Roast Figs, Sugar Snow by Diana Henry is a feast for the imagination. Read the introductions to each chapter and you will find vivid pictures of warm, comforting food wafting up from the pages, inspiring you to move from your chair into the kitchen.
While you may not be interested in every recipe, I find books like this valuable for putting ideas in my head, giving me a craving for a new ingredient, or reminding me of something I’ve made in the past that needs to be revisited.
Let me give you the chapter titles, and see if these alone don’t cause your mouth to begin watering:
Ripe and Ready: cheese
Gathering In: chestnuts, hazelnuts, walnuts and pecans
Earthly Pleasures: pumpkin, squash, beans and lentils
Field Days: winter vegetables
Tales from the Hunt: game and wild mushrooms
The Fat of the Land: pork
Of Wood and Smoke: smoked food
Apples in the Attic: apples, pears and quinces
The Colour Purple: plums, damsons and figs
Winter on Your Tongue: herbs, spices and sour cream
From Hedgerow and Bog: cranberries, blackberries, sloes and rosehips
Sugar Snow: maple syrup
Now, don’t you feel yourself wanting to dive into the pages of those chapters for some Georgian Cheese Pies, Salad of Pear, Hazelnuts, and Blue Cheese, Pecan and Pear Upside Down Cake, Vermont Baked Beans, Roast Beetroot Salad, Roast Squash with Porcini Cream, Sour Cream Apple Pie Muffins, or Swedish Meatballs with Cranberry Sauce.
If you can’t get ahold of the book, you can at least try this recipe:
TAGLIATELLE WITH ROAST SQUASH, SAGE, RICOTTA AND SMOKED CHEESE
(adapted from Roast Figs, Sugar Snow)
3 lbs butternut squash
6 Tbsp. butter
salt & pepper
21 oz. fresh tagliatelle (or dried pasta if you don’t want to buy fresh)
handful of sage leaves
2 oz ricotta cheese
4 1/2 oz smoked cheese, grated
Preheat oven to 350F. Peel and chop the squash into 1/2-inch dice. Place on a baking sheet and drizzle with a little olive oil and dot with 2 Tbsp. of the butter. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast squash in oven for about 20-25 minutes until tender.
When the squash is almost ready, cook the fresh pasta in boiling water according to package directions. Melt the rest of the butter and gently fry the sage leaves in it. When the pasta is ready, drain and stir in the butter and sage mixture, seasoning well. Gently toss with the roast squash.
Divide the pasta between plates and top with chunks of ricotta and the grated smoked cheese. Add a good grinding of black pepper.
And just in case you need a little more prodding to give this book a read, check out the Salad of Pear, Hazelnuts and Blue Cheese:
or the Harvest Moon Cake with Maple and Pecans. I think I’ve convinced myself that I need to sit down for another read of this book and try out a few more recipes. Enjoy!