“Braised Pork with Ginger and Star Anise” from “How to Eat a Peach”

I’ve very much enjoyed reading this book, but its menu-based format means that choosing a single recipe to cook from it can be a bit of a challenge. But then I invited our friend Viv for dinner, and Viv always loves a good pork recipe. So that made my choice for me! And buried deep in one of Diana Henry’s menus, I found this little gem. I made sure to read through the directions before setting off for a pub lunch, noting that it took a minimum of THREE HOURS to cook. I also managed to source the Indonesian kecap for the sauce. What I had not factored in however, was the time I spent gardening after lunch. I got so absorbed that what felt like one hour turned out, in reality, to be three or four. So I ended up starting this recipe a little later than I had expected to, with the garden looking much better! Anyway. I digress. Thankfully my guest and family were very forgiving, especially as this smelled heavenly as it cooked. For all three hours of cooking.

And it helped that when we finally ate, that it tasted AMAZING. The sauce was divine; a glorious sticky combination of ginger, garlic and chilli. The pork was also exquisitely tender after all those hours on the hob. Tom has already asked if I will only cook pork this way in future. I might well agree. I’ll just make sure to stay away from the gardening beforehand next time!

“Braised Pork with Ginger and Star Anise” from “How to Eat a Peach”

“Marcella Hazan’s Roast Chicken with Lemon” from “How to Eat a Peach”

If you haven’t already seen this book, it is organised into menus. For instance “Take me back to Istanbul” and “A perfect lunch”. Or what about “A thousand chillies” or “Darkness and light”. This is a great idea, unless you’re having a “Shitty rainy Friday”. Or maybe a “Crappy Wednesday at work”. Or how about “A day in August which should be sunny, but instead can’t decide whether to rain or not all day so you don’t put the washing out… and then finally it decides to rain.” Because that’s the menu I needed today.

So. This recipe is originally from Marcella Hazan and is included in the “Summer begins with apricot tart” menu. Which might be a thing. If it weren’t August and the weather was unable to decide whether to rain or not all day. Before raining.

I love Marcella Hazan. I dug out my original copy of her classic “The Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking” because it’s where I started on my Italian cooking adventure and it’s from 1995. WHICH IS TWENTY THREE YEARS AGO! How can that be? When did all that time pass? What happened? I must have been sucked into a space-time continuum vortex because I don’t feel like it was that long ago. Gah!

And Marcella Hazan still gets it completely right. This chicken was gloriously tender. Full of lemony goodness. And perfect with a salad and potatoes, just the way Diana Henry recommends. So it’s an old recipe, and it’s a new recipe. Nothing has changed, but everything has changed. How did that happen? Well, at least we’ll always have roast chicken.

“Marcella Hazan’s Roast Chicken with Lemon” from “How to Eat a Peach”

“Spatchcocked Chicken” from “How to Eat a Peach”

The full title to this should be, “Spatchcocked Chicken with Chilli, Garlic, Parsley and Almond Pangrattato.” In the introduction, Diana Henry admits that there’s nothing more to this than roast chicken with yummy stuff scattered over the top when it’s done roasting.

That’s absolutely true, but it’s also absolutely delicious. And frankly, what’s wrong with a roast chicken with chilli, garlic, parsley and almond pangrattato scattered over the top? Nothing at all.

Also, here’s a top tip from our friendly butcher at Dring’s: while it is relatively easy to spatchcock a chicken yourself, it’s better to get someone else to do it because it might ruin your knives if you do it. Good to know. (Also, I’m pretty lazy and when any task can be done by my butcher– deboning, deskinning, de-anything– I’ll have them do it.)

This one was a winner. We’ve been having an unusually scorching summer in London, so this was also a good one to make in the heat because I could bang the chicken in the oven, and then leave the hot kitchen to go read out back. But this would work any time of year, frankly.

“Spatchcocked Chicken” from “How to Eat a Peach”

Cookbook of the Month, August 2018: How to Eat a Peach by Diana Henry

Kirstin: Have you felt the book yet?

Maureen: Oh, yes! It’s all soft and suede-like.

Kirstin: It’s meant to feel like a peach. So even in the depths of winter, you’ll be able to stroke a peach.

Maureen: That is pretty cool. Saying that, having paged through it, I worry that this is going to be a more aspirational cookbook than one I’ll actually cook from regularly, but we’ll see.

Kirstin: I love Diana Henry. I love her writing and I love her. But people always rave about her cookbooks and I always find them somewhat disappointing.

Maureen: There’s good weekend menus in the book, the sorts of things that you’ll make when you have an entire afternoon set aside to make them.

Kirstin: I like the premise and the photography. Laura Edwards is one of my favourite photographers. And I too have kept menus (yes, those from Chez Panisse are in the folder).

