Three Questions: Award winning British food writer Diana Henry
I was first introduced to Diana Henry's recipes when a good friend who lives by the sea in Clovelly plucked her copy of Crazy Water Pickled Lemons and pressed it to me, saying simply: you'll love this.
I ended up keeping that book for much longer than what's polite. The recipes were mediterranean, but from off the beaten track. Pre-dating Ottolenghi in that wonderful combination of North African, Middle Eastern and mediterranean overlapping flavours, Henry's recipes are easy to follow and - never fail; for me that's big. Recipes that are well tested, and easy to follow.
My interaction with Henry was happily revived when a new-old friend gave me her latest book for my birthday. I'm so thrilled with From The Oven To The Table and cook from it with enjoyment and success. Imagine my further pleasure when Diana Henry herself commented on an image I'd instagrammed of one of her recipes!
Diana Henry is from Northern Ireland, born to a family of enthusiastic cooks. She was drawn to cooking at a young age, and despite her Oxford degree, Henry has pursued a natural inclination of cooking, and writing about food. She contributes regular columns to the Sunday Telegraph, BBC Good Food magazine and House & Garden, apart from having written more than ten award winning cook books.
I asked Henry three questions:
Secret naughty food obsession?
I don't really see any food as being naughty but there are things I can't resist. The summer is over here now and I am already missing nectarines and plums. The stone fruit was fabulous this year and I made lots of ice-creams and sorbets - nectarine and passionfruit ice-cream was my favourite. Now that it's autumn I can't get enough apples.
I would say fruit and cheese and good bread are my real 'go to' foods, and I absolutely adore good butter (and can't bear bad stuff).
Memorable thing you ate most recently?
The memorable thing I ate most recently was a French dish - chicken with vin Jaune and morel mushrooms - in a newly opened restaurant in London. Noble Rot Soho is the second restaurant from Dan Keeling - the first is just called Noble Rot. Both restaurants have a fantastic wine list and offer quite a lot of classical French dishes (among lots of dishes from Italy and Spain too). Vin Jaune tastes quite like sherry - it's a very unusual wine from the Jura region of France. I've only ever eaten this dish in the Jura so I'm glad I can eat it in London now too.
Never fail pantry ingredients?
I really believe a good pantry is essential if you're going to cook simple food with big flavours. I always have preserved lemons, white balsamic, tahini, good anchovies, capers, a range of dried fruits, gochujang, miso, soy sauce, fish sauce, palm sugar, harissa, Chinese chilli oil, Vermouth, sherry and Marsala, Mutti tinned tomatoes and dried wild mushrooms. I keep a wide range spices as well. Nuts are very important too but they can go rancid quite easily - especially walnuts - so I tend to buy them only when I need them. I always have pasta, paella rice, risotto rice and extra virgin olive oil.
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Diana Henry: Chris Turner