Comfort Food: A Little Sweet, A Little Savory For Vegetarians

Comfort Food: A Little Sweet, A Little Savory For Vegetarians

Morning Shift is bringing comfort and conversation with a favorite topic: food. From spicy New Orleans-style gumbo to a hot bowl of matzo ball soup to steaming tamales, hear the stories behind the dishes with Chicagoans from different backgrounds rely on. While many popular comfort food dishes tend to be meat-based, today’s spotlight is on creative vegetarian dishes.

Butterscotch pot dé crème

Butterscotch pot dé crème

4 oz brown sugar

2 oz butter

1 pint heavy cream

1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract

1/8 teaspoon salt

6 egg yolks

1 oz scotch whisky

Melt butter in a heavy bottomed pan, then add brown sugar, cook for about 5 minutes, till it is fragrant. Add the cream slowly, in incriments, till there are no lumps. Bring the cream mixture to a boil. Whisk the egg yolks . Pour the hot cream mix over the eggs and temper the mixture. Add scotch whiskey and salt. Strain and pour into bowls. Bake in a water bath at 350 for 40 minutes or until set but jiggles in the center. Cool at room temperature. Chill before serving. Great with a dollop of whipped crème fraiche.

Mushroom sauté with creamy polenta

Mushroom saute with creamy polenta


1 cup heavy cream

1 stick unslated butter

½ cup asiago cheese

1 qt water

2 teaspoons salt

1 cup fine ground polenta cornmeal

In a heavy bottomed wide mouthed pan, bring water, cream, butter and salt to a boil. Slowly whisk polenta in, turn down heat. Polenta bubbles and burns, so be careful. Turn heat to low, then let it cook until it starts to pull away from the pan. Add cheese, and mix well. Taste for salt.

Mushroom saute

1 oz olive oil

1# mixed mushrooms, sliced

2 cloves garlic, diced fine

1 teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

¼ cup white wine

¼ cup good veg stock

1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped

2 oz unsalted butter

Get a saute pan hot, then add oil, swirling it over the bottom of the pan. Add mushroooms, pepper and salt, cook till starting to brown. Add garlic, cook 1 minute longer. Add white wine, letting it evaporate, then add stock. Do not let it boil off, you do want some liquid in the pan. Tuen off the heat and add the butter and parsley. Serve over a mound of the creamy polenta.


Jill Barron, chef at Mana Food Bar in Wicker Park, serving up vegetarian-friendly entrées and desserts