on 14 November 2002
There are several reasons I love this cookbook. First of all, every single recipe I've cooked so far (five, after owning it for 2 weeks) has been absolutely delicious. They really make you want to cook and eat. Secondly, Diana Henry's evocative essays and useful cooking tips have already expanded the range of flavours in my kitchen. If you've ever been intrigued by orange blossom water or pickled lemons, say, but didn't know how to use them, this book will inspire you to explore their possibilities, as it has for me. Thirdly, the wonderful photographs mean this is a beautiful cookbook, without being untouchably 'posh'. The food is 'home cooking' (ie approachable) but also adventurous. One of the best cookbooks of the year so far.
on 15 December 2012
This is one of my most treasured books - not just my favourite recipe book.
I bought my copy as a student, and took it with me from place to place over the years. It was always the book I went to when I wanted to cook something truly wonderful for my friends. The recipes are accessible, adventurous in the best way while still reliably producing great results.
It was a guide and an inspiration in exploring and understanding new and exciting ingredients when I moved to London, but never once have I found myself frustrated because I could not get my hands on a vital ingredient.
It was also a comforting book to read, as it is well written and evocative, and over the years grew even richer in good memories. The day when after two months I got to open the most beautiful jar of pickles I ever ate - home made! - Standing at the cooker with a friend, boiling lavender in honey, marvelling at it together and worrying that we were making scented soap, then being rewarded with an incredible fragant lavender duck roast instead...
This book has made my life better - and it taught me how joyful, exciting and miraculous cooking can be.
on 10 September 2002
What a wonderful book! This is a must-have for anyone who enjoys the food of the Mediterranean and is looking either for a different take on familiar ingedients or to be introduced to a whole host of new ones.
Diana Henry's fantastic recipes are interspersed with pages of tantalising and mouthwatering prose as well as carefully chosen literary quotations. This is a book that easily makes great bedside reading and should not just be confined to the kitchen.
Individual chapters deal with ingredients such as herbs, spices, fruit, nuts and even flower waters. Exciting recipes with exotic names beckon - how does "Rhone Ferryman's Beef with Camargue Red Rice" sound? Or even "Ice Heaven"? I can't wait to try dishes like "Lemon and Basil Ice Cream" or "Arab Andalusian Monkfish with Saffron, Honey and Vinegar" to name but two. In fact so infectious is Diana Henry's enthusiasm that I defy anyone who buys this book not to want to cook from it at the first opportunity.
I hope that there are many more publications to come!
on 30 January 2012
I am a huge fan of Diana Henry and I have several of her books; however, this was one book that I didn't already have in my cookbook library, so when Octopus Publishing Group sent me a copy to review I was delighted. Diana Henry writes with such passion and authority, and never more so in Crazy Water Pickled Lemons. The book covers dishes and recipes from the Middle East, Mediterranean and North Africa and the whole cookbook is a veritable magic carpet of enchanting and magical dishes that titillate the taste-buds and are a feast of exotic colours and fragrant aromas. The Levant and the Maghreb are home to some of my favourite cuisines and these regions are covered extensively in this cookbook. Expect to see exciting and exotic ingredients such as saffron, pomegranates, quinces, dates, figs, rose petals, flower waters, lavender and cardamom to list just a few. The recipes are accompanied by lavish photos and excerpts of poetry ~ this is a truly magical book and offers some simple and achievable meals to create at home whilst retaining an element of mystery and uniqueness not often found in modern cookbooks.
The book is divided into twelve aromatic chapters; the chapters themselves are almost like tales from A Thousand and One Nights, so much so that one almost expects Scheherazade to come drifting by in a cloud of rose petals and sandalwood........they comprise:
The Spice Trail - cardamom, chilli, cumin, ginger, coriander, pimenton and saffron
Fragrance if the Earth - lavender, rosemary, thyme and oregano
A Bowl of Fresh Herbs - parsley, coriander, dill, basil and mint
Sweet Cloves and Liquid Gold - garlic, olives and olive oil
The Sweet and the Sour - honey and vinegar
Of Sea and Salt - anchovies, bottarga and salt cod
Plundering the Stores - almonds, hazelnuts, pine nuts and dried fruits
Fruits of Longing - figs, quinces, pomegranates and dates
Curds and Whey - yoghurt, feta and ricotta
Food from the Hearth - flatbreads
Pith and Skin - oranges and lemons
Heaven Scent - flowers and flower waters
There is also an interesting introduction by Diana Henry and a comprehensive index at the back of the book.
