Cook Up Some Comfort Food: Celeb Favorites
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Cook Up Some Comfort Food: Celeb Favorites

We asked five of our favorite foodies to dish on the one recipe that always makes them feel better after a tough day.

Katie Lee's Sage Buttermilk Biscuits

"When I was growing up in West Virginia I was the only child of a single mother, so I spent a lot of time with my grandma. She was always cooking and I loved her biscuits best of all. I would eat them with strawberry jam, molasses, sausage gravy. My favorite way was hot out of the oven with just a slathering of butter. Now when I make biscuits, I add sage to make them savory, but my kitchen still smells like Grandma's."
Katie Lee, author of The Comfort Table

Sage Buttermilk Biscuits

Work: 25 minutes
Total: 40 minutes

1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes, plus 4 tablespoons, softened
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon minced sage leaves
1 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons heavy cream

  1. Heat oven to 450 degrees F. In a large mixing bowl cut the butter into the flour, using a pastry blender or two knives, until it resembles a coarse meal. Add the baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar, and sage and stir to combine. Make a well in the center and pour in the buttermilk. Mix with a fork until all of the ingredients are incorporated and the dough just begins to come together.
  2. On a lightly floured work surface form dough into a ball and roll to about 1/2-inch thickness. Flour a 3-inch biscuit cutter (or the rim of a glass) and cut out the biscuits. Reshape the leftover dough into a ball, roll it out again and cut out more biscuits; repeat until there is no dough remaining.
  3. Place the biscuits on an ungreased baking sheet and brush with cream. Bake until golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes. While the biscuits are still hot, spread some softened butter on top of each one and let it melt. Makes 12.

Ree Drummond's Macaroni and Cheese

"Macaroni and cheese was just about the only thing I ate as a kid. Now I make it from scratch and add dry mustard for a little tang. I also use sharp cheese. All four of my children would choose mac and cheese over almost anything else on the menu -- it must be in our DNA. My husband, a rancher, tells them, 'You've got to have some meat with that.' And I say, 'Not necessarily. I didn't, and I turned out okay.'"
- Ree Drummond, author of The Pioneer Woman Cooks

Macaroni And Cheese

Work: 35 minutes
Total: 1 hour

1 pound dried macaroni
1 egg
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups whole milk
2 teaspoons mustard powder
4 3/4 cups (1 pound) grated cheddar
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 2- to 3-quart baking dish. In a large pot of salted water cook macaroni until still firm, about 4 minutes; drain.
  2. Beat the egg in a bowl and set aside. In a large saucepan melt butter over medium-low heat and whisk in flour, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes. Whisk in the milk and mustard until smooth. Cook until very thick, stirring constantly for 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low. Slowly pour 1/4 cup of the sauce into the beaten egg, whisking constantly, to temper the egg. Pour egg mixture back into the sauce.
  3. Reserve 1/2 cup of the cheddar and stir the rest into the sauce until melted; add the pepper and salts. Stir in the macaroni, then pour into the baking dish, and top with the reserved cheese. Bake until bubbly and golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Serves 8.

Eva Longoria Parker's Beso BBQ Brisket

"Comfort food is about nostalgia. When I eat barbecue, it takes me back to my childhood in Corpus Christi, Texas. We'd have barbecue for every special occasion -- Easter, birthdays, baptisms. These days I make a brisket, which I slow-roast and cover with a more contemporary, Latin-influenced sauce. It's a favorite dish at my restaurant, Beso, in Las Vegas."
- Eva Longoria Parker, The Desperate Housewives costar will publish a cookbook next April

Beso BBQ Brisket

Work: 10 minutes
Total: 16 hours

2/3 cup dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons anise seed
2 teaspoons fennel seed
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
1 1/2 teaspoons juniper berries
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 6- to 7-pound brisket, excess fat trimmed
Beso BBQ Sauce (recipe follows)
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth

  1. Combine sugar, salt, anise, fennel, garlic and onion powders, juniper berries, and paprika in a bowl; rub over both sides of brisket. Place meat in a roasting pan and cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate 10 to 24 hours.
  2. Heat oven to 275 degrees F. Discard all marinating juices. Pour 4 cups Beso BBQ Sauce and chicken broth over brisket; cover pan tightly with foil. Roast until tender, 5 1/2 to 6 hours. Allow brisket to cool slightly before slicing thinly; serve with cooking juices and remaining BBQ sauce. Serves 6 to 8.

