Simple: the food

UnknownYesterday I talked about the book itself; today, the food. This book was sent to me by the publisher at no cost.

I’ve tried a good enough variety from the book now to say that they are mostly simple recipes, in the sense of being straightforward. They’re not all fast (which isn’t something she claims for them, either, but what some might assume), but there are few complicated steps. I like variety that Henry is including in the recipes – taking advantage, as she says in the intro, of the new ingredients available relatively easily in Western shops or online.

Some of the things I’ve tried:

Huevos rotos: basically braised eggs with fried potato and seasoning. I am so in love with this idea.

Cumin-coriander roast carrots with pomegranates and avocado: like it says on the tin, also walnuts. Very very good.

Cool greens with hot Asian dressing: the Asian there should be “Asian” (lime, fish sauce, ginger, chilli, garlic – generic Asian), but this was very tasty: any green veg you like (avo, peas of various description, cucumber, leaves…) with the dressing. Very good with the roast lamb (see below).

Salad of chorizo, avocado, and peppers with sherry dressing: turns out I had no sherry but red wine vinegar was ok. Also, fried bread (basically croutons)! Excellent in a salad!

Lamb and bulgur pilaf with figs and preserved lemon: leftover roast lamb has rarely been this good. Chickpeas, walnuts, spice… also bulgur makes a great pilaf, will make again.

Orzo with lemon and parsley: I couldn’t find orzo but it was still fine. Very, very simple.

Turkish pasta with feta, yoghurt and dill: the only dish I haven’t loved. Caramelised onion, buttermilk and Greek yoghurt, topped with dill and feta. I think I just didn’t love the yoghurt with the onion. It was very easy though.

Bacon and egg risotto: yes, that’s right. So good.

Slow-cooked lamb with pomegranates and honey: this is the lamb I paired with the Asian salad. It was very tasty and, of course, easy, since you just whack it in the oven when it’s marinated a bit. I like the pomegranate molasses with the garlic. Served with Greek yoghurt it’s superb.

IMG_1851St Clements and rosemary posset with blackberries: yes, apparently posset is what you call it when babies return some milk. Pretty sure this came first though. It’s boiled and then steeped cream (with peel and rosemary) and then mixed with citrus juice and left to set. I served it with blueberries. It was very nice and straightforward, although I do wonder if there are more interesting things to do with cream.

There are still a LOT of recipes I want to make and haven’t had a chance to. I’m very much looking forward to using this book to death.

Simple

UnknownI received this book from the publisher, Hachette, at no cost. It’s available now; RRP $39.99.

This book is a delight. It’s a bit like Julie Goodwin’s book in that it’s intended as a generalist cookbook… although I have to say I prefer Diana Henry’s cover. As well, there’s not a whole lot of cross over between the two books, which is great; this has some different chapters. I don’t know whether that’s Australia vs Britain, or just a difference in their styles, or what the publisher wanted.

Anyway. This post is about the book itself, while tomorrow’s post is about the food (spoiler: it’s been good).

So firstly: I LOVE a cookbook with a ribbon! It’s enough to make me want to retro-fit ribbons into aaaallll of my ribbonless cookbooks. Which means yes, I got a hardcover, and it’s just such a lovely object. It has wonderful heft.

Henry writes an introduction that covers an interesting array of topics. She gives the context for the book (12 years after Cook Simple); unusual ingredients becoming more available and making life more interesting; and some suggestions about how to think about cooking equipment. And, most intriguingly, a short section addressing the question of how many people each recipe serves. Finally someone confronts this issue! I like her rationale – especially the suggestion to just think about the people you’re serving and act accordingly.

The book is divided into chapters that are largely traditional – pulses, salads, chicken, vegetables and so on – with a couple of exceptions. You don’t always get a whole section on eggs; I like it. You also don’t usually get a section on chops&sausages, which… is not especially to my taste (I find chops an enormous waste of time, in terms of effort:outcome) but I can appreciate their ease, and they fit in the theme of the book. The very British aspect comes through in the fruit puddings chapter, followed by the ‘other sweet things’ chapter (cakes). And then there’s the chapter on TOAST. Yes, toast. Variations on eggs on, and smashed avo, in large part. Her reasoning is how happy toast can make you feel, and that with increasing interest in bread, that means we can make toast more interesting too. I love it.

In terms of layout, there’s a recipe per page. More than half of the recipes have pictures, most of which are pretty minimalist – ie it’s the food in a nice bowl shot in an arty way, rather than an impossible-to-replicate table setting. The recipes are easy to follow, and have that now-standard intro where it tells you maybe how to jazz it up, or exchange ingredients, or when to eat it.

Overall, this is a really nice book, and again a good one to give someone who’s just getting into cooking.