Spuds We Like

It’s autumn, it’s chilly and my thoughts are turning less towards mellow fruitfulness than to spuds. They’re possibly the ultimate British comfort food and come in many incarnations. Buttery soft mash, roasties, chips, jacket potatoes with soft innards and crisp, salty skins, potato pancakes. And as we’re a multi-cultural nation, potato gnocchi, home fries, hash browns, or spiced up South Asian style. Continue reading

Ham, Cheese and Mushroom Jalousie

I’m very partial to this little pie, it’s the perfect recipe for a chilly spring day when the sun is out, the wind is cold and you want something summery but haven’t quite relinquished comfort food and woolly jumpers. Continue reading

Beef, Quince and Prune Pudding

This is the best sort of comfort food, the flavours bursting out of that glorious suet crust with beefy, fruity bravado. I think I’m in danger of over-egging this particular pudding but honestly, give it a go before the quince season slips through our fingers, it’s really good. Continue reading

Panackelty (Sort Of)

Long ago and far away in the misty, moisty north country, there was a young and inexperienced cook who found a recipe for something called Panackelty. (It was in a rather grand scroll known to its readers as Vogue. The upper classes were prone to speaking in French in those days.) After slaving over a hot fire for quite some time, the cook proudly served her dish to local friends.  Continue reading

Cauliflower and Broccoli Gratin with Toasted Hazelnuts

This is unashamed comfort food and we ate it as a main course, although of course you can serve it as a side to meat if you like. Mixing broccoli in with the cauliflower somehow lightens the dish and the hazelnut topping adds crunch and an added dimension of flavour. I could happily scoff the whole lot single-handed. Continue reading

Sausage Pie

It’s British Pie Week, an event which cannot go unmarked in Mrs Portly’s Kitchen. So I’m going to give you a pie recipe every day from Monday to Friday this week and I’m starting with an old-fashioned family favourite.

There are fancier pies, it’s true, but when it comes to classic comfort food few things beat a good sausage pie.  Continue reading

Chicken and Leek Plate Pie

Image of trees in autumn colours

The best thing about the onset of autumn is the excuse to return to comfort food and this pie really hits the spot.

I like a pie that has a top and bottom crust, partly because if there’s any left over to enjoy cold, it’s easier to pick up and eat for a picnic supper in front of the fire and something brainless on the telly. But if you’re in a hurry just bung a ready-made pastry lid on it. It’ll taste just as good. Continue reading

Ham With Parsley Sauce

This is classic comfort food. I remember my mother making it when I was a little girl and it’s always been a favourite. I prefer boiled (actually simmered) ham to roast ham – it is sweet, juicy and tender and makes a surprisingly light-tasting meal, not at all stodgy. Try to save some to eat cold next day! Continue reading

Chicory and Ham Gratin

Image of finished dish

There’s sometimes a bit of confusion over endives and chicory. In this case I’m referring to the pale yellow and and white torpedoes that are the blanched buds of the Common or Belgian Chicory, not to the curly, frisée-style salad leaf.

You can braise the chicory in the old-fashioned full-fat way, in melted butter and lemon juice, or you can blanch or steam them before draining thoroughly on a clean tea towel.

Either way you then wrap each chicon in a slice of ham and bake them in a cheesy béchamel sauce scattered with a handful of breadcrumbs – pure heaven on a cold winter’s night. Continue reading

Comfort Food and the English Summer

Image of a dish of cooked lasagne

The central heating switched itself on last night and it’s nearly the end of June. How depressing is that?

It’s been wet and windy and miserable and hardly the sort of weather where you sit down to a salad for supper carolling with joy.

On the other hand it’s given me the perfect excuse to get stuck into some serious comfort food. So before the weather warms up again and I have to put these on the back burner until autumn, here are my favourite recipes for fish pie and for lasagne. Continue reading