Beso BBQ Sauce

  1. In a saucepan cover one 2-ounce package (4 to 5) dried mulatto or ancho chilies with water and simmer until soft, about 20 minutes. Drain, cool, discard stems, and roughly chop; set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add 1 diced onion, 1 clove chopped garlic, 1 seeded and chopped jalapeno, and 1 peeled and cored apple; cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in one 6-ounce can tomato paste, 1 1/4 cups apple cider vinegar, one 12-ounce jar unsulfured molasses, 1 tablespoon rosemary leaves, 2 teaspoons thyme leaves, 1 teaspoon salt, and reserved chilies. Bring to a boil, remove from heat, and stir in 3 cups of ice. In batches, puree sauce in a blender. Can be kept refrigerated, up to 3 weeks. Makes 7 cups.

Nigella Lawson's Chocolate Bread Pudding

"Comfort food has to be full of carbohydrates, able to be eaten with a spoon and served in a bowl. To me, bowl food equals soul food. And this recipe hits the mother lode. It's an Americanized version of an English classic that my grandmothers used to make. I find it satisfying to eat and strangely relaxing to make. You start with this sad spectacle of a slightly stale loaf of bread, then turn it into a triumphant dinner-party dessert. It's exquisite, but also simple. Serve it with a sweet wine or little rum shots -- though personally, I like to eat it with some peace and quiet."
- Nigella Lawson, her new cookbook, Nigella Kitchen: Recipes from the Heart of the Home, comes out next month

Chocolate Bread Pudding

Work: 15 minutes
Total: 75 minutes

3 eggs
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 tablespoon dark rum
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 cups whole milk
6 cups day-old bakery bread cut into 1-inch cubes
4 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
4 teaspoons turbinado or raw sugar

  1. Heat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease a 2-quart baking dish.
  2. In a large bowl whisk together the eggs, brown sugar, rum, cream, and milk. Stir in bread and chocolate chips, cover, and refrigerate 15 minutes. Transfer mixture to baking dish and gently press the bread down to coat in liquid; cover and chill another 15 minutes.
  3. Sprinkle top with sugar and bake until custard is cooked, 55 to 60 minutes. Place under hot broiler for 1 minute to create golden crust. Let stand about 5 minutes before serving. Serves 6.

Martha Stewart's Mile-High Lemon Meringue Pie

"I love anything with lemon, and this pie is that delicious combination of tart and sweet with a crispy crust. My mother made a great lemon meringue pie, but hers was not a mile high. I wanted mine to be more special, so I added extra egg whites -- to make the topping higher -- and sugar to make it sweeter. Comfort food is something you'd eat standing at the refrigerator with a spoon -- and simply can't stop eating. I probably could devour this entire pie all by myself...and I'm really not kidding."
- Martha Stewart, The Martha Stewart Show airs weekdays on The Hallmark Channel

Mile-High Lemon Meringue Pie

Work: 50 minutes
Total: 3 hours

1 recipe pate brisee (recipe follows)
1/3 cup cornstarch
2/3 cup sifted cake flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup lemon juice
5 egg yolks
2 tablespoons lemon zest
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 recipe meringue (recipe follows)

  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees F. On a lightly floured surface roll one single crust of the pate brisee into a circle that's 1/8 inch thick and transfer to a 9-inch pie tin. Trim and crimp edges decoratively, then chill until firm. Prick bottom of the shell with a fork, line with parchment paper, and add pie weights or dried beans; bake until edges begin to brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove paper and weights; continue baking until golden brown, 7 to 10 minutes more. Let cool.
  2. For filling, combine cornstarch, cake flour, salt, sugar, lemon juice, and 2 cups water in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring mixture to a boil, whisking constantly, then cook until it becomes very thick and almost translucent, 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Remove pan from heat. Whisk in egg yolks one at a time. Return pan to low heat and cook for 5 minutes, stirring.
  4. Remove pan from heat and whisk in the lemon zest and butter. Transfer to a bowl set over ice water and let mixture cool, stirring occasionally. Pour into cooled crust; cover and chill until firm, about 1 hour.
  5. Prepare meringue, then pile on top of pie and spread evenly so that it touches crust all around. Broil until brown, about 2 minutes, watching constantly to avoid burning. Serve at room temperature. Serves 8 to 10.

Pate Brisee
In the bowl of a food processor combine 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon sugar. Add 1 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces; process until mixture resembles coarse meal, 8 to 10 seconds. With machine running, add 1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water in a slow, steady stream through feed tube. Pulse until dough holds together without being wet or sticky; don't process more than 30 seconds. Divide dough into 2 equal balls, wrap each in plastic wrap and flatten. Refrigerate 1 hour before using or freeze up to 1 month. Makes one 9-inch double crust or two single crusts.

Combine 7 egg whites, 3/4 cup sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Beat until warm and sugar is dissolved. Remove bowl from heat and whip mixture to stiff peaks.

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Originally published in Ladies' Home Journal, October 2010.