Cooking Class: Warm and wonderful

Turn to trusted favorites for some comforting winter meals.

Pasta (photo credit: Anatoly Michaelo)
(photo credit: Anatoly Michaelo)
As the weather turns colder, meals should become more comforting and flavorful. For chef Jonathan Borowitz of Café 48, that translates into using seasonal produce and cooking rich flavorful dishes, not necessarily meat ones. A dairy meal can be just as filling and comforting, he says. Borowitz offers a few simple and trusted recipes for dishes, such as lasagna and crack pie, that are traditional and very popular. He suggests using fresh produce, such as tomatoes and herbs, to make sauces rather than using ready-made sauces.
The following dishes are easy to prepare at home, and the extra attention promises they will soon become part of your regular repertoire.
✔ 1 package spaghetti, cooked according to manufacturer’s directions ✔ 10 shallots, very thinly sliced ✔ 5 fresh shiitake mushroom ✔ 5 packages white enoki mushrooms ✔ 3 Tbsp. olive oil ✔ 1 cup vegetable broth ✔ 2 Tbsp. butter ✔ Freshly ground black pepper ✔ Atlantic salt ✔ 5 tsp. crème fraiche or sour cream
Place pot on stovetop over medium heat. When hot, add olive oil, butter and shallots.
Cook shallots for 4 minutes, add mushrooms and continue cooking 3 more minutes.
Pour in the broth and let liquids evaporate until an emulsion forms. Season the sauce to taste with salt and pepper.
Pour cooked spaghetti into the pot and mix for about 30 seconds. Transfer into a bowl and serve with crème fraiche or sour cream.
This is a basic and easy recipe. Preparing your own tomato sauce from scratch will make all the difference.
Serve with green salad and a glass of red wine for a satisfying winter meal.
✔ 1 package good-quality lasagna pasta ✔ Tomato sauce (see recipe) ✔ White sauce (see recipe) ✔ 250 gr. grated Kashkaval or Parmesan cheese
White sauce ✔ 120 gr. butter ✔ 150 gr. flour ✔ 1 liter hot milk ✔ 3 tsp. salt
Melt butter in a pot. Add flour and mix until a paste forms. Slowly add the hot milk while stirring to avoid lumps.
Continue to cook over medium heat until the sauce thickens, about 20 minutes. Season with salt and white pepper.Tomato sauce ✔ 15 tomatoes, peeled and cubed ✔ 10 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced ✔ 5 Tbsp. olive oil ✔ 1 tsp. salt ✔ Fresh basil Heat the oil in a large pot.
Add garlic and quickly fry until transparent, about 5 minutes.
Do not let garlic burn or it will make the sauce bitter. Add the tomatoes, mix and cook over low heat for about 1 hour, stirring from time to time. Add the basil at the last 15 minutes.
Taste the sauce and season with salt and pepper.
To assemble the lasagna: Cover the bottom of a square baking dish with 1 layer of the pasta. Pour enough white sauce to cover it. Top with a layer of tomato sauce and then grated cheese. Repeat layering this way, finishing with cheese.
Bake in a preheated 180º oven for 35 to 40 minutes.
✔ 4 onions, peeled and thinly sliced ✔ 2 kg. Jerusalem artichokes, peeled ✔ 2 sprigs thyme ✔ 4 leeks, washed and thinly sliced ✔ 2 cloves garlic, minced ✔ 2 Tbsp. butter ✔ 3 Tbsp. olive oil ✔ 2 tsp. salt ✔ 1 tsp. black pepper ✔ 5 cups vegetable broth For the croutons ✔ 4 slices white bread, crust removed, cut into small cubes ✔ 4 Tbsp. olive oil ✔ Bunch fresh sage
Heat the oven to 180º. In a large pot, heat oil and butter together. Add onions and cook gently over medium heat. Add leeks and garlic and continue cooking until transparent.
Add the broth and the artichokes and bring to a boil.
Lower heat, cover and let simmer for 30 minutes. Add the thyme and season with salt.
When the artichoke is tender, transfer the soup to a food processor and liquidize, or use a hand blender.
To prepare croutons: In a small saucepan, heat oil and sage together for 5 minutes.
Remove from heat.
Place the bread cubes on a lined baking sheet and drizzle the sage oil over them. Bake in the oven for 5 minutes or until bread is toasted.
Serve in soup bowls garnished with croutons and a drizzle of the sage oil.
CRACK PIE Oat cookie ✔ 225 gr. flour ✔ 1⁄8 tsp. baking powder ✔ 1⁄8 tsp. baking soda ✔ 1⁄4 tsp. salt ✔ 340 gr. butter, softened ✔ 210 gr. golden brown sugar ✔ 100 gr. white sugar ✔ 3 eggs ✔ 300 gr. oats
For the crust ✔ 1 oat cookie (recipe above) ✔ 55 gr. butter (about 3 Tbsp.) ✔ 1⁄4 tsp. salt ✔ 11⁄2 Tbsp. brown sugar For the filling ✔ 230 gr. sugar ✔ 195 gr. golden brown sugar ✔ 1⁄4 tsp. salt ✔ 220 gr. melted butter ✔ 8 egg yolks ✔ 190 gr. cream ✔ Seeds from 1 stick vanilla
Preheat oven to 180º. Line the oven’s baking pan with parchment paper; coat with nonstick spray. Whip the butter in a mixer bowl. Add sugars and continue mixing.
Gradually add the eggs while mixer is working.
Mix together the flour, baking soda and baking powder and gradually add it into the egg and butter mixture. When mixed, add the oats and mix.
Transfer batter onto the lined baking sheet and press out evenly to edges of pan. Bake until light golden on top, 17 to 18 minutes. Check the cookie after 10 minutes, and then every 5 minutes to make sure it is baked but not burnt. Remove from oven and let cool on a rack. Leave oven on.
To prepare crust: With your hands, crumble oat cookie into large bowl; add butter and brown sugar. Rub in with fingertips until mixture is moist enough to stick together. Transfer half the cookie crust mixture into a pie dish. Using fingers, press mixture evenly onto bottom and up the sides of the pie dish. Place pie dish with crust on rimmed baking sheet.
To prepare filling: Mix all the ingredients together: Mix the sugars and salt, add melted butter, mix then add the cream, then the yolks one by one and the vanilla seeds.
Pour the filling into the crust. Sprinkle the leftover crust crumbs on top as evenly as you can.
Bake in 180º preheated oven about 10 minutes. Lower heat to 160º and bake 5 more minutes or until the filling is almost set. Remove from oven and let cool.
The pie can be made up to 2 days in advance. Cover and keep refrigerated. Serve cold.