Sonia Mendes shares a few of her all-time favourite winter comfort foods – simple, delicious and satisfying recipes sure to satisfy your family over the chilly months ahead.
Some of my best childhood memories involve food.
Looking back, I can see that my mom’s approach to cooking is a lot like her overall parenting style – simple, comforting and satisfying – and always filled with a whole lot of love.
As a kid, I thought there was nothing better than coming home from school, with cold toes and a red nose, to the
smell of a hearty casserole or some home-baked cookies.
While I’ve developed my own cooking repertoire over the years, a few of mom’s recipes have become mainstays in my kitchen. What started out as my mom’s lasagna recipe years ago has been tweaked to become my very own, and it’s now one of my own family’s favourite comfort foods. Leftovers are perfect for a warm lunch at school – just place it piping hot into your child’s thermos
in the morning.
Growing up, store-bought treats were very rare at our house.
• 2 cups (500 mL) white sugar
•1 cup ( 250 mL) butter, softened
• ¼ cup (50 mL) molasses
• 2 eggs
• 1 tsp. (5 mL) ginger
• 1 tsp. (5 mL) cinnamon
• ½ tsp. (2 mL) nutmeg
• 4 cups (1,000 mL) flour
• 2 tsp. (10 mL) baking soda
• ¼ cup (50 mL) hot water
• ½ cup (125 mL) white sugar
1. Preheat oven to 325 F (163 C).
2. Using an electric mixer, beat together sugar, butter,
molasses and eggs.
3. In another mixing bowl, combine ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and flour. Gradually add flour mixture to egg mixture, blending together at a low speed.
4. Dissolve baking soda in hot water, then add to batter and mix well.
5. Measure ½ cup (125 mL) of white sugar into a small bowl.
6. Cookie dough will be thick. Working with a small amount of dough at a time, roll into balls (approximately two inches/five centimetres in diameter). Dip each ball into white sugar, then place on an ungreased cookie sheet.
7. Bake for 15 minutes.
• 2.5 lbs./1.1 kg lean ground beef
• 1 medium cooking onion, minced
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 2 cups (500 mL) fresh
• 1-650 mL jar of your favourite
pasta sauce (I’m a fan of Classico
and Newman’s Own)
• 2 tsp. (10 mL) Italian seasoning
• 1 container of ricotta cheese
• 1 egg
• Approximately 250 g mozzarella cheese, grated
• Oven-ready lasagna noodles
1. Preheat oven to 350 F (176 C).
2. In a medium- to large-sized frying pan, brown ground beef on medium heat until no longer pink (Note: no oil is required, as the meat is naturally oily). Carefully drain any excess oil out of the frying pan and into an empty tin can. Set aside. Return meat to stovetop.
3. Add minced onion, garlic and Italian seasoning to meat and continue to cook, stirring frequently to combine ingredients well.
4. Add pasta sauce to meat and mix well. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer.
5. While sauce is simmering, place ricotta cheese in a bowl. Add egg and mix well.
6. Pour roughly half of the meat mixture into the bottom of a 9” x 13” (23 cm x 33 cm) oven-safe lasagna pan. Use
a spoon to spread it evenly over the bottom of the pan.
7. Arrange oven-ready lasagna noodles in a single layer on top of the meat. Spread ricotta and egg mixture evenly over the noodles.
8. Arrange a second layer of lasagna noodles on top of the ricotta mixture. Top with remaining meat sauce and spread evenly.
9. Top lasagna with grated cheese and bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes.
Second helpings: I love this recipe because it’s such a crowd-pleaser – even my picky eater cleans her plate! The recipe doubles very well: get a couple of skillets of meat cooking at the same time, and place the second lasagna in the freezer for a later date. Disposable (tin) lasagna pans work well for this; just be sure to wrap the lasagna well with a double layer of plastic wrap, plus a layer of tin foil, before freezing.
Photos: Sonia Mendes