CATHI LITZENBERGER: Peaches are stars of versatility


  • Aug. 25, 2011 12:00 p.m.

Peaches are now ripening in larger numbers on my two little trees and with that comes a need to try out new recipes.

Peach trees originated in China where many folk tales and traditions are associated  with them. Even to this day, the peach tree is highly prized in Chinese culture.

Peaches are classified as a stone fruit and should be stored at room temperature and not in the refrigerator, as doing so will lessen the taste of the fruit.

Today I have two peach recipes for you; one is quick and easy, the other takes a little time and is perfect for a lovely dessert with friends or small family gatherings. The Peach Melba was invented by a French chef and combines two favourite summer fruits with ice cream. The grilled peaches can be used as a dessert with ice cream or as a savoury side with pork or game.

Peach Melba

Poached Peaches:

4 cups water

2 cups sugar

1 vanilla bean

8 peaches

Vanilla Ice Cream:

1 cup whole milk

1 cup heavy cream

1 Tahitian vanilla bean

1/2 cup sugar

4 egg yolks

Raspberry Coulis:

2 pints fresh raspberries

1/3 cup sugar, or to taste

1/2 tbsp. lemon juice

Citrus Lace Tuiles:

1-2/3 cups sugar

1 cup flour

3/4 cup orange juice

2 tbsp. lemon juice

14 tbsp. butter, melted and cooled

1 tsp. grated lemon zest

1 tsp. grated orange zest

For the peaches: Combine the water, sugar and vanilla bean (split) in a large saucepan and bring to a boil.

Cut the peaches in half and discard the pits. Place the peach halves in the syrup and poach them for 8-10 minutes over medium heat. Remove the peaches from the syrup and remove the skins. Let the syrup cool a bit and return the poached halves in it. Refrigerate, preferably overnight.

For the Ice cream: In a medium saucepan put the vanilla bean pulp and pod, the milk, cream and 1/4 cup of the sugar. Bring to a boil. Remove from the heat  and cover to infuse.

In a medium bowl, combine the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar and the egg yolks and whisk until the mixture turns pale. Strain the vanilla-infused cream and bring it back to a boil. Gradually pour half of the hot cream over the egg yolks while whisking, then pour the mixture back into the saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat until the mixture thickens just enough to coat the back of a spoon. Don’t boil it or it will break! Cool completely in an ice-bath and refrigerate.

Freeze the custard in an ice-cream maker and keep in the freezer.

For the Raspberry Coulis:

Place the raspberries, lemon juice and sugar in the bowl of a blender. Blend until you obtain a smooth purée. Strain and discard the seeds.

For Citrus Lace Tuiles:

In a mixer, whisk together the flour and sugar. With the mixer on low speed, drizzle in the orange and lemon juice and mix until smooth. Drizzle in the melted (cooled) butter and the zest. Mix until smooth. Refrigerate at least 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Place parchment paper on a baking tray. Drop teaspoons of batter on the paper and use your finger to spread it around into thin rounds of batter. Bake about 10 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool for 1 minute before removing tuiles with offset spatula.

To Assemble: Place 2 scoops of vanilla ice-cream in a bowl, top with 2 poached peach halves, drizzle with raspberry syrup. Serve with a tuile.

Grilled Fresh Peaches

3 large fresh peaches

1 tbsp. light brown sugar

1 tbsp. melted butter

Small pinch nutmeg

Pinch of salt

Freshly ground pepper to taste, optional (omit if making for dessert)

In small bowl mix the sugar, butter, nutmeg, salt and black pepper (omit pepper if making a dessert).

Carefully brush the grates of a hot grill with an oiled paper towel. Place the peach halves on the grill, cut side down. Grill for 2 minutes and turn.

Immediately spoon and spread a little of the sugar mixture over the hot peach halves. Cook for another 2-3 minutes, remove and serve hot, room temperature or cold with pork or fowl or with ice cream as a dessert.

Cathi Litzenberger is The Morning Star’s longtime food columnist.