“Comfort and Spice” by Niamh Shields – a Review

I have been a fan of Niamh Shield’s blog; Eat Like a Girl, for some while now and who hasn’t?  She writes about interesting foodie things in a friendly, easygoing manner and I am delighted to see that she has written her first cookbook;  “Comfort & Spice”, another goodie from Quadrille (thank you so much), in the same attractive style.

The first thing I saw on my Preliminary Flick was Ham Salt – a brilliant idea which I shall go into no further at this juncture.  Other nice surprises are Chicken Skin Skewers, Chorizo in Cider and Roast Bone Marrow with a Parmesan Crust which looks really impressive.  I wish I was still cheffing in the sun so that I could steal this idea (they’d never know in Tortola!) and impress the knickers off everyone.  I shall also be trying the Black Pudding Croquettes asap on my Geordie lad – I shall coat them in panko crumbs, as suggested in the recipe, to prove to him that he does like “foreign muck” after all!

Being a food fanatic I read a lot of cookbooks and often, although enjoying a book, I find myself skimming the actual recipes as they are already familiar to me.  I realise of course that not everyone is as experienced (aka old) and besotted as I am and that these books are a huge boon to many cooks.  Niamh’s recipes (if I may be so familiar – we have tweeted to each other occasionally!) on the other hand please and inspire me with her excellent methods and combinations of ingredients BUT, take note, none of it is intimidating.

Comfort & Spice is an exceptional mixture of brilliant ideas and practical, down to earth but very useful information.  I very much agree with her advice to go for it so far as flavour is concerned, I think many otherwise competent cooks are frightened by bold seasoning but if they follow these recipes they won’t go wrong.

In addition to her very exciting and creative dishes Niamh also offers guidelines for making homemade basics that are normally bought in.  For instance I have long intended to make fresh cheese and now, back in the UK and not having to rely on long life milk as I did in the Caribbean, I hope to have a go following her instructions for making ricotta and paneer.  She also gives instructions on how to make butter (including how to flavour it with rose petals!), yogurt and wine vinegar – all very useful stuff.

Comfort & Spice is divided in much the same way that life itself is eating wise: Brunch, Speedy Suppers, Long Weekends, Sugar and Spice and Drinks.  It contains 120 recipes plus lots of ideas including ways to use leftovers which, as you know, is something I am very keen on.   It is an attractive paperback (or really cardboardback) book in the style of the New Voices in Food series of which it is a part.   The photography by Georgia Glynn Smith is also worth a mention; I would not have thought the patterned backgrounds would work so well but they look great.  As I have said this lovely book was published by Quadrille Publishing Ltd. on 5th September 2011 - ISBN-10: 1849490120, ISBN-13: 978-1849490122 - get it from Amazon.

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debs said...

mmmm!one for my bookshelf maybe!?

Jacqueline said...

Hi Suzy!
Nice post of the review of Comfort and Spice. I totally agree - I love the fact that the recipes are so down to earth and very practical and a great seasonal cookbook ;-)