The Comfort Zone

When it comes to food, patrons often seek out those dishes from childhood that elicit that feeling of unadulterated happiness, those very comfort foods — from hamburgers to pizza to meatloaf and grilled cheese — that can make any dreary day a little better. And for hungry patrons, there is little to impede them from combining savory spices and fresh produce to create flavors that not only stimulate their palates but also their memories. Comfort foods don’t exclude modern takes on old classics, either, so satisfy guests’ cravings by offering a diverse menu of options, and you’ll see them frequently stopping by for more of your delicious dishes.

Hungry for more? Read Pamela Parseghian's article "New Comfort Levels" from Nightclub & Bar's April/May issue.

Crave BrothersCrave Brother Farmstead Classics Pizza Margherita
Courtesy of Crave Brothers.
Yield: 4-6 servings

1 pre-baked 10-or 12-inch pizza crust
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 ripe plum tomatoes, sliced thin
12 ounces Crave Brothers Farmstead Classics Fresh Mozzarella-ovoline, sliced
6 to 8 fresh basil leaves, chopped

Preheat oven to 425EF. Place pizza crust on pizza pan. Brush pizza crust with olive oil. Arrange tomatoes and fresh mozzarella on pizza. Sprinkle chopped basil over entire pizza. Bake about 10 minutes or until cheese is bubbly. Serve immediately.

TabascoChipotle BBQ Ribs and Sandwich Spiced With Tabasco
Courtesy of McIlhenny Company.
Yield: 12 sandwiches

3 teaspoons Tabasco brand Chipotle Pepper Sauce
3 cups barbecue sauce
4 ounces, 12 each of boneless ribs, processed
5-inch French bread sections, split as needed

To make barbecue sauce, mix Tabasco brand Chipotle Pepper Sauce and barbecue sauce in a small pan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat, and use as a base for ribs. Marinate ribs in barbecue sauce and heat through. Place one rib on the bottom half of bread and cover with top half. Serve with extra Tabasco brand Chipotle Pepper Sauce.

The Cedars SocialThe Cedars Social Deviled Eggs
Created by Chef John Tesar of The Cedars Social in Dallas.

6 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and cut lengthwise
3 tablespoons homemade or Hellman’s Mayonnaise
2 tablespoons sweet pickles, chopped (we use Corsicana)
1 tablespoon chopped cornichons pickles, chopped
1 to 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard (more or less to your taste)
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 dashes red Tabasco sauce
½ teaspoon fresh lemon juice
½ teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon chopped chives for garnish

Pop out (remove) the egg yolks to a small bowl and mash with a fork. Add the mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, sweet pickles, cornichons pickles, salt, Tabasco, fresh lemon juice and mix thoroughly. Fill the empty egg-white shells with the mixture, and sprinkle lightly with chopped chives and paprika.

Cover lightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for up to one day before serving.

Buttermilk Blue, Fig and Port WontonsButtermilk Blue, Fig and Port Wontons
Created by Chef Dan Fox of The Madison Club in Madison, Wis.
Yield: 25 wontons

1 cup Buttermilk Blue Cheese
¾ cup dried black mission figs
2 tablespoons Port wine
1 pinch salt
25 wonton wrappers
1 egg
1 quart vegetable or canola oil

Combine Buttermilk Blue Cheese, figs and Port wine in a food processor and process until well combined. Season with salt. Place approximately 1 teaspoon of cheese mixture in the center of each wonton. Beat egg to create egg wash, and brush egg wash along edge of wonton. Fold edges of wonton, seal and form into desired shape. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven or deep fryer to 350EF, and fry wontons (6 to 8 at a time) until golden brown.

