by Diana Henry
Photographs © Laura Edwards
Simple may be Diana Henry’s 10th cookbook but who’s counting? And, in case you aren’t familiar with Ms. Henry’s credentials, just know that her book A Bird in the Hand : Chicken Recipes for Every Day and Every Mood won the 2016 James Beard book award in the Single Subject category.
Back in 2007, Ms. Henry released Pure Simple Cooking, a cookbook with each chapter focused on one of 12 ingredients. That book was created as a result of her newborn taking away much of the time she had to devote to elaborate recipes. She realized those long and luxurious cooking sessions weren’t going to happen for a while.
That child is now 17, and the recipes she creates today still revolve around the fact that she likes simple cooking during the week, but she also has time for more elaborate or time consuming recipes on the weekends. This new book is based on that premise so you can choose how “involved” you can or want to be.
She offers recipes which serve 2, 4, 6, or 8 and that’s helpful. Of course, you can always double or triple recipes, but it’s a great time-saving option if your home is occupied by two, to be able to just focus on those which serve 2.
We’ve come to expect unusual ingredients in recipes, or at least an unusual use of an ingredient we use every day. As I was scanning through the Contents page, between the chapters Toast and Pasta & Grains, there was a chapter dubbed Pulses. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the term but it’s common in England and Canada. A pulse is part of the legume family but only refers to the dried seeds, ergo dried peas, lentils, and chickpeas are all pulses. There are nine recipes in the Pulses chapter.
Ms. Henry’s recipes run the gamut from Persian-inspired Eggs with Dates & Chili, to Bream Stuffed with Walnuts & Pomegranates, to Spanish Spiced Pork with Sherried Onions, and ends with a chapter called Fruit Desserts and Other Sweet Things (think Baked Plum in Sloe Gin, and Raisin and Lemon & Marsala Bread & Butter Pudding).
We are closing in on pumpkin season, so consider Pork Loin with Pumpkin Puree & Pecorino as the star of your next dinner party.
- For the pork:
- 4½ pounds boneless pork loin, skin off
- 6 garlic cloves, sliced
- 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
- 1 teaspoon chili flakes
- ¼ cup olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- For the puree:
- 2 pounds 10 ounces butternut squash or well flavored pumpkin
- Olive oil
- Freshly grated nutmeg
- ½ cup mascarpone
- Pecorino cheese, shaved, to serve
- Lay the pork on a board, flesh-side up, and make incisions all over it with a sharp knife. Push slivers of garlic into the incisions. Crush the fennel and chili flakes in a mortar and pestle, add the olive oil, season, and rub this all over the flesh, pushing bits down inside the slits. Place in a dish, cover, and put in the fridge overnight, then return it to room temperature before cooking.
- Preheat the oven to 425°F. Roll the loin and tie at intervals with kitchen string (not too tight; it should hold its shape, not look like a sausage). Cook for 25 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F and cook for one hour, basting now and then. Cut the squash into wedges and remove the seeds. Put the wedges into a roasting pan, drizzle with olive oil, season, and bake alongside the pork until completely tender, about 40 minutes.
- Check the pork for doneness; the juices should run clear with no trace of pink when pierced. Cover with foil, insulate (I use dish cloths), and let rest for 15 minutes.
- Discard the skin from the squash. Puree with plenty of seasoning, nutmeg, and the mascarpone. Gently heat, then scrape into a warm dish and top with pecorino shavings. Serve with the pork.