Comfort Food and Easy Entertaining

As a private chef, caterer and cooking instructor I am often asked "What do you enjoy cooking when you're at home on a weeknight or entertaining guests at your table?" I started this blog to answer that question. Here I will share with all of you the recipes that I find delicious and comforting. Many of the recipes are my own versions of classic dishes, some are contemporary twists on old ideas, and some are discoveries I made while perusing my grandmother’s vast collection of cookbooks dating back to the early 1900’s. Please enjoy these videos. I have also included links to some of the published articles I have written recently. Please feel free to comment here or email me directly with any questions, comments or general thoughts. My email address and information on my catering, private chef and private cooking classes can be found on my website:

Root Beer Braised Beef Short Ribs

Root Beer Braised Beef Short Ribs – a delicious version of the classic beef stew

3 lb beef short ribs
Canola oil
Salt and pepper
2 medium red onions, ¼ inch dice
3 stalks celery, ¼ inch dice
2 carrots, ¼ inch dice
1 ½ lb crimini mushrooms, quartered
12 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
10 sprigs fresh thyme
2-4 fresh bay leaves
1 sprig fresh rosemary
2 whole star anise
1 tsp cumin
½ - 1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 cup red wine
3 cups dark beef stock
12 oz (or 1 ½ -2 cups) best quality root beer

Heat large cast iron pot over high heat. Add just enough canola (or vegetable oil) to coat bottom of pan. Season beef ribs generously with salt and pepper. Add ribs to pot one at a time, being careful not to crowd the pot (you may need to do this in batches).

Once all the beef ribs are well browned, remove from pot and add onions, carrots, celery, garlic and mushrooms. Saute over high heat until the vegetable begin to soften and caramelize, about 7-10 minutes. Add thyme, bay leaves and rosemary along with star anise, pepper flakes and cumin. Stir to combine and cook for 1 minute. Add wine and allow to evaporate. Add root beer and beef stock. Cover pot and simmer for 3 hours. After 3 hours, remove lid from pot and allow mixture to simmer an additional 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

Serve over buttered noodles, polenta or mashed potatoes.

Roasted Bratwurst

1 lb Bratwurst
10 cloves garlic
1 large red onion, sliced
4 medium gold or white potatoes, cubed into 1/2 inch cubes
10 sprigs thyme
salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 - 1/2 cup olive oil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Toss all ingredients to coat in oil. Pour into roasting pan. Roast one hour, stirring every 20 minutes until all garlic and onions are lightly browned.

Homemade Bratwurst

Homemade Bratwurst:

6-8 feet hog casing
3 lb lean pork butt, cubed
2 lb veal, cubed
1-1 1/2 lb pork fat, cubed
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp crushed caraway seeds
1 tsp dried marjoram
2 tsp ground pepper
2 tsp sea salt

Grind all meats, blend with seasonings and re-grind. Stuff casings and twist off in 6 -8 inch lengths.

Refrigerate for up to two days. Freeze if storing longer

Barbecued Shrimp

Barbecued Shrimp

2 lb (16-20 count) shrimp – shell on (head-on if possible)
½ lb butter
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup shallots, minced
¼ cup garlic, minced
½ cup green onions, roughly chopped
3 Tbsp basil, chopped
3 Tbsp oregano, chopped
2 Tbsp thyme, chopped
½ cup Worcestershire sauce
1 cup beer
Salt and pepper to taste
Creole seasoning to taste


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium saucepan, heat butter and oil. Add garlic, shallots, green onions, basil, oregano, and thyme. Sauté 3-5 minutes to flavor butter with herb mixture. Blend in Worcestershire sauce and beer. Pour shrimp into a large heat-resistant bowl. Pour butter-herb mixture over the shrimp. Season liberally with 2 tsp sea salt, 2 tsp pepper, 1 Tbsp Creole seasoning and 1 Tbsp Tabasco sauce. Toss together with a spoon until the shrimp are all well coated with butter. Pour shrimp and all the sauce into a small roasting pan (or 9x13 casserole, or small rimmed pan). Place in oven and cook for 7 minutes. Remove shrimp from oven and stir. Return to oven and bake for approximately another 3 minutes, then turn on Broiler and Broil for the last 5 minutes.

Serve with lots of crispy bread… this dish is all sopping up the delicious sauce!

Yields 6 small servings or 3 entrée servings.

Portland Comfort Food is OPEN!!!

Home-Delivered Comfort Food : Catering : Private Chef : Cooking Classes

Portland Comfort Food: Newsletter
August 12, 2010

Portland Comfort Food is open!! After months of planning and preparations all operations are up and running.

How does this help you? Portland Comfort Food is your resource for the best soul-satisfying, comfort food delivered right to your door. Our one-dish-meals are prepared with only the best ingredients gathered from our network of farmers and purveyors in the Portland area. The moment the meal is finished they are packaged and delivered to your home or office in the Portland metro area.

We offer the perfect way for you to eat well, without having to worry about long trips to the supermarket and time spent in the kitchen. Imagine coming home from a busy day to a clean kitchen and a hot healthy meal in minutes that is prepared with almost no effort on your part. Portland Comfort Food will put hours back into your day, reduce your stress levels and give you great meals to enjoy. The time you save on planning, shopping, preparing and cooking can be better spent on family, business or entertainment. Our one-dish-meals not only look and taste great, but they’re good for you too.

Please visit: for details and menu.

