Diana Henry’s How To Eat a Peach
Editor Keith Kendrick tries cheddar, onion & spinach tart from the legendary cookery writer and Good Food contributor's new book
When I was a teenager many moons ago, I read a book called Real Men Don’t Eat Quiche, a satire on ideas of masculinity. Growing up on a Manchester council estate, it struck a chord with me. I hated quiche: the wobble from those set eggs and cream made me shudder. No, I didn’t eat the quiche my mum packed into my lunchbox for school trips. That made me a real man, right? For several decades (don’t ask!), I avoided quiche like the proverbial plague. But if this monthly column exists for one reason, it’s to challenge myself. It was time to conquer my childhood phobia: Keith’s quiche quest, so to speak. After poring over several cookbooks, I stumbled upon How To Eat A Peach by the brilliant (Good Food contributing editor) Diana Henry. Her cheddar, onion & spinach tart takes quiche to the next level by giving it a British twist: it has all the components of a traditional French quiche – a blindbaked pastry case filled with a concoction of cream, eggs and cheese atop a base of spinach and slow-cooked onions. But what differentiates Diana’s tart from the quiche I’d grown up to loathe is that hers is ‘very British, with cheddar and richer than a standard quiche’. My wife said it sounded delightful; I wasn’t convinced. But a challenge is a challenge. Tart aside, Diana’s book is filled with her favourite recipes – including the eponymous peach (macerated in moscato wine; served with sea bass) from a menu notebook she started when she was 16. Everything in the book looks delicious – including the tart. So on a quiet Sunday afternoon, I set about whizzing pastry, rolling dough, sweating onions, squeezing spinach and beating eggs, cream and mustard together.
‘It was time to conquer my phobia: Keith’s quiche quest, so to speak’
Blind-baking was an obstacle: I didn’t have any dried beans to hold down the pastry so improvised using some now-defunct one pound coins from the back of the sofa. The first moment of triumph came after the second bake when I opened the oven to find a tart so golden I could have sold it at auction. The next, after half an hour of cooling, came when I gingerly maneuvered the tart from its tin. Still intact! And the third level of ecstasy came as I slid a knife through it to carve out a slice. Firm with a hint of wobbly bounce – yes, wobble! Challenge completed. Phobia conquered.
The verdict It was quite labour intensive, but worth the effort. My wife adored it; our three kids wolfed it down. And me? I had two slices. It turns out I’m not a real man after all! • Turn to p104 for Diana Henry’s maple syrup recipes
Keith’s tart resulted in several stages of elation
How To Eat a Peach by Diana Henry (£25, Mitchell Beazley) is out 5 April.