Our Verdict: How to Eat a Peach

Maureen: This is less of a cookbook and more a memoir about food.

Kirstin: It’s a lovely book to own about food, but it’s not a cookbook.

Maureen: I liked the way she organised things by menu, which is great if you’re planning a big multi-course meal for friends and family, but it’s less good when you’re looking to make something on a Wednesday night.

Kirstin: Preferably with fennel. She really loves fennel.

Maureen: She’s a beautiful writer, to be sure.

Kirstin: And the pictures were beaiutiful

Maureen: I liked the peach-like cover– that was pretty clever and it felt nice, too.

Kirstin: I loved the cover, too. The writing was good, but again it’s not a book you can cook from.

Maureen: We knew that going in, though. We didn’t think it would be a very useful book, but we thought it would be a nice one to have.

Kirstin: Exactly.

Maureen: She’s still one of my favourite food writers, I just don’t think this is a very useful book.

Kirstin: Completely.

“How to Eat a Peach”
Overall Grade (A- F):  C (Maureen) C (Kirstin)
Best recipes: Maureen: I’m not really sure it’s that kind of book, but I can’t think of one I would make again. Kirstin: The pork I made was really good.
Grade for Photography (A-F):  A. I love Laura Edwards.
Any disasters? Kirstin: No. Maureen: No disasters, but the broad bean crostini was huge faff.
Bookshelf or Charity Shop Donation? Kirstin: Bookshelf, for the photography. Maureen: Charity Shop Donation because I don’t see ever using it again.                                              Would You Give This Book to a Friend?: Unfortunately, no.

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Our Verdict: How to Eat a Peach

A Summer Sunday Lunch from “How to Eat a Peach”

That’s not what the lovely Diana Henry called it, but that’s what I’m calling it because that’s what it was. On this particular Sunday, I made “Crostini with Crushed Broad Beans & Nduja” along with “Roast Sea Bass with Fennl & Anise Aïoli” and “Tomatoes Provençales aux Anchois.”

It’s been an unusually hot summer here in London, which has been lovely, for the most part. I mean, it did start to get a bit old when all of our grass died and I had to wake up every morning at 7 a.m. to walk our dog before the heat of the day set in. But by and large, it’s been nice. However, living in such unusual heat did have its fair share of cooking challenges because often I just couldn’t face cooking because that would only make me hotter.

As Kirstin said before, this cookbook is unusual in that it’s organised by menu rather than courses. This does make it difficult to find something to make for, say, a hot Wednesday night. But if you’re planning on spending some time on a meal, which is often the case for me on Sundays, this would be a good book for that. She also helpfully organises the book by “Spring and Summer” and “Autumn and Winter,” which meant I kept to the first half of the book this time of year.

Roasting a whole sea bass is certainly a treat because it’s definitely more expensive than our usual meals. But it looks impressive when you bring it to the table, and once it’s all said and done, it’s a pretty easy dish to make, which would be perfect for a dinner party. We loved the fish.

Half of the family liked the the tomatoes provençales– the half of the family that loves tomatoes. The other half wasn’t so keen, but I don’t think that was a failure of the recipe, but instead a failure of their taste buds (I am in the half of the family that LOVES tomatoes). For what it’s worth, I cut up one of the leftover ones and added it to scrambled eggs the next morning for breakfast and it was delicious too.

Unfortunately, given that everything else was so good, the crostini was a total faff and definitely more trouble than it was worth. Cooking, podding and mashing the beans took a ridiculously long time. Crostini, which is just fancy toast, really is delicious but I’m not going to spend an hour getting the ingredient that goes on top ready. Next time I’ll follow her alternative suggestion and use peas instead and use the time I saved reading a good book.

But all in all, a delicious summer Sunday lunch.

 

A Summer Sunday Lunch from “How to Eat a Peach”

“Spatchcocked Chicken” from “How to Eat a Peach”

The full title to this should be, “Spatchcocked Chicken with Chilli, Garlic, Parsley and Almond Pangrattato.” In the introduction, Diana Henry admits that there’s nothing more to this than roast chicken with yummy stuff scattered over the top when it’s done roasting.

That’s absolutely true, but it’s also absolutely delicious. And frankly, what’s wrong with a roast chicken with chilli, garlic, parsley and almond pangrattato scattered over the top? Nothing at all.

Also, here’s a top tip from our friendly butcher at Dring’s: while it is relatively easy to spatchcock a chicken yourself, it’s better to get someone else to do it because it might ruin your knives if you do it. Good to know. (Also, I’m pretty lazy and when any task can be done by my butcher– deboning, deskinning, de-anything– I’ll have them do it.)

This one was a winner. We’ve been having an unusually scorching summer in London, so this was also a good one to make in the heat because I could bang the chicken in the oven, and then leave the hot kitchen to go read out back. But this would work any time of year, frankly.

