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Comfort Food

As late summer moves into autumn, there’s a change in what we want to eat. Molly’s Cafe & Deli and Edo Sushi share their favourite dishes to keep out the cold.

Edo Sushi ramen bowl
Edo Sushi

As late summer moves into autumn, there’s a change in what we want to eat. As the days get shorter and the weather gets colder, what we crave is often comfort food – food which warms us up from the inside out, makes us feel good and boosts our mood.

Everyone has their favourites, whether it’s a warming bowl of porridge with cinnamon, a ramen noodle soup, or a dish of apple crumble with a generous portion of custard – a personal favourite.

Food is part of our story and our chosen comfort foods are often intertwined with our heritage and our memories from childhood – what we ate at a time of celebration, or when we were unwell, or the meal a loved one made for us.

Thinking about these memories can reconnect us with that place and the people we were with. In my mind’s eye, I can see (and taste) the treacle tart with a latticed pastry top, dished out as pudding to follow the family-sized toad in the hole served with onion gravy that my mum used to make. I always loved the crispy bits of batter from the edge of the dish.

Making our own comfort food is nurturing for ourselves and others, and it can also be a positive distraction from whatever else is going on in life, a chance to immerse our senses in cooking. While going overseas is more uncertain for the time being, you can travel across cultures and continents with food, discovering new comfort meals on your journey.

Mollys cafe and deli cake and coffee

Molly’s Cafe & Deli

Lucy and Piotr share their favourite comfort food from Poland.

Our number one Polish dish, especially if you feel run down, has to be zupa! There are so many different types but the original is rosół. This clear noodle soup can be made with only a few ingredients.

It’s what most Polish mothers and grandmothers will feed you if you feel unwell. It’s packed full of vitamins and is made from boiling chicken on the bone with vegetables and bullion to make a broth that you strain. You serve it clear with tiny noodles. It's utterly delicious and really does make you feel warm inside.

The smell of our homemade gingerbread Christmas decorations is a vivid childhood memory. My mum would always make the ginger dough, roll it out and let us cut different shapes, from trees to presents. Once done we’d thread ribbon through the tops and hang them on the tree.

We had the opportunity to do this with our own girls in Poland last year at my parent’s house and the smell of warm ginger, nutmeg and a real pine tree was a feast for the senses.

As the months turn colder, we’ll be introducing a winter menu full of homemade Polish comfort food. We'll have bigos, a hunter's stew, schnitzel with garlic mash and sauerkraut. There will be pierogi, the famous Polish dumplings, and krokiety, pancakes stuffed with sautéed mushrooms, onions and cabbage, dipped in egg and breadcrumbs, then fried.

We would highly recommend all of the above, but if you want the ultimate taste of Poland you have to try smoked kielbasa sausage. It can be eaten hot or cold. It’s just delicious. The sausage can be found in our deli salad boxes and on our cheese board platters.

A quick, easy and comforting recipe is zapiekanka. It's so easy and our children love them. A zapiekanka is an open-faced hot baguette, topped with sautéed mushrooms, onions, grated cheese and Polish herbs. They are a popular street food in Poland, often served on the go with lashings of ketchup, very similar to an American pizza slice.

Edo Sushi ramen 2

Edo Sushi

Tomo from Edo Sushi tells us about his Japanese comfort food highlights.

When I think of comfort food, ramen always comes to mind. In Japan, good quality ramen is easily accessible for anyone.

You walk in from the cold and you’re greeted by a nice welcome and you’ll see the broth steaming away, while the chefs are busy cooking and keeping the customers entertained.

The ramen is warming for the body, with its deep and rich flavours coming from the broth, and you can slurp away with some tasty toppings.

Gyoza are the perfect add on, too. These are Japanese pan-fried dumplings filled with meat and vegetables. I've very rarely bought ramen without buying gyozas!

At Edo Sushi, we’re dabbling with ramen and we're planning to introduce it at Cutlery Works very soon. We are not ramen experts but we do know the taste of good ramen.

Personally, I could eat hot rice with natto (fermented soya beans), whisked raw egg, soy and kimchi every day! For me, this dish is so tasty and very quick to make at home. I'll admit though, it's a bit like marmite - you love it or you hate it.

As a child, my mum used to cook every single day for me and the family. It would mostly be Japanese food or a fusion of British ingredients flavoured and cooked in a Japanese way. This is understandable, as 20 years ago Japanese foods were very expensive to buy here.

Some of her dishes stand out in particular in my memory and I try to bring them to the Edo menu with a slight adaptation or a twist. I watched my mum cook all the time growing up and always interrupted to have a ‘taste test’.

If people want a comforting and warming meal from Edo, I'd suggest a salmon teriyaki rice combined with pork gyoza or avocado maki as a side - or wait till we’re serving ramen at Cutlery Works!

Comfort Food Recipe

Taking us on a culinary journey to Nepal, Dev of Hungry Buddha shares his top comfort food recipe - Chicken Momos.

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