Saturday, 10 September 2011

Comfort and Spice - book review

I was very kindly sent a copy of 'Comfort and Spice' written by Niamh Shields to review by Quadrille Publishing this week. It was a very apt addition to inspire me in my kitchen, especially with the weather being so autumnal. Not that 'Comfort and Spice' is a book for this particular season, its just that the title conjures up hopes of warm, 'fleecy blanket comforting' and homely recipes.

Comfort and Spice has been written by someone who is clearly a devoutee of good, home cooked food and with a palate borne from travel and a keen interest in sourcing, making and sharing their food with others. This book covers a wide range of recipes from very simple dishes, to something more challenging and across all eating scenarios, including 'grazing' (of which I am a fan). Its modern food with old fashioned values, by that I mean its very current cooking but not at the cost of wasting food or being too exclusive.

The recipes are clearly written (each recipe is not long enough to become arduous) and I found they were easily followed, with a helpful common sense and 'enabling the cook' style of writing. On average about every 4/5 recipes have a photograph to accompany them. There is a lovely description of where a recipe might have originated from, or where Niamh ate it and in what context, giving an interesting narrative insight  into her travels and experiences.

The chapters start at 'how to be a better cook', followed by 'brunch' and goes all the way through to 'sugar and spice' and 'drinks'. I particularly liked the chapter on 'Eight Great Big Dinners'; each dinner is followed with other recipes to use up leftovers from these meals. You might think you already make good use of your leftovers, but this will give you new ideas.The long and slow meat roasts recipes are particularly tempting.

The book is scattered with helpful advice (I'll be trying the pork 'crackling tips' as my own offering last week 'could not be called crackling' at all apparently!) and inspiring 'Passion' recipes (like, homemade ricotta, butter, pizza dough, homemade tomato ketchup and mayonnaise) that will surely become a cooks staple.
Niamh with Blaas at Electric Picnic (photo from Eat Like a Girl)

I made the recipe for Blaas, a soft bread roll originating (like Niamh) from Waterford in Ireland. They were by far the nicest rolls I have ever made (mine usually come out too hard on the outside!). Luckily I doubled the recipe as these were devoured for Saturday lunch with soup and stuffed full of good things.

I also made the recipe for a lovely light lemon and blueberry ricotta cheesecake (a baked cheesecake recipe), first found on a trip to Paris (not by me as I have never been there).
Niamh Shields is a renowned food blogger, with a big following, she is of Irish origin but lives in London when she is not travelling.You can follow her blog Eat Like a Girl.

'Comfort and Spice' is one of Quadrille's 'New Voices in Food' series and can be purchased from Amazon.


  1. Great review! Sounds like a book I'll need to look out for.

  2. Lovely review, one for the wishlist I think

  3. Thanks. Comfort and Spice seems a very popular choice from what I have read, not too expensive either. x


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