The United States Potato BoardMoroccan Grilled Potato Skewers
Courtesy of United States Potato Board.
Yield: 24 brochettes

6 pounds red, yellow and purple potatoes, unpeeled and cut into 1 ½-inch cubes
3 cups charmoula*
48 pickled lemon rinds, 1-inch pieces
48 bay leaves, fresh or dried
48 pitted Kalamata olives
Moroccan spiced blend**

Simmer potatoes until tender, drain and toss with charmoula. Cool. Thread one cube of each kind of potato onto each of the 24 skewers, alternating with 1 bay leaf, 1 piece of lemon rind and 1 olive. Grill skewers over gas or charcoal grill, turning to form grill marks on each side. Sprinkle with Moroccan Spice Blend.

*To make charmoula: In a blender, purée 3 cups cilantro leaves, 3 cups parsley leaves, 2 cups lemon juice, ¾ cup white-wine vinegar, 24 cloves garlic, 3 tablespoons kosher salt, 2 tablespoons paprika, 1½ teaspoons ground cumin and ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper. (Yield: 3 cups)

**To make Moroccan Spice Blend: In a spice grinder, pulse to a coarse powder 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seed, 1 tablespoon dried marjoram, 1 tablespoon dried thyme, 1½ teaspoons sumac and ½ teaspoon salt. (Yield: ¼ cup)

Crave Brothers Mushroom SoupCrave Brothers Farmstead Cheese Creamy Mascarpone Mushroom Soup
Courtesy of Crave Brothers.
Yield: 8 servings

5 tablespoons butter
1 bunch of green onions, chopped (use some of the green part)
2 pounds assorted wild mushrooms, sliced (shiitake, portabella, crimini, white button)
5 cups chicken broth
¾ cup Port wine
¼ teaspoon dried thyme
1 ½ cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
8 ounces Crave Brothers Farmstead Classics Mascarpone

In a 5-quart saucepan, melt butter. Add onions and sauté. Cook about 5 minutes until onions are soft, stirring frequently. Stir in wild mushrooms and cook about 8 minutes until mushrooms are tender. Add broth, Port and thyme. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat and then simmer 20 minutes to blend flavors.

In batches, ladle broth mixture into blender; blend until pureed. Pour puree mixture into large bowl. Repeat with remaining mixture, reserving one to two cups of whole mushrooms not pureed. Return puree to sauce pan.

Add cream, lemon juice, black pepper and mascarpone. Heat soup over low heat just until heated through. Ladle into soup bowls, and garnish with reserved whole mushrooms. Serve with crusty bread or breadsticks.

Black Soybean SalsaBlack Soybean Salsa
Created by Chef David Garcia of Dubuque Golf and Country Club in Dubuque, Iowa.
Yield: Approximately 2 cups

1 15-ounce can black soybeans, drained and rinsed
1 small tomato, diced
¼ small yellow onion, minced
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped
1½ jalapeños, minced
1½ limes
1 teaspoon smoked tomato powder
Salt to taste

In a medium bowl, add black soybeans, tomato, onion, garlic, cilantro and jalapenos and mix. Juice limes, and add juice to soybean mixture. Add tomato powder and salt to taste. Mix gently and let set for 2 hours before serving. Serve with blue chips or crackers.

Tempeh Grinder
Created by Chef George Formaro of Gateway Market and Café in Des Moines, Iowa.
Yield: 4 servings

2 tablespoons oil
2 packages tempeh, broken into small piecesTempeh Grinder
2 tablespoons chopped onion
1 teaspoon garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons paprika
1 teaspoon ground fennel
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon cracked pepper
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon basil
Salt to taste
2 cups tomato sauce
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
4 hoagie buns, split
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Garnish with hot peppers, if desired

In a sauté pan, add oil and heat. Add tempeh and brown. Add onion and garlic, then stir. Cook 1 minute.

Add all ingredients except last four and stir to blend. Add tomato sauce, then simmer for about 20 minutes. Add Parmesan cheese (substitute dairy-free parmesan cheese, if desired) and stir to blend.

Divide mixture equally into 4 split hoagie buns and top with mozzarella cheese (substitute vegan mozzarella, if desired) and pickled hot peppers. Toast in toaster oven to melt. Serve immediately.

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