What makes a meal comforting? And how do we achieve that effect in our cooking? Well, that’s a question for a world class chef. At RiceSelect®, we’re delighted to have teamed up with one.

Toronto-born Jordan Andino’s love of cooking was enough to make him put down his surfboard and trade the beach for the kitchen. Since then, he has become well-known throughout the New York culinary scene for the following reasons: his outstanding cooking skills, his unique manner of mixing flavors, and just as importantly, his charm.

At his Flip Sigi restaurants in New York, Jersey City and Chicago, Andino’s customers delight in Filipino cuisine masterfully made with French techniques. Meals of such high quality come from not only a love of cooking, but also a love of life and pleasing those around him.

What are Comforting Meals?

Comfort food is usually defined as a dish that brings back fond memories or sentimental significance for a person. This could be unique to a single person or it could span across an entire culture. For some, comforting meals are simply the dishes that make them feel happy.

While each of us may have different ideas about what meals we find comforting, Chef Andino knows what works best in his kitchen when it comes to lifting moods.

Seared Scallop Duxelle Parmesan Risotto

Seared Sea Scallops Over Parmesan Risotto is both elegant and versatile; it’s a dish that you can prepare on a weeknight or for a special occasion.

Apart from being a comforting meal to raise your spirits, it also looks great on the plate. It’s the kind of thing you’d expect to see in a restaurant rather than on your dining room table. But that doesn’t mean it’s difficult to prepare or that you can’t bring Chef Andoni’s elegance into your own household.

Don’t shy away from preparing a fancy meal; in fact, cooking scallops is actually quite simple. It’s just a matter of removing the side muscles, if necessary, and sprinkling the scallops with a little salt and pepper before frying them in the pan for no more than five minutes.

Then, smother them in butter before placing them over a bed of parmesan risotto mixed with sautéed spinach.

Cinnamon Coffee Seared Skirt Steak, Warm Rice with Sautéed Kale, and Maple Glazed Carrots

For meat lovers, what could be more comforting than a skirt steak grilled in cinnamon and coffee and served with Royal Blend® Rice, sautéed kale, and maple-glazed carrots? This tasty dish was prepared by Chef Jordan Andino with extra care given to its flavors. As a flavorful spice that pairs especially well with the taste of coffee, cinnamon makes a great addition.

What is Skirt Steak?

Skirt steak is a long, thin cut of beef. It's ideal for countless recipes including fajitas, Philly cheesesteaks, pizzas, sandwiches, flatbreads, pizza pinwheels, tacos, arracheras, and churrascos.

Is Skirt Steak a Good Choice of Meat?

Skirt steak is a particularly succulent meat cut with a strong, rich taste and it can, however, be a little tough. Luckily, careful cooking is all you need to achieve the melt-in-your-mouth texture.

With a good steak, you can add some maple-glazed carrots, a delicious side dish that’s simple to make. This sweet and buttery glaze can jazz up the carrots on your table, whether during the holidays or on a weekday.

Quick Tips for Cooking for a Crowd

Consider an inexpensive cut of meat that you can prepare in advance. This is why skirt steak is a great option. These meats do, however, typically require low and slow cooking to get the most out of them. But for this, you can dig out your slow cooker or even get started the night before.

Filipino Cooking Traditions

Chefs in the Philippines typically prepare their food to be stewed, sautéed, broiled, braised, or fried. Vinegar is also a popular component of well-known dishes including adobo, paksiw, and sinigang. Chef Andino applies many of these traditional methods to his dishes but adds a distinct touch.

Something for Everyone

Catering to the palates and dietary preferences of your guests gives you an opportunity to get creative in the kitchen. As a host, this means putting some extra thought into your meal prep. You can try combinations you wouldn’t normally have tackled. Meatless menus can please both meat-eaters and vegetarians alike. If a couple of friends don’t like spicy food, maybe you should leave the spicy ingredients on the side. Here are some other tips:

Ask what they can eat - those with special dietary requirements or preferences will appreciate this!

Ask for suggestions or recipe ideas - find out what foods are enjoyable for everyone, safe for your guests, and simple to prepare.

Remember, your guests come first - there’s no room for ‘just eat this or that’. Being a good host means giving the people what they want, not simply what you prefer to cook. So be kind, gracious and accommodating!

Hosting a holiday dinner? See more of Chef Jordan Andino’s Cooking Tips and Tricks and follow @RiceSelect on social media.