Carolyn Caldicott and her husband, Chris, may be well known for their vegetarian restaurant in London called the World Food Café and their other cookbooks of recipes gathered from world travels, but this new release, Comfort Recipes to Warm the Heart and Feed the Soul, seems to come straight from the hearths of cottages in England. The collection of recipes is very British in nature, and the photography that accompanies the recipes as well as those sprinkled throughout the book illustrate the English way of life. Foggy, bucolic scenes and tables set with tea pots in their cozies make the reader feel as if she is experiencing a taste of England on each page.
Organization of the book
Sixty recipes in this cookbook are grouped in the following categories:
o Breakfasts Worth Getting up for
o Hearty Meals for Friends and Family
o Simple Suppers
o Perfect Puddings
o Snack Attack
o Bake the Blues Away
o Drinks to Pick you up and Put you to Bed
Each section is readily identified by different page background colors. Not every recipe has an accompanying photograph, but those that do create a mouthwatering impact. The book is half-sized at 7 inches square, but the type on each page is easy-to-read.
A British Feel
Even if you ignored the beautiful photos of the English countryside, there are colloquial indicators that the author is not American. In an introduction to a section that includes Shepherd’s Pie, Caldicott writes, “Pies can be made well in advance of mealtimes and freeze brilliantly, leaving you with bags of time to join in with the hullabaloo of friends and family.”
Oven temperatures are listed in both Celsius and Fahrenheit, liquid measurements are often given in both milliliters as well as pints, some dry ingredients are measured in grams and ounces; some measurements are rather nebulous. “A good squeeze of lemon juice” occurs frequently throughout the book. She also calls for “a dessertspoon” of various ingredients. Tablespoons and teaspoons are called for in many recipes, so it’s a puzzle as to the volume of a dessertspoon.
Some Proofreading Slips
My former life as an English teacher has trained my eyes to catch errors, and although it would be hyperbole to say that this book was riddled with them, I did come across a few errors that should have been caught. Page 21 has a recipe for Potato Rosti and Poached Egg. The last ingredient listed in the recipe reads “Poached eggs (see page?)”. It isn’t difficult to look in the recipe index to find poached eggs are on page 28, but the question mark indicates that perhaps there should have been two proofreaders looking at the manuscript before it went to press.
In many recipes, the author calls for free range eggs, but the Lemon Drizzle Cake asks for 3 medium free-rang eggs. I’m guessing it’s the same thing. Being a stickler for correct comma usage, I realize that cooking instructions often mimic verbal instructions, and for that reason, incomplete sentences are acceptable. You would think, however, that if anyone believes in the consistent use of the Oxford comma, it would be writers from England. Not so here.
Fortunately, none of these mistakes are significant enough to detract from the delicious food presented in Comfort Recipes.
Who Needs Some Comfort?
The appeal of this small cookbook is in the culture it illustrates. From the charming colloquialisms (“the brownies should be crunchy on the outside and squidgy in the middle”) to the images of England’s villages and countryside, this book is perfect for Americans who long for a taste of England. Most of the recipes like Plump Devonshire Scones and Clotted Cream Rice Pudding are uniquely British, but other recipes are simply excellent. While the squidgy-in-the-middle-brownies received raves from my family, the recipe is very similar to others in my file. However, adding a new word to our brownie vernacular is a sweet bonus. – by Lisa George, RFT Book Editor and Chef/co-owner Latigo Ranch, Kremmling, Colorado