With Diana Henry

41 min listen

Diana Henry is a critically acclaimed, multi-award winning cook, food writer and author of 12 books including the classic cookbook ‘Roast Figs, Sugar Snow’, which has just been updated and re-released twenty years after it was first published. Diana also writes for newspapers and magazines, and presents food programmes on TV and radio. On this podcast Diana shares childhood memories of her mother’s baking, how ‘Little House on the Prairie‘ influenced her writing and when, on a French exchange trip, she learned how to make the perfect vinaigrette. Presented by Olivia Potts. Produced by Linden Kemkaran.

The growing appeal of the outdoor kitchen

For most of us the main ingredients of outdoor cooking are a smouldering barbecue grill, slabs of alternately under- and over-cooked meat and a light sprinkling of frustration. But these days, it seems, there is another option on the menu. Ever since the pandemic, more and more homeowners have been investing in lavish outdoor kitchens – keeping up with the Joneses with garden wine fridges, rotisserie grills, pizza ovens and professional-quality prep areas so they can cook and eat outside in comfort. The concept has been enthusiastically adopted by the likes of David and Victoria Beckham, who are reportedly awaiting a verdict on a planning application for an all-singing, all-dancing

How chefs cut costs in the kitchen

My grandmother, and many like her, kept an account book for household spending. This was not the product of an overbearing marriage or mistrust on anyone’s behalf – it was simply how things were done at a time when habits had been formed during rationing after the second world war, and banking was manual and slow. I spent a lot of time observing her kitchen on childhood visits. It was where my lifelong obsession with cooking began, and I can still recall a sense of balance in how she shopped and cooked; she was fond of naughty treats and lavish cuts, but she kept a stock pot, knew her way

Why bother cooking?

In a world of ultra-convenience, I think making the argument for home cooking is important. Because a lifestyle of takeaway delivery apps, ready meals or eating out every day is not a recipe for health and happiness, no matter how easy the modern world makes it.   One of the downsides of the cult of the ‘foodie’ is that it can make food and cooking more intimidating than they need to be. If you’re a Londoner, invite friends over for a dinner of lasagne and garlic bread and you’ll have one guest asking if the pasta is fresh or dried and the other telling you to try roasting the garlic

Has the air fryer fad burnt out?

Are you – along with nine million other households in Britain – the proud owner of an air fryer? Amid promises that it could cut energy bills in half, slash cooking times and turn French fries into a bona fide health food, the kitchen gadget soared in popularity last year, with sales increasing by 3,000 per cent on 2021. At one point – much to the consternation of social media chefs, TikTok-ing their every interaction with the machine – there were even fears of a national shortage (mercifully, this never came to pass). Essentially an amped-up convection oven, blasting the food inside with hurricane-strength hot air that goes from 0°C to

Why do we expect to buy tomatoes and cucumbers all year round?

When did it become an inalienable human right for 65 million Britons to have a cucumber in March? When did we suddenly regard the possession, weekly, of a half kilo or so of vine-ripened tomatoes as fundamental to our very being, when our corner of the northern hemisphere is still essentially frozen and has been for months? If we were in southern Italy or if London were transposed with Madrid – so 800 miles closer to the equator – then one might begin to think that a leafy salad or a few tomatoes could or should be a daily staple, even in these darker days. But up here, at 52

The best cookbooks to give this Christmas

I love a good cookbook. In an age where endless variations on any recipe are no more than a few clicks away on the internet, there is still a certain magic to buying, or receiving, a physical, curated collection.  Cookbooks can teach you something in a way that individual online recipes can’t. Whether exploring a new cuisine or trying a new technique, cooking from a cookbook means you can build up a whole repertoire of dishes and hone new skills. I love that you can annotate the pages, and it doesn’t matter if they get mucky (I find you can always tell the best recipes in a book by how

Has the Aga had its day?

