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Book Review: Comfort & Spice by Niamh Shields

By Melikeyuk
It is thanks to Niamh's Eat Like a Girl blog and her tweets that I have learned about Sumac and Fiddleheads. I really enjoy reading her blog posts as she recounts her culinary and travel experiences. How this girl copes with the jet lag, Lord alone knows but throughout she remains a bubbly and positive person whose passion for food knows no limits. So when the opportunity to review her newly launched book, "Comfort and Spice" came up it was a bit of a "no-brainer" for me! I particularly like the quote "Treat your spice box as a palette and watch your food come to life" Nice opening isn't it?

Book Review: Comfort & Spice by Niamh Shields

Comfort and Spice Book

In a nutshell, this book jumps up and gives you a warm Autumnal embrace! Can I break it down further?
One of the first things I look for in a cook book is the ability to replicate the recipes and buy the products and I am pleased to say that there are a variety of recipes that I would take great pleasure in reproducing. I am already looking forward to making the Venison with Blackberry and Balsamic Sauce, Baby Back Ribs and the Quince Tarte Tatin.
Good variation of themed chapters:
All in all there are 5 themed recipe chapters: Brunch, Speedy Suppers, Long Weekend, Sugar and Spice and Drinks. Each of the themed chapters highlights a "Passion" section which denotes Niamh's favourite recipe(s) from the chapter. I followed the Lentil Soup with Harissa Croutons recipe from the Speedy Suppers section and because I did not have red lentils, replaced using green lentils. It was a tasty and heartwarming dish!

Book Review: Comfort & Spice by Niamh Shields

Lentil Soup with Harissa Croutons

Irish influenced cuisine:
Although I am Scottish, my great grandparents on both sides were Irish and apart from visiting Dublin once, I've never really had much experience of the Irish culture (much to my disappointment) so the Irish inspired dishes go some way in bridging this gap. I like the way the book introduces homemade favourites such as Blaas and Irish soda farls and I feel it's a nice touch when Niamh pays tribute to a local fish smoker. Her personal experiences are a recurring theme throughout the book.
Additional Extras:
The book is peppered with added bonus such as "How to be a better cook" where Niamh provides tips on how to shop for ingredients and acquiring the basics in the kitchen. She has a nice way of jazzing up salt by making her own "Ham Salt" or "Rosemary Salt" - who knew? The Leftovers section is equally good as I frequently suffer from this dilemma.
Very book shelf friendly (thank you). Space is a premium where I live :-)
Overall cooking and preparation time:
A minor point but a personal preference nonetheless. I like to know up front how long it will take to prepare and cook a dish, rather than estimating a preparation time and counting up a series of cooking times within the recipe.
Heavily geared towards Autumnal/Winter Dishes:
This is by no means a bad thing at all, just the majority of dishes are largely focussed on warm comforting dishes such as Chicken and Chorizo Pie, Lentil Shepherd's Pie, Lamb and Aubergine Stew so it probably would not be your first stop when looking for Spring/Summer dishes. Besides, I'm looking forward to reading another cook book by Niamh - perhaps one based on Spring/Summer meals will be her next?
Congratulations to Niamh on her first cook book, I'm going to raise a glass of her very own Mandarin, Chilli and Lemongrass Juice in her honour. Cheers!
Overall MelikeyUK Rating: 9/10

You can read Niamh's blog here
You can follow Niamh on Twitter here

My thanks to Quadrille Publishing for providing me with a copy of Comfort and Spice.

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