I first became acquainted with Diana's writing in late 2002, when I was sent a copy of Crazy Water, Pickled Lemons to review for Good Reading. At the time I said her writing was enchanting, and the enchantment has held: only one of her books doesn't have a prominent place on my shelf (The Gastropub book - I gave it to a charity cookbook sale last year). Her dishes combine ingredients in unexpected and alluring ways, drawing on flavours from all over the world, without being inaccessible. And her books always look so beautiful. I'm a shallow creature: pretty counts for quite a lot with me.
A Change of Appetite is about changing your approach to food. Not a diet cookbook, but a book of plant, wholegrain and pulse-focused recipes that tend to be lower or slower carb and contain less animal protein. A book for a sustainable, healthy way of eating (probably... dietary advice seems to change so frequently! but all this advice is well-researched and signposted for further reading).
Anyway, when I get a new cookbook, I like to put it through its paces. We've been eating a lot of dishes from this one! I've enjoyed every dish we've tried so far and would definitely make them all again. The only problem I've had was figuring out portion sizes - some of the recipes say "serves 4 as a main course" and others say "serves 6" without being so blatantly obvious whether that was in the context of a four course supper or a one-bowl meal. As I was serving two, I ended up mix-and-matching to suit our appetites. For example, making a full quantity of gremolata but halving the amounts of other ingredients, or making a full quantity of salad but halving the grain and protein with it, or serving three eggs between us.
The goat's cheese and cherry salad with almond and basil gremolata (p.98 for those playing at home) has already made an appearance on this blog. It was an excellent use for beautifully fresh cherries! The combination of creamy cheese, sweet, juicy fruit and the nutty, herby, garlicky gremolata made an excellent meal-in-a-bowl. I think this one will adapt well to pears or chunks of persimmon later in the year. Maybe even dried figs, when fresh local produce gets more scarce.
When I tweeted this picture of the Japanese ginger and garlic chicken with smashed cucumber (p.63), Diana responded that my smashed cucumber was insufficiently smashed. So do give it a thorough, stress-releasing whacking. I used red shredded pickled ginger rather than pink because that is what we always seem to have on hand. I made the edamame and sugar snap salad that's a suggested accompaniment, and it was excellent - the miso and ginger dressing is definitely something to keep in mind.
|I'd had a very large lunch, hence this uncharacteristically dainty portion|
I had a bit of trouble getting the dukka to stick to the eggs for the roast tomatoes and lentils with dukka-crumbed eggs (p.164) - which I think is mostly down to taking shortcuts and not crushing it finely enough. The flavours were absolutely wonderful though, so just sprinkling the dukka on top worked fine. I used basil instead of coriander leaves (the basil that we bought at the beginning of summer is doing well), and cherry tomatoes instead of roma. The dish ended up reminiscent of a fairly refined ful medames; very satisfying.
I was very happy with the shawarma chicken with warm chickpea puree and sumac onions (p.217), although when I reheated it, the chickpea puree split and oozed quite a lot of oil. I'm not sure if that was due to the quantity of oil or the fact that I used rapeseed instead of olive oil. Next time I think I'd make the puree more like my usual hummus recipe, with more tahini, less oil and a good slosh of boiling water to bring it together. We had it with some roasted peppers and aubergines. An excellent use for the sumac that I bought and then couldn't remember why.
Japanese rice bowl (p.43) because of the raw fish. Which is a shame because it really is delicious. Again, I used red pickled ginger instead of pink, and I used white sesame seeds instead of black. It's so pretty and such a vibrant tasting bowl of food. It's a very good introduction to raw fish if you are squeamish.
While I was working my way through these recipes, I stuck pretty closely to them. As far as these things go with me. But with the radicchio and red onions on white bean puree (p.288), I couldn't help myself. Diana suggests a lentil, roast grape and red chicory salad with it, which sounded so good, but we didn't need that much food. The notion of roast grapes stuck with me though, so I tossed a bunch of red grapes in the pan with the radicchio and red onions. She also mentions that "if you choose the right plate to serve it on, it even looks rather painterly", which made me think of the reds and whites of Carpaccio paintings and of my other favourite red and white food: good cured pork. I laid some slices of proscuitto in silky folds on top. So my dish looks much messier than the original, but it tasted absolutely superb. And I added a sprig of fresh rosemary, finely chopped, to the bean puree, in memory of the rosemary and tuna skewers on white bean puree, which were all the rage about 15 years ago in Sydney.