Diana Henry works hard to make recipes effortless for us

Simple by Diana Henry

Looking at the most popular authors in the EYB Library you'll see plenty of restaurant chefs like Yotam Ottolenghi and television stars like Ina Garten. Their celebrity helps them reach a wide audience when they release a cookbook. A few authors, however, are popular with Members despite not having such a visible platform to promote their work. Diana Henry is one such author. Her appeal is based on the quality of her prose, the thoroughness of her testing, and the inventiveness of her recipes, Melissa Clark of The New York Times explains.

Clark writes that while you can learn a lot about a writer from viewing her library (Diana has a massive cookbook collection), you need to peek into the pantry of a food writer to get a real feel for the author. Diana's is, as you might expect, extremely well-stocked, containing everything from homemade jams to squid ink. "I think a larder is all about possibilities," Diana explained to Clark.  "It gives me freedom when I'm writing recipes to know that if I'm putting together sweet potatoes with preserved lemon, if I suddenly decide I need to add walnuts for texture, I'll be able to follow it through."

While some authors have a team of people developing new recipes, Diana works solo, creating and testing hundreds of new recipes per year in her gorgeous London kitchen. She draws inspiration from a variety of sources, including her travels to many different countries. Her travels and wide-ranging culinary influences are a contrast to her childhood in Northern Ireland, where her family cooked simple, yet well-made, foods. Her "culinary epiphany" came about when she was an exchange student in France, where she was exposed to different flavors and cooking methods.

Diana's most recent cookbook, Simple: Effortless Food, Big Flavors, is out in the US this month. Fans will be happy to learn that she's hard at work on another cookbook tentatively titled North, which will expand on the themes of her book Roast Figs, Sugar Snow: Winter Food to Warm the Soul.

5 Comments

  • Bloominanglophile  on  10/1/2016 at 11:21 AM

    Wow, what a cookbook collection! I wonder if she is a EYB member...

  • Jane  on  10/1/2016 at 1:15 PM

    Sadly she isn't. I have even offered to go to her house when I'm in London and set up her EYB Bookshelf with my trusty barcode scanner but she has declined my offer. You'd think anyone with 4,000 cookbooks would love to have a search engine of their recipes!

  • Radish  on  10/2/2016 at 4:39 PM

    I was not going to buy this book because currently I am feeling pretty addicted to cookbook purchasing. I had gone and read a review on Amazon that was lengthy and not very nice about all the ingredients he could not buy. Diana wrote back defending her position and for sure I will get the book after I get over some guilt. I would suggest if you like her book that you write a review on Amazon.

  • eliza  on  10/3/2016 at 2:55 PM

    The Food Program on BBC did a 2 part program on her recently, also available as a podcast. I thought it was wonderful.

  • Ruminate  on  10/26/2016 at 7:51 PM

    Jane, above, you mentioned that you use a scanner to load in books, is it possible for us ordinary collectors to do so?

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