Each chapter has an extensive and informative introduction where the ingredients are discussed as well as some of the dishes that are featured in the ensuing chapter - an encyclopaedic essay of what's to come. Diana's writing is exciting and descriptive......the individual introductions for each chapter set you up for the recipes ahead and tempt you through her historical notes and observations; her words and descriptions are pure culinary poetry. The recipes dance and pirouette throughout the book - who can resist the idea of making and serving Chocolate, Hazelnut and Sherry Cake with Sherry-Raisin Cream, or maybe a dish of Cardamom-Baked Figs with Plums and Burnt Honey and Yoghurt Cream. Then there's the savoury Aubergines with Mint as well as the delicious sounding Chermoula-Marinated Tuna with Pomegranate Couscous......or maybe you'd be tempted with Roast Duck with Honey, Lavender and Thyme........my personal favourite is the Ladies' Navels with Cardamom and Rose Syrup and Berries - which are little Turkish doughnuts, served with several exotic embellishments.
The recipes cover most meats such as lamb, beef and pork as well as poultry and numerous vegetarian dishes and flat breads; desserts, cakes and sweets are well represented and, in line with all of the recipes, they are studded and perfumed with herbs, spices and flowers......the range of dishes in the book is imaginative and extremely diverse......and yet, the ingredients are all easily available from most supermarkets, as well as small independent shops that specialise in Middle Eastern produce. There are ice creams, beverages, sauces and rubs.......I was very taken with the idea of Flower-scented Truffles, and I plan to make them this Valentines' Day with some fresh violets from the garden.
The book lived up to my expectations and if I have any criticism at all, it is directed at the quality of the print; the book was published in China, and I didn't think that the quality matched the high standard of writing and photography - I felt that the images were poorly reproduced and the finish of the cover was a little disappointing......I have a copy of Roast Figs, Sugar Snow: Food to Warm the Soul that was published in 2005 and the quality of print is far superior. That said, the hardback book is a very modest £15:99 from Octopus Publishing and an unbelievably low £10:23 from Amazon co uk. The book itself is an enchanting collection of aromatic and stunningly visual recipes which have all been well written and are exquisitely showcased......Diana Henry's writing is lyrical and yet honest and authoritative; the book really does whisk you away on a magic carpet of exotic flavours, aromas and with more than just a hint of Eastern culinary promise and mystery; an exquisite cook book that offers recipes to suit all levels of cooks, from simple family meals that can be made in under an hour to more accomplished and intricate feasts.
Karen S Burns-Booth
on 9 May 2006
....'enchanting dishes from the Middle East, Mediterranean and North Africa'.....it captures the cultures, too!
From inside the front jacket flap:
'Crazy Waters, Pickled Lemons is an exploration of the ingredients and dishes of the Mediterranean, The Middle East and North Africa......presenting recipes that combine flavours in ways long forgotten - or never even discovered - in many western kitchens.
Special ingredients - the colourful, the aromatic, and the perfumed - which are all too often overlooked in the modern kitchen, are also featured.'
This book stands out from the average cookery book due to the passion which really flows from Diana Henry's descriptive writing - the reader can almost see and taste those flavours, which is far better described than me by the cover quote from Claudia Roden -'A glorious and magical feast for the senses'!
'Places, as well as tastes, are locked up in food. The clear perfumed stillness of a bottle of flower water, the sexy, velvety skin of a fig, the sunburnt blood colour of a jar of cayenne. Our love of foods has as much to do with what they represent as with what they taste like.'
Attractive paperback covers open to 192 high quality pages, split over chapters:
* The Spice Trail
* Fragrance of the Earth
* A Bowl of Fresh Herbs
* Sweet Cloves and Liquid Gold
* The Sweet and the Sour
* Of Sea and Salt
* Plundering the Stores
* Fruits of Longing
* Curds and Whey
* Food from the Hearth
* Pith and Skin
* Heaven Scent
sandwiched between an introduction and a concise index, the latter listed by ingredient.
Each chapter opens with informative pieces relative to the title, followed by the recipes, which vary in the level of complexity but the majority are far simpler than their titles may suggest.
Each recipe is clearly laid out with a capitalised title, an opening note relating to the recipe, the number of servings, list of ingredients and a clearly laid out and numbered method.
The book is interspersed with useful notes, quotes and sayings....along with the usual stunning full-colour photography, from Jason Lowe:-
some of the ingredients
some of the dishes....... but these may prove to be a little on the light side for those of us who like to see what we are aiming for on the plate.
However, the easy flow of the passionate writing throughout makes this very easy to forgive.
