These foods make the best quarantine buddies!
April has been a seriously stressful month. Thankfully, spending more time indoors is a chance to spend more time in the kitchen. These are our favorite comfort foods, along with a few tricks we've picked up on how to spice up your home cooking game.
If you've given in to the cast iron cooking craze, then you're only a few hours away from terrifyingly good pan pizza at any given time.
To make an easy pan pizza crust, all you have to do is combine 4 cups of flour with around 375 ML of water and a packet of instant dry yeast. Cover and let sit at room temperature for 18-24 hours. Bam. That's all you have to do! It's that easy. The resulting dough should have doubled in size and can comfortably make 2-3 pizzas.
Make sure to generously coat the inside of any castiron cookware with olive oil, drop your dough in, and let it sit for another three-ish hours. This will relax the gluten and make it easier to knead while also giving you a super fluffy interior. At that point, all that's left is to top it and go crazy. No, really. Go crazy with the toppings. Pepperoni and mushrooms are common, but why not go crazy? Chopped garlic. Sliced heirloom tomatoes. Basil leaves. grilled corn. Pineapple works too if you're looking to completely surrender to your heathen side.
15 minutes at 450° is now the only thing standing between you and some high-temperature cheese burns on the inside of your mouth.
LIFEHACK: Instead of purchasing shredded cheese, buy a block so you can shred it yourself. Shredded cheese is coated in potato starch, which can prevent it from melting evenly.
Hear us out on this one. Sure, off-the-shelf ramen is a dish that gets pretty depressing, pretty quickly. As any college student will tell you though, ramen is what you make it.
Sure, just microwaving $0.15 ramen in hot water is an exercise in human misery that nudges you closer and closer to total existential panic every time you eat it, but not all ramen dishes need be this way! Instead of letting your ramen meal be a meditation on human fallibility, think of ways to spice it up a bit.
Cooking ramen stovetop means that broth has more time to develop and reduce. Crunchy additions like scallions, sesame seeds, and dried seaweed can really increase the dish's flavor while also making the texture more interesting. If you really want to up your home ramen game, use the boiling ramen broth to poach an egg before tossing in a sprinkling of butter, cheese, and hot sauce right when you transfer the noodles to a bowl. Make sure not to stir until the egg has set.
Like most things in life, ramen is what you make it. If you've been suffering from weak broths or soggy noodles, this is a great time to hone up your ramen game and also relive all of that repressed stress from your time living in the dorms.
We may not be able to crack open a cold one with the boys, but that doesn't mean giving up on barbeque. Balcony grilling has become increasingly popular in an era of social distancing. But what if you don't own a propane grill?
Even if you're stuck in a city apartment, the right mixture of cookware, preparation, and bad puns can bring out your inner Barbeque Dad. You'll be investing in baseball hats with novelty slogans and developing strong opinions about different brands of riding mowers in no time!
Make sure to pre-season any meats you plan on grilling. If possible, let them sit in marinades to soak up as much flavor as possible before cooking. When stovetop grilling, your goal should be to finish the food quickly by cooking it at high heat. Cast iron works best when trying to emulate grilling on a stovetop.
One of the biggest concerns when cooking stovetop is not to overhandle your food. Let it sit untouched to develop those all-important grill marks. Although it's commonly shown in advertisements, there's no need to press down on any meats to squeeze the juices out. This will just dry it out, and there are few tragedies greater than grilled meat coming out dry. Be careful about adding spices during the cooking time, as this can mean setting off every single smoke detector in your zip code.
If you want all of the barbeque food and none of the hassle, check out Smokin' Dave's. Their Carolina pulled pork is such a tasty take on a barbeque classic that it'll have you cracking dad jokes all weekend.
Pasta does double duty as both a versatile food and a cover-all emotional Band-Aid. While life might seem chaotic and stressful, the upside is that the stress makes for a good excuse to eat more pasta.
To really amp up your pasta game, slightly undercook it before finishing it in any sauce you plan on serving. Additionally, don't wait until serving to add in any cheese or butter: just chuck them in right after you drain off the pasta water.
Speaking of, pasta water is high in starch and can be a useful replacement for tap water in any sauces that you cook.
There's nothing like a stovetop bowl of tortellini to remind us why so many emotional holes in people's lives are pasta-shaped.
If you're not in the mood to cook your own pasta, there are plenty of fancy Italian restaurants out there that are happy to deliver. Our personal favorite has been Viale Pizza & Kitchen, who has some seriously awesome bison ravioli.
Once you lose track of time enough, any day can be Taco Tuesday! Although traditional tacos are usually served in soft tortillas, you should never let rules get in the way of some quality taco time. Seasoned ground beef and cheese in a hard shell? It's a taco. Skirt steak and pickled radish in a tortilla? Also a taco. Roasted potatoes with cream cheese and fried jalapenos served inside a soft shell served inside a hard shell? TACO!
Tacos are a great comfort food because it's easy to prep a bunch of taco fillings at once. You can always have one batch for lunch, another for dinner, and then annihilate any leftovers at 3 a.m. while mournful jazz plays softly from another room. Most taco proteins will last several days in the fridge, and garnishes like chopped jalapenos or roasted potatoes are easy to cook on short notice.
There's never a wrong time for tacos and you should feel free to disown anyone who disagrees. You don't need that kind of negativity in your life.
What comfort foods have been making your time at home more bearable? Let us know in the comments below!