A whole chicken, not so much roasted as burnt to a crisp. Charred potatoes. Carrots so blackened they were welded to the pan. And don’t even get me started on the Yorkshire puddings, which resembled lumps of coal, still smoking amid the debris. Only once have I failed (catastrophically I might add, and in front of my entire extended family) to cook an edible roast dinner. And I blame the Aga. Long a middle-class status symbol, Agas – in varying shades of duck-egg blue and volcanic red – can be found in country piles, cosy cottages and even the odd city kitchen. Devotees rhapsodise about the cast-iron cookers, which cost upwards

The delicious joy of cooking for one

I like to think of myself as the hostess with the mostest. A combination of my Type A personality, Jewish feeder tendencies and coming of age at the peak of Nigella’s Domestic Goddess era means I can’t resist pulling out all the stops if I’m having people over. (A theme! Welcome cocktails! Ingredients sourced from far-flung corners of Waitrose!) And yet the truth is, there’s no one I’d rather cook for than myself. It wasn’t until my late teens that I properly learnt my way around a kitchen. My mum always did all the cooking at home, so it was only when I moved 100 miles up the M1 to university

Fit for a king: kedgeree is the most regal of all Anglo-Indian dishes

How does the saying go? ‘Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper.’ Well, if you’re looking for the highest possible status of breakfast, then kedgeree is the dish for you. Bran flakes just don’t quite scratch the same itch. Kedgeree cannot be casual; it requires time, both for preparation and enjoying, and it makes breakfast an occasion. It came to our breakfast tables (or mahogany sideboards) in Victorian times, brought back to Britain by returning colonial officers. It was served in silver chafing dishes, set alongside steaming urns of porridge. Kedgeree is a rice-based dish, flavoured with curried spices and cooked with smoked

The truth about cooking with an air fryer

The phone rang, and on the other end of it was my father. ‘We’ve been thinking,’ he announced before we’d even exchanged pleasantries, ‘you need to get an air fryer. It’s the solution to these energy hikes.’ As a chef and writer with a couple of bestselling cookbooks under my belt, I was of course already familiar with the air fryer phenomenon. The countertop gadget, billed as more energy efficient than regular ovens, has been much hyped as a cost-saver as we face a winter of rocketing bills. But I’d quickly dismissed it as a fad. I had seen the chap with the characterful moustache from the Hairy Bikers waxing

Five tips for a sumptuous summer barbecue

The sun is set to shine again this weekend, and those lucky enough to have access to a garden are turning their minds to al-fresco dining. So we’ve gathered together our top five tips to help you pull off your weekend barbecue – everything from how to get the best out of your meat, to barbecue-friendly puddings. 1. Marinating Marinating meat (and veg!) is a no-brainer when it comes to injecting flavour quickly and easily: using punchy spices, herbs, sugars and salts and letting them get to know the raw meat is minimal work for maximum reward. Ideally, you marinate quite far in advance, 12-24 hours depending on the marinade

My Easter recipe: Greek-style marinated lamb

This is a delicious way to cook lamb with a distinctly Mediterranean feel. It’s super fresh, easy to prepare and would be perfect for Easter Sunday. I would serve it with pitta bread and chilli sauce. It pairs well with a chilled bottle of Sangiovese. Serves 2 The lamb – 2 lamb shanks – 1-2 sprigs rosemary – 1-2 sprigs oregano – 1-2 sprigs mint – 2 tbsp dried oregano – 2 tbsp dried mint – 1 tbsp smoked paprika – ½ tbsp ground cumin – ½ tbsp ground coriander – ½ tbsp Aleppo chilli powder – 500ml lamb stock (or chicken stock) – 1 small red onion, sliced –

The cult of the extortionate ‘English’ kitchen

A house around the corner is on its fourth kitchen in a decade. Every two or three years, the house changes hands, the pristine kitchen comes out and a newer, pristiner kitchen goes in. They are always white, they are always shiny, and when I peer through the basement windows there is nothing in the way of signs of life. I reckon I can predict the next kitchen. Think homespun, think rustic, think scullery maid in mobcap and pinny. What the rich want now is a plain old Plain English kitchen. Hand-crafted cabinets, antiqued brass, Delft tiles with authentic craquelure. Starting at £34,000 and going up to… well, how much

