Quick and easy cookbooks

Time Out reviews the best recipe books for simple, satisfying meals

Food from Plenty

Diana Henry, Mitchell Beazley, £25

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Diana Henry’s previous books have won her numerous accolades and devotees. Named cookery writer of the year 2007 and 2009 by the Guild of Food Writers, she writes for numerous publications, with extracts of her new book most recently published in The Sunday Telegraph.

Her first cookery book, ‘Crazy Water, Pickled Lemons’, came from a love affair with exploring London’s food shops and an enchantment with the exotic, partly inspired by the ‘Book of Middle Eastern Food’ by Claudia Roden.

In contrast, this book reflects the current mood. As a nation we are looking closer to home for culinary inspiration, but with an acquired international palette of spices. Henry’s new book progresses through ingredients that are likely to need using up, either from seasonal gluts to leftovers.

A chapter is devoted to roasts and ‘les restes’ (carcass, bones etc), with ways to eke several economical meals from one purchase. Her advice on buying fish and meat is from both a sustainable and budgetary angle. Particularly useful are the meat charts, with English, French and US cuts clearly explained.

Vegetables, eggs, grains and fruit, are also covered and for many recipes, she includes several variations around a single ingredient.

We tried a recipe for ‘apricot mish mash’ – a simply made coriander- and cardamon-spiced relish of fresh and dried apricots. The astringent tartness went beautifully with lamb.

Canderli dumplings, similar to gnocchi but made with leftover bread, were easy to put together, creating a tasty meal out of very little – though it did require a sturdy bread to prevent them from breaking up on cooking.

Brown bread ice cream, with caramelised crunchy crumbs, had a potent slug of whisky that worked to keep the ice crystals small/smooth without using an ice cream machine.

This accessible book emphasises the importance of taking more care with the food you choose to cook, turning the plentiful into something to savour. Temptingly illustrated with Jonathan Lovekin’s photography, ‘Food from Plenty’ is a book that will make you look forward to leftovers.

Zoe Kamen, Time Out London Issue 2092: September 23-29 2010

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