Personal Chef Service
The Personal Chef service gives you time to come home and relax together after a long day. Forget the stress of long checkout lines and the poor quality of convenience foods full of preservatives, chemicals, and pesticides. Instead, imagine arriving at home and simply heating up a homemade, top quality meal while relaxing together over healthy appetizers and salads. The Personal Chef service is an affordable way to answer the question, “What’s for dinner tonight?”
Pricing for a family of four typically starts at $150/week.

We also cater in-home private parties ranging from hors d’oeuvres to multi-course meals. Great for holidays and special occasions where you can spend your time hosting and enjoying your company without the hassles of shopping, cooking, serving, and cleaning up.
Discover a world of fresh, delicious, local foods that contribute to a healthier, more relaxed lifestyle. Transform the nightly rush into a fine dining experience shared in the comfort of your own home. Call Portland Comfort Food today!
To consult with our chef about these services, please contact us at 503.747.7701 or at

Cooking Classes
Portland Comfort Food also offers in-home cooking lessons. You can choose either personal lessons or invite a few friends over and spend the afternoon together creating a gourmet dinner complete with appetizer, entree and dessert.
Portland Comfort Food can also design a cooking lesson featuring dishes specifically designed around your dietary needs, such as vegetarian, wheat free, or non-dairy. You will receive recipe packets that include the day’s offerings along with additional ideas for variations and a source list for the best places to shop for ingredients.

The classes we offer include:

Knife Skills – from basic to advanced

Outdoor Grilling and Barbeque
Weeknight Meals
Savory Soups and Stews
Classic Comfort Foods
Girl’s Night Out Party
French Bistro Classics
Tuscan Dinner Party
Spanish Tapas
Mexican Fiesta
Romantic Dinner for Two
Meals from the Pacific Northwest

Something special you want to learn that is not listed? Please call us and we can create a custom class for you and your friends.
Our chef Scott will teach you the tricks of the trade, basic nutrition information, and all of the culinary skills you will need—and that includes Cooking 101 if you are one of those people who think you cannot cook! You will get personal guidance from a chef with years of experience.
The cost is only $45 per person/per class plus cost of supplies (three person minimum). We would suggest limiting groups to no more than six people so that we can maintain the quality of the supervision that such cooking classes require. For one-on-one classes the cost is billed at $35/hour.
Interested in a series of classes? Please ask us about or multiple class discount.
Please call Portland Comfort Food today to discuss or schedule your class.

Thai Chicken Burgers

Barbeque Chicken Burgers with Thai Spices and Green Chili Relish


1 tablespoon red curry paste
2 sticks lemongrass, tough outer casing removed, very finely chopped
¼ teaspoon tumeric
1-inch-piece ginger root, peeled, finely grated
1 pound ground chicken breast, well chilled
9 ounces ground pork, well chilled
3 kaffir lime leaves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Thai basil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons fresh coconut milk
Pinch each ground cumin and ground coriander
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Vegetable oil for cooking
Large tomato, sliced for garnish


In a bowl mix together the curry paste, lemongrass, turmeric and ginger. Add the ground meats and mix well with wet hands to bring all the ingredients together.

Add the lime leaves, fresh herbs, coconut milk, ground spices and seasoning. Bring together again, but do not overwork. With wet hands, shape into 4 evenly sized burgers. Place in the refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes.

Pre-heat the grill to medium. Brush the burgers with a little oil, place on the grill, and cook for 6 to 8 minutes until golden and cooked, turning them regularly.

Toast the burger buns, spread the bottom buns liberally with the Green Chili Relish, and top each with a slice of large tomato. Place the burgers on top and garnish with the Coconut-Lemongrass Chutney; close with the lid and serve.

Green Chili Relish

½ cup rice wine vinegar
1/3 cup brown sugar
½ cup raisins, soaked in water for 15 minutes, then drained
2 shallots, finely chopped
2 green bell peppers, deseeded, chopped
5 ounces mild green chilies, deseeded, finely chopped
½ tablespoon chopped ginger root
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 teaspoon fish sauce


Place the vinegar and sugar in a small pan and bring to a boil. Add the raisins and cook to a light caramel; the liquid should be syrupy.

Stir in the shallots, green bell pepper, chilies, ginger and garlic. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, add the fish sauce, then remove from the heat and leave to cool. Place in a blender, mix to a coarse puree, serve chilled.


Beignet Recipe:

1 cup lukewarm water
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg, room temperature and beaten
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 cup evaporated milk
4 cups bread flour or all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons instant active dry yeast
Vegetable oil*
Powdered sugar for dusting

* Use just enough vegetable oil to completely cover beignets while frying.

Using a mixer with a dough hook, place water, sugar, salt, egg, butter, evaporated milk, flour, and yeast in the bowl. Beat until smooth. If using a bread machine, select dough setting and press Start. When dough cycle has finished, remove dough from pan and turn out onto a lightly oiled surface. form dough into an oval, place in a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until well chilled (3 to 4 hours) or overnight.

To prepare dough, remove from refrigerator and roll out on a lightly floured board to 1/2-inch thickness. Cut into approximately 3-inch squares or circles.

In a deep fryer or large pot, heat vegetable oil to 360 degrees F. Fry the beignets (2 or 3 at a time) 2 to 3 minutes or until they are puffed and golden brown on both sides, turning them in the oil with tongs once or twice to get them evenly brown; beignets will rise to the surface of the oil as soon as they begin to puff. NOTE: If the beignets don't rise to the top immediately when dropped into the oil, the oil is not hot enough. Remove from oil and drain on paper towels, then sprinkle heavily with powdered sugar. Serve hot.

The dough can be kept for up to a week in the refrigerator - it actually improves with age; just punch down when it rises. Dough can also be frozen; cut and roll, or shape doughnuts before freezing.)

Makes 18 beignets.