Food from Plenty

After both reading and cooking from cover-to-cover I can only sing praise for Food From Plenty by Diana Henry. My shelves groan under an ever expanding collection of cookbooks and its delightful treat to discover a book which is instantly recognisable as one for frequent use. Its attraction is in its practicality as a book for the home cook: creatively using seasonal everyday ingredients, deliciously straightforward recipes and each one with alternative suggestions plus recipes for leftovers – dishes so tasty that I deliberately created leftovers by roasting two chicken or pork joints at the same time.

Food from Plenty has encouraged me to reflect the quantity of food waste leaving my kitchen. I considered myself rather frugal but, a little here and a little there soon amount to a shocking waste of both money and food. We have grown accustomed to preparing dishes with one meal in mind, perhaps re-heating any leftovers the following day. The word 'leftovers', itself, conjuring rather dull images of cold-cuts and salad but as Diana points out:

“The French, more charmingly, call them 'les delicieux petits restes'. They have the right approach: leftovers can produce some of the most imaginative and delicious dishes.”

I can’t agree more with these words. The average household wastes around 30% of the contents of the refrigerator though I’m sure this isn’t deliberate; who in their right mind would set out to throw hard earned cash into the bin? Is it down to not knowing what to do with leftovers where sometimes it is just easier and quicker to prepare a new meal – who wants to eat dry, boring re-heated food? I truly believe it’s a changeable mind-set when planning the weekly trip to the supermarket: actively consider that there will be leftover food and select smaller, secondary produce and ingredients which will combine to create these ‘delicieux petits restes'. Enjoy our taster recipes from Food from Plenty, letting them kick start your imagination. Before long it will become second nature to use ready cooked foods as ingredients in their own right and not view them as simply ‘leftovers’.

Our attitude towards food is changing. Before long it won't simply be considered sensible to care about how and what we cook and how much we waste, it will be unacceptable not to.

But Food from Plenty is not just another tome about saving money and bemoaning dwindling fish stocks. It is a book about pleasure, about lovingly preparing great food without extravagance. Diana Henry demonstrates how to save money by cooking ahead, utilising seasonal gluts and making the most of leftovers; cooking with respect to sustainability. By cooking seasonally and choosing the best value cuts, it is possible to have the finest ingredients without spending a fortune or clocking up extensive food miles. Food From Plenty is packed with recipes for using cheap cuts of meat, from Roast Pork Shoulder with Baked Squash to Braised Lamb Shanks. There are great ideas for using the best value fish too, from baked Mackerel on Potatoes with Thyme, Onions and Lemon to Fish Pie with Leek Mash.

Leftovers are at the heart of this book. For example, you'll find delicious roast dinners followed by an abundance of ideas for things to do with the cold meat the next day. Diana's delicious recipes from all over the world, from Sicily to the Sahara, turn 'going without' on its head and make it a pleasure.

extract from Food from Plenty by Diana Henry

Diana Henry is the food writer for the Sunday Telegraph and has twice been named Cookery Writer of the Year by the Guild of Food Writers in 2007 and 2009. She is contributor to many magazines including Red, House and Garden, Sainsbury's magazine and Waitrose Food Illustrated. She is author of six books including the much acclaimed Crazy water, pickled lemons, Roast figs, sugar snow and Cook Simple so it is natural that Food from Plenty lives up to the high standards which we have grown to expect.

Courtesy of publisher Mitchell Beazley, I have a selection of recipes to share and trust you will enjoy:

West Country Chicken and Ham Pie

Beetroot, Fennel and Radish Salad

Scottish Pear and Raspberry Trifle

Food from Plenty by Diana Henry

Published by Mitchell Beazley price GBP 25

Photography by Jonathan Lovekin