The Comfort Diner Cookbook: A World of Classic Diner Delights, from Homestyle Dinners to Satisfying Breakfasts and Fun Midnight Treats

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9781400081080: The Comfort Diner Cookbook: A World of Classic Diner Delights, from Homestyle Dinners to Satisfying Breakfasts and Fun Midnight Treats

The motto at the Comfort Diner is a simple one: “Time to eat good food!”

And for Ira Freehof, owner of New York’s Comfort Diner, “good food” means fresh interpretations of classic American comfort food. Here he shares all the recipes that lure hungry types of all stripes into the cozy, bright booths of his restaurants, which have earned best-diner awards from Time Out New York and The Resident. Diner-inspired standards from Mom’s Meatloaf to perfect Macaroni and Cheese are covered, but so are newer dishes that have been eagerly adopted into the pantheon of American culinary favorites: Warm Taco Salad, Black Bean Quesadillas, Chinese Chicken Salad, and Three-Bean Vegetarian Chili. With recipes that both hearken back to the golden age of the diner and update the classics for today’s healthful living, this comfort food is truly family food that everyone will enjoy.

Because it’s always time to eat good food, The Comfort Diner Cookbook has irresistible recipes to fuel you from morning to midnight: substantial breakfasts (from Breakfast Burritos to Berry-Stuffed French Toast); sandwiches—traditional and with a twist (featuring the Cobb Salad Sandwich and the Thanksgiving-on-a-Roll Turkey, Cheddar, and Cranberry Melt); an entire delectable chapter devoted to grilled cheese—and another to thick milkshakes; a healthy helping of scrumptious salads; anytime small plates (such as Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread and Shrimp with Bloody Mary Cocktail Sauce); satisfying big plates (including the ultimate Comforting Chicken Potpie); and divine desserts (with a heavenly Banana Cream Pie). Accompanying these surefire recipes is a wealth of lore about America’s favorite homestyle dishes and foodstuffs, along with a side of diner trivia and nostalgia, making this book as fun to read as it is rewarding to use.

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About the Author:

Ira Freehof is the founder and owner of New York City’s famed Comfort Diner association of restaurants. He opened his first location in 1996, and his restaurants have since won raves from customers and critics alike from Time Out New York to Gourmet.

Pia Catton is a journalist living in New York City. Formerly the author of the New York Post “Chef Tells” column, she is currently a features and arts reporter for the New York Sun.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

It’s hard to believe summer’s over and it’s time to get back to work or back to school and stick close to home. What better way to enjoy time at home than with the classic foods your whole family enjoys? New Yorkers know that if you’re craving classic American dishes, the best place to go is the Comfort Diner. From gooey Macaroni and Cheese to Mom’s Meatloaf, the Comfort Diner’s fare never fails to satisfy. The Comfort Diner Cookbook offers a full range of recipes from the diner-food tradition. It also includes dishes that have been eagerly adopted into the pantheon of American culinary favorites, like Warm Taco Salad, Black Bean Quesadillas, and Three-Bean Vegetarian Chili. Now you too can make yourself and your loved ones a perfectly satisfying, home-cooked meal.

Author Ira Freehod is the founder and owner of New York City’s famed Comfort Diner association of restaurants. The following recipe for Comforting Chicken Potpie will have you hungering for more good ol’ American favorites.
Comforting Chicken Potpie

One of my earliest food memories involves chicken potpie. I was about four years old, and my mother had just taken a potpie out of the oven to let it cool. My brother Jeff, age two at the time, decided to plunge his hand smack into the middle of the potpie. He was rushed to the emergency room, and when he returned home, his hand was wrapped in an enormous gauzy bandage. I was green with envy at the sight of his fascinating white mitten. Not only didn’t I get one of those nifty mittens, dang, I didn’t even get to eat the potpie!
At the restaurant, I started making this with a Cheddar spoonbread crust, just to elevate the concept a bit. But I soon discovered that people preferred the traditional crust. It just goes to show that for some dishes, there’s nothing like the classic.

Serves 6

Ingredients

· 4 6-to 8-ounce chicken breasts
· 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
· 2 cups small-diced carrots (2 to 3 medium-sized carrots)
· 1 cup small-diced celery (2 to 3 stalks)
· 1 cup small-diced red onion (1 medium-sized onion)
· 2 cups medium-diced red potatoes (6 medium-sized potatoes)
· 1⁄4 cup all-purpose flour
· 1 cup heavy cream
· 4 cups chicken stock, homemade or store-bought
· Salt and ground white pepper to taste
· 1 cup frozen green peas
· 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed

Recipe

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Boil the chicken for 10 minutes, until cooked through. Be careful not to overcook the chicken, as it will be cooked more later.

2. While the chicken is cooking, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat, and sauté the carrots, celery, onion, and potatoes for 5 minutes. Again, be careful to avoid overcooking. Remove the vegetables from the pan and set them aside in a large bowl.

3. When the chicken has cooked, remove from the water and drain. Slice it into bite-sized pieces.

4. In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the remaining 1⁄4 cup butter. Sprinkle the flour over the butter. Stir gently and frequently for 2 to 3 minutes, until the flour is absorbed and the bubbling mixture is lightly golden.

5. Add the heavy cream and chicken stock. Mix thoroughly. Simmer for 10 minutes, then add the chicken and the sautéed vegetables. Season with the salt and pepper and simmer for 20 minutes more. Pour the mixture into a 9-inch pie pan and add the frozen peas.

6. Roll out the puff pastry so it is 2 inches larger than the pie pan. Place it over the pan and tuck down the edges into the pan. Cut a few slits on the top of the pastry to allow steam to escape. Bake for about 40 minutes, until the crust is golden brown.

A Little Potpie Trivia:
Ah, the savory pie. Though the English can take credit for hearty meat pies, it’s actually the influence of German Pennsylvania Dutch immigrants in America that made the chicken potpie a staple of American cuisine. Regional differences result in various tops to the steamy chicken stew that lies beneath. Some cooks cover the chicken and vegetable mixture with dumplings or even noodles called potpie squares. The chicken potpie reached the diner menu in the Depression Era and made for a tasty, reliable Blue Plate Special. As for the commercial take on this dish, Swanson launched its first frozen potpie in 1951, just two years before the Swanson TV dinner came along.

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Freehof, Ira, Pia Catton
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