Sunday, June 26, 2016

Peach Melba

Recipe by Robin

Two of my favorite things about summer are peaches and raspberries. For years I’ve had the idea of combining them into peach melba, a dessert of poached peaches, ice cream, and raspberry sauce. Originally created for the Victorian opera star Nellie Melba by legendary French chef and restaurateur Auguste Escoffier, the recipe, though it sounds fancy, is surprisingly simple (especially after eliminating Escoffier’s hand-carved ice swan presentation).  I cut down the amount of sugar significantly, both in the peaches and the sauce, allowing the full flavor of the ripe fruit to shine through.

Peaches, Raspberries, Lemon, and Vanilla Bean
Simply Seductive Summery Ingredients
The most demanding part of the recipe is the time that the peaches take to marinate and chill. The sauce must also chill. Poaching the peaches early in the day and letting them marinate and cool in the poaching liquid gives them maximum vanilla bean kick. However, serving the peaches slightly warm or at room temperature is an intriguing variation. Or serve the raspberry sauce warm, a la hot fudge.

Because of the amount of poaching liquid required, and the amount of sauce, it doesn’t make sense to poach fewer than 3 large peaches. This will serve 3 with two peach halves apiece. If you’ve had a meal beforehand, you can stretch the recipe to serve 6 by allowing one peach half per person. And yet, the peaches are so delicately and deliciously flavored that I recommend poaching two batches (6 peaches) instead. After all, it counts as a fruit.

Happy Summer! I hope that you enjoy this recipe as much as my family does.

Poached Peach Mandala
Peach Melba
Serves 3

3 large peaches
3 cups water
2 cups sugar
3-inch piece vanilla bean
2 tbsp. Meyer lemon juice
1 cup raspberries
¼ cup sugar
1/3 cup water
1½ tsp. Meyer lemon juice
1 pint vanilla ice cream
light whipped cream (optional garnish)

To Make Peaches:
Cut peaches in half and remove stones, but if stones don’t come out easily, you can remove them after poaching. Add 3 cups water and 2 cups sugar to 2-quart saucepan. Split and scrape vanilla bean into saucepan, and add vanilla bean husk and 2 tbsp. Meyer lemon juice. Bring mixture to a boil over high heat and boil hard about 1 minute. Be sure that sugar is completely dissolved.

Reduce heat to medium and add peach halves. Cook peaches at a low simmer for 6 minutes on one side. Flip peaches and simmer an additional 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let peaches cool in liquid. When peaches are cool enough to handle, remove skins and stones. and continue to marinate until completely cool, an hour or two. Then chill peaches in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

NOTE: if you are preparing more servings, you can remove the peaches and poach more at this time. You can also freeze the liquid and reuse it to poach peaches for future menus.

To Make Raspberry Sauce:
Put raspberries in food processor and pulse until broken up into consistent mush. Force raspberries through a sieve using a rubber scraper and a metal spoon (round soup spoon works well), into a small saucepan. Scrape bottom of sieve into the saucepan. Add ¼ cup sugar, 1/3 cup water, and 1½ tsp. Meyer lemon juice. Bring to boil over medium high heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved.  Simmer, stirring frequently, for 2 minutes. Pour into a cream pitcher and let cool.

To Serve Peach Melba:
In wide bowls, place two peach halves per serving, cut side down. Add two scoops of ice cream (about 1/3 cup each) to each bowl. Top with raspberry sauce, and dollop of whipped cream if desired. Serve with leftover raspberry sauce in cream pitcher.

The Delicious Process of Consumption

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