Thursday, 16 March 2017

Cook Book Review: Diana Henry's "A Change of Appetite"

In March, we have decided to theme our meal planning by picking a book (or website) each week to cook from.  Week 1 saw us cracking open "A Change of Appetite" by the extremely talented Diana Henry.

I am a big fan of Ms Henry, a food writer whose prose is as elegant as her food.  Her book of chicken recipes, “A Bird In Hand”, gifted us the absolutely superlative lemongrass and turmeric roast chicken which I crave on a regular basis.  I had owned “A Change of Appetite” for  a while but never made anything from it; D and I are both slightly suspicious of anything specifically badged as “healthy”, perhaps worn down by years of Weight Watching and spray chemicals oil.

We needn’t have worried.  The focus of “A Change of Appetite” might be healthy eating but it lacks any preachy tone or miserable austerity.  The recipes we tried were delicious, the flavour combinations sometimes unexpected by always successful.  The blurb (which you can read in full on her website here) refers to her drawing inspiration from a pretty wide field, most notably the Middle and Far East which was certainly true of the dishes that we cooked.
Of the three we tried (having drawn up a fairly lengthy shortlist), our favourite was the Burmese chilli fish with hot and sour salad – the recipe for which can be found online here.  We served it with some steamed rice but it probably would have been substantial enough without if you are an eschewer of carbs.  The fish by itself was gorgeous but it was truly elevated when combined with the zing and crunch of the salad.  If you have a food processor, or mandolin, to ensure that the vegetable shredding isn’t too much of a faff, I would definitely commend this one to your attention.

A lamb dish with fregola (we subbed giant couscous) salad and whole baked sea bass with aubergine also went down well.  That they didn’t quite reach the dizzy heights of the Burmese fish were more down to logistics than recipe writing – neither D nor I are huge fans of faffing around with bones (which is a shame as meat and fish on the bone is undoubtedly delicious).  I think that, in particular, the combination of the sea bass and aubergine (which recipe can also be found on the Telegraph website here) was surprisingly successful and I’d happily repeat it with fillets.  Actually, I’d just make the aubergine relish again on its own as it was fantastic cold the next day.

Those recipes that we didn’t get around to during the designated week and I have no doubt that they will be popping up in rotation shortly.  An excellent start to a month of book cooking – some new dishes and, more importantly, a renewed impetus to look to our extensive library for weeknight inspiration.


  1. I love reading your food and book reviews. Reminds me a bit of the Food52 piglet (a cookbook faceoff)... do you know it? Think you might enjoy...

    1. What a fantastic link! Thank you so much. x