Toni Waterfall Reviews A Bird in the Hand by Diana Henry

Toni Waterfall Reviews A Bird in the Hand by Diana Henry

When Nigella Lawson admits “I wish I had written this book” and Yotam Ottolenghi reveals “everything Diana Henry cooks I want to eat”, you know it can’t be bad. That, and the fact I’ve been following Diana (not literally – that would be weird) for some time now, reading her regular columns in The Telegraph’s supplement magazine for the best part of a decade. A couple of her previous books – Cook Simple and Salt Sugar Smoke – feature on my bookshelf, so I knew from experience that A Bird in the Hand would also be full of both dinner-in-a-jiffy meals and slow-cooked, simmering feasts. In fact, the chapters are handily labelled as such: from ‘dishes for every night of the week’ and ‘chicken salads’ to ‘Sunday lunches and posh dinners’ and ‘what to do with the rest of that bird’ – making it very easy to thumb through to the section that appeals.

For me, a good cookbook deserves the attention you would give a bestselling novel. So, rather than hastily flicking through it (while resting my elbows against the kitchen worktop as my four-year-old daughter runs between my legs singing ‘Let it Go’), I curl up in bed with mine, taking in the author’s description of dishes as I drift off into a world of culinary adventures. Diana’s words are written in her infectious, passionate, witty style, which made it hard to put down. I also tend to eat with my eyes when it comes to cookbooks, so was delighted to see that this one was rammed full of beautifully-styled, drool-worthy photos.

One in particular caught my eye: her ‘Turkish-spiced chicken with hot green relish’. It looked fresh and zingy, and was the perfect balance of simple-but-impressive; as well as being healthy and reasonably inexpensive (even though I tend to go for pricier meat options these days – I just eat it less often). The chicken called for a fragrant marinade of cinnamon, cayenne pepper, cumin and garlic, which I made the day before and left the thighs to soak in overnight (although you can do this for just a couple of hours if time is of the essence).

Just before I was ready to griddle the chicken, I turned my attention to the relish. There was plenty of fresh garlic in this too, along with half a jar of olives and a whole green and red chilli (I didn’t remove the seeds, as recommended, as I knew they weren’t of the hottest variety). Everything was bashed together in a mortar with plenty of coriander and mint, extra virgin olive oil, white balsamic vinegar and lemon juice.

Turkish-Spiced Chicken with Hot Green Relish

A teaspoon to sample turned into a ladleful to scoff; I couldn’t keep my hands off the stuff, and was glad I had made enough for 4-6 for just the two of us. I served the browned chicken with a generous dollop of (what was left of) the relish and some aromatic rice; although Diana mentioned that it could all be stuffed into a wrap with salad – noted for next time.

The vibrant colours on the plate instantly made me forget it was a bitterly cold, grey February night and (always thinking ahead to the summer – even in October) I immediately envisaged serving it at a twilight barbecue on a balmy summer’s evening.

It would surely be the star of the show: the chicken was juicy and succulent, having absorbed all of the garlic-infused spice mix. And the salsa (can it be dubbed a ‘salsa’ without tomatoes?) was the epitome of ‘clean tasting’ – zesty, spicy, fresh – and sent my tastebuds into overdrive.

This book – an ode to the chicken – claims to have a recipe for every day and to suit every mood. I can certainly believe that. I’ve already got post-it notes earmarking several pages for different occasions: a warm salad of chipotle-griddled chicken, chorizo, quinoa and lime crème fraîche to make for a quick lunch; a ‘royal’ chicken korma ideal for a Friday night supper in front of the telly; and roast chicken with truffles (I’ll save this one for payday, I think). One thing’s for sure: Diana Henry’s treasure trove of deliciousness has helped rekindle my romance with chicken, leaving me clucking for more.

A Bird in the Hand: Chicken Recipes for Every Day and Every Mood by Diana Henry is available to order online today as a Hardback and eBook.

If you’ve been inspired to try the recipe for yourself then you can view Diana’s full recipe here: Turkish-Spiced Chicken with Hot Green Relish. Let us know how you get on in the comments box below.

Toni Waterfall

Toni Waterfall – Cookery, Food & Drink A mum with a food-loving family and a part-time pescatarian lifestyle, I’m always searching for delicious and practical ideas to try in the kitchen. My all-time favourite chef is Gordon Ramsay, but I’ve never made a bad meal using a Jamie Oliver recipe. Spaghetti bolognaise is the go-to meal in my household, but I also enjoy cooking curries from scratch – especially seafood ones. I always say that balance and seasoning are crucial elements of getting a dish right. I’m constantly thinking ahead to the next meal and am an impulsive, daily supermarket shopper, as opposed to a weekly bulk buyer.