This recipe is inspired by fond memories of shrimp toast, a treat from childhood lunches at my uncle’s Sydney restaurant, Lee’s Fortuna Court. This beloved Cantonese snack features small triangles of bread, which are smeared with a paste made from minced shrimp, then dipped in sesame seeds and deep-fried. This mushroom version satiates my hunger, thanks to the rich, bold mushroom pâté, which I use as the paste for the bread. This “fried bread” is pure comfort food. If you’re short on time, use store-bought mushroom pâté.
The flavors of brown butter are incredible, adding a rich, nutty flavor to the simplest of dishes. To round out the richness of the brown butter sauce, the dish is paired with crispy panko breadcrumbs with notes of sesame and lime juice to add a beautiful brightness. This recipe combines bold flavors and simple techniques to create the perfect weeknight dinner to add to your repertoire.
In Mexico you are as likely to find the comforting pasta dish fideo seco on the table as beans or rice, especially in central Mexico, where it is very popular. We cook fideos not as the Italians do, but like the Spanish, who brought them to Mexico, first frying them in oil until they are toasty and nutty-tasting, then simmering them in a tomato-based sauce or broth until the sauce thickens considerably and coats the noodles. Forget al dente—our pasta is soft, and that’s the way we love it. The dish is called fideo seco—dry noodles—because it is not saucy at all. It’s also very convenient, because you can make it ahead. You can get packages of fideo pasta, thin noodles broken into pieces, in stores that sell Mexican ingredients, but you can also use thin Italian noodles such as vermicelli, angel hair, thin spaghetti, or spaghetti, and break them up yourself.
I include three different kinds of dried chiles—ancho, guajillo, and chipotle—here in addition to tomatoes, onion, and garlic. For one more layer of complexity—a bit of sweetness in addition to smoky heat—I add some adobo sauce from chipotles in adobo. Top with a drizzle of crema and a sprinkling of tangy cheese, with some sliced avocado to counterbalance the heat of the chiles, and I guarantee that you’ll make it again and again.
Tempering the toppings in hot oil, a technique known as making a tadka, brings out their flavors and is the perfect counterpoint to the cooling yogurt in this simple, comforting dish. Be sure to use plain whole-milk yogurt, not a strained, Greek-style yogurt, for the creamiest porridge-like texture. Food & Wine restaurant editor Khushbu Shah makes this comforting yogurt rice whenever she needs some self-care after a long trip.
Carrots, celery, and onion are the base for any good comfort meal. Using rotisserie chicken puts this meal on the table in under thirty minutes!
PREP TIME: 45 MINUTES • TOTAL TIME: 1 HOUR 45 MINUTES • SERVES 6
This simple chicken, tomato and rice soup is a quick and satisfying meal. Versions of the dish add cream. Using white meat, chicken breast or tenders cuts the cooking time, but be sure to cook the chicken gently and slowly to retain a tender texture.
This soup is a lovely soft yellow; it sings with the color of spring, and gently soothes.
Italian sausage and white bean braise is a super-easy start-up variation on meatballs. The key is to buy good-quality pork and fennel sausages, either at your local butcher or the supermarket.
This soup has a decadent richness that skeptics of vegan cooking are often surprised by (tahini can pull a lot of weight!). It also comes together in about thirty minutes, making it a great option for weeknights. You’ll notice that I call for water rather than stock; in this recipe, it makes for a better liquid, as it keeps the flavors of the soup pure and aligned. Frizzled shallots make an excellent, if optional, garnish.