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One-Hour Comfort: New Book Helps Fill Craving For Travel

Published on: September 11, 2021 |
One-Hour Comfort Food: Pasta alla Gricia

One-hour comfort foods, even the term can whet your appetite! 

Food and drink are always an integral part of our most joyous travel experiences. As a consequence, we are fortunate to associate many different tastes with places we’ve visited.  

Our memories include discovering new ingredients, traditional recipes, taking cooking classes, dining at restaurants, visiting markets and trying streets foods, and, of course, meeting wonderful people and forging friendships along the way. 

However, with international travel restrictions becoming more onerous and the Delta variant causing rising COVID-19 transmission rates, we are still reluctant to travel abroad. One small compensation: We are able to re-live many travel memories at home in our kitchen. 

A new cookbook, One-Hour Comfort: Quick, Cozy, Modern Dishes For All Your Cravings (America’s Test Kitchen, September 2021) seems perfect for the times.

One-Hour Comfort cover

We like many of the other people we know are suffering from the onset of pandemic fatigue. As a result, we find ourselves increasingly turning to “feel-good” comfort foods (probably more often than we should). But heck, we deserve it. 

On America’s love for comfort foods

Pizza is the most popular American comfort food

Pizza is the most popular American comfort food (credit: Jerome Levine)

A Harris poll found that pizza is America’s #1 comfort food. I would definitely concur. 

Pizza is tasty, inexpensive, fast, and easy to order in. it’s not surprising that pizza sales soared during the pandemic. But 18-plus months since the date of our last trip abroad, we are growing weary of once-a-week pizza. The introduction to One-Hour Comfort notes that while everyone has their favorite comfort foods, one truth is universal:

Comfort food should be uncomplicated, homey and totally satisfying.

One-Hour Comfort: What’s inside the book

Savory Dutch Baby with Burrata and Proscuitto

Savory Dutch Baby with Burrata and Proscuitto (credit: America’s Test Kitchen)

The book’s subtitle seems to check those boxes with the terms “quick” and “cozy.” The recipes rely on techniques that shorten preparation time so all the dishes can be made in less than an hour, without sacrificing flavor or quality.

The 175  recipes were chosen by asking America’s Test Kitchen (ATK) subscribers and employees—all passionate foodies—who were asked to divulge their go-to dishes. 

For those who aren’t familiar with ATK, the enterprise is located in the historic Innovation and Design Building in Boston’s Seaport District. It produces the most-watched cooking show on public television, America’s Test Kitchen, attracting more than 2 million viewers per episode. It also publishes Cooks Illustrated and Cooks Country. The 15,000 square-foot cooking space houses more than 60 cooks, editors and cookware specialists who test recipes over and over to find the best version.

The new ATK book is organized into seven chapters, explaining they’re categorized “by craving:” 

  • Breakfast 24/7
  • Spoonable Bowls
  • Carbs
  • The Crispy Bits
  • Meaty
  • Cheesy Goodness, and 
  • Something Sweet

I didn’t find this organization particularly user-friendly but the excellent index at the end made up for it. Using the index made it easy to pick and find appealing dishes. 

The recipes rely on a limited number of relatively easy-to-find ingredients, offer a step-by-step approach and are accompanied by mouth-watering photography. Just browsing through the pictures is likely to pique your appetite.

Searching One-Hour Comfort for Italian recipes

Yield: 4 servings

Spaghetti al Limone

Spaghetti al Limone

Comfort food with an Italian twist that's quick to make with readily accessible ingredients

Tip: Let the dish rest briefly before serving so the flavors develop and the sauce thickens.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • Salt and pepper
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • 1 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated fine (½ cup), plus extra for serving
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest plus ¼ cup juice (2 lemons)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

Instructions

  1. Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large pot. Add pasta and 1
    tablespoon salt and cook, stirring often, until al dente. Reserve 1¾ cups cooking water, then drain pasta.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in now-empty pot over medium heat
    until shimmering.
  3. Add shallot and ½ teaspoon salt and cook until softened, about 2 minutes.
  4. Stir in cream and 1½ cups reserved cooking water, bring to
    simmer, and cook for 2 minutes.
  5. Off heat, add pasta, Parmesan, lemon zest and juice, remaining 3 tablespoons oil, and ½ teaspoon pepper and toss to combine.
  6. Cover and let pasta stand for 2 minutes, tossing frequently and adjusting consistency of sauce with remaining reserved cooking
    water as needed. Stir in basil and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Drizzle individual portions with extra oil and serve, passing extra Parmesan separately.

Naturally, my fingers gravitated toward some of the Italian-esque recipes that might take me back to Italy. Admittedly, they aren’t totally “authentic,” perhaps verging more on an American version of the real thing, but they were interesting, evocative, and easy to make!

As I browsed through the book, I could find several dishes in each category that merited a stick-em to remind me to try them. Some intriguing examples: Breakfast pizza (page 25), Malted milk pancakes with Nutella maple syrup (page 37), Roman pasta alla gricia (page 94), Spaghetti al limone (page 101), Parmesan polenta with mushroom ragu (page 101), Savory Dutch Baby with burrata and Proscuitto (page 161), Salami, capicola and provolone stromboli (page 170), Italian sausage with peppers, onions, tomato and polenta (page 216) and Cacio e pepe (page 253). 

Other home cooks may prefer to focus on some of the Asian, Greek, Spanish or American dishes but One-Hour Comfort certainly includes a dish of feel-good comfort for every taste!


Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from America’s Test Kitchen for review but any opinions expressed in this post are my own. As an Amazon affiliate, I make a small commission from books sales. 


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