Winter Comfort Food
This North African–inspired cassoulet is chef Gavin Kaysen’s nod to all the different cultures in Minneapolis, where his restaurant, Spoon and Stable, is located. “I wanted to showcase new flavors, but in a familiar format,” says Kaysen. “I like seeing another culture’s view of comfort food.” This warming casserole is super easy, and your whole family will enjoy it all year long.
Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole
Chef Gavin Kaysen of Spoon and Stable in Minneapolis updates this classic Minnesota flavor combo with fresh herbs, tender Swiss chard and an aromatic mushroom gravy. The dish is perfect for potlucks since it can be baked a day ahead.
Creamed Spinach with Fried Cheese Curds
Chef Gavin Kaysen of Spoon and Stable in Minneapolis has a version of this incredibly decadent creamed spinach on his menu. Just how much do Minnesotans love cheese curds? The restaurant sold 8,459 orders of the dish in its first 10 months.
Ricotta Gnocchi Gratin
Chef Geoffrey Zakarian uses a stand mixer to make his perfectly fluffy gnocchi with ricotta cheese.
This amazing chocolate babka from pastry chef Melissa Weller at Sadelle's in New York City gets extra flavor in the swirl from chocolate cookie crumbs. As a bonus, the tender-crumbed babka is topped with a thick and luscious chocolate glaze.
Root-Vegetable Hot Dish with Parsnip Puree
Chef Gavin Kaysen of Spoon and Stable in Minneapolis created this hearty vegetarian dish, which features roasted root vegetables and a creamy parsnip puree, as a lighter alternative to the traditionally meat-heavy Minnesota casserole.
Roasted Mushrooms with Red Wine Butter
Instead of cooking mushrooms in a skillet, chef Geoffrey Zakarian roasts them in the oven until tender before tossing them in a buttery red wine sauce with garlic and fresh herbs.
Chickpea and Swiss Chard Chili
This smoky, rich chili from F&W’s Justin Chapple is a simple one-pot dish.
Beef Stew with Dill
In this lovely, lighter-than-most beef stew, F&W’s Justin Chapple simmers chuck until it’s super tender before adding carrots, peas, spinach and dill.
Chocolate-Peanut Butter Swiss Rolls
Fudgy cake, fluffy peanut butter filling and a chocolate ganache coating combine to form the perfect sweet indulgence from pastry chef Tiffany MacIsaac of DC’s Buttercream Bakeshop.
Andouille Mac & Cheese
At The Heron, in Narrowsburg, New York, chef Paul Nanni grinds and smokes his own andouille sausage for supergenerous portions of Cajun-inspired macaroni and cheese.
Eggplant Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Add these flavorful grilled eggplants to make a great vegetarian grilled cheese sandwich.
Beef-and-Vegetable Potpie with Cheddar Biscuits
“I have a hard time getting excited by beef,” Kristin Kimball confesses. “Steak bores me, and roasts can come out dry. We do a lot of ground meat, and I get tired of coming up with new ideas for it.” This luscious potpie—with its buttery cheddar crust and filling mixed with parsnips, carrots and peas—would be a perfect addition to her repertoire.
Overstuffed Twice-Baked Potatoes
If these seem too large for you, then bake and mash only four (instead of the five used here), or use smaller potatoes.
Sausage and Broccoli Rabe with Polenta
Spicy Italian sausage and broccoli rabe simmer in a flavorful tomato sauce. Served over a mound of creamy polenta, they make a ravishing, rustic Italian meal for a cold winter's night. If you like, pass grated Parmesan at the table.
Baby Spinach and Garlic Bread Pudding
This bread pudding is almost like a tart, with the croutons acting as a crunchy crust. Tender baby spinach in the filling turns incredibly silky when cooked.
Pumpkin Lasagna with Ricotta and Swiss Chard
This super-creamy lasagna is perfect for a vegetarian main course. What makes it especially unusual is that it’s made without tomato sauce.
Beef Stew in Red Wine Sauce
This rich, winey beef stew is always a hit with Jacques Pépin’s chef friends.
Chili with Guajillo and Ancho Chiles and Hominy
Butcher Tom Mylan of Meat Hook in Brooklyn flavors his chili with three kinds of dried chiles: fruity guajillos, smoky anchos and a New Mexico chile. After he soaks the chiles in water to plump them, he blends them to form a silky puree, which gives the chili a complex flavor.
Asiago and Sage Scalloped Potatoes
Wisconsin produces very good versions of Asiago, the hard cheese with a slightly sharper flavor than Parmesan. Sandy D’Amato recommends the Stella brand.
Macaroni and Many Cheeses
At the end of their wine-and-cheese parties, Helen Jane Hearn and Natalie Wassum gather any leftovers to make an incredible mac and cheese later in the week.
Eggplant Parmesan with Crisp Bread Crumb Topping
This eggplant Parmesan is all it should be: delicate slices of fried eggplant nestled in a bright, tangy tomato sauce, layered with gooey fresh mozzarella. The best part is the exceptionally crisp topping, made with dry bread crumbs.
Barbecued Shrimp with Cheese Grits
By happy accident, Amber Huffman combined leftovers of two low-country staples—barbecue and cheddar cheese grits—for a quick Southern fusion meal. It became a Jess Jackson favorite. Here, Huffman tops her grits with grilled shrimp slicked with a tangy, bourbon-based barbecue sauce. “I seriously have received three marriage proposals over a bowl of my cheese grits,” says Huffman. “I’ve accepted none so far.”
Veal Goulash with Paprika, Caraway and Fried Capers
At Seäsonal Restaurant and Weinbar, Wolfgang Ban makes his goulash with succulent veal cheeks; here he adapts the recipe for easier-to-find veal shoulder.
Double-Chocolate Hot Chocolate
Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito firmly believe that homemade hot chocolate is superior to any commercial mix. They make their decadent version with both bittersweet and milk chocolate and then top it with marshmallows that they make and sell at Baked.
Rich Baked Chocolate Puddings
Although this deep, dark chocolate pudding is easily made in ramekins, it’s fun to bake and serve in small glass jars. Pim Techamuanvivit likes using old, mismatched jam jars.
The soft and sticky dough for these baking powder—boosted sweet buns—made without butter or oil—gets its richness from pureed cottage cheese. Don’t worry that the cut dough spirals look a little lost in the springform pan; as they bake, they rise and puff into a perfect round of pull-apart buns.
Matt Lewis is enamored of fondue—in fact, he had a special pot made for dessert fondues at his former Manhattan shop, Chocolate Bar. His terrific cheddar-Jack cheese fondue includes whiskey, which adds a great kick.
Iraqi Lamb and Eggplant Stew with Pitas
This sweet and tangy Middle Eastern stew, with falling-apart-tender lamb, is one of wordsmith (and perfect party host) Jesse Sheidlower’s favorites.