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

BBC Good Food - - Update -

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.

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