Food from Plenty: A Review

Many of you may know Diana Henry from Market Kitchen, or perhaps from her articles in The Telegraph, Waitrose Food Illustrated or Sainsbury's magazine (she has been named cookery writer of the year twice!). I have long been a fan of her fresh, family friendly approach to food but shamefully up until last week I didn't own any of her cookbooks.

Henry is the author of six books to date including the much acclaimed Crazy water, pickled lemons; Roast figs, sugar snow and Cook simple. The latest offering, 'Food from Plenty' has over 350 recipes showcasing inexpensive and resourceful meals, ideas for using up gluts and clever ways to make the most of leftovers.

The book is based on a strong sustainability ethos but is not preachy or condescending. Diana shows the reader that by cooking seasonally, often with cheaper cuts of meat and fish (e.g. Braised Lamb Shanks with gremolata p180 and Pigs cheeks with mustard lentils p193), you can reduce food miles but more importantly produce inspiring and thoughtful meals for your family and friends.

Chapters include 'Vegetable Love' (with recipes such as Peas, Broad beans and Chorizo p 61 and Spanish tomato and bread salad p.65), a complete section on 'Racing' Pulses and one on 'Good Grains' (I'm particularly inspired to try the Creamy lentils and pumpkin with ginger and cumin (p101) as well as the Sausage and Red Wine Risotto on p117). Chapters on Fish and Meat follow before moving on to wild foraged food in 'Where the Wild Things Are' - I'm keen to try the Blackberry and brown sugar loaf next Autumn (although I have some blackberries in the freezer....). A whole chapter on fruit called 'Sweet Fruitfulness' entices the reader with recipes for Cherry wine (p256) and Gooseberry Pots (p258), before she moves onto the intriguing 'Crust and Crumbs', a section dedicated to using up stale bread. The Spring Panzanella (p292), with fresh broad beans, fresh peas and asparagus had me salivating, as did the Brown Bread and Whisky Ice Cream on p300.

The final chapter is all about eggs and Diana urges you to buy free range (this is the most preachy it gets!). The humble, cheap egg is transformed into souffles, omelette's, clafoutis (Peach and Lavender Honey to be precise on p314 - sounds wonderful doesn't it?) and not forgetting fresh healthy salads.

My favourite chapter though is the one found at the very beginning 'The roast and les restes'. In it Henry takes you through the art of roasting different joints of meat and more importantly (from my point of view) makes a plethora of suggestions for using up the leftovers. For example, from leftover roast chicken a restorative chicken and parsley risotto (p22) might emerge, or from lamb, a middle eastern inspired shepherds pie (p39).  But, the leftover dish I am intending to make very soon is the Pork , roast squash, apple and chestnut salad (p42) - surely there's no better an excuse to roast a juicy bit of pork?

Finally, I'll let Diana sum the book up in her own words;

 'it's about a thoughtful approach to food, one that is better for you in terms of money saved and pleasure gained....'

This book really is must have for any family cook.

3 comments:

  1. As large as my ever growing cook book collection is, I also do not own any of Diana's books. This sounds like a good one to start with, thanks for the review.

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  2. Hello there,
    It's Diana Henry here. How kind of your to write such a lovely review of my book. As a food writer you are so glad to hear people want to cook your recipes (I work from home, cook and type and wonder if anything happens to my work after it flies off...) so it is very rewarding to read what you have to say. You've highlighted some good recipes too, but don't leave out the Vietnamese chicken and rice with dipping sauce (nuoc cham) - honestly, it is worth having roast chicken on Sunday just so you can have that on a Monday. And try the roast apples on the cover. I did them for Sunday lunch (yet again) yesterday and although they are simple they are gorgeous (and look beautiful). Don't roast them too long if your apples are small (mine kind of burst yesterday).
    Happy eating!
    Diana

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  3. Hi Diana. Thanks so much for your comment - I'm glad you enjoyed the review.

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