Pure Simple Cooking: Effortless Meals Everday, by Diana Henry

by Rebeca on November 29, 2009

Pure Simple Cooking; Effortless Meals Everyday, by Diana HenryPure Simple Cooking: Effortless Meals Every Day
By Diana Henry, photography by Jonathan Lovekin
Ten Speed Press, 2007
192 pages
$21.95 

Yes, the cookbook reviews are back and with one little treasure that we discovered at our local library: Diana Henry’s Pure Simple Cooking

The title says it all. There’s no doubt that you will love how easy the recipes are to prepare, how tasty they are, and how beautiful the finished meal looks.

After testing out four recipes, I knew that this book was a keeper and I had to get my very own. So off I went to Amazon, bought it and I’m expecting my copy to arrive in the mail any day now. In the meantime, I am hoarding the library’s copy.

What’s to like about Pure Simple Cooking? Is it Jonathan Lovekin’s photography? Oh yes, and everything I made looks just like his photographs! This is a great feat for me because whenever I make something from a recipe it tastes good, but it always lacks the pretty factor.

For those not familiar with Diana Henry she is the food columnist for Britain’s Sunday Telegraph and the author of five cookbooks. In addition she co-hosts a popular UK television show and was also named Cookery Writer of the Year in 2007. Not too shabby, eh?

Pure Simple Cooking consists of 13 chapters that cover chicken, chops, sausages, leg of lamb, fish, pasta, greens and herbs and a good variety of the seasonal fruits and vegetables.  For the most part, it appears that Ms. Henry’s palate is inspired by cuisines of the Mediterranean, North Africa, and the Levant and that is fine here at chez moi since we do have a predilection to those types of recipes.

If you like sausage, specifically Spanish chorizo, then you’re in luck. Ms. Henry section on sausages has a handful of recipes that include this savory and smoky sausage. The one recipe that I we tried Spanish Sweet Pototato with Chorizo, Peppers and Fried Egg.  This was the perfect meal for a coldish night and because we had so much of it leftover, I discovered that it’s just as good for breakfast as it is for dinner.

Our actual first venture was an evening that we really wanted something light, but savory and healthy. I’m a big zucchini fan and so we decided that Zucchini with Ricotta, Mint and Basil would be the perfect dish. The mild flavor of the zucchini along with ricotta salata were perfectly combined along with a drizzle of olive oil and the juice of a lemon. Paired with some crusty bread the meal left you feeling more than satisfied. 

We’re big pasta eaters and so far we’ve repeated one dish: Trofie with Shrimp, Feta, Parsley and Lemon. Trofie is essentially gemilli—tight and thinner corkscrew pasta. The pairing of the shrimp and feta make a great combination and play off each other in a delightful way. There’s also enough garlic in the recipe to give it some bite, but it doesn’t overwhelm or upstage the feta’s flavor.

As someone with a notorious sweet tooth and a penchant for brûlée, I couldn’t resist the Summer Berry Brûlé. Easy as pie to make this dessert only required cream, Greek yogurt, berries and sugar. Combining the yogurt with the cream gave the dessert a wonderful consistency and cut down (a tad) the richness of the two ingredients. To get the sugary sheet that all brûlées share the only thing you need to do is to carmelize the sugar. One thing to note: make sure your broiler is very hot; if it isn’t you’ll have cream/yogurt soup.

As we wait for our copy to arrive, we’re already checking off what we want to try next. I’m already eyeing the Roast Lamb with Prosciutto and Garlic while my husband is making noises about Lamb Stuffed with Goat Cheese, Tomatoes, and Basil.

Tonight’s menu is the leftover Trofie, but maybe tomorrow’s dinner will be one of the lamb dishes.

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