Comfort Food: Eating for Pleasure by Maxine Clark ****
Now this cookbook is right up my alley. The combination of the words comfort, food, eating and pleasure – especially in winter – talk far more to me that those hated phrases low fat, slimline and reduced calories. Which isn’t to say that comfort food is going to have a drastic effect on your waistline, although it might! It’s just that the whole idea of comfort food which, by nature, involves things hated by the health police such as full fat milk, real butter and clotted cream, is especially evocative in the winter. With cold and rain outside (here in New Zealand), now is the perfect time to stay indoors, browse through cookery books and decide what tasty treat to cook for dinner tonight. You Northern Hemispherians will have some time to wait but there’s no harm in getting ready in advance for dismal, dreary weather.
Maxine Clark being Scottish, there’s an emphasis on porridge, scones and shortbread but she doesn’t sell herself short and there’s also plenty of foods from other cultures like Gooey Butterscotch Nut Muffins (America), Lamb Shanks and Apricots with Minted Sesame Couscous (Morocco) and Spanish spices make their way into Cod and Bean Stew with Saffron and Paprika. She also has a good way of giving a twist to a traditional recipe, adding a buttery caramel to the apples for a Deep Dish Apple Pie.
Divided into chapters such as At the Table, On The Sofa, Breakfast in Bed and On the Tray, Clark also makes the case for a more leisurely, contemplative lifestyle, one which involves your breakfast arriving on your lap as you wake up, the tinkle of the tea trolley at mid-afternoon, a unhurried dinner and curling up on the couch in the evening. If only life were so good! Comfort Food: Eating for Pleasure is more a state of mind than anything else and you may find yourself comforted by the mere reading of this book, as well as unable to resist a trip to the kitchen to put some of its recipes into action.