THE LITTLE BIG BOOK OF COMFORT FOOD,
by Katrina Fried, Natasha Tabori Fried, and Lena Tabori,
(Welcome Books, 2006), 352 pp.
Here’s a little book that’s bound to make you squeal with delight.
Seriously. I try to avoid using the word, “cute,” but this cookbook is cute and then some — let’s say, charming, adorable, cuddle-worthy, friendly, cozy, and totally yummy — everything a cookbook featuring Comfort Foods should be.
With its 6-1/2″ square trim size, one would think there wouldn’t be much to it. But it’s almost 2″ thick, and contains over 200 recipes for breakfast, lunch, cookies, sweets, teatime, dinner, sides, beverages, and the most important part of any meal, dessert.
Yep. It’s all here. Everything you ever grew up loving, everything you wish Aunt Bea would come over and cook for you, everything you probably cook for yourself whenever simple, soothing consolation is the order of the day.
Granted, I might not really need a recipe for grilled cheese, tuna melt, or cinnamon toast. But I love having all my favorites schmoozing together in one place — Snickerdoodles, Gingerbread, Swedish Meatballs, Silver Dollar Pancakes, Rice Pudding, and Chicken in a Pot with Dumplings. I love to be able to see variations on what I’ve always made. Can I improve on traditional faves like pot roast or meat loaf?
And the best part? The pictures! No, not your usual glossy, high-power lens money shots. This congenial little number (did I already mention I want to hug it), is chock full of vintage illos, most of which depict adorable children mixing big bowls of batter, sitting in a wooden wheelbarrow surrounded by cabbages, or adorable urchins tossing giant beans into a soup kettle. There are animal chefs, dancing vegetables, mischievous elves, the Queen of Hearts herself, and cherubic faces spooning out oatmeal.
I imagine the editors gathered these gems from old children’s books or period advertisements. Some look familiar, many more don’t. They definitely make you want to try the recipes, all framed and printed in colored fonts, right away.
Most important, there is a wonderful feeling of commonality on all these pages — like if you were invited to dine at a stranger’s house, all your apprehensions would vanish in an instant if you were served one of these dishes. How’d you know I liked cornbread and chili? I can’t resist pound cake or home fries. And is that a bowl of vegetable soup? This book is like a friend who knows me. And there’s a glossary of food terms at the back, tables for liquid and dry measures, common subsitutions, and great food quotes sprinkled throughout, like this one from James Thurber:
“Seeing is deceiving. It’s eating that’s believing.”
So, even if you think you don’t need a cookbook for Comfort Food, you still need this book. Actually, aside from you, it’s the perfect gift for college students, young whippersnappers renting their first apartments, bridal showers, children’s book lovers, cookbook collectors, and “just because I like you” friends. Yes yes yes, verily, you will love it. Better order at least two.
Num num all the way.
What, you think I’d leave you so unsatisfied? I tried the recipe for Sloppy Joes last night. *licking chops* I give it my top 5 spoons rating!
2 T olive oil
2 onions, chopped
4 celery stalks, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2# lean ground beef
1 cup tomato sauce
3 T tomato paste
1/2 cup ketchup
1 tsp. Tabasco sauce
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
4 hamburger buns
1. Heat the oil in a large, heavy skillet over low heat. Add the onions and celery and cook until soft and lightly browned.
2. Add the garlic and continue cooking for 3 to 4 minutes.
3. Increase the heat to medium high and add the ground beef. Cook for about 10-12 minutes until the meat is browned.
4. Reduce the heat to medium and add the tomato sauce, tomato paste, ketchup, Tabasco, and Worcestershire sauce. Cook, stirring, for about 15 to 30 minutes, until the liquid is reduced and the mixture thickens.
5. Add salt and pepper to taste.
6. Serve immediately on hamburger buns, but be prepared for it to be messy!
P.S. The publisher has signed copies available!
*Interior spreads posted by permission of publisher, copyright © 2006, Welcome Books. All rights reserved.