I am seriously loving Comfort & Spice by Niamh Shields, it is my favourite cookbook of 2011 and is helping me become more of an organised cook. Having seen the difference a bit of forward thinking can make to a meal, I’m now spending my weekends soaking chickpeas, marinating steak/chicken to quickly whip together weekend foodie indulgences and cracking mid-week meals.
That’s not to say everything needs advance preparation, but boy is it worth it when you do.
This cookbook has been loving put together by Niamh Shields, better known as Eatlikeagirl – one of the world’s top food bloggers. I first met Niamh two or three years ago at her market stall in Covent Garden over a glass of Prosecco. I’ve followed her blog and tweets for years but for me there is something very special about owning a physical cookbook, the best ones in my kitchen end up splattered with sauce and caked in flour.
The book includes nods to Niamh’s Irish roots – with plenty of dishes using leftover potato and a recipe for authentic Blaas – bread rolls from Waterford, Ireland. Niamh also seems to enjoy chorizo and egg, there are a raft of recipes which include potato, chorizo and egg which is actually a big plus for me as these are three of my hubby’s favourite ingredients.
Niamh has a great sense of flavour and her dishes are often deliciously simple, but super impressive to serve.
The book includes ideas for brunch, speedy suppers and long weekends. The Smoked Salmon with Potato Pancakes and Cucumber Relish is a great example of how Niamh combines flavours so successfully, don’t be tempted to miss out the cider soaked cucumber relish, it will need to stand for five hours (or overnight ideally) but is seriously worth it – amazingly tangy.
A regular staple in my house is now the Chorizo, Potato and Egg Hash. I double the recipe to fit our 20cm pan.
Chorizo, Potato and Egg Hash from Comfort & Spice by Niamh Shields
200g leftover boiled potatoes, chopped into 1cm dice
1 tsp light oil, such as sunflower or light olive oil
2 cooking chorizo sausages, chopped into 1cm rounds
1 piquillo pepper, or 1 red pepper diced
handful of flat parsley, chopped
Sauté the potatoes in a large frying pan over a medium heat in the oil, stirring to make sure they brown all the way over. Set aside.
In the same pan, sauté the chorizo and pepper for five minutes, until the chorizo starts to crisp and the pepper is soft. If you are poaching eggs, do so now. Return the potatoes to the pan and stir in the parsley.
Create some space for the eggs if you are frying the, and crack them in. Cook until the white is set but the yolk is still runny. Eat hot.
Today, I have baked the Blaas. You do not realise the significance of this. I can cook yes, bake – sadly not. Baking is an art that so far had alluded me, so I am ridiculously excited to have my home smelling of freshly baked bread and having baked the most perfect looking rolls. Warm, freshly made bread rolls with a slice or two of cheese (and/or bacon) is just perfect for a Sunday.
I’m becoming a little obsessed, serious everything I have tried so far has come out so so well. Right now, I’ve got six Blaas leftover, I still have Niamh’s Peri Peri chicken marinating in the fridge for tonight, chick peas soaking for the Chorizo and Chickpea Stew tomorrow and am going to experiment with the Overnight Shoulder of Lamb recipe later in the week.
There is such a great variety of recipes for the foodie to enjoy. I’ve tried 10 or so of the recipes so far, and still have a stack more recipes I will be trying out soon. Comfort & Spice is a fantastic cookbook and incredible inspiration for those who really enjoy their food.