Just Like Mama Used to Make…My Top 5 Comfort Meals

As I touched upon in a previous post, pregnancy comes with it’s fair share of changes. In my case, second to waking up four to five times a night to go to the toilet is my new found appetite.

I say new found, but it’s always been there lurking away in the background. I go through phases with my diet. For instance, for the months leading up to falling pregnant I was a follower of the Raw diet, which you can read about here. It’s not for everyone, but it worked for me. I felt good, I had more energy, I lost a healthy amount of weight (and apparently became extra fertile in the process). Then there is the other half of my diet. The little demon that most of us have, telling me that just one more slice of cake can’t stick to my hips that badly. I’ll just do that extra ten minutes on the run tomorrow. Ten minutes later, a whole Battenburg down and dribbling of remorse, it doesn’t seem like such a great idea, does it?

I to and fro with my diet, I’ve never been able to quite get it down to a T. Being pregnant has of course accentuated my cravings for certain foods. Among sour sweets and ice pops, my main cravings are for my mothers home cooked meals. There’s something comforting about not just the food, but the care that goes into preparing them.

My mother is one of nine siblings in an Irish Catholic family. My grandmother, a good god fearing woman has had her fair share of culinary blunders. There was the time when we realized her mash potatoes were so awful because she didn’t know you had to drain the potatoes first. There was the occasion when she made vol au vents for my mothers birthday…instead of using puff pastry she used big Yorkshire puddings for the prawns. Then we have the ongoing battle of the tuna sandwich. We’re still debating how to tell her that you have to drain the sunflower oil out of the tuna first.

I don’t quite understand where my mother has gained her culinary prowess from, but I thought I would share with you my top 5 favourite comfort home cooked meals.

1. Boiled Bacon, Cabbage and Potatoes

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If my mother ever wants to see me, the only three words she has to utter are Bacon, Cabbage and Potatoes. It’s like magic- through hell and high water I’ll be there in ten minutes flat. Hell, you can just say Bacon and I’ll pretty much appear in a puff of smoke salivating. You can get an easy to follow recipe from the lovely people at BBC Good Food here.

2. Bubble and Squeak 

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Okay, so not the prettiest dish- but what a classic. With the state of the economy at the moment, who can afford to throw out leftovers anyway?! Try Nigel Slater’s painfully quick recipe. For a nice twist, throw some mature cheddar in there too.  Be warned, this does not flip as easily as a pancake. I should know.

3. Shepard’s Pie

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Rivaled only by the great Tuna Pasta Bake. The comfort in this dish is almost second to none, especially after a long day or in place of the family Sunday roast. Or on a Monday after the kids have been swimming…or a Tuesday…why not every day?! This dish has everything you want, vegetables, meat and potatoes. Traditionally this English dish is made with lamb mince, although my mother does it the ‘American’ way, with beef mince, perhaps due to spending a few years in Texas. Whatever your preference, Jamie Oliver has a great How-To right here.

4.Tuna Pasta Bake

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How did you know that was coming next? This is a great dish for any family. It’s quick, it’s easy and incredibly filling- also great if you’re on a budget, hence being the staple diet of many a student. One tip I’ve picked up from my mother is to avoid the in the jar sauces, especially the ones that say the pasta doesn’t need to be pre-boiled. They never work and you end up with a mouthful of charred pasta akin to glass that will also poke a hole in your culinary ego. I like mine with lots of cheese. If you want a good tip to give it that extra crunch, try crushing up some cheese and onion crisps and sprinkling over the top. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it! You can get the basic recipe from Sainsbury’s here.

5. Chicken and Mushroom Pie 

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Anyone else starting to notice a carbalicious theme here? Next to Bacon, anything to do with pastry is pretty much a dead cert way of getting my ass at the dinner table. Just last night I had a dream about these delightfully light little puffs of deliciousness. I know pregnant women salivate more than usual, but really… I have had a love affair with pie since an early age, although I shamefully admit that I have never been quite able to master the pie power. My mother on the other hand, can bake pies in her sleep. I do however make a damn good cake and that works out pretty well as she can’t do a fondant to save her bacon. There’s something about James Martin’s pie recipe that makes me think I may just be able to pull something that vaguely resembles this mouthwatering picture together.

So, there you have it. What are your top 5 comfort home cooked meals? I’d love to know. Now, what’s for dessert?

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2 thoughts on “Just Like Mama Used to Make…My Top 5 Comfort Meals

  1. I tried Shepherd’s Pie for the first time at an English expat’s spot in NYC, Tea and Sympathy. It’s been a fav of mine ever since though I’ve never tasted another as good as theirs. My all time favorite comfort food has to be Haitian style rice and beans with chicken in sauce. It never fails!

  2. My mother’s spaghetti and chop suey, as well as her pancakes, bring back warm memories. I’ve made them since her death but nothing beats your mom making you a meal. Just not the same . . .

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