Diana Henry on her love of fat, lemons and cook­ing with booze

The Guardian - Cook - - To Finish -

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

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