Our verdict: Comfort

Maureen: This is an example of a perfect book at the perfect time.

Kirstin: March feels like the month furthest away from spring. You think spring is going to come, and then it doesn’t, and it happens every single year.

Maureen: When it’s cold and snowing, what you really need is some stodge, and that’s exactly what this book has. I don’t think we would have enjoyed this book as much if we had done it in say, July.

Kirstin: No. Absolutely not. Which is why I chose to do it now.

Maureen: He did some pretty inventive stuff with cheese, which obviously I can get behind. The cheese aligot was out of this world.

Kirstin: The things I cooked came out really well. He should make an instant pot cookbook.

Maureen: I’m so over the instant pot thing. But I was really impressed with his recipes. He’s definitely moved beyond his Great British Bake Off days.

K: We’ve said this before but he could be the new Nigel Slater.

Maureen: That remains to be seen. But he’s certainly very talented. What a yummy month.

“Comfort”
Overall Grade (A- F):  A (Maureen) A (Kirstin)
Best recipes: Maureen: Cheese aligot. Kirstin: Devil’s Curry.
Grade for Photography (A-F):  A.
Any disasters? Nope.
Bookshelf or Charity Shop Donation? Kirstin: Bookshelf, but only from November to April. It’s like having your summer clothes. Maureen: I absolutely agree with that. A winter clothes cookbook.                                                                                                                                    Would You Give This Book to a Friend?: Yes. There were little twists that were very well thought out. It’s an excellent winter book.

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Our verdict: Comfort

“Caramel Pork Belly with Sticky Wholegrain Rice” from “Comfort”

I don’t know about you, but there’s nothing I like better than a Sunday dinner that requires a few hours in the oven, which fills up the house with delicious smells. Also, this long-and-slow approach to cooking frees you up to do other things during your weekend afternoon, like finishing reading your current book or watching your favourite sports team.

This pork belly requires some serious forethought, but it’s definitely worth it. You actually have to start a day ahead of time because it needs to sit in a brine overnight before popping it into an oven for two hours. John says that the brine makes the meat more juicy when roasted, and that certainly seemed true even after all that roasting time.

The other aspect of this dish that might make some people nervous is the requirement that you make a caramel for the pork to cook in. I hate making caramel; it completely stresses me out. In this case, I wasn’t as stressed as normal because the caramel is only used as a base of the sauce. So the only thing I needed to worry about was not burning it, which I’m happy to report that I didn’t.

We– at least 3/4 of us– loved the pork belly. (The last 1/4 of the family– Tim– wasn’t as convinced at the beauty of this, but he was coming down with a bad cold, so I blame that. I’m sure he’ll like it the next time I make it.) We hoovered it up; there was nothing left by the time the dust settled. We weren’t quite as keen on the red wholegrain rice. I’m not sure why, because you’d figure that rice is rice, but we all agreed that in the future, I would just make regular white rice to go with this.

A relaxing Sunday afternoon? Achievement Unlocked.

“Caramel Pork Belly with Sticky Wholegrain Rice” from “Comfort”

“Mushroom, Spinach and Ricotta Yorkshire Pudding” from “Comfort”

March is such a funny month. Not quite winter anymore, but not quite spring. You get fooled into thinking that spring will be arriving when you’re greeted with a sunny morning, only to abandon that notion by dinner time when the temperature has dropped to single digits (celsius).

The recipe is firmly in my favourite food wheelhouse: copious cheese, spinach, mushrooms, and a cheese delivery mechanism, which in this case is a Yorkshire pudding. Yum. Just the sort of thing to warm your belly on a cold March night.

As soon as I surmised that Nicholas, Hater of Spinach, would not be joining us for dinner, I decided to make this. However, what I forgot to account for is that his brother, Andrew, is not a huge fan of mushrooms (it’s the texture, he says). So just after I asked, “Doesn’t this look delicious?” he replied, “Are there mushrooms in this?”

Curses.

Needless to say, Andrew was not a fan. But that’s his loss because the adults at the table loved this. In fact, anyone who didn’t have an aversion to spinach or mushrooms would probably enthusiastically eat this, like we did.

John Whaite’s genius idea is to make a Yorkshire pudding, take it out when it’s done, slather it with loads of cheese, spinach and mushrooms (with the latter two ingredients fried when the yorkshire pudding is baking) and then bake it again. Honestly, it was sublime.

Highly recommended for people who don’t have food aversions.

“Mushroom, Spinach and Ricotta Yorkshire Pudding” from “Comfort”