Comforting, easy-to-make recipes
April 5, 2020 11:09 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for comfort food that I can make during these dark days. I live alone. I have a small fridge. I have a microwave, a small oven toaster, and a rice cooker/steamer.

Soups would be nice. Or one-off meals where I don't have to store leftovers. I'm currently under lockdown where I am—I can go to a small supermarket to shop for ingredients but would prefer not to if I can.

If it involves fresh produce, it would be great if they can last awhile, i.e. potatoes, since I also anticipate not having enough enthusiasm, will, or energy to get up and make something when I feel very sad or stressed.

Thank you all, and keep safe. <3
posted by pleasebekind to Food & Drink (10 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
 
What kind of things do you have in your pantry already?

A nice packet chicken soup can be improved with frozen, tinned or fresh veg.
posted by freethefeet at 12:48 AM on April 6


If you have baking ingredients - flour, baking powder, vanilla, sugar, vegetable oil - you can make a microwave mug cake in about a minute. This is my go-to recipe, although I never put chocolate chips in it. As well as making the chocolate version, I've adapted the recipe for other flavours, replacing the cocoa with flour and adding pumpkin spice, or a little finely diced apple and cinnamon, or grated lemon zest and a tablespoon of lemon juice. It's a vegan recipe but you can, of course, use regular milk and butter.

I use a large mug, and mix it all up in there. I live alone too and if I make a whole cake, I'll eat a whole cake. But having this as a little treat once in a while does me good. I always make one when I watch the Great British Bake-Off, although my skills have yet to earn me a Hollywood handshake.
posted by essexjan at 12:55 AM on April 6 [8 favorites]


Cabbage is a good vegetable that can last a long time. You can use the outer leaves one at a time, peeling them off as you need. Then sliver up the inside for adding to hot dishes or as a side salad with any kind of dressing you like/have - oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, and sugar are all nonperishable of course.

For using the outer leaves what about fresh cabbage wraps with miso? Make hot rice. Mix some miso with a little sesame oil and sugar or honey. Heat up a protein - this could be almost anything you've got, in my ideal world it would be some shrimp and/or some barbecue pork but leftover chicken is great. Use a vegetable peeler to get some long strips of carrot and toss that with a little vinegar and salt for a few minutes while you're heating your protein up. Slice a lime wedge. Assemble everything to look pretty on a plate, your cabbage leaves washed and stacked, your rice in a little bowl or nice heap, the meat in its own section, the carrots to the side, the miso dressing in a little bowl, the lime wedge on the edge. This is key to combating the lack of enthusiasm and energy - making your food look good is remarkably powerful. Then make the wraps one at a time. Cold crunchy cabbage leaf, hot rice, warm meat, crispy carrot, savory sweet miso sauce, tangy lime. Wrap it up and take big bites. If you have any small bits of things that need using up putting them in a leaf wrap is a great way to go. The rice is a wonderful equalizer for strange combinations.

What kind of rice cooker do you have? Some kinds can be used to cook soup in them, some aren't so safe for that.

Miso soup in the microwave just needs dashi granules and miso, plus some scallions and tofu or anything else you want to put in there (frozen shelled edemame are nice.) Just heat your water, add the dashi and heat a bit more to dissolve it, then stir in a spoonful of miso and add your toppings. If you're using something frozen or fridge cold as a topping, zap it to thaw before making the soup.

Roast vegetables like broccoli and cherry tomatoes in your toaster oven. Use this as a topping for a microwave baked potato. Cook the potato through, slice it in half and rough it up, mixing in some salt, pepper, and grated cheese. Top with the vegetables and some more cheese and put all of that into the toaster oven to get crunchy crispy.
posted by Mizu at 1:53 AM on April 6 [3 favorites]


You can make a batch of cookie dough -- like, say, chocolate chip, or even shortbread -- and store it in the refrigerator or freezer, in small servings. Then, thaw and bake just the number of cookies you want.
posted by amtho at 2:22 AM on April 6 [1 favorite]


Baked potatoes are very comforting with a little butter, cheese etc and you can make them in the microwave.
posted by unicorn chaser at 2:47 AM on April 6 [6 favorites]


Quesadillas!
posted by speakeasy at 3:55 AM on April 6 [3 favorites]


In my pantry are:
Bottles and cans of tomato
Cans of beans and lentils and chickpeas
Onions
Lemons and limes
Potatoes
Carrots
Half a celeriac
Two small round zucchinis
A pointy cabbage
Eggs
Butter
Different oils and condiments I like
Dried herbs and spices
A piece of lamb filet in the freezer
Crisp bread

