Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Springfield Native Dan Whalen Offers Ultimate Comfort Food Recipes

Hungry readers can take their pick from more than 100 recipes in his book, with offerings like Cheesesteak Pot-stickers, Polenta Tamales, and a Cherry Pie Stuffed Chocolate Cake. There is even a burger stuffed with mac and cheese. Submitted The book is all about taking your favorite foods and stuffing them to make new, different and delicious meals, Whalen said. Whalen is known for the crazy comfort food mash-ups that he has his blogged since 2008. Humorously entitled The Food in My Beard," his blog details dishes that span the spectrum, from healthy and vegan to ethnic favorites and to adventurous undertakings. When I started, it was really just to document all the dishes I was cooking. That way, if I wanted to make something again for a dinner party or get together, I would remember what went right or wrong, he said One of Whalens blog followers, who are affectionately dubbed beardies," helped direct his pursuit of compiling his recipes into a published cookbook. I dont know if I am just a total sucker for spicy food and bearded creativity, but after reading his blog I knew his voice would translate well on to the printed page, said Sally Ekus, literary agent with The Lisa Ekus Group in Hatfield, who keeps an eye out for culinary talents popular on social media. His ability to take comfort food and make me say Wow, now THAT is different! stood out. Every recipe I have ever seen him create I wanted to make. Good cooking is in the Whalen family. I always had home cooking in my family, my mom and grandmother are great Italian American cooks. I never cooked but I was always playing with my food, trying different combinations of snack food or being critical about which packaged foods were the best, he said. Whalen, who currently lives in the Fenway neighborhood of Boston, grew up in Springfields East Forest Park and often comes back home for good food and family gatherings. The Internet and the success of a recipe he calls "Pasttata," a pasta, as in spaghetti, baked with eggs, as in a frittata, encouraged his own culinary pursuits. The recipe was picked up from his blog by Stumble Upon, a discovery engine that finds and recommends web content. This was before Pinterest and even before Twitter was really big. Now when something goes viral it is more on Pinterest and Facebook. The viral hits were about 100 times what I was normally used to for traffic at that time. Once you see your numbers jump up like that it gets really addicting, he said. Whalen learned how to make gelato at the now-closed Firenze Gelato Company and helped open Cafe Burrito in Belmont, creating the house recipes.
For the original version visit http://www.masslive.com/living/index.ssf/2014/02/springfield_native_dan_whalen_offers_ultimate_comfort_food_recipes.html

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