Sunday, September 18, 2016

Simple - Diana Henry

The last week has not been improved by having a cold that's turned into bronchitis (I've coughed so much it hurts to talk, I'm not very stoical about illness at the best of times, this has not been the best of times) which is leaving me feeling so tired that my head might as well be filled with cotton wool for all the powers of concentration I seem to be able to commend at the moment. I've been trailing into work with the generally sunny demenour of a medieval martyr approaching a large bonfire - though at least I'm being left alone when I'm there (because I sound terrible and nobody wants to either hear me grumble about it, or catch it) which makes a nice change.

On the up side it's been a great week for cookbooks (I've got 3 absolute peaches) and that's something to celebrate. That one of them is a new Diana Henry is even more cause for celebration. Her books are something I look forward to months in advance and now it's here I really want to just take a week off and cook from it.

Actually the more I think about it the better that sounds. A week of not grabbing cereal for breakfast because I'm in a rush to get out, not making do with a sandwich for lunch because it's convenient. And of reliably being at home in time to think about cooking instead of getting in at 9pm and opting for cheese on toast a couple of times a week.

'Simple' has the tag line of 'effortless food, big flavours' which are things I associate with, and love about, Diana Henry's books. It's also the kind of cooking I most enjoy. It's not neccesarily about quick food, but food which can be prepared with the minimum of fuss. It's also a reminder that being well organised can be a big help. Keep some nice things in tins in the cupboard, have a decent selection of herbs and spices, don't forget the pulses or the pasta, and you're already half way to a proper meal.

I like the toast chapter for reminding me that a slice of sourdough with something like carrot houmous with roast tomatoes and Harissa yoghurt is something to look forward to rather than the somewhat depressing cheese on toast I've been making. Baked sweet potatoes with chorizo and eggs sound bloody marvellous for a week night supper, as do the braised leeks with peas, dill, and feta.

Plenty of ideas for baked, grilled, and poached fruit make me happy too. These are the things that work best with the kind of sweet wines I like (I'll need to check the apricots grilled with honey but I'm thinking they'll like a Sauternes as much as I do). Plums in sloe gin sound amazing (my mouth is watering now) and are a great reason not to get despondent about autumn (which I do).

And that's the book in a nutshell. Good things that can be put together with a minimum of fuss but which still speak of care and love. Fresh things to inspire someone (me) who's been slipping into a foodie rut and feeling to harassed to do much about it. This is just the kind of book I need to give me a shake up, it's left me feeling really excited about what I might cook next for the first time in weeks - and who can ask for more than that?


  1. It's thanks to you I discovered Diana Henry. Now barely a week passes in our house without at least one of her recipes being cooked (often more). I am very excited to get my hands on this new book. I had the vague idea of waiting and putting it on my Christmas wishlist but that seems an awfully long way away right now.

  2. I love her books, they're always full of practical, doable things and I always find inspiration in them. I have the River Cottage A-Z on my Christmas wish list, but might give in to temptation before then... But then there are a couple of other cookbooks I really want at the moment - self control is hard!