“Spatchcocked Chicken” from “How to Eat a Peach”

Our Verdict: Simple: Effortless Food, Big Flavours

Maureen: I liked this book, almost everything we tried was good, but I feel bad that I didn’t have a chance to try more recipes.

Kirstin: Me too.

Maureen: The thing I liked about this cookbook is there were a lot of good dinners that could be made on a weeknight that were delicious but didn’t require a lot of effort. I can see going back to this book again and again.

Kirstin: She’s like the modern-day equivalent of Nigel Slater.

Maureen: I agree.

Kirstin:  I hate to say this, but I liked her other books more. This one had a lot of fruit with savory dishes, which I don’t like. That’s just me, but that also means there were a lot of recipes that didn’t interest me.

Maureen: I can see what you mean. I think I liked it better than you did, but I still don’t think it’s flawless.

Kirstin: I would like for her to do a fish book. That would be amazing.

Maureen: If she did a fish book, that would make Fish Fridays that much easier. We had lots of good fish out of this book. The salmon, in particular, was great.

Kirstin: I’m looking forward to her next book. She’s always a treat.

Maureen: Nigella said, “This is everything I want from a cookbook,” and I have to agree.

 

Overall Grade (A- F): A (Maureen) B (Kirstin)
Best recipes: (Maureen) Flourless chocolate cake.
Grade for Photography (A-F): B
Any disasters? (Kirstin) Goan fish curry. (Maureen) Orzo with lemon and parsley
Bookshelf or Charity Shop Donation? Bookshelf.
Would you give this to a friend? Yes. It’s got a good variety of recipes and they (mostly) all worked.

Our Verdict: Simple: Effortless Food, Big Flavours

“Salmon with Tomatoes, Pea and Basil Puree” from “Simple: Effortless Food, Big Flavours”

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Maureen: FISH FRIDAY!

Andrew (17): This is absolutely delicious.

Nicholas (13): Yum.

Andrew: This is the best fish you’ve made in a long time.

Nicholas: I agree.

Maureen: I’m surprised you like it so much. I agree it’s great, but I don’t think it’s radically different from other fish I’ve done.

Andrew: I don’t know. It’s just really good.

Maureen: Well, one for the books then. We should definitely have this again if you like it so much.

Andrew: Yes. We definitely should.

If you’d like to make this yourself, the recipe can be found on Google Books by clicking through this sentence.

“Salmon with Tomatoes, Pea and Basil Puree” from “Simple: Effortless Food, Big Flavours”

“Tim’s Parmesan Chicken” from “Simple”

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI can’t adequately express how important chicken parmesan is to this family. It is, far and away, our favourite meal.

Something to celebrate? Let’s have chicken parm. Something to bemoan? Chicken parm. Special visitors? Chicken parm. Friends we haven’t seen in years? Chicken parm. Special requests by houseguest? Chicken parm. General “I can’t think of what to make for dinner”? Chicken parm.

[True Fact: Every time we see our Chicago neighbours who lived across the street from us 18 years ago, they ask me to make chicken parm. It doesn’t matter where we are: London, Chicago, wherever, the request is always the same. And I always make it. Yum.]

So when I saw this recipe, I was very intrigued. Surely it wouldn’t be as beloved as our own chicken parm, but it would be worth trying it out. Also, it’s by a guy called Tim, so it’s BOUND to be good.

Alas, it wasn’t as good as the one I’ve always made, but it still was delicious. I would have been incredibly surprised if it had surpassed our love of our usual version, given that our version is slathered in homemade tomato sauce and mountains of mozzarella cheese.

In this version, you bread the chicken thighs and cover them in parmesan, but then bake– rather than fry and bake– them. Tim (our Tim, not the author of the recipe) liked that the chicken’s crust was drier than it is when I fry and then bake it. The rest of us weren’t as convinced, but we were always going to be tough customers when it came to this recipe.

Would it make this recipe again? Probably not. Would I make chicken parm again? Until the end of days. Obviously.

Like to try Tim’s Chicken Parmesan? Click on this paragraph to find the recipe in the paragraph.

Want to try our most favourite dish ever? Let me know in the comments and I’ll post it here.

“Tim’s Parmesan Chicken” from “Simple”

“Roast Citrus, Ginger and Honey Chicken” from “Simple”

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Tom: This looks totally epic. The sauce is wonderfully dark; it almost looks like a duck sauce!

Kirstin: I know what you mean.

Tom: And the sauce is a little spicy too. What’s in it?

Kirstin: She says to add some hot sauce. So I added some sriracha. Along with the ginger and other goodies.

Tom: It’s brilliant!

Kirstin: It’s almost like a hot sweet and sour, right?

Tom: I think it’s like having Peking duck as chicken.

Ella: I’m glad we’re chicken it out.

Kirstin: GAH!

“Roast Citrus, Ginger and Honey Chicken” from “Simple”