Steaming bowlfuls of hearty stews and golden-topped cottage pies, rich puddings and oozy pasta, Mary Berry knows how to do comfort. "The very words ‘comfort food’ are like a big warm hug for most of us", she says, "Comfort food should be easy to make and I like dishes that can be put together reasonably quickly without stress or too many ingredients". Her latest cookbook, Simple Comforts, is just that; with 120 soul-soothing, easy-to-make recipes, designed to be a hit with the whole family. Here are ten of our absolute favourites from the book.
Gruyère cheese and ham, sandwiched between slices of white bread and grilled in an oozy cheese sauce, the French certainly know how it's done. Mary advises chossing good-quality ham, ideally hand-carved from a freshly cooked joint, for this – you'll really notice the difference.
"Sausages in any form are among the most comforting of all food", says Mary. Here, spicy sausages are baked with baby potatoes in a sweet red pepper and tomato sauce, reduced until thick, bubbling and delicious. Serve in bowls with greens and some crusty bread to mop up the juices.
Chicken Hot Pot with Potato Topping from Simple Comforts
The classic chicken and mushroom combo form the basis of this hearty, healthy stew, topped with a layer of beautifully golden potatoes.
Glorious Fish Pie from Simple Comforts
"No book of comfort food would be complete without a fish pie", says Mary who has included her family's favourite version. This one combines both smoked and fresh haddock, dill, crème fraîche and a good grating of Parmesan for incredible depth of flavour.
This crowd-pleasing bake is a great recipe to make and freeze ahead – perfect for those midweek meals when you're in need of quick comfort. Beef stock and redcurrant jelly make this dinner extra rich and sumptuous.
Cottage Pie With a Bit of a Kick from Simple Comforts
A good swig of port gives this cottage pie a little boost of something extra. Mary advises on using a wide dish rather than a deep one for this recipe, so everyone has plenty of that crucial golden topping.
Boeuf Bourguignon from Simple Comforts
The warming, intense red wine flavour of this dish makes it a real French classic. Mary reckons the secret is in reducing the red wine first for delicious depth and richness. Serve it piping hot with mashed potatoes of course.
Matchday Beef & Ale Shortcrust Pie from Simple Comforts
Gently cooked minced beef encased in shortcrust pastry, this crowd-pleasing, indulgent pie is made in a traybake tin so you can easily cut it into squares.
Mac 'n' Cheese from Simple Comforts
"This is one that shouldn't be messed with", reckons Mary Berry of this ultimate comfort food dish. Macaroni baked in an oozy, cheesy white sauce? What more could your heart desire?
White wine, sun-dried tomato paste and Worcestershire sauce give depth to this meatless bake, topped with crispy, garlicky potatoes and cheese for that little something extra.
Gooey and warming, with refreshing tinned pears and an indulgent sticky toffee sauce, this is ultimate decadence.