Cooking for Comfort

"Not another comfort-food cookbook" you say? Well, yes and no. Off-and-on New York Times food contributor Burros says she had started he collection of "100 wonderful recipes that are as satisfying to cook as they are to eat" well before 9/11, and the contents back her up: Many of these dishes have clearly been transcribed right from the 3-by-5 recipe cards Burros' mother wrote them on: The amount of butter, cream, and mayo involved in some dishes is sufficient testimony to that. More important though is the quality and the spirit of each dish included, and in this Burros makes the case for almost all her choices in brief but amusing and touching introductory vignettes. When she adapts a classic (like her mother's braised brisket of beef) she includes the original for comparison; when she strikes out in new directions (a cream of tomato soup with oven-roasted canned plum tomatoes, or a potato salad with chopped fennel standing in for celery) she makes a convincing case for her approach. Cooking for Comfort is not the absolutely-must-have cookbook for people looking for quintessential down-home food Americana—Pam Anderson's The Perfect Recipe still stands unchallenged in that department—but it's a worthy supplement to that classic, and thanks to the slight New YorkJewish bias in recipe selections, even a valuable supplement to Anderson's more Southern-fried choices.

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