Food from Plenty – book review

07 October 2010 by
Food from Plenty – book review

Food from PlentyBy Diana HenryMitchell Beazley, £25ISBN 978-1-84533-507-6

It's leftovers that interest Sunday Telegraph food writer Diana Henry in her sixth book, Food from Plenty. More specifically, she wants to encourage readers to stop binning food they couldn't shoehorn into a recipe - or just couldn't be bothered to cook - and start thinking about how to make better use of it.

But the aim is not to produce a book that preaches about dwindling fish stocks or food miles, but one that instead promotes the virtue of buying good quality produce, locally if possible, to produce dishes you'd actually want to eat. Of course, that means she is aiming her new work squarely at the home cook and she says as much in her introduction.

The result is that much of the guidance she offers - advice on what kind of meat to buy, where to buy it and how to roast it, for example - is probably a little redundant for a professional. Then again, she provides an interesting array of recipes gathered from across the world, many of which have a distinctly wholesome, rustic feel. Often the reader gets two, possibly even three recipes, for the price of one.

The recipe for pork, roast squash, apple and chestnut salad, for example, also sees Henry suggest a pork, squash and mushroom salad with caramelized peanut and chilli sauce - presumably in case readers can't face cooking the same dish again for a second day running.

Food from Plenty is divided into 11 chapters covering various foodstuffs and styles: The roast and "les restes"; Vegetable love; Racing pulses; Good grans; Fine fish; Choice cuts; Soup, beautiful soup; Where the wild things are; Sweet fruitfulness; Crust and crumbs; and Eggs is eggs.

It's a painstakingly thought-out work which is of undoubted value to home cooks who want to make their ingredients go a little further than the wheelie bin outside. And while it is written with the amateur in mind, there is still the opportunity for professional chefs concerned with seasonality and economy of ingredients to get something out of it too.

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