At the beginning of this year I started using Instagram (to which I’m now slightly addicted…). I ended up following Diana Henry’s Instagram feed although I’d never heard of her at that point; now that I do know more about her I’m amazed that I didn’t know her before! Not to mention the fact that she owns more than 4000 cookbooks (makes my collection of 200 look embarrassingly modest; I was sure to let my husband know that!) she was also a winner at the 2016 James Beard Awards. I’m happy to report that I am now the proud owner of two of Diana Henry’s books – “Salt, Sugar, Smoke” which is a book on preserving (I haven’t used this book yet) and “Simple” which she published just last month.
The first recipe I cooked from “Simple” is Lamb with Preserved Lemon, Dates & Cumin Butter…and yes, it does taste as good as it sounds. The lamb is stuffed with a mixture of kale, chili, dates and preserved lemon before being slathered in cumin butter and roasted until it has a gorgeous crust.
I don’t often make a stuffed roast but it looks amazing when it’s sliced; I was very happy to see that the lamb had retained some pinkness (phew!) One very sad error I made was forgetting to pour the cooking juices over it at the end – what a mistake! The greens are out of the garden and dressed in butter, lemon juice and shaved parmesan.
I’m always a sucker for Spanish flavours and anything with chorizo and beans, so I couldn’t resist making Diana’s recipe for Spanish Rice with Chorizo, Beans & Pumpkin. This is a good one for a weeknight because it doesn’t take too long and it doesn’t require lots of stirring. Saffron is used to add an earthy flavour to the rice…I have to admit to cutting back substantially on the number of chorizo – the recipe calls for 10-12 chorizo! I used half that. I also had to use quite a bit of extra stock to get my rice to cook through (so actually…when I say it’s a good weeknight meal, it did end up being quite a late one!). Other than the laborious task of cutting up the pumpkin everything else is quick to prepare and it all gets cooked in the same pan which is great for those on washing up!
Probably my favourite of the recipes I’ve made from this book so far is Chicken Piccata with Lemon & Parsley Orzo. The chicken is cooked in oil and butter over a high heat so that it becomes crisp and golden and then a quick sauce is made with vermouth, lemon juice, capers and herbs. I made some slight adjustments to my sauce – instead of capers I used nasturtium capers that I made from the nasturtium berries in our garden last summer and I added a few green peppercorns (so good!). The orzo with lemon and parsley is a great side dish to the chicken as it contains similar flavours, is quick to make and has a satisfying texture.
The most recent recipe I’ve made from this book is Persian Inspired Eggs with Dates & Chilli. Mine doesn’t look anywhere near as good as Diana Henry’s version (which my husband kindly pointed out to me) but it still tasted amazing. It’s basically fancy scrambled eggs with cumin, spinach and dates added (among other things). It makes me realise that while basic scrambled eggs are definitely a winner there are so many other possibilities! For this particular recipe I didn’t have fresh dates so I used some gorgeous black dried figs instead…too good.
So I’m very happy to know of Diana Henry now that I’ve cooked some of her recipes. I’m looking forward to working my way through more of her recipes in this and her other books. I’ve also discovered another cookbook author through Diana Henry’s Instagram – Naomi Duguid – I now own two of her books as well…but hey, as long as I own less than 4000 cookbooks then I think I’m doing ok 🙂