Adventures in Eating

The Ultimate Fall Comfort Food Meal

By on October 31, 2013 10:30am EST

Rioters Jacquelyn and Amanda live just a few minutes from each other, and often find occasion to plunk down in one another’s kitchens and spend a day cooking (see Creme Brulee Day). This time around, they set out to make the ultimate fall-themed comfort food meal, and it was a rousing success.

IMG_9722THE ENTREE: Beef Bourguignon

J: So “bourguignon” is just basically stew (with red wine).  It was sooooooo lovely.  Perfect for a Saturday when you want your house to smell delicious for hours and hours and even creeping into the next morning when you walk downstairs and can still get a whiff of delicious.  The base of the stew was red wine (we used Shiraz) and chicken stock.  The wine gave the beef a beautiful crimson color and the meat just fell apart when you looked at it.  We hilariously kept the potatoes in the recipe despite the fact that we served the bourguignon over top of a mashed potato bake.  What’s better than potatoes? Potatoes ON YOUR POTATOES.

A: I have nothing to add. Potatoes on your potatoes is the Platonic ideal of comfort food.


IMG_9702THE SALAD- Fall Cornbread Panzanella Salad with Maple-Mustard Vinaigrette, Blue Cheese, & Roasted Veggies.

A:This is a salad so nice, I made it twice (seriously, I made it again last night because: delicious). It’s a little labor intensive if you don’t have cornbread just lying around, but you can sub out whatever bread you want for the panzanella element. The roasted sweet potatoes, red onion, and Brussels sprouts are perfectly offset by the funky (in a great way) blue cheese, tart vinaigrette, and savory rosemary in the toasted cornbread. If you’re looking for fall in a bowl, this is it.

J: My favorite part of this salad was how equally delicious and simple the dressing was.  I’ve actually made this dressing twice already, so it seems we both especially liked this recipe.  The dressing is equal parts balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, olive oil, and brown mustard.  Easy peasy lemon squeezy (but without the lemon…)


IMG_9714THE SIDE- Caramelized Onion Mashed Potato Bake with Gruyere.

A: I generally turn my nose up at anything that requires being cooked twice (ain’t nobody got time for that) but you ABSOLUTELY have time for this one. Caramelize some onions, boil some potatoes, grate some cheese, stir it all together and bake it up nice. This is one of those excellent recipes that allow for tons of variations: use different cheese, add in some herbs, cook the potatoes in chicken broth instead of water, whatever floats your boat.

J: Oh em gee why don’t caramelized onions ALWAYS go in mashed potatoes?  Why have I never thought of it it before?  These are the questions I have.


IMG_9727THE DESSERTMaple Cheesecake with Roasted Pears

J: I would say this was the only part of our meal that did not go exactly as planned.  We ended up only roasting the pears and not broiling them – they seemed perfect after the roasting so we skipped a step.  The main part that didn’t go as planned was how unattractive this looked after slicing.  I guess we didn’t leave it in the fridge long enough to firm up the way it should have.  Despite the unattractive quality of the slicing, the cheesecake was perfectly wonderful.  I really enjoyed the flavors of the maple and the pear together.

A: What happens when you don’t read the directions before you start cooking: you end up making a no-bake cheesecake when you were expecting to spend All The Time Baking. Totally fine, I’m pro less work. This is much lighter and fluffier than a traditional cheesecake- the filling is half cream cheese, half whipped cream, so if you’re after a less filling end to an autumnal meal, this is your ticket. And take our advice: the recipe says to refrigerate it for 3 hours to overnight. Go overnight.


IMG_9739THE COCKTAIL: Mulled Cider (with a splash of spiced rum)

J: No joke – The BEST apple cider I have ever had in my whole life.  We used freshly juiced apples that I PICKED WITH MY OWN HANDS from nearby trees because that’s how awesome I am.  I think what really made the cider great was the lemon and orange peels – it tempered all the sweetness with a lovely mild tart that just….guys you just need to make this asap.

A: I second that emotion- and I’ve made a lot of cider in my life. I usually just toss an orange and some cloves into the crock pot and call it semi-mulled, but this recipe is perfectly balanced and just…CLEAR. No super-sweet aftertaste that you find in store-bought cider. I hope the key to this recipe isn’t the freshly squeezed apples cause that’s prroobbaabbllyy never happening again.


What are your go-to cold weather comfort food recipes?


(All images by Jacquelyn Pascucci)




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Jacquelyn Pascucci

Jacquelyn lives in Richmond, VA with her best human-friend/husband David and her best puppy-friend/basset hound Izzy. She went to VCU for art school and now teaches high school photography and art.


  • Kitty Pandemic

    I want to eat ALL of it! The only comfort food I would need to add to complete my own snuggle meal is a pot pie. However, even without the pot pie this meal looks perfect!

    • Amanda Nelson

      Just put the beef leftovers in a pastry crust! BAM: pot pie.

  • Tasha B. (heidenkind)

    YUM. Another good side would have been cauliflower au gratin. Om nom nom.