Ever since the sunshine soaked warmth of Crazy Water, Pickled Lemons I’ve been a fan of Diana Henry’s food writing. Her follow ups – Roast Figs, Sugar Snow (warming dishes from colder climes, perfect for this kind of weather) and the does-what-it-says-on-the-tin Cook Smart (the sausages chapter is a constant go-to) – have kept me cooking over the last few years.
Her latest, Food From Plenty, is a book for here and now. Seasonal? Yes. Local? Of course. But rather than wagging admonishing fingers, Diana concentrates on buying good food and using it properly. Do cook your roast lamb, perhaps with Sherry, Thyme and Red Onions, or roast pork loin (porchetta style) but, with Diana’s help, the leftovers are almost more of a star than the original dish. There are plenty of recipes for cheap cuts of meat, along with inexpensive pulses, grains and vegetables. She does all this and she does it with generosity: recipes are followed with a miriad of variations and suggestions, each looking as good as the one that heads the page. While Food From Plenty keeps an eye on the pursestrings, this is a book that is, quite simply, about very delicious food.
My favourite chapter is the Roast and “Les Restes”, worth it for her Pork and Apple Pie recipe alone. The soups chapter has some great cold weather options: try Moroccan Lentil Soup with Yoghurt and Chilli-Fried Onions or Parsnip and Smoked Haddock Soup over the next few days and feel your toes thaw.
Diana has some great twists for fruit: check out Gooseberry Meringue Pie, Plums with Red Wine and Rosemary or Butter and Brown Sugar Roast Apples. And bread, often a mere afterthought, doesn’t get forgotten about. Under the Crusts and Crumbs heading, she tackles the layered Turkish dish Yoghurtlu Kofta Kebab, a creamy Alsace bread pudding called Le Bettleman and Italian bread dumplings Canederli.
Food From Plenty is a satisfyingly hefty book, simply photographed by Jonathan Lovekin, and packed with imaginative choices and recipes that make you itch to get in the kitchen.
Must Try: Ham Hock with Parsley Sauce and Cabbage – how to eat like a king on a couple of euro; Lentil, Red Pepper and Goat’s Cheese Salad – a Very Good Reason for using some of my stash of Bluebell Falls; Menemen – you can never have too many egg recipes with hens outside and this Turkish dish hits the spot.
Cook Simple by Diana Henry is published by Mitchell Beazley.