Diana Henry on her love of fat, lemons and cooking with booze
huge and full of light. My entire life happens in the kitchen – I must spend 18 hours out of every 24 in there when I’m recipe testing … I had it put in specially eight years ago – investing in a top-end kitchen was like setting up my office. It’s a real workhorse: loads of work surface, masses of cupboards, deep drawers and a wall of cookbooks. At one end, the kitchen opens out on to the garden, so I can work looking out on all my layers of plants.
My kitchen is …
… curiosity. What has made me a happy cook is looking at other countries and trying new flavours. It never becomes boring.
My favourite kitchen tool is
… extra virgin olive oil – I love the smell as olive oil hits something warm. I’ve also always got honey, white balsamic vinegar, anchovies and capers. Sweet and salt together is what I love.
My storecupboard staple is
… always have bread and cheese. I can’t imagine life without them. I like wheaten bread from Ireland, where I am from, or sourdough. I could eat that for every meal, with a green salad.
When I’m starving I
… the California girls: Alice Waters, Judy Rodgers and Joyce Goldstein. And then as writers, Jane Grigson and Claudia Roden, because they put things in context. The poetry, the autobiography, the travelogue – the recipes are flat without the personal.
My culinary inspiration is
… lemon. Incredible. It’s a connector of flavours, it makes things sing – in both savoury and sweet dishes. A squeeze on a flatflavoured soup. Whipped cream with Cointreau or something floral and a squeeze. It heightens other flavours without masking them. Nearly always, when there seems to be something missing, the answer is lemon.
My best kitchen secret is When I’m invited to dinner I always take
… wine. It’s such a great pleasure, so life enriching. I especially love Italian wines. At the minute, I’m drinking a lot of Falanghinas and Fianos. There’s always something new in Italy, in terms of wine. Such a variety of grapes, and climates – it’s incredible.
… fat. A good extra virgin oil or butter – it’s just bloody amazing. Any soup that people rave about, it’s always because I’ve sweated the veg in lots of butter. I don’t like Tuscan oils – I find them too grassy and bitter. I prefer Provençal oil.
Everything tastes better with
… usually have a list, on an old envelope. Core things and then I’ll just see what’s good. My favourite places to shop are near where I live. I’m always on buses with lots of bags. I particularly love fruit and veg shops: I find them so inspiring.
When I go shopping I
… I’m testing an old recipe from Kent: a leg of lamb with ginger-and-thyme stuffing, finished off with cider. I love cooking with booze. I don’t know what I’ll serve that with – the veg shop will give me ideas.
For dinner tonight