KQED Food Blog: Bay Area Bites: Peaches, Herb and Melba.
Bay Area Bites: culinary rants & raves from bay area foodies and professionals
Previous Posts
My Nua Favorite Restaurant
Cook by the Book: 5 Spices, 50 Dishes
CUESA's Coastal Harvest Farm Tour
Clyde Common Restaurant. Ace Hotel, Portland
Japanese Tradition: How to Eat at a Sushi Bar
Pimientos de Padron
Fried Gallus gallus
What Are You Eating? CleanScores
Meet Ruta Kahate
Gluten-Free Crisp Topping
 
 
BAB Guidelines

'Bay Area Bites' is part of KQED's Blog Authors Collaborative. Blog contributors and commentators are solely responsible for their content. If you're interested in writing or contributing to a blog on kqed.org, email us with your idea.
 
Friday, July 27, 2007
Peaches, Herb and Melba.


Before getting to the meat of today's subject matter, I'd like to explain something-- the evolution of today's post.

I'm off to my 20th high school reunion this weekend so, naturally, the song "Reunited" by Peaches and Herb has been crowding my brain. The initial idea was to exorcise this R & B demon from my head by making a salad containing, naturally again, peaches and herbs. I thought that by taking matters into my own hands, uniting these two ingredients and then consuming them might give me some sort of edge. However, I became frustratingly uncertain as to which herb was the right Herb. Peaches might react unpleasantly to, say, marjoram or, even worse, dill. Rosemary sounded nice, but my hunch told me that herbs with feminine names wouldn't appeal to her either. The goal here was a reunion that feels so good.

I abandoned Herb, but I kept Peaches with me. I thought about explaining where she came from (China, not Persia as her botanical name Prunus persica suggests) and how she came to whet our appetites with just a little shake of her sequined groove thing. I was surprised by both her strength and her depth-- much more depth than I think your Friday morning attention span can handle.

So I decided to make Peach Melba instead.



That's Nelly Melba in the clip above. Sadly, she's not making her peach dish. Instead, she's making a cake for the Duke and Duchess of York, later to be known as King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. I couldn't find any other footage of her, so this will have to do.

Born in what is now a suburb of Melbourne, Australia in 1861, Helen Porter Mitchell grew up to ditch her son-of-a-baronet husband and infant son, change her name to Nellie Melba (in honor of her hometown) and become one of the greatest-- or at least most famous-- sopranos in opera history. She has inspired not only the above mentioned dessert concoction, but toast, thereby making her the most eponymed woman in modern food history. Why such honors?

It wasn't her sweet disposition. Apart from abandoning her family, she was also known as a fickle, upstaging attention-grabber. The consummate diva, when asked to answer for her own bad behavior, the words "I am Melba" always passed from her lips. That, she believed, was enough explaination. She was also given to physically shoving other performers downstage if they got in her way. She was, not surprisingly, detested by her peers.

She was, however, loved by her public. One man in particular-- Auguste Escoffier-- adored her.

While appearing at Covent Garden-- her operatic home for more than twenty years-- and residing at the Savoy Hotel where Escoffier was master chef, she sent him (possibly as a thank you for previously naming the toast in her honor) a pair of tickets to see her in Richard Wagner's Lohengrin. Escoffier was so taken with her performance that he created another dish (if toast can indeed be called a dish) for her-- Peche au Cygne (Peach with Swan)-- peaches and vanilla ice cream served alongside a dramatic swan ice sculpture which mimicked the swan-shaped boat featured in the opera. It was not, however, called Peach Melba. He renamed the dessert a few years later, after his move to the Ritz Carlton, adding both raspberry sauce and the Melba name.

Legend has it that Melba was concerned that eating ice cream might constrict her gorgeous vocal chords, which is why I have chosen to serve the peaches below slightly warm. I know what it's like to piss off a diva, believe me.

Peach Melba:

Ingredients:

3 yellow peaches. Not too ripe. Freestones make life easier.
4 cups water. You may also poach the peaches in white wine. Frankly, I'd rather drink the wine
than poach with it.
2 cups sugar
2 cups raspberries (fresh or frozen). Fresh raspberries are ideal for garnishing.
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons of sugar (taste the raspberries before adding sugar. I prefer the sauce to be tart,
like la Melba herself)
Vanilla ice cream. (I'm using vanilla sorbet because I have to lose 10 pounds by tomorrow for
my reunion.)

