Comfort food is appreciated any time of the year

Comfort food is appreciated any time of the year

Friends and neighbours battling floods and high water would appreciate a home-cooked meal

  • May. 28, 2017 4:30 a.m.

Today I want to say thank you to all the tireless souls out there who have stepped up and continue to offer help to their friends and neighbours trying to save homes and property from raging creeks, and/or sandbagging against the horrific wind storm that turned a record high Okanagan Lake into a wrecking machine this week.

And it’s not over yet, as high waters will be with us for, at minimum, another month to six weeks. If we can help with this situation we need to give our time, muscles and even comfort to those in need.

Today I’m offering comfort foods (in season) that are quick and easy to put together. The quiche can be eaten warm (or cold if necessary) And who wouldn’t enjoy the mac and cheese casserole filled with meat and veggies? Rhubarb is the queen for desserts right now and both recipes are winners.

Asparagus Quiche

1 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces

10 slices bacon

2 (8-inch) unbaked pie shells

1 egg white, lightly beaten

4 eggs

1-1/2 cups half-and-half cream

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Salt and pepper to taste

2 cups shredded Swiss or cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Place asparagus in a steamer over 1 inch of boiling water, and cover. Cook until tender but still firm, about 2 to 6 minutes. Drain and cool.

Place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium high heat until evenly brown. Drain, crumble and set aside.

Brush pie shells with beaten egg white. Sprinkle crumbled bacon and chopped asparagus into pie shells.

In a bowl, beat together eggs, cream, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Sprinkle cheese over bacon and asparagus. Pour egg mixture on top of cheese. Bake uncovered in preheated oven until firm, about 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool to room temperature before serving.

Beefy Macaroni Casserole

4 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/2 stick)

2 medium red bell peppers, cored, seeded, and cut into medium dice (or replace with fresh asparagus in season)

1 medium yellow onion, medium dice

2 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more as needed

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon paprika

3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 pound lean ground beef

1 pound elbow macaroni

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 cups whole milk

1 (15-ounce) can crushed tomatoes (with juices)

1 cup low-sodium chicken broth or stock

3 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese (about 8 ounces)

Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil over high heat. Heat the oven to 400 F and arrange a rack in the middle.

Meanwhile, melt the butter over medium heat in a large saucepan or Dutch oven. Add the bell peppers, onion, garlic, measured salt, oregano, paprika and measured pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened but not browned, about 7 to 10 minutes (if using asparagus, no need to cook it here). Add the tomato paste, stir to combine, and cook until the raw flavour has cooked out, about 1 minute. Add the ground beef, season with salt and pepper, and cook, breaking the meat into smaller pieces with a wooden spoon, until it’s just cooked through and no longer pink, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, add the pasta to the boiling pot of water and cook until still chewy and underdone, usually 1 or 2 minutes less than the package directions suggest (the pasta will finish cooking in the oven). Drain and rinse with cold water until no longer steaming; set aside.

Add the flour to the beef mixture and cook, stirring occasionally, until the raw taste has cooked out of the flour, about 2 minutes. Add the milk, tomatoes and their juices, and broth or stock, stir to combine, and bring to a simmer. Add the cooked pasta and 1-1/2 cups of the cheese and stir to combine. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is heated through and steaming, about 1 minute. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed (add asparagus now if substituting). Transfer to a 5-quart baking dish, sprinkle with the remaining 1-1/2 cups of cheese, and bake until bubbling and lightly browned on top, about 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes before serving. Delicious!

Oma’s Rhubarb Cake

1-1/4 cups white sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 eggs, beaten

1 cup sour cream

3 cups diced rhubarb

1 cup white sugar

1/4 cup butter, softened

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

Ground cinnamon, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9×13 inch baking dish.

In a large bowl, stir together 1-1/4 cups sugar, baking soda, salt and 2 cups flour. Stir in the eggs and sour cream until smooth, then fold in the rhubarb. Pour into the prepared dish and spread evenly.

In a smaller bowl, stir together the remaining 1 cup sugar and butter until smooth. Stir in 1/4 cup flour until the mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle the mixture on top of the cake then dust lightly with cinnamon. Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean, about 45 minutes.

Rhubarb Dream Bars

Crust

2 cups flour

3⁄4 cup powdered sugar

1 cup butter or 1 cup margarine

Filling

4 large eggs

2 cups sugar

1⁄2 cup flour

1⁄2 teaspoon salt

4 cups thinly sliced rhubarb

In food processor, mix together the crust ingredients. Press into a 15 x 10-inch pan. Bake at 350 F for15 minutes (crust will be very light coloured).

Meanwhile, combine eggs, sugar, flour and salt; beat together.

Fold in rhubarb. Spread filling mixture on hot crust; return to oven to bake 40-45 minutes longer.

Cool; cut into bars.