I don’t know about you but once the Christmas holidays are over, I crave comfort foods. You know, the foods that are basic, nostalgic, or that you have a sentimental attachment to and that take you down memory lane. Some might even refer to these dishes as vintage. Maybe your mom made them for you when you were a child or you remember them from visits to grandma’s house. I’m talking about foods like macaroni and cheese, baked beans, scalloped potatoes, apple pie or crisp, homemade stews and “boiled dinners“, and baked bread. Cottage pie, rice pudding, roast chicken dinners, meatloaf with mashed potatoes, and fruit cobblers are other comfort foods commonly enjoyed in North American culture. There are many other dishes that bring us comfort in the cold Canadian winters so this list is not exhaustive and what constitutes comfort food may vary between cultures and regions of Canada.
These foods, in their traditional content, are by no means gourmet fare nor are they necessarily devoid of calories. They’re typically plain and simple stick-to-the-ribs kind of fare and they generate feelings of contentment and satisfaction … you feel warm and cozy when eating the meal. These kinds of dishes take basic, easy-to-find ingredients and are not usually difficult or complicated to make. They’re the kinds of foods that, when you walk into a home where they are being prepared, your appetite is immediately whetted and you harken back to early memories of enjoying those foods. They are hearty classics and endure over time, generation after generation. Yes, even the old tuna casserole is still considered a comfort food by many!
This month, I am going to focus many of my blog postings on some of my favorite comfort foods. Today, I am starting with my recipe for Blueberry Grunt. I don’t know the origin of this dessert or how it got its name but it’s really just a fruit cobbler – a slightly thickened fruit sauce on the bottom topped by a biscuit-like dumpling. This dessert is often made on the stove top where the dumplings are put in the pot on top of the bubbling blueberry sauce, covered and let simmer for about 15 minutes. However, my recipe calls for the dessert to be baked in the oven.
My featured Island product in this recipe are the blueberries. Each summer, I pack away several bags of these sweet little Island-grown morsels for use in my favorite recipes like this one for Blueberry Grunt.
4 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen
1/2 cup white sugar
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp + 1 tsp cornstarch
2 tsp lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp grated lemon rind
1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp cardamon
2 cups flour
4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 1/2 tbsp white sugar
1 cup milk
2 1/2 tbsp cold butter
Preheat oven to 400F.
In a small bowl, mix together the sugars, cornstarch, and spices. Stir in the grated lemon rind. Set aside.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Cut in cold butter until mixture resembles coarse oatmeal. Add enough milk to make a soft dough mixture that will cling together.
Divide the dumpling dough into 8 portions.
Serve hot with a dollop of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream (or both!).
What are your favorite comfort foods?
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