Mark Diacono is a man of many talents: he is a gardener, nursery owner, foodwriter and photographer; and his new book, Herb, is the perfect expression of his interests. It is indeed, a beautiful book, and one which makes me want to cultivate my garden just as much as scurry to the kitchen. After his last book Sour I was compelled to get a ginger rosemary from his nursery, Otter Farm, and now I’m itching to get my hands on Anise Hyssop which, according to Diacono, "looks like the offspring of a one-night stand mint had with a nettle” and Shiso, which “forms a rope bridge of flavour that spans the gap between mint and cumin”. And that’s just for starters: it’s impossible not to feel excited by the clutches of homegrown flavour you can add to your cooking from your garden or a window box or two. And while this book is an encouraging and inspiring primer on herb growing and usage, it is also filled with recipes that just beg to be made, from Chermoula and Chimichurri, to Deep-Fried Potatoes in Rosemary Butter, Lemon Thyme and Leek Tart, Malaysian Fried Chicken in Curry Leaves, to a splendiferous Quadruple Fig, Lemon Verbena and Sherry Trifle. But the recipe I had to share with you today is for his rich and enticing, low-and-slow Beef Braised in Ale with Persillade.
Herb by Mark Diacono (Quadrille, £26).