes, From Simple to Sublime, by Joan Schwartz)

3 C (3/4 lb) grated white sharp Cheddar cheese
1 C (1/4 lb) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, or substitute Grana Padano or pecorino cheese
1 lb ziti, penne or short macaroni
3-3/4 C whole milk
8 Tbsp butter, plus extra for baking dish
6 Tbsp flour
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
Kosher salt
Freshly ground white pepper
1/2 C heavy cream
1/2 C fresh bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350°. In mixing bowl, combine the cheeses and reserve. Bring large pot of salted water to boil over high heat; cook pasta to al dente, 10-12 minutes. Drain; place in mixing bowl.

In small saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the milk to a simmer.

In large saucepan over medium heat, melt butter; when it starts to bubble, whisk in flour. Cook, stirring, for 5 to 6 minutes and then remove from the heat (this is the roux). Whisk in the hot milk all at once. Add cayenne, nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste. Return mixture to high heat and cook, stirring, until it comes to a boil and thickens, 2-3 minutes.

Reduce heat to low. Add 2 cups of combined cheeses to milk mixture and cook, stirring, until the cheeses have melted completely. Pour the sauce over pasta in the bowl and mix lightly.

Lightly butter a 3-1/2-quart deep baking dish; sprinkle 1/2 cup of combined cheeses over the bottom. Cover with 1/3 of the pasta and 1/3 of the remaining cheese. Repeat layers twice, ending with a layer of cheese. Pour cream over all; sprinkle with bread crumbs. Place on middle shelf of oven and bake until macaroni bubbles and crumbs are golden brown, about 30 min. Serves 4-6

  Download this recipe.

Pumpkin Rocks with Cream-Cheese Frosting
Cookies— almost as soothing as hugs…
(From The All-American Cookie Book, by Nancy Baggett)

1 C raisins
3 C whole wheat flour (or rice, oat, or other non-wheat flour)
1-1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp ground cloves
3/4 tsp ground nutmeg
Scant 1/2 tsp salt
1-1/3 C sugar
2/3 C unsalted butter, slightly softened
1/2 C extra virgin, cold-pressed olive oil
1/4 C light molasses
1-1/2 tsp vanilla
1 C canned pumpkin (not seasoned pumpkin-pie filling)

Cream-cheese frosting:
2-1/2 C powdered sugar
1 (3-oz) package cream cheese, slightly softened; cut into chunks
1/4 tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp orange juice

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease several baking sheets or coat with nonstick spray. In a small bowl, cover the raisins with hot water. Let stand for 10 minutes. Drain well and set aside.

In medium bowl, thoroughly stir together flour, cinnamon, baking soda, cloves, nutmeg and salt; set aside. In large bowl, with mixer on medium, beat together sugar and butter until well-blended and fluffy. Reduce speed to low; beat in oil, molasses, vanilla and pumpkin until evenly incorporated. Beat or stir in flour mixture, then the raisins, until evenly incorporated.

Drop dough onto baking sheets in golf-ball-sized mounds, spacing about 2” apart. Bake cookies, one sheet at a time, in upper third of the oven for 12-15 minutes, until lightly browned and slightly darker at the edges. Reverse the sheet from front to back halfway through baking to ensure even browning. Transfer the sheet to a wire rack and let stand until cookies firm up slightly, 1- 2 minutes. Using a spatula, transfer the cookies to wire racks. Let stand until completely cooled.

For the frosting:
In a large bowl, with mixer on low -- then medium -- speed, beat together powdered sugar, cream cheese, and vanilla until well blended and very smooth. Add orange juice and beat until evenly incorporated. If frosting is very stiff, add enough milk to thin it to a spreadable but firm consistency.

Set wire racks with cookies over wax paper (to catch drips). Use table knife to swirl about 1 tsp frosting over the center of each cookie top. Let stand until the frosting sets, at least 1 hour. Store in a single layer or layered with wax paper in airtight container for up to 1 week, or freeze up to 1 month. Yield: 30 - 35 2-3/4” cookies


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