This Winter's Comfort Foods - The New York Times

Welcome. One evening last week, cold and tired after a busy day, I craved a very specific comfort food from my childhood for dinner: bu...


Welcome. One evening last week, cold and tired after a busy day, I craved a very specific comfort food from my childhood for dinner: buttered noodles with cottage cheese. It’s cacio e pepe for a toddler’s palate, a very simple twist on mac and cheese, the ultimate comfort food. The meal came together in minutes and hit the spot, as it always does.

I was recently thinking about a fantastic dinner party where I would serve all the things I loved to eat as a kid and realized that most of those foods were unlikely to appeal to the guests, who would have little or no interest. positive associations I make with the foods in question. Absent the fond memories of my kindergarten lunchbox or the microwave glow of the 1970s home kitchen, cream cheese and jelly on white bread, spaghettiOs and even my beloved pasta with cottage cheese might not translate to a grown-up dinner.

Of course, not all comfort foods are so personal. It’s soup season in the Northeastern United States, and in my house that means as much chili as the biggest pot can hold. A week’s worth of dinners go in the fridge, the rest frozen for months to come.

I asked you a few weeks ago what foods you found comforting recently. Here’s what some of you said. Responses have been edited for length and clarity.

  • “The one recipe I keep coming back to is one I learned from Mark Bittman: apricot curry sweet potato soup. It’s so simple but so delicious! The contrast between sweet and salty makes it an unbeatable combination. It’s so good, in fact, that it’s my only exception to my rule of never diluting the great taste of sweet potatoes by combining them with other foods. —Richard J. Brenner, Miller Place, NY

  • “One of my favorite restaurants in Portland, Oregon is Kachka, a trendy contemporary Russian restaurant with a nice mini deli in the restaurant. We brought home the Kachka cookbook and a pelmeni press, which looks like a metal honeycomb. Pelmenis are tiny dumplings with various fillings: beef, farmhouse cheese, even Morello cherries. We make pelmeni of all flavors; my favorites so far are filled with spicy ground lamb and served with a red pepper and herb sauce.” —Frances Cannon, Burlington, Vermont.

  • “During this endless winter full of sadness and worry, I go back to the soups my mother made during the Depression. Her family housed young women on the Jersey Shore during the summer, and my mother was the cook at 17 years old. She alternated between three soups: lentils, split peas and beans. All made the same way, with just an onion for flavor. I find great comfort in these plain soups (even if I add a little ham from time to time).” —Ellen McPherson, Nashville

  • “The New York Times chocolate cake and mayonnaise. It’s so easy to do. I add chopped walnuts and Bushmills whiskey and sprinkle the top with Icelandic licorice sea salt after I remove it from the oven. —Penny Koelsch, Minneapolis

  • “The salmon patties, made with salmon from the box, stir up childhood nostalgia and provide comfort and warmth on a cold winter evening. Crispy, golden and oven-roasted, salmon patties are a forgotten dish from simpler times that deserves a return. —Miranda Kessel, Bingham, Maine

  • “We have had this chicken already a few times this winter, and it’s always a success. I like to pretend I eat it at a Sunday family dinner at my grandmother’s house in the French countryside. We like to accompany it with a small grilled baguette to dip in the broth. —Merel Kennedy, Mill Valley, Calif.

  • “A pile of kale, cleaned and cooked. Stir-fried vegetables: onions, garlic, red peppers, diced cooked potatoes or sweet potatoes. I pulse the kale in a Cuisinart then put all the pre-cooked vegetables in a large skillet with a little olive oil and saz√≥n seasoning. Then I add the pulsed, almost pureed kale. This kale is so much tastier than chunks of it; it’s indescribably good! —Leslie Gregg, Pittsburgh


After almost two years, two names and countless ideas for living a full and cultured life, the time has come for me to move on. Beginning Saturday, February 5, and every Saturday thereafter, I’ll be contemplating and recommending and all the other things I’ve done here in a new edition of The Times daily newsletter, The Morning. It’s not a goodbye, it’s just a change of address.

You will receive your last At Home and Away newsletter on Friday January 28th. If you’re already receiving The Morning during the week, I’ll be in your inbox early February 5. If you haven’t subscribed, I would like you to subscribe at the link below.


  • I wouldn’t mind living in this Parisian micro-apartment.

  • A semicolon praise in British fiction.

  • Out of order is an entertaining puzzle game that reminds me of those little plastic toys of old that had a grid of tiles and an empty space and you moved tiles around the grid, one at a time, trying to complete a picture.


What are you watching, reading, cooking, doing these days? Write U.S : athome@nytimes.com. Be sure to include your full name and location and we may include your contribution in an upcoming newsletter. were At home and away. We will read every letter sent. As always, other ideas for living a full and cultured life appear below. See you Friday.

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