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Thanks to the Daring Bakers, I had the opportunity to reveal my true Southern Belle self, if only for a little while.

Thanks to an opportunity to review Katie Lee Joel’s The Comfort Table, I had the opportunity to revisit Red Velvet Cake, not to mention the petticoats and hoops skirts my inner-Southern self loves so much!

I first heard about Katie Lee Joel when I happened to catch her on an episode of Oprah Winfrey’s daytime show. I almost never watch television during the day so it I suppose it was fitting that on a day when I was watching daytime television, I watched a show I almost never watch and saw a person I’d never seen before who happens to be married to a singer whom I know very little about.

When it comes to Billy Joel, I know Piano Man and Uptown Girl. Sorry. But that’s about it.

Still, though, it was hard not to be charmed by Mrs. Joel so a few short weeks later, when I was given the opportunity to review her new cookbook, I said yes.

When the arrived, my first reaction was that it was a pretty book filled with lots of lovely photographs. It has a very “homey” feel to it as the author shares her family stories and recipes.

I’m sure quite a few people would look at the book and not bother, chalking it up to a celebrity cookbook, but it’s actually an excellent book both for entertaining purposes and for some very simple and cosy home-cooking.

While this is not an elaborate cookbook nor is it one that’s likely to teach you a new cooking technique, it’s filled with recipes that are accessible and that work (nothing worse than a cookbook with awful recipes).

And Katie Lee Joel really can cook which is a nice switch from other celebrity cookbooks where you just know that the author wouldn’t be able to find their kitchen with a map.

The book’s format is very standard as it’s divided into chapters that range from Starters to Dessert. A lot of the recipes are twists on ones you’ve seen before, and some of the recipes are family favourites. The instructions are clear and for the most part, the recipes are all based on ingredients that most of us would have readily available in our cupboards or pantries.

There’s a heavy emphasis on recipes that are perfect for entertaining whether it be a large crowd or a cosy dinner at home.

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I wanted to try a savoury recipe and a sweet one. For the savoury recipe, I decided to try the Green Pesto Pasta Salad as summer is always a good excuse for pasta salad.

It was a very easy recipe that I amended slightly by adding cherry tomatoes. The instructions were accurate and the end result was delicious. So far so good!

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When it came to try a sweet recipe, I just couldn’t resist Grandmother Paul’s Red Velvet Cake. The recipe headnote explains that the recipe is originally from the grandmother of Paula Deen, who is a close friend of Katie Lee Joel’s.

Listen. I’m a sucker for red velvet and even though there were other recipes that enticed me, this was the one I had to make.

Verdict?

Honestly, this was one of the best cakes I’ve made in a long time.

Seriously.

The sponge part of the cake was so light and airy that I had to resist eating it right out of the pan without any frosting.

And speaking of the frosting, it was easy to make and equally delicious. Made of cream cheese and butter with the addition of melted marshmellow, it was just the right consistency (not too heavy) for the light cake.

When filling the cake, I added pecans and coconut but left the frosting for the outside of the cake plain. I garnished with some lovely pecans and everyone – and I mean everyone – that tried it loved it.

While I would have liked to try some more recipes, based on the two that I did try, this is a good cookbook. It’s charming and doesn’t try to be anything other than what it is: a collection of easy-to-make recipes for comfort food.

Ciao!