Comfort Food

Photo © John Kernick

Grace Parisi's recipes bring happiness to the homesick.

For the past 10 years, I've hosted au pairs from all over the world: Brazil, Croatia, the Ukraine and every state in Germany. In turn, the au pairs have introduced my family to their amazing cultural traditions. In Germany, for instance, Advent means eating a sweet every day of December until the 24th, and Saint Nicholas Day, December 6, involves leaving shoes outside the bedroom door to be filled with candy. (Boy, did those au pairs love their chocolate.) I've had to combat a lot of homesickness, too, and food has always been my method. For Jenno (Sicilian-German), there was hazelnut-chocolate spread, eaten by the spoonful; for Alona (Ukrainian), buttery, crunchy chicken Kiev; for Glauce (our mournful Brazilian), hearts of palm salad; and for Katja (our intrepid German), chicken with spring greens. Those au pairs may not remember me, but I think of them whenever I make one of these recipes.


Hearts of Palm and Avocado Salad This tropical salad is fresh and tangy with a terrific creamy dressing.

Quick Chicken Kiev Putting herb butter into the chicken breasts makes them insanely moist and succulent.

Tarragon Chicken with Spring Greens This aromatic chicken cooked with arugula, watercress and romaine lettuce makes a great one-skillet meal.

Hazelnut-Chocolate Spread This quick and easy homemade version of Nutella is super-rich and nutty.