Maureen: The thing I already don’t like about this book is how there’s no main listing of all the recipes in either the back or the front. We’ve had that for the last few books, and it does make it so much easier when you’re trying to plan for a meal. Maybe I got spoiled by that sort of layout.

Kirstin: I know what you mean. It’s an old style, with only the index in the back. “Dining In” is going to be a difficult book to follow. I’m still cooking Alison Roman on the side because I completely adore her, and that book.

M: Talk about cooking other things, I should tell you that I tore my kitchen up trying to find the piece of paper where I wrote down a recipe for pulled pork to make in the pressure cooker. I’ve made it dozens of times but when I went to go make it yesterday, I couldn’t find it anywhere. I had hoped I had saved it on my laptop, but no dice, there either. I looked in every conceivable place.

K: Did you find it?

Maureen: No. I thought I found a recipe on the Internet which was a close copy, but apparently not. The feedback from the table was that the one I always make is better. So if any readers happen to know where I put that oh-so-important piece of paper, please let me know. I’ll be back in my kitchen, looking in other random places.

Kirstin: Good luck!

Maureen: Thank you. The moral of the story is obviously when you find a recipe that your family loves, WRITE IT DOWN in the special cookbook you have for that express purpose. Live and learn, I suppose.


Cookbook of the Month, August 2018: How to Eat a Peach by Diana Henry

Our Verdict: “Dining In”

Kirstin: This is such an exceptional cookbook. I thought she wrote beautifully and explained things incredibly well, and the recipes were well thought out. I completely trusted her, by the end of the month, I was cooking recipes from it for four friends, having never done them before. I knew that they would be fantastic recipes. The salads I’ve already made again. The pork I’ve already made again. I know I’ll be making the salads over and over again.

Maureen: Don’t forget the chicken. That sounded fantastic. I think I’m going to make that this weekend.

Kirstin: OOOOOOH. The chicken. I can’t even speak, it’s so good. And the potatoes that go with the chicken. So, so, good.

Maureen: I never thought I”d see you replace the Zuni chicken, but there we are.

Kirstin: The fish chapter was really good, and that’s unusual because you don’t normally see long chapters on fish.

Maureen: It was very nice to see a large collection of fish. And the desserts were great– for the most part. The rhubarb galette I’d rather forget about. But everything else was sublime.

Kirstin: Absolutely.

Maureen: You’ve already said this will be your book of the year.

Kirstin: Yes. Dinner from Melissa Clark was last year, this will be this year.

Maureen: Seems a bit early to be declaring a winner for 2018, but let’s see.

“Dining In”
Overall Grade (A- F):  A (Maureen) A (Kirstin)
Best recipes: Maureen: Hard to pick a favourite. Kirstin: The chicken. The chicken. The chicken. A close second will be the salmon.
Grade for Photography (A-F):  A. They are my favourite photographers and they’re excellent.
Any disasters? Kirstin: The disaster is she doesn’t have another cookbook out already. Maureen: The rhubarb galette.
Bookshelf or Charity Shop Donation? Kirstin: Bookshelf, high rotation. Maureen: Bookshelf.        Would You Give This Book to a Friend?: Maureen: Yes. Kirstin: I already have.

Our Verdict: “Dining In”

“Paprika-Rubbed Sheet-Pan Chicken with Lemon” from “Dining In”

Yum. Yum. Yum.

The rub you make for this chicken has fennel seed, hot paprika, salt, smoked paprika, black pepper, garlic and olive oil. Basically, all good things. Alison says in the introduction that she smears this rub onto other meat too– pork chops, pork shoulders, chicken wings. I can see it working well on all of those things, and may try to do it myself.

The other different approach to this recipe is that you cook the chicken low and slow– a low temperature oven for a long time. This makes the chicken extra-moist and extra-juicy. It’s definitely an excellent way to do it if you’ve got the time.

You’ll see the roasted red peppers above, which I roasted for the last hour alongside the chicken, which I then tossed in the leftover juices and spices in the bottom of the sheet pan. Just like Alison told me to do. It was an excellent recommendation.

If you’re wondering if we enjoyed the chicken, I will answer the question with a fact: there was no chicken leftover. Not one shred. That tells you everything you need to know.

“Paprika-Rubbed Sheet-Pan Chicken with Lemon” from “Dining In”

July Book of the Month and a Return to Our Favourites

Attentive and loyal readers among you– of which there are legion, we’re sure– will notice that we have not yet announced a new book to review for July 2018.

We apologise for our tardiness but we have a good excuse. The reason we haven’t announced a new book is because we’ve decided we’re going to keep posting recipes from “Dining In.” We still have quite a few to post– always the sign of a good book– and we’ve enjoyed them so much that we didn’t want to miss any.

Once we’ve exhausted our supply of things to review, we’ll turn to our old favourites and repost them. We’ve often done that in the summer, as Wimbledon, sunshine and holidays all compete for our attention.

Thanks for reading!


July Book of the Month and a Return to Our Favourites