You may or may not have heard of Diana Henry. She's not a celebrity chef; she doesn't own a Michelin-starred restaurant, or have her own TV show. But among cookbook junkies, like many of you out there, the name carries some cachet. Henry, a much-praised, London-based food writer who contributes a weekly column to The Sunday Telegraph, has written eight cookbooks—all thoughtful, all beautiful, all successful. (Plenty, her sixth book, is one of my all-time favorites.) Her latest release, A Change of Appetite is a robust compendium of recipes that Henry created to suit her new, more carefully considered approach to eating.
Like many of us in the food world, she struggled to fit her gourmand inclinations into size six expectations. After years of that boring old battle, she changed her thinking and her appetite followed: no punishing diets or fad cleanses, just real, delicious, conscientiously chosen and prepared food. She delivered this book to sate the hunger of those like-minded cooks for whom 'eating well' has a twofold meaning.
There is nothing that reads dietetic or austere about Henry's food. Her flavors don't play coy. Rather, she layers assertive components is a magnificently harmonious way. For this book, she drew particular inspiration from the bright, complex flavors of the Far- and Middle East, though there are lip-smacking outliers from Europe, Africa, and South America, too. She focuses on whole grains, oily fish, legumes, and piles of veggies—you know, the stuff we all know we should be eating more of. There's meat here and there. She generally avoids processed flour and sugar, though they, too, make appearances in small doses when necessary. Henry did so much research on the latest nutrition science that she should be given an honorary doctorate, and she distills it in a refreshingly common-sense way throughout the book. Cliff notes: less sugar, some fat, more vegetables. Duh—but somehow difficult to do and be satisfied, unless you have a book full of hearty, exciting recipes that come out the way they should and taste really, really good.
Her recipes, by and large, are not slap-it-on-the-plate affairs. They tend to take time and some planning, but most are filling meals in themselves (though she does also suggest menus throughout). In my experience, they're worth every moment spent. You can almost always count on them to work. Because she's not farming out recipe development to her 'team' or scaling down from restaurant production. Because she's creating recipes in her kitchen for you to make in yours, and she knows what she's doing. Because she's Diana Henry. To quote the Notorious B.I.G (which I'm sure she gets all the time), "And if you don't know, now you know."
This week we'll improve upon the classic caprese with her Nectarine, Tomato and Basil Salad with Torn Mozzarella. Then we'll follow with her intense Japanese Ginger and Garlic Chicken with Smashed Cucumber, and the unusual and rewarding Roasted Tomatoes and Lentils with Dukka-Crumbed Eggs. Finally, we'll cool things off with Cucumber and Yogurt Soup with Walnuts and Rose Petals.
Win 'A Change of Appetite'
Thanks to our friends at Octopus Books, we have 5 copies of A Change of Appetite to give away this week. Just tell us your favorite good-and-good-for-you foods in the comments section below.