For those of you not paying attention in the back, we loved this book. Every recipe was delicious, worked well and was relatively easy. Those truly are the Holy Grail in our pursuit of cookbooks.
We love Diana Henry’s style– don’t stress out too much about how it looks, just make sure it’s delicious. And they were.
We can see ourselves returning to this cookbook again and again and again.
“From the Oven to the Table” Overall Grade (A- F): A (We’d give it an A* but we decided a long time ago to not engage in grade inflation.) Grade for Photography (A-F): A. The photography was by one of Kirstin’s favourite photographers. Favourite Recipes: Hard to pick just one. We’ll have to get back to you. Bookshelf or Charity Shop Donation? Bookshelf. Bookshelf. Bookshelf.
Kirstin: I am so not a baker. But I could not resist the idea of a red wine AND chocolate cake. And this turned out to be a good thing. Because this was the yummiest, moistest cake ever. The ganache was incredible with just a little icing sugar to make it super shiny.
And if you’re British, you’ll understand it when I say this was a like an extremely classy Jaffa cake.
As Tom said, if you only make one cake, let it be this one.
Kirstin: Miles does not like coconut milk. So I had to really persuade him that this would be good. He is also into weightlifting at the moment (he’s almost 14 so this is just a phase) so he told me all the exercises he was going to do AFTER he had eaten. And about carbs and protein. He decided he actually liked coconut milk after eating this recipe so there is that. As did our cat, Luca. But without the weightlifting, because he likes jumping more.
Anyway, I digress. This took more than a little bit of preparation. I listened to Sinatra with Count Basie as I chopped and fried so it did not feel like any kind of chore. Dancing across the room to fetch the lime leaves out of the fridge is quite the mood. It was also completely worth every second. The rice was outstanding seasoned with cumin and coriander amongst other yummy things, as was the chicken and vegetables.
Gah! At this point I could make just Diana Henry recipes from this book for the rest of time. And that would be fine with everyone! This one would be regular.
Kirstin: I decided to make this recipe in yet another attempt to find a salmon dish that our children might like. Our daughter is currently away at university so it’s just the boy I need to convince. Our daughter, meanwhile is cooking for themselves which is a new thing for them. I have had numerous calls for assistance about recipes and guidance along the way over the last week. Today’s question was how to set an oven (this is related, I promise). So today when I started to make this recipe I was reminded of my medical student days. And how I used to make a salmon recipe every week. Back then it was all about the salmon cutlets, but things have now moved to the fillet, thankfully.
Now to get back to this recipe. All the miso things are good. Always. The mushrooms were also fabulous with all their lovely flavours and textures. Even the boy enjoyed it, which is a huge deal as he had cross-country so was already not in the best of moods.
So. Yes. I would definitely make this again. I have one leftover for tomorrow’s lunch. Bonus!
Kirstin: I have a rule with recipes. Actually I have many, but most of my friends know about this one; I don’t like fruit with savoury dishes. So that’s all tagines out for me for a start. But in the interests of science I thought I should give this recipe a try. It sounded like the Zuni cafe chicken recipe, with sourdough bread and chicken. Or that’s what I thought. How wrong I was. Because this is even better. The sherry, sherry vinegar and yes…those raisins…add such an incredible flavour and depth to this dish. Adding the toasted pine nuts at the end also added a lovely texture. I used a whole chicken so cooked it a little beforehand at a higher temperature before adding the other ingredients. I did struggle with the method; there was a lot of the “chunk” measurement. I’m just not always sure how to judge a chunk.
But the results were sensational. We all went back for seconds. And I am already planning when I am going to make this again.
I think it’s also telling that I have now bought this book in kindle form. I don’t have many cookbooks on my kindle. These are the books and recipes I like to use ALL THE TIME, the ones I take on holiday, need to search for when in the shops. So to make it to this level well before the end of the month says it all. If you haven’t already bought this book YOU SHOULD.
Kirstin: Oh this was amaaaaazing. All the good stuff, all in one pan. I will definitely make this again and again. BUT the potatoes did not have enough time in the oven. So, next time I will be frying the them for 10 minutes before they go in the oven. I appreciate that makes it not entirely a traybake. But crispy potatoes.
Kirstin: This was a first for me. I was genuinely sad when I had finished eating this incredible chicken and it was all gone. The tension had been building admittedly, as the marinade was so very umami-sh, filled with miso, soya sauce, ginger, sake, honey and other goodies. I could barely stop smelling it before I covered the chicken and sweet potatoes with it. Fast forward 30 minutes into the cooking and I had to add A BASTING SAUCE which included even more miso and soya sauce. At which point I just about fell over in a umami fit of happiness.
This recipe alone is worth the price of the book. And then some.
I was stacking the deck by choosing to make this recipe. Tim loves lentils. We all love pork products. I knew it was going to be a winner even before I had bought the ingredients.
Once again, there’s a genius move, and this time it’s to cook the lentils in the oven. Usually when I make lentils it’s a bit of a faff with all the stirring on the hob, whereas this one you bang them in the oven (along with some stock) and then you can forget about them. That truly is my style of cooking.
The family had one note for me, however. I got Cumberland Sausages from our most excellent butcher, Dring’s (shoutout to the best butchers in London!) but they always have an amazing array, including monthly specials. Tim and Nicholas thought this would be better with Italian sausages, which is what I’ll get the next time.
This is one of those magical recipes that makes you wonder, “Why didn’t I think of that?”
It is undeniable that Roast Chicken is DA BOMB. (I could try to find a better way to describe it, but why should I when that perfectly captures how I feel about it.) I will never tire of it and frankly I will try every variation possible until the cows come home.
This version features double carbs. You read that right: DOUBLE CARBS. The bread stuffing with tomatoes and feta, and the orzo pasta that you add in the final 20 minutes. Diana Henry’s absolutely genius idea– the one I was sorry I didn’t think of first– was to add the orzo pasta to the roasting pan along with some chicken stock. The pasta then soaks up all the delicious chicken roasting juices. This idea, one that requires minimal intervention from the cook, is just brilliant.
You may have guessed by now that we loved it, and you are correct. In the introduction, Diana Henry recommends enjoying this dish for a spring Sunday lunch as you “contemplate the approaching summer.” We did the reverse and enjoyed it for an autumn lunch, where we reminisced about the now-gone summer. It was perfect.
Kirstin: A fish traybake. Perfect. Even better that it has a slight Spanish feel with the added chorizo and Amontillado sherry. And how these flavours work together is a thing to behold. Because they really, REALLY do. Also I can see how this can be scaled up for more people and even prepared to a degree beforehand. Which is always a bonus. I’m probably making this again next week, if nothing else because Miles LOVED the chorizo so much.