John Whaite views world through lens of comfort food

John Whaite views world through lens of comfort food

Comfort food is such a personal thing. For Pat's Irish-American family, it's a serving of champ, the rich dish of mashed potatoes and spring onions with lots of butter and cream. For David, it's cornbread like his Kentucky grandmother used to make with bacon drippings and unbolted meal. In his new book, Comfort: Food to Soothe the Soul (Kyle Books, $29.99), chef and cooking school proprietor John Whaite explores the taste of comfort around the world. He adds his own twist to traditional Mexican chilaquiles by adding eggplant and feta, uses sweet apricots to balance the heat of Scotch Bonnet peppers in West African Jollof rice, and tops a Scandinavian-style pizza with salmon fillets and pickled cucumber. But Whaite was raised in Lancashire in northwest...Read More

Steak and Guinness Pie a pub standard

Pretty much wherever you go in Northern Ireland, chances are good that the pub has steak and Guinness pie on the menu. In recent years, many places have taken to plopping a piece of separately cooked puff pastry on top of the beef stew. This version is deliciously retrograde. It uses a classic butter pastry crust. The dish is traditional but every cook adds a personal touch. This version is adapted from several sources. Don't be surprised by the inclusion of sharp cheddar cheese. It makes a real difference in the flavor and the crust. STEAK AND GUINNESS PIE Serves 4 Ingredients For Stew 4 tablespoons butter, divided large red onion, chopped 6 cloves garlic, minced 3 carrots, peeled and chopped 3 ribs celery, chopped...Read More

Meeting the master of meat

Bruno Bassetto of Treviso, Italy, knows meat. The 61-year-old butcher set a Guinness World Record in October by crafting a salamella—a kind of fresh pork sausage—more than 7 kilometers (4.3 miles) long. I had the good fortune to watch him trim a piece of round and make steak tartare in seconds with a pair of huge knives. But beyond his obvious showmanship, Bassetto is also a master of charcuterie. In addition to fresh meat, his butcher shop (via Mantiero 22, Treviso; 011-39-0422-231-945, also carries fresh and cured sausages, which range from slender little pepperoni to a great expression of the local Veneto sopressa (a soft, cured sausage about 3 inches in diameter). In late fall and winter, he also makes a cooked pork sausage...Read More