"I am a home cook," writes Diana Henry, and this is the approach she takes in Salt Sugar Smoke. "I have done everything in this book in a gentle way and didn't spend much on new equipment." Yet the results are glorious: sumptuous fruit jams and curds, savory smoked meats and salted fish, and a very international lineup of condiments, syrups, alcohols, and pickles.
• Who wrote it: Diana Henry
• Who published it: Mitchell Beazley
• Number of recipes: About 250
• Recipes for right now: kumquat and passion fruit jam, spiced feta in olive oil, smoked maple and bourbon chicken, Colette's vin d'orange, whiskey and brown sugar-cured gravlax, hot date and preserved lemon relish.
• Other highlights: There are food preservation books that one must own as practical reference guides, and then there are books that truly inspire and delight. Diana Henry's gorgeous Salt Sugar Smoke is in the latter category. Which is not to say it isn't practical; this book is filled with eminently doable recipes for all who want to fill their pantries with the riches of preserved fruit, vegetables, meat, and fish.
The flavors and ingredient combinations here are special and worldly, from purple fig and pomegranate jam to Thai jungle curry paste, Mexican adobo sauce, and Persian pickled cherries with tarragon. Basics are covered, too, like simple homemade bacon and bread and butter pickles. As Henry beautifully describes, preserved foods are "culinary accessories" that a busy cook can use to easily transform a meal, whether it's a simple plate of steamed vegetables, a roasted chicken, or a bowl of morning yogurt.
New cooks will benefit from easy-to-follow recipes and Henry's "how to use" suggestions, while experienced food preservers will find lots of creative ideas. Revised from the original British edition, the US edition has American measurement units and includes USDA-recommended processes for boiling water bath canning.
• Who would enjoy this book? Anyone who's interested in food preservation; condiment lovers; people who like making edible gifts.
Find the book at your local library, independent bookstore, or Amazon: Salt Sugar Smoke: How to Preserve Fruit, Vegetables, Meat and Fish by Diana Henry
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(Images: Emily Ho)