And I'm going to follow the principles in Tamar Adler's An Everlasting Meal. Yesterday, I made the most comforting of comfort foods: Marcela Hazan's famous tomato sauce, because I had some leftover bottled tomatoes. I had the onions as a starter, it's so delicious. Since I'm alone, there was too much (though I ate too much), and today I'm going to use the leftover sauce in a stuffing for a couple of little round zucchinis I have.
Recipe: I'm going to sauté an onion and a carrot, a bit of garlic and flesh from the zucchinis, then mix in cooked rice and the tomato sauce, some lemon juice and oregano. Then I'll fill the zucchini shells and bake them till they are soft and a little golden on top. I will only eat one, probably with a little cabbage salad. The other one I'll have cold for lunch tomorrow.
When I cook the rice, I'll cook enough that I have leftover rice tomorrow night, for making fried rice. (If you have green onions, that's delicious, but you can make fried rice with any onions).
Depending on how I feel tomorrow, I may put some cabbage into that fried rice, or I may make a salad with cabbage and carrots using satay sauce in the dressing as a side. The linked recipe is for 4-6 servings, and I may only make half of that, but I will make a big portion, because I love fried rice for breakfast.
At this point, there's still more cabbage, garlic, and carrots and onion and I also have potatoes. So I'll make a hearty soup. I always have cans of beans, and I will put some of those in, but I won't put in pasta, because there's going to be soup for at least two days and I don't want pasta that swells up in there and there's starch in the potatoes. Also, I won't use all the tomatoes in the new can I'm opening. I'm saving half for later.
From the potatoes, I'm also going to make fried potatoes. I cut up one big or two small potatoes into thin slices, and fry them at medium heat in whatever fat is at hand. You are not going to high temperature, so you can use olive oil. I had a little bit of duck fat the other day, that was delicious. When we were kids, my cousin fried these for us in butter. Be generous with the black pepper, if you like it. Serve with a fried egg, sunny side up.
Another thing I can and will make is a lentil shepherds pie. There are many recipes online you can look at for inspiration, but they all use a lot of ingredients not currently in my pantry. I'm going to sauté onion, carrot, celeriac, the last bits of cabbage and garlic in olive oil, then add a can of brown lentils and the rest of the tomatoes from before, and some thyme. And water or stock made from a cube. I'll let all that simmer while I boil and mash the potatoes. Assemble the pie, make ridges with a fork and put knobs of butter on top before baking til golden. It keeps and reheats well.
The meat is going to be thawed at some point, and I'll use the rest of the celeriac for a celeriac remoulade as a side, and cook a few potatoes. I will cook a couple more than I need, because the next day I will have a potato and celeriac open sandwich: I'll butter my crisp bread, slice the potatoes and put them on the bread, and top with the celeriac remoulade I kept because I was thinking of this delicious sandwich.

I haven't mentioned much about the seasoning. You need to season to taste along the way for each recipe. I often prefer adding condiments to my plate, rather than in the pot. But: salt and lemon or lime juice added just before serving makes everything taste better. For cabbage-based salads, I like to use more acid in the dressing than for other salads, and to let it marinade for a while before eating.
posted by mumimor at 5:08 AM on April 6 [1 favorite]


In your rice cooker you can make a simple egg custard. My parents just beat egg with water in a bowl, then placed it on top of the steamer insert when making rice. Chopped green onion on top for garnish. Soft and silky and comforting!
posted by devrim at 5:42 AM on April 6 [1 favorite]


I do lots of small roasts in my toaster oven - roast chicken (whole or half), using potatoes or other root veg in lieu of a roasting rack in the pan. The chicken can then be eaten on its own, made into chicken salad, turned into soup etcetcetc.
Crustless quiche is another low-effort bake that keeps for a few days or can be frozen.
If you had a lidded casserole you can also do a braised dish like beef stew that can be eaten in a bowl or ladled into a baked potato or frozen pre-made yorkshire pudding - so comforting! Now I want this.
posted by dotparker at 8:00 AM on April 6


You can hugely improve a pack of instant ramen by adding any fresh or frozen vegetables - canned corn, shredded cabbage, frozen broccoli, bagged salad greens - are all nice reliable additions - and a couple eggs, either soft boiled separately or cracked into the boiling soup to soft-poach. Shredded cheese on top is pretty great too.
posted by nouvelle-personne at 10:45 AM on April 6


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