Friday, 14 October 2011
I’m addicted to cookery books. My children make fun of the rows of brightly-coloured tomes lining the kitchen shelves and joke that I only ever cook four recipes, all of them completely made-up. But even so, just looking at my cookery book collection instantly whisks me into a world of milk and honey, where everything is perfect and nothing ever sticks to the bottom of the saucepan.
My current favourites are Ottolenghi’s Plenty and Alice’s Cook Book by Alice Hart, but another contender sneaking up the ranks is Comfort & Spice by Niamh Shields. Like thousands of other readers, I discovered Shields through her fantastic blog, Eat Like a Girl. The Times named the London-based Irish ex-pat as one of the world's top ten food bloggers and this week she won Best Food Blog in the 2011 Observer Food Monthly Awards.
I bought Comfort and Spice, her first book, the minute I spotted it in my local Waterstone’s and it’s proved every bit as good as I hoped. From relaxed weekend brunches to hearty lunches (I’m getting more vegetarian in my tastes and can’t wait to try the lentil shepherd’s pie), it features simple, unfussy recipes that look and taste absolutely delicious.
I love Shields’s unstuffy, confident approach to food and the fact that she calls herself "an enthusiastic home cook" rather than a chef. Self-taught, apart from home economics lessons at school, she insists right from the start that “food doesn’t need to be complicated, nor does it need to be fussy. Recipes can take hours, or they can take minutes. The end result can always be wonderful food.”
As I said, Shields is my kind of cook.
Comfort & Spice by Niamh Shields (Quadrille, £14.99)