More in News
March winds have arrived, bringing with them snow and rain and sometimes warm temperatures and lots of melting. March is such a changeable month.
When we’ve had one of those wonderfully warm days followed by a day filled with snow and cold, the impact is even worse than the consistently cold weather of mid winter.
It’s during these times that comfort foods are really appreciated. Soups, stews, macaroni and cheese are just a few of those foods that warm both the body and soul.
And after a tough morning of shoveling one of those wet, March snowstorms, there’s nothing quite like a cup of hot, homemade cocoa. Then for supper, a hot stew soaked up by homebaked bread.
It’s these kinds of foods that make winter and all its inconveniences tolerable. I make few soups during the warm months. The only time I use some of my homemade chicken stock then is in stir frys.
So although it is almost spring, we know that winter weather will be with us for several weeks to come.
Here are three foods, all very different from each other, that will help make late winter easier to take and to enjoy.
Instant hot chocolate can be found in infinite varieties in all grocery stores. But to get the true joy of hot chocolate, there’s nothing quite like the homemade kind.
This recipe can be double or quadrupled.
Homemade Hot Chocolate (1 serving)
1 heaping tablespoon unsweetened baking cocoa
1 teaspoon sugar
three-quarters cup milk
one-eighth teaspoon vanilla
dash of salt
dash of ground cinnamon or nutmeg (optional)
dollop of whipped cream or marshmallow (optional)
For each cup, place the amount of sugar and cocoa called for in a heavy saucepan. Add a dash of salt at this time.
Stir. Stir in milk; first 1 tablespoon at a time, then in a slow, steady stream. Heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Pour into a warmed mug and top with cinnamon, nutmeg, whipped cream or marshmallow fluff.
Pasta Fagioli comes in many variations as anyone of Italian descent can say. This is the one my husband likes. It’s one of those comfort foods that is easy to make, filling, and contains lots of nutrition. This recipe makes enough for supper one night, and several lunches thereafter.
Pasta Fagioli (6-8 generous servings)
One-half cup finely chopped onions
2 large garlic cloves, minced
one-quarter cup olive oil
about 5 cups canned tomatoes, cut up
3 to 4 cups chicken broth or stock
one-half cup fresh parsley, chopped (or 2 or 3 tablespoons dried)
1 teaspoon or so dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
3 or 4 cans cannellini or other white beans, drained and rinsed
1 or 2 cups dried ditalini or other small, tubular pasta
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Saute the onion and garlic in the olive oil until soft, but not browned. Stir in the tomatoes, stock or broth, and herbs. Bring to a boil, then add beans. Bring to a boil again, then cover, reduce heat, and simmer for about 30 minutes.
Then either cook pasta separately and drain, saving 2 cups of the cooking water to add to the soup, or add dry pasta directly to the soup along with 2 cups water or stock. Bring to a boil and cook until pasta is done.
Serve in warmed bowls topped with a sprinkling of grated Parmesan or Romano cheese. Serve with a green salad and a crusty bread like the following.
This bread is the easiest yeast bread to make that I’ve ever discovered. If bread flour is used, do not add the gluten.
Pastor Laura’s Yeast Bread (2 round loaves)
5 cups flour
2 tablespoons yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
2 cups warm water
2 tablespoons gluten
Mix half the flour with the rest of the ingredients. Beat with an electric mixer for 3 minutes, or until smooth. Add the remaining flour and knead for 5 minutes. Let rest for 10 minutes. Divide the dough into 2 round loaves and place on a cookie sheet that has been greased and sprinkled with cornmeal. Pat down loaves slightly. Cut an X in the top of each loaf.
Place in the middle rack of a cold oven with a pan of water on the lower rack.
Turn oven on to 400 degrees and bake for 40 minutes. Brush with olive oil. Cool only slightly, then serve warm with any pasta or soup dish.
I may be reached at email@example.com