There are certain times of year that some foods just taste better. It creates anticipation inside me, especially when I go to Kroger or a farmer's market and see a big display of the "first of the season" fruits or vegetables, like early spring strawberries or late summer vine-ripened tomatoes. There is also another food that I always look forward to… peaches!
Peaches are an old fruit. They date back to the 10th century BC China. As the Roman Empire grew toward the east, trade allowed peaches to spread throughout Europe. So when the New World was discovered, the Spanish explorers brought them over and began to plant them. The American Indians loved peaches so much that they continued to plant them all over the country. The U.S. is now the second biggest producer of peaches in the world behind China. I love food history…can't you tell?
One of my favorite recipes to make with peaches is actually a drink. For some reason, peaches and sangria fit together like peanut butter and jelly. Every year for the past four years I have been the featured chef at the Salem Farmer's Market Chef Circle. This past year I happened to use peaches and nectarines in a sangria recipe that I made for the 200 people in the crowd. They loved it! I can't tell you how many summer nights I've sat out on my deck and drank a Gatorade cooler full of this stuff with my friends. But to get this recipe, you are going to have to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I promise I'll share it.
But my signature recipe for peaches, which happens to be my all-time favorite dessert, is a dish called Peach Melba. Now, if you've never had Peach Melba before, please put this on your culinary bucket list. This thing has a combination of peaches, cream and raspberries. If there was ever a perfect dessert, this is it. The original Peach Melba was created by the father of French cooking, Auguste Escoffier. He created this for Australian opera soprano Nellie Melba to honor her kick-butt performance of Wagner's Lohengrin in London in 1892. His original recipe and mine differ slightly…I think mine is better! Here is the recipe.
You've probably noticed that I add some red pepper flakes to the raspberry sauce. This is optional, but it adds another level of flavor as you get a hint of back-end heat. I would love to hear your success stories with this dessert or the sangria. Email me at email@example.com and tell me about it. See you next week.
For more about Chef Steve, go to www.cookinwithkroger.com.
Peaches 2 ea, fresh, cut in half, pitted
Moscato wine 2 pints
Water 2 pints
Sugar 1 cup
Vanilla bean 1 ea, cut in half lengthwise, scraped
Salt as needed
Raspberries 16 oz, fresh
Sugar 1 cup
Lemon ½ ea, juiced
Red pepper flakes pinch (optional)
Private Selection Vanilla Bean ice cream as needed
Toasted almonds as needed for garnish, sliced
1. Combine the wine, water, sugar and vanilla bean in a small sauce pot.
2. Bring to a simmer.
3. Cut an "X" on the skin of the peach halves so that it peels easier later after it cools.
4. Place the peach halves face down in the poaching liquid for about 10 minutes or until slightly tender.
5. Remove peach halves and cool in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
6. In another saucepot, add the raspberries, sugar, lemon juice, red pepper flakes and a little salt and cook until the raspberries fall apart.
7. Strain the sauce through a sieve making sure to eliminate all seeds.
8. Bring sauce to room temperature.
9. Peel the skin from the peach halves with your hands.
10. On a plate place 2 cooled peach halves, ice cream and drizzle the raspberry sauce over the plate.
11. Garnish with the toasted almonds.