This book is by Diana Henry who is one of my favourite cookery and food writers. She writes for so many publications but most notably The Sunday Telegraph.
This book is as much a travel memoire and a poetry collection as it is a recipe book. It is the perfect collection of cold weather recipes from cold weather regions. Russia, Scandinavia, Quebec and Georgia amongst these lesser known food havens for me whereas I read the Northern Italian, Austrian and French recipes reflecting on memories of my own.
There are distinct sections in this book but they flow more like chapters of a novel. Each dish has wonderful background information or a story about the provenance of the dish. There are also the most beautiful quotes from other writers which really do ‘warm the soul’ as much as the food does.
Cheese, nuts and pumpkins take pride of place at the beginning of the book under the titles of Ripe and Ready, Gathering In and Earthly Pleasures. I loved the Tartiflette as it brought back my own memories of a fabulous summer in Samoens a few years ago. I don’t eat ham so I substituted this with sundried tomatoes as the cafe owner had done for me and it worked just as well for a Friday night cheese craving.
As a vegetarian, I usually skip through the meat sections but strangely I found one of my favourite recipes in Tales From the Hunt. Roast Squash with Porcini Cream. So simple but so decadent. It’s gone on the ‘to tired-to-cook-but-need-something-amazing-as-I’ve-had-a-crap-day’ recipe board. Do you have one of those? Would thoroughly recommend one. Mine is a clipboard with these kinds of recipes clipped to it. Ones that restore your well-being. Just flicking through it calms me down.
Moving on to Of Wood and Smoke I found some family favourites take on a new dimension. Smoked Haddock and Leek Risotto, Russian Smoked Fish Pie which uses smoked trout and salmon and finally our staple Roast Pumpkin Tagliatelle was made incredibly decadent with the simple addition of Sage and Smoked Cheese.
Apples and pears get a lot of love in Apples in The Attic which covers recipes from Quebec, The West Country, Savoie and Friuli. The Colour Purple brings Roast Figs, Shallots and Chestnuts with Gorgonzola Polenta, Damson Cheese (Which is not cheese at all but rather a jelly like puree) and these delicious Plum Squares from Vienna.
I learned a lot from this book. In Winter On Your Tongue for example, I discovered that the Russians have an equivalent of Mezze called Zakusi. From the Hedgerow and Bog I found out that the Danes serve Rice Pudding with Berry Compote at the end of their Christmas Meal on Christmas Eve. I ALWAYS have rice pudding on Christmas Eve so am glad to have a new recipe to try.
My daughter is looking forward to one of the very last recipe in this book. Sugar on Snow. Co-incidentally this comes from Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I was deliberating between getting her this book or Anne of Green Gables for Christmas so I think my choice has been made for me now. Fingers crossed for snow!
All in all a fabulous book by an enormously talented lady. A genuine food hero.
Hardcover: ISBN: 9781845336530: £15.99
Published by Octopus