A small taste of the recipes contained within:
* Moroccan Chicken with Tomatoes and Saffron-Honey Jam
* Spanish Sausages and Migas
* Jewelled Persian Rice
* Simple Greek Lamb
* Lavender, Orange and Almond Cake
* Chilled Avocado and Coriander Soup
* Lemon and Basil Ice Cream
* Salt-Baked Potatoes with Crème Fraîche and New Season's Garlic
* Aubergines with Mint
* Pasta with Two Anchovy Sauces
* Breast of Duck with Pomegranate and Walnut Sauce
* Moroccan Lamb and Quince Tajine
* Stuffed Figs dipped in Chocolate
* Yoghurt Mezze
* Lamb Pizza with Preserved Lemons
* Middle Eastern Orange Confit
* Violet Liqueur Truffles
......not forgetting, of course, the title dish -'Crazy Water'- a simple, but delicious recipe originating from the Amalfi coast, and 'Pickled Lemons', from page 165, packing a real punch as we near the end of this passionate work which is far, far more than just another cook-book destined to linger on a kitchen bookshelf!
This is a delicious book written with love and humour! Although the herbs and spices are known about and freely available on supermarket shelves, the way they are used in these recipes is unusual and very enticing. How could you resist making "Ladies' Navels with Cardamom, Rose Syrup and Berries"? The book is much more than the recipes it contains: there are as many suggestions for the different use of herbs and spices in the chapter introductions as there are actual recipes and the author's descriptions are as enticing as her food: "Lavender actually tastes like a mild version of rosemary with a breath of the floral wreathed around it. I love a lavender, honey and balsamic marinade for duck or chicken . . . and a plum and lavender sauce or a savoury apple and lavender jelly is great with pork." Opening the book at random, the pages fall open at "Lemon and Basil Ice-cream". Basil has to be my favourite herb but I've never seen it used as an ice-cream flavouring. Surely its delicate flavour would be deadened by freezing? In the company of lemons, however, basil will weave its magic in a subtle and perfumed way which is miles away from its role in tomato sauces and pasta dishes. None of these recipes appear particularly difficult to make and a quick skim through the ingredient lists tells me that all the ingredients are now at least reasonably easy to buy in the supermarket. Don't be put off by instructions to make your own labneh - it's just strained and drained yoghurt flavoured with garlic and seasoning, but put it together with bulgar and spinach pilaf and chilli roast tomatoes and it's food for the gods! I have many cookery books on cooking with herbs and spices and also many on Middle Eastern cookery, but this one is a bit special and I heartily recommend it to everyone who wants to give their taste buds a whirl :-)
What a glorious celebratory cookbook this is. I've always like cookbooks that explain the cuisine to you, and describe all the differenct ingredients used. Diana Henry doesn't disappoint here as each section opens with a 2-page description of the food, and the ingredients required. Her description of the different honeys available is just mouth-watering.
Since I bought this book, I've also bought saffron, apricots, lots of honey, and I'm dying to try to make my own pickled lemons(!). So that should give you an idea of just how influential this cookbook is.
This book is actually one of the few cookbooks I take down off the shelf and read when I have a few minutes. It just inspires you.
on 8 September 2002
What a sumptuous book! It's like Captain Corelli meets the Arabian Nights in the kitchen and the result is a magical feast of flavours and images of the exotic. Just reading the recipe titles makes you salivate. Or you can curl up on the sofa for hours and luxuriate in the little essays on particular ingredients like pomegranates and quinces or lavender and honey.
It also brings back vivid memories of my own holidays in Morocco and Jordan and countless summers in the Mediterranean - just the tonic to banish those back to school autumn blues!
on 5 December 2003
What a book.....great recipes, fantastic descriptions .....you just feel as if you are "there" tasting, smelling.
The recipes I've tried so far are tasty and simple.
A book to dip into time and time again.
A smorgasbord of fragrant flavours with recipes from Persia, the Mediterranean, Greece and Turkey... Rose water, lamb, aubergines, pistachios, good sherry, fine dark chocolate. The ingredients list of every recipe reads like a who's who of my favourite things.
n lamb stuffed with figs walnuts and goats cheese then finish with fresh chocolates filled with violet liqueur or rose water cream and I just want to weep.... Then the stuffed figs dipped in chocolate... And the sherry and raisin ice cream... Well bang goes my diet.. Though The Calorie Myth book tells me eating good quality foods will reset my metabolism.... And it's all good quality in this book.
The recipes are sorted by ingredient so each section has starter, main and dessert recipes which can be a little disorienting. But if you love fragrant food you can't go wrong with this lovely book.
And don't get me started on the cakes made with chocolate and sherry or piled high rosewater meringues with cream and berries.... The Rose scented rhubarb with rice pudding is also on my list.
I've been out to the shops and stocked up on pistachios, rose water, saffron and cardamon seeds and tomorrow I'm trying the Pearl Divers rice.