Why restaurant food at home beats eating out

‘The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. But the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth.’ That’s Niels Bohr. Or, as Oscar Wilde put it: ‘In art there is no such thing as a universal truth. A truth in art is that whose contradictory is also true.’ Like physics and art, many other fields require that you embrace contradictions — because you can’t avoid them. Take innovation. Yes, a great deal of progress is combinatory: two or more technologies are combined to accomplish some hitherto impossible task. But, as the Soviet-era scientist Genrich Altshuller noticed, much innovation follows the opposite path, separating things

Why I retrained as a butcher

Two years ago, I enrolled on a butchery course. I rather fancied seeing how the sausage was made, and also envisaged taking home handsome pork chops and having an ‘in’ when I needed to order my Christmas turkey. But the amateur course was no longer offered by my local college. So instead of a four-week, two-hour evening course, I signed up for a year-long Level 2 NVQ in craft butchery that involved a lot more anatomical theory and hairnets than I had anticipated. Butchery work is physically demanding — I wasn’t made for carrying beef forequarters over my shoulder — and comes with the usual risks of a job involving

An intensely quiet and soulful performance from Nicolas Cage: Pig reviewed

What use does a fallen and corrupted world have for a man of integrity? This was not the question I had anticipated walking away with after viewing the new Nicolas Cage indie Pig, but much of the film, from Cage’s intensely quiet and soulful performance to the new ideas it has to offer a very old narrative, was a satisfying surprise. The film is ultimately a story of revenge, but it plays out in unexpected ways. Cage is Robin Feld, a man living off the grid with only a truffle pig and a recording of his deceased wife for companions and a trade in the luxury food item as an

The enduring appeal of the Aga

A cooker is not just for cooking. That is the starting point to understanding the Aga. It is impractical, environmentally unfriendly, and expensive. Everyone – including the Aga’s most ardent devotees – knows that. And yet the Aga cooker next year will celebrate its centenary. Despite all the modern appliances that should long ago have rendered it obsolete, these enamel-coated cast-iron behemoths continue to soldier on indefatigably. They are one of the twenty first century’s great survivors. The brand has a glorious history. The Aga cooker was invented by a Nobel Prize-winning Swedish physicist. Having been blinded by an explosion from an earlier invention that went awry, he decided to

Spring lamb and the bread of affliction: our Zoom seder

This week my son came home from school and asked me if it was true that the Jews killed Jesus. Um, I said. Read the Gospels. Read Hyam Maccoby. Ask your father. My husband is a religious maniac, though Christian. Any patriarchy will do. He insists I pretend to be an ultra-Orthodox Jew for festivals, and finds recipes for weird ceremonial breads. ‘Can’t we make Judaism fun?’ he asks. I reply, aghast: ‘It isn’t supposed to be fun.’ My Judaism is rather Holocaust–centric. I told a family therapist after my parents’ divorce: ‘I lost a father and gained a Shoah.’ Then we buried my husband’s uncle David Watts — not

Cornwall, but not as the locals know it: Stein’s at Home reviewed

The Stein’s at Home steak menu box (£65) says ‘Love from Cornwall’: it is not for people who live in Cornwall. It is, rather, a cardboard mirror of Padstow, Rick Stein’s slate-covered, teal-painted, monstrous Cornish Center Parcs for upper-middle-class holiday-makers, and it has its own whimsical map of Rick Stein outlets in case you stray too far from the Rick Stein path, like Dorothy heading to her death. I went to Padstow during the first lockdown and heard guilty testimony: some natives enjoyed pandemic because Padstow was almost real again. But that is over now, and here comes the counter-revolution to reassert itself in cardboard. People will follow later. Cornish