For fans of Saveur magazine, Saveur's latest cookbook The New Comfort Food will feel like a trip down a memory lane of favorite foods. And, for anyone who may be seeing these dishes for the first time, every one of them looks inarguably appealing. Comfort food is like that. Regardless of the culture of origin, certain dishes just make you feel good, and everything in this book fits that category. The recipes and photos have all appeared in the magazine over the years, but the book conveniently brings them together and reminds even the most regular magazine readers of some stories they may have forgotten. There is Peppers Stuffed with Feta from the Greece issue, Chicken Fried Steak from the Texas issue, and Beijing-Style Everyday Fried Noodles from an issue that was also about comfort food.
Recipes are organized by starters, soups, eggs, pasta, fish, poultry, meat, sides, sweets, and drinks, and the photos bring on cravings quickly. The Guacamole is ready and waiting for some crispy chips to be dipped into the bowl, and the Deep-Fried Southern Catfish is shown with a fork that tempts. Whether it's the Sweet-and-Spicy Korean Fried Chicken, the Vegetarian Lasagne, or the Dulce de Leche Cake that gets you, this book will make you hungry. Several of the recipes are accompanied by additional information as well. It might be something about the primary ingredient or a particular cooking technique or the story of how the recipe came about. All of these asides add to the experience of the book and lend a better understanding of the food.
One of those great, side-bar stories is about the Duncan Hines Adventures in Good Eating restaurant guides that were published from 1936 until 1962. This was the same Duncan Hines who became well-known for boxed cake mixes, but his first claim to fame was as a restaurant critic. It was from those restaurant guides that Todd Coleman of Saveur learned about the great Italian-American food at Figaretti's restaurant in West Virginia. And, it was Figaretti's "Godfather II" Linguine recipe (see below) that was the first in the book I wanted to try.
This is a quick pasta dish made with shrimp, mussels, bell peppers, fresh tomatoes and basil. It breaks that Italian rule about never serving cheese with seafood, but the grated Asiago mingled well with the mix of flavors in the dish. Because everything cooks so quickly, it's necessary to have all the vegetables chopped and the pasta water boiling before starting. Then, after a brief sauté of green and red peppers, garlic, and onion, white wine is added and the mussels are steamed. Two minutes later, cherry tomatoes, shrimp, and butter are added, and by the time everything is tossed together, the shrimp are cooked through. Stir in cooked linguine and torn basil, and the cooking is complete. With wine, butter, and garlic running through the strands of pasta, and briny, fresh seafood and basil and tomatoes, this was indeed comfort on a plate.
Read more about Lisa's adventures with The New Comfort Food on her blog lisa is cooking.
Figaretti’s “Godfather II” Linguine
Recipe from Saveur: The New Comfort Food by James Oseland (Chronicle Books, 2011)This dish, a mainstay at Figaretti's restaurant in Wheeling, West Virginia, is Italian-American cooking at its bighearted, bountiful best: shrimp and mussels, peppers and tomatoes, fresh basil, white wine, and silky linguine.
- Kosher salt, to taste
- 8 oz. dried linguine
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ½ cup chopped green bell pepper
- ½ cup chopped red bell pepper
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 small yellow onion, chopped
- 1/3 cup white wine
- 8 mussels, scrubbed and debearded
- ½ cup halved cherry tomatoes
- 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
- 8 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 8 leaves basil, torn, plus more for garnish
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- ½ cup grated Asiago cheese
- 4 lemon wedges
1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the linguine; cook until al dente, 8-10 minutes. Drain the pasta; reserve ¼ cup pasta water.
2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the green and red peppers, garlic, and onion; cook until they begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the wine and the mussels; cook, covered, until the mussels open, about 2 minutes. Add the reserved pasta water, tomatoes, butter, and shrimp and cook, stirring, until the shrimp are just pink, about 1 minute. Add the cooked linguine, toss to combine, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens and clings to the pasta. Stir in the basil and season with salt and pepper.
3. Divide pasta between 2 bowls. Sprinkle with more basil and Asiago and garnish with lemon wedges
Disclosure: Review copies of books discussed in this post may have been provided to Project Foodie by publicists and/or publishers.