Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Diana Henry's 'Crazy Salad' Revisited by "One Step Too Far" Author Tina Seskis + Ten Other Favorite Diana Henry Dishes From the Past Six Months

If you read this blog regularly you know that I do a good amount of book reviews and because Kahakai Kitchen is at its heart a food blog, I almost always pair my reviews with a recipe inspired by my reading whether it's a 'foodie' book or not. Most of the time the authors seem to like this or at least find it interesting. Few authors however become enamoured by the dish, make it themselves, and even send me a picture of it. 

When I reviewed the psychological mystery/thriller One Step Too Far by Tina Seskis, as a stop on the TLC Book Tour back in January, I paired it with a fabulous Diana Henry recipe called "Crazy Salad"--saying "...I realized that crazy salad actually captured my feelings about the book--the coming together of the different perspectives, time periods and 'hints' thrown out by the author, that seemed disjointed but came together in the end--much like the many ingredients in this salad that may seem somewhat random, but ultimately come together and taste great. A little crazy, but in the end--very good."

(Find my review of One Step Too Far and the recipe for Diana's 'Crazy Salad' here.) 

Tina Seskis, the author, sent me a lovely email thanking me for the review and saying she loved the pairing (and that she understood that I meant the book and the salad were both crazy in the best way possible!) ;-) and once the weather warmed up a bit in London, she was going to try the salad for herself. I told her that if she made it and took a picture of it, I would love to post it. So she did, and so I am!

Diana Henry's 'Crazy Salad' as interpreted by Author Tina Seskis

Tina says, "I absolutely loved the idea on Kahakai Kitchen of reviewing books and linking them with meals, but I am also a sucker for a pulse-based salad so was keen to give your Crazy Salad a go. So I thought I'd send you my version, and here it is, with just a few alterations (addition of red onion, omission of carrots, extra chilli oil, extra harissa) and it was delicious. Thanks also for your review of One Step Too Far, it's never been called "crazy" before but very glad you enjoyed it. I wonder what you will pair my next book with - its title is When We Were Friends..."

Tina did a fabulous job on the salad and definitely has me craving it again--as well as waiting anxiously for her next book. Will it spark another crazy good pairing? Hmm...

Of course I can't take credit for genius of the recipe--that was all chef and cookbook author Diana Henry. Crazy Salad with its mix of grains, veggies, fruit and harissa-spiked dressing, was one of my favorite recipes that I cooked along with her and the gang at I Heart Cooking Clubs over the past six months. It is hard to say goodbye to a weekly Diana Henry recipe as I have loved so many of her dishes. I know that we will be cooking a lot more together for IHCC Potluck weeks and just because her recipes are always so good.

To send her out in style, here are ten of my other Diana Henry favorites. It was hard to choose just ten(ish--I snuck a two-for-one in there) and they are in no particular order. These are the recipes that I most loved and the ones that I craved long after making them. 

Eastern Salmon Carpaccio was fresh, full of flavor and just plain fabulous. The Asian flavors and gorgeous color made it a dish long remembered. An quick and easy weeknight dinner that would also be perfect for entertaining.

A completely different take on salmon was Diana's drool-worthy Salmon Hash with Creamy Mustard Sauce. Big chunks of salmon and Yukon Gold potatoes mixed with spinach and a delectable mustard sauce had me sad when I ate the last serving. So good!

Simple to make and beautiful to look at, Yogurt with Honeyed Saffron Syrup, Apricot Compote, & Toasted Almonds was another favorite for dessert and/or breakfast. The exotic flavors of saffron, honey and orange flower water paired so well with the apricots and yogurt and the toasty crunch of almonds.  

Diana is equally adept at indulgent dishes like this wonderful Smoked Trout and Leek Risotto which was decadent, rich and creamy. Who knew smoked trout and Parmigiano-Reggiano would pair so well together?!

I would love to claim that Diana's Cabbage & Leek Colcannon is health food--especially since I added kale to the mix but there is far too much Irish butter in this mashed potato dish to make it healthy. No matter--if you have ever turned up your nose at cabbage and kale, try them in this dish and you will be hooked!

A healthier turn and certainly more colorful was this Chermoula-Marinated Tuna with Pomegranate Couscous. I totally fell for the flavors and textures of this dish. Plus, pomegranate seeds make any dish a party!

I made a few of Diana's soups but two especially stood out: her Niçoise Vegetable Stew with Rouille (and Tuna) had such unique flavor that Diana called "gutsy." With the spicy and garlicky rouille sauce it packed a flavor punch for sure.

The second soup that I can't stop thinking about was the first recipe I made with Diana for IHCC, Moroccan Lentil Soup with Yogurt & Chilli-Fried Onions. It certainly elevates a bowl of lentil soup with the slight smokiness of the cumin, the aromatic and slight sweetness or the coriander and the ras el hanout blend. Then the toppings of cool tangy yogurt and those sweet and spicy onions. Yum!

A two-fer, perfect for a party plate are Diana's Spiced Feta in Olive Oil and Persian Marinated Olives. The thyme, fennel and pepper give the cheese plenty of flavor without overpowering it and the olives were a great mix of dill, cilantro and parsley with lemon and chile. Wonderfully munch-able. 

Finally, this pretty Orange & Fennel Salad with Pomegranate & Feta is a another favorite Diana Henry salad. Such excellent flavors and colors--along with the fennel, the salty, creamy feta contrasted well with the honey in the dressing and the sweet oranges and slightly tangy pomegranate seeds. I have made it a couple of times since the post and enjoyed it each time.

What a fabulous six months it was! I am hungry all over again just looking at these recipes.

A big thanks to Tina Seskis for letting me share her salad skills. I will be including it in my Souper Sundays roundup post this weekend. If you like dark, suspenseful psychological thrillers and to be kept guessing, give One Step Too Far a try.

This post will be linking up for our Farewell to Diana Henry! tribute at I Heart Cooking Clubs. You can see the recipes everyone chose to make and/or remember this week by following the picture links on the post. 

Which Diana Henry dish is your favorite or which of her dishes would you want to make?


  1. Lovely to revisit some of your great Diana Henry posts!

  2. What great recipes to farewell Diana Henry Deb!
    I am a newbie to this series!

  3. Joyce, Kitchen FlavoursApril 4, 2015 at 4:04 AM

    Delicious roundup on your favourite Diana Henry's recipes! And Tina Seskis's salad looks fabulous! So sweet of her to share her version of the salad!

  4. Awesome! I love that the author read your review, loved the pairing,and made it for herself! That is so cool:)

    Happy to see that you had so many favorites with DH. That certainly speaks well of her recipes. The red lentil soup and the salmon hash are still on my list, but I'm also eying the Persian olives and spiced feta. Such a beautiful roundup of food, Deb!

  5. Lovely! Hope to cook the recipes of Jacques Pepin with you over the next six months. :)

  6. Couscous & ConsciousnessApril 5, 2015 at 11:06 PM

    Deb, I love all of your favourites - you made some great dishes - especially that Crazy Salad. I totally love that Tina Seskis read your review and made the salad too, and her version looks lovely as well.


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