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Hunkering Down With Some Comfort Food

Published Jan 24, 2019 • Last Updated 03:45 pm, January 22, 2019

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As I write this, there has been very little snow this season. By the time you read this, there may be some on the ground. The weather forecasters are saying there may be some coming soon. Whether or not the forecast holds, my friends and I are all about cooking comfort food.

I made a pot roast in the slow-cook part of my Instant Pot. The next week I moved on to my favorite braise of all time, a chicken Provençal. That recipe came from a Williams-Sonoma catalog I received around Christmas a long time ago. I particularly love that recipe because the braising liquid is simply two cups of white wine plus lots of mushrooms and, finally, cherry tomatoes.

Heaven on earth.

If you want that recipe, email me at

This week I’m making barley-stuffed red peppers, using a recipe from a friend I haven’t seen in decades.

Feel free to use another color of pepper. In addition, I used half vegetable or chicken broth and half, again, that white wine. I keep Black Box Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon in the kitchen. Because they are vacuum-sealed, it is good on the counter for months. They are also very drinkable.

Lee White of Old Lyme has been a food editor and restaurant reviewer for more than 25 years. You can email her at

Barley-stuffed Red Peppers


Serves 3


1 cup uncooked quick-cooking barley

(maybe there is another kind, but this is what I used)

3 cups vegetable or mushroom broth

3 large red bell peppers

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, peeled and diced

1 tablespoon minced garlic

6 ounces presliced portobella mushrooms, cubed

4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled

1 teaspoon lemon juice

⅓ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

hot pepper sauce to taste

salt and freshly ground black pepper

parsley sprigs for garnish


Combine barley and 2 cups broth in saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook until tender, 10 to 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, slice tops off red peppers and remove seeds and inner membranes. Reserve tops for later use. Place peppers on steaming rack over boiling water and cover saucepan. Steam peppers for about 15 minutes, or until tender but not soft. Remove from heat and set aside until cool enough to handle.

Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Sauté onion and garlic until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add barley and any remaining cooking liquid and stir until grains are coated with oil. Add mushrooms and remaining 1 cup broth and sauté mixture for about 5 minutes or until mushrooms soften and liquid absorbed. Stir in rest of ingredients and cook about 2 minutes more. Remove from heat.

Stand peppers upright and spoon mixture into them. Serve with tops over filling or propped alongside.

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