When comfort food is in the title of a cookbook you know there are going to be some recipes in there to knock your socks off while simultaneously warming you right through to those bare toes.
The introduction to ‘Clarissa’s Comfort Food’ was more about where and when Dickson-Wright was when she wrote the book than the style of cooking apart from an apology for the personal taste employed in choosing recipes. There would be nothing lost by ignoring the introduction completely, it is not beautifully written and seems to be more of a misguided plug for the author’s autobiography.
While I dislike quite a few parts of the extra bits and pieces of writing in this book I truly love the recipes, they suit my style of cooking perfectly and there is a lot in the book that is innovative enough to be exciting without being so challenging that you need to set a whole day aside to try it. There are also quite a lot of ideas that are nice and simple, more suggestions than full recipes.
All of the recipes throughout lean towards being a bit too heavy for eating on a regular basis, very nice warming food for the winter though. It would have been nice to have a few lighter meals to break it up, you would find it difficult to plan a whole balanced meal from the book. A great variety of ingredients are used and there is plenty to suit a range of palettes here.
The photography is phenomenal; it is some of the best I have seen. I nearly fainted looking at the picture of the Treacle Tart and the Beef Stew image is just beautiful. These are art in themselves, and all of them made me want to make the meals straight-away.
One of the quirks that took me a while to get used to is that sometimes not all of the ingredients are listed. In the notes before Pommes Clarise it is mentioned that thyme and tomatoes (seen in the photo) are added at the end of the dish but these are not included in the main recipe. A lot of the recipes which are quite simple have no ingredients list at all.
This is a very well organised cookery book with clear sections that are easy to navigate, it’s also easy to read all of the recipes but some of the italicised sections are a bit more awkward. Although Dickson-Wright apologises for her personal approach I think it is one of the main selling points of the book, it is lovely to see a whole collection with such a clear approach to recipes. My favourite dishes were the Treacle Tart (obviously), the Chestnut Soup, the Pease Pudding and the Potato Cake with Ham and Cheese.
A wonderful, hearty cookbook that I shall be using a lot but do take note of the title, this is full of heavy meals, rich flavours and generous portion sizes. I am forcefully reminded of one of my favourite quotations supposedly from Erma Bombeck: “Seize the moment. Remember all those women on the ‘Titanic’ who waved off the dessert cart.” Well said!