Monday, July 2, 2012

Roast Figs Sugar Snow - Diana Henry

You know it's an unseasonably cool summer when you find yourself leafing through a cookbook with a blurb that reads "...Diana Henry's collection of cold-weather recipes from the chillier parts of Europe and North America..." for dinner time inspiration.

Diana Henry has comprehensively slipped under my radar for years. She writes in The Telegraph which I have been known to read but apparently I wasn't paying attention. She's also got a string of cookbooks to her name which apart from 'Roast Figs Sugar Snow'  I'd also never really picked up on until the latest one came out; 'Food From Plenty'. It looked intriguing enough for me to see what else Henry had written which bought me back to 'Roast Figs Sugar Snow' which I'd half thought about buying for years. I've read somewhere else about Henry not having quite the success she deserves but hopefully that's changing as her old titles have been reprinted and better yet at very reasonable prices.

So here I am in July hugging a winter cookbook for warmth. I wanted it mostly for the game recipes, between the local market, my mothers new found love of shooting things (retirement sounds wonderful), and my blonde friend's willingness to do the plucking and other gory bits, I came out of winter with a freezer full of things that used to be feathered. It's a case of waste not want not (you know things are bad in my house when it's pheasant for dinner, again) but after a six month plus sojourn on ice something exciting is called for to cover the freezer burn. 

The game section in here is good, I used the recipe for stuffed quail with marmalade and whisky for some partridges - and very nice they were too, there's another recipe for Russian partridge with beetroot and sour cream that's just waiting to be tried, but that's just the beginning. It's refreshing to see something that looks to the North for inspiration, I have nothing against Mediterranean inspired food, heaven knows I've roasted enough tomatoes in my time - not to mention a near obsession with basil, but you can have enough even of a good thing. 

By North I don't just mean the currently fashionable Scandinavia either, Diana Henry has gone to all sorts of places where the snow falls to get her inspiration and material. Recipes from Northern France and Italy along with America, Canada, Ireland, Russia and more - which is the genius of this book - there's a whole world of inspiration in here for when the temperature dips and something comforting is called for which suits my inner magpie instinct very well. Without wishing the year away I am rather looking forward to when more of the ingredients come into season, the only pity here is that I want to cook like this in the middle of 'summer'.

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