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Cooking from Diana Henry's Books

Thanks to the enthusiasm several Chowhounds have expressed for British Author Diana Henry's cookbooks, it seems like a good idea to have a thread where we can share our experiences of cooking from her approachable, appealing books.

I hope you'll join me in reporting on how things go from these books (to date):

*Food from Plenty/Plenty: Good Food Made from the Plentiful, the Seasonal and the Leftover with Over 300 Recipes, None of Them Extravagant

*Cook Simple/Pure Simple Cooking: Effortless Meals Every Day

*Crazy Water, Pickled Lemons: Enchanting Dishes from the Middle East, Mediterranean and North Africa

*Roast Figs, Sugar Snow: Food to Warm the Soul

*The Gastropub Cookbook

*Salt Sugar Smoke: How to Preserve Fruit, Vegetables, Meat and Fish: The Definitive Guide to Conserving, from Jams and Jellies to Smoking and Curing

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  1. Copying over my comments about two recipes from Salt Sugar Smoke (I originally posted these in a "What cookbooks have you recently acquired thread, after herby asked about the book):

    Blood Orange Curd
    The blood orange curd turned out wonderfully. I made the sweet pastry recipe from Ottolenghi: The Cookbook; blind baked the shells in a muffin pan & filled them up with blood orange curd then topped off with some meringue. The blood orange curd was quite easy to make (although it did need a full half-hour of careful stirring in the double-boiler... I got in a half hour of reading standing at the stove) and I only needed a few blood oranges to get enough juice. The finished product is a glorious salmon-rose-pink colour and the flavour is sublime - not as bitingly tart as a lemon curd, but with a definite citrus flavour. My friend who came over for dinner said that the tarts were so good, she was glad that she was cheating on her diet to eat one.
    The curd recipe can be found in this article which has a fantastic serving suggestion of making a cake and putting this curd & some mascarpone into it. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddri...

    Nick's Good Morning Marmalade
    Quite involved compared to typical jam making. I had to hunt down blood oranges and Sevilles, then there was about an hour's prep time (for two batches) before leaving the chopped peels and some grapefruit wrapped in muslin/cheesecloth (for pectin) to soak overnight in juice and water. Next day you have to sieve everything, check the liquid levels, cook for at least an hour to soften the peels, then put in 2kg of sugar (!!!) and a fairly substantial amount of lemon juice (so there is more time involved here in juicing lemons). After that you proceed as you would with regular jam-making - cook till set, then can. The results were fantastic - a lovely sunny orange colour and the flavour has the perfect balance (for me) of tart and sweet. I did have a quibble with the way the instructions refer back to another page with general jam-making tips so that while you're cooking up your marmalade and have sugar all over your hands you have to then flip back and forth in the book. I ended up having to use my Ball blue book to find out how long to put my jars in the boiling water bath because DH says to put a wax seal on top then screw on the canning lid and just leave it that way. To me that doesn't seem to be in line with the current food safety guidelines for canning but apparently this is still very common and accepted in Europe.

    To sum up - great result, excellent flavour, time-consuming recipe...

    Recipe here: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddri...

    3 Replies
    1. re: geekmom

      I've always used the wax seal method and sometimes not even that. Never had a problem. The boiling water thing is definitely an American method.

      1. re: greedygirl

        I've had some very disappointing experiences - always, of course, with my large mason jars - when I skipped the boiling water method. I am intrigued by the wax though. I don't mind the work of making the jam, and I love enjoying the results throughout the year, but I really loathe working for hours in a steaming kitchen with water dripping off everything while the water bath is boiling away.

        1. re: geekmom

          The wax seal is just a waxed paper disc that you can buy in most kitchenware stores/departments. I sometimes use Kilner jars - not sure if they're the same as mason jars. Again, never had a preserve go bad.

    2. Thanks so much for starting this thread Caitlin. I'll go ahead and cut and paste my post so that it shows up here, where it will be most useful:

      Just a note for anyone who has this Diana Henry book (Pure, Simple Cooking, I believe it is called) - made a full meal from it last night that was loved (raved about!) by everyone. As I mentioned above, I made the cod with anchovies and white bean puree, and served the roasted tomatoes with herbed breadcrumbs on the side. Going for the pasta with roasted onions, Gorgonzola and walnuts next week.

      1. Thanks Caitlin! Just dipping my toe in the thread so it will pop up on my profile page.

        1. Here is a link to her spot on the Telegraph's website:

          http://www.telegraph.co.uk/journalist...

          1. Thanks for setting this up, Caitlin. I'm out of town right now, but I'll start posting next week once I'm back home. Looking forward to hearing everyone else's experiences with this author.