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37 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very well researched cookery book., 7 Sept. 2010
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This review is from: Food From Plenty: Good food made from the plentiful, the seasonal and the leftover. With over 300 recipes, none of them extravagant (Hardcover)
"Food from Plenty" is a veritable mangnum opus, a compendium of recipes "made from the plentiful, the seasonal and the leftover". This weighty, beautiful book contains over 300 recipes, and we are reassured that none of them are extravagant.Diana Henry is best known for her Sunday missives in the food section of the "Stella" Telegraph magazine.She has a philosophy of cooking which I share with all the students at the cookery schools I teach at, and, also, in my own home. Leftovers are sacrosanct, they should be used up the next day, and Diana gives us several examples of how each recipe can then be turned into something else. Parsimony is the new holy grail, so buy quality meat and fish, for example, but lesser quantities. Stock, both chicken and vegetable, is so simple to make and so very vital for soups, risotto, sauces and many, many recipes. Diana does not preach nor admonish, albeit pointing out the many sustainability, wastage and health problems facing a nation that needs to re-connect with food, its provenance, preparation and enjoyment.

This book transcends the general genre of "cookery book", as it is didactic in so many ways. Within its pages you will travel on the flight of Air Simple Gastronomy. You have arrived in Vietnam with Chicken with Nuoc Cham, a sauce made out of garlic, chilli, salt, lime juice, fish sauce and a little sugar. Next, you are sitting in an Italian garden, feasting on Pinzimonio vegetables, maybe dipped in a herby ricotta and olive dip. Mind the heat in your Mexican foray, with spicy Tinga Poblana. Diana has done a great deal of research, and her references are not just drawn from different cultures, but also across history. Ribollita, my favourite bean, cabbage and bread soup is a recipe as old as the Tuscan hills themselves, but "Scottish pear and raspberry trifle" seems to me a bang-up-to-date rendition of its more traditional cousin. There is a 1929 cookbook recipe, "Dorothy Allhusen's Cherry Salad", taken from "A book of scents and dishes". "Paradise Jelly", taken from an old American cookbook, is this season's winning recipe: a crimson jewel quince, apple and cranberry jelly that looks as good as its name implies. The very first recipe I am going to try has to be "Barley, parsley and pomegranate salad", it looks so enticing, minutely pretty and crunchy.

The styling and composition is homely, rustic and warm, featuring the best needlework linens and crackle ware pottery I have ever seen. Home cooks have had enough of the endless stream of transient celebrity cooks who are plugged into the oxygen tank of hype, fame and tweets. It is so life-affirming to read the work of a professional, serious, Mamma cookery writer who has stood the test of time by putting really good, conscientious dinners on the table, by caring about cooking and taking pleasure in its comfort. Her words ring timely and true: "What it boils down to is taking more care. We need to value our planet, our bodies, the people who produce our food, the animals who provide it, and those we feed every day. It makes for a much happier life".
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