Some sort of wafer cookies for garnish and a little crunch.

Preparation:

1. Slice a shallow "x" on the bottom of each peach to facilitate peeling. Blanch the peaches in the four cups of simmering water for about one minute. Or two. Is the skin starting to peel away along the edges of the little "x"? If so, take them out and place fruit in an ice bath to cool them. Let sit until well cooled, then excoriate. Set aside.

Add sugar to the simmering water, stirring lightly to dissolve. Return the denuded peaches to the simmering syrup. Turn off the heat and walk away for a while. Some swear by slicing the peaches before poaching them. I'm not a fan-- the edges of the peaches become too soft and feathery. Do so at your own risk. I like the center of the peach to have a little bit of give to it. Probably because I have teeth.

While the peaches are doing their thing, make the raspberry sauce. Place berries, 1/4 cup of sugar and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice into your cuisenart or what-have-you and pulse. I had some berries in the freezer and did not bother to wait until they thawed before I pureed them. I ended up making a sort of soft-serve sorbet as a result, which I let melt to become spoonable and saucy. Set aside and wash your blending apparatus immediately, if only to save yourself from flicking bits of seed stuck to the plastic with your fingernail later.

When the syrup has cooled to slightly warm, remove the peaches and slice in half, removing the stones.

To Assemble:

In parfait glasses or whatever you have handy-- vessels with pestles, flagons with dragons-- spoon a little raspberry sauce on the bottom. Of the glass, please. Place one half of a peach, which should be slightly warm on top. Spoon vanilla ice cream over that, drizzle with a little more raspberry sauce. Garnish with whole raspberries and cookie. Serve immediately.

*Fun Fact* Nellie Melba died on 23 February, 1931 as a result of complications from a botched plastic surgery.

Labels: , ,

 
 

0 Comments:

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

Locate CP Restaurants:
Check, Please! Google Map
 
KQED Food Sites
Check, Please! Bay Area
Jacques Pépin Celebrates!
Jacques Pépin:
Fast Food My Way
Jacques Pépin:
The Apprentice
Jacques Pépin:
The Complete Pépin
KQED Wine Club
KQED.org Cooking
Weir Cooking in the City
 
Tasty Food Sites
CHOW
Chowhound SF
Crushpad
CUESA
CulinaryCorps
Eat Local Challenge
Edible San Francisco
Epicurious
eGullet.org
Food Network
Food Talk
Group Recipes
Hungry Magazine
KTEH Food
Leite's Culinaria
Locavores
Mighty Foods
NPR: Food
Om Organics
Serious Eats
SFGate: Food
SFGate: Wine
SF Station: Restaurants
Slow Food SF
Top Chef
Wikimedia Commons: Food & Drink
Yahoo! Food
Yelp: Reviews
 
Tangy Food Blogs
101 Cookbooks
A Full Belly
Accidental Hedonist
agoodfoodblog
An Obsession with Food
Anna's Cool Finds
Becks & Posh
Between Meals
Blogsoop
Bunny Foot
Butter Pig
Cellar Rat
Chez Pim
Chocolate & Zucchini
Confessions of a
Restaurant Whore
Cooking For Engineers
Cooking with Amy
Cucina Testa Rossa
Culinary Muse
Denise's Kitchen
Digesty-SF
Eater SF
Eggbeater
Extramsg.com
Feed & Supply
Food Blog S'cool
Food Musings
Food Porn Watch
Gastronomie
Hedonia
I'm Mad and I Eat
In Praise of Sardines
Jatbar
Knife's Edge
Life Begins at 30
Love and Cooking
MeatHenge
Mental Masala
Moveable Feast
Nosheteria
Organic Day
Passionate Eater
San Francisco Gourmet
SF City Eats
Simply Recipes
Spicetart
The Amateur Gourmet
Tablehopper
The Ethicurean
The Food Section
The Grub Report
The Petite Pig
The Wine Makers Wife
Vin Divine
Vinography
VirgoBlue
Wandering Spoon
Well Fed Network
Word Eater
World on a Plate
Yummy Chow
 
 
   
Search BAB

Eye Candy: Food Photos
BAB on flickr.com
Join Flickr for free and share your photos with the Bay Area Bites and Beyond group pool.
 
Food Books
 
The Moosewood Cookbook
by Mollie Katzen
 
Baking: From My Home to Yours
by Dorie Greenspan
 
Grand Livre de Cuisine: Alain Ducasse's Desserts and Pastries
by Alain Ducasse, Frederic Robertmison
 
The Big Book of Outdoor Cooking and Entertaining
by Cheryl Alters Jamison, Bill Jamison
 
Tasty: Get Great Food on the Table Every Day
by Roy Finamore
 
Whole Grains Every Day, Every Way
by Lorna Sass
 
The Soul of a New Cuisine: A Discovery of the Foods and Flavors of Africa
by Marcus Samuelsson
 
Michael Mina: The Cookbook
by Michael Mina, Photographer: Karl Petzktle
 
What to Eat
by Marion Nestle
 
The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals
by Michael Pollan
 
Essence of Chocolate: Recipes for Baking and Cooking with Fine Chocolate
by John Scharffenberger, Robert Steinberg
 
Romancing the Vine: Life, Love, and Transformation in the Vineyards of Barolo
by Alan Tardi
 
What to Drink with What You Eat: The Definitive Guide to Pairing Food with Wine, Beer, Spirits, Coffee, Tea -- Even Water -- Based on Expert Advice from America's Best Sommeliers
by Andrew Dornenburg, Karen Page, Michael Sofronski
 
The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook: Stories and Recipes for Southerners and Would-be Southerners
by Matt Lee, Ted Lee
 
Bread Matters: The State of Modern Bread and a Definitive Guide to Baking Your Own
by Andrew Whitley
 
Coloring the Seasons: A Cook's Guide
by Allegra McEvedy
 
All-new Complete Cooking Light Cookbook
by Anne C. Cain
 
Modern Garde Manger
by Robert B. Garlough
 
The Spice and Herb Bible
by Ian Hemphill, Kate Hemphill
 
The Improvisational Cook
by Sally Schneider
 
Lunch Lessons: Changing the Way We Feed Our Children
by Ann Cooper, Lisa M. Holmes
 
Cradle of Flavor: Home Cooking from the Spice Islands of Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia
by James Oseland
 
My Life in France
by Julia Child, Alex Prud'Homme
 
A Passion for Ice Cream: 95 Recipes for Fabulous Desserts
by Emily Luchett, Sheri Giblin (photographer)
 
Au Pied De Cochon -- The Album
by Martin Picard
 
Memories of Philippine Kitchens
by Amy Besa, Romy Dorotan
 
Simple Chinese Cooking
by Kylie Kwong
 
 
An Invitation to Indian Cooking
by Madhur Jaffrey
 
Hungry Planet
by Peter Menzel, Faith D'Aluisio
 
Sunday Suppers at Lucques : Seasonal Recipes from Market to Table
by Suzanne Goin, Teri Gelber
 
Simple Soirees: Seasonal Menus for Sensational Dinner Parties
by Peggy Knickerbocker, Christopher Hirsheimer (Photographer)
 
The Cook's Book
by Jill Norman
 
Molto Italiano : 327 Simple Italian Recipes to Cook at Home
by Mario Batali
 
Nobu Now
by Nobuyuki Matsuhisa
 
Cheese : A Connoisseur's Guide to the World's Best
by Max Mccalman, David Gibbons
 
Bones : Recipes, History, and Lore
by Jennifer McLagan
 
Whiskey : The Definitive World Guide
by Michael Jackson
 
The New American Cooking
by Joan Nathan
 
ChocolateChocolate
by Lisa Yockelson
 
Easy Entertaining: Everything You Need to Know About Having Parties at Home
by Darina Allen
 
Cooking at De Gustibus: Celebrating 25 Years of Culinary Innovation
by Arlene Feltman Sailhac
 
Dough: Simple Contemporary Breads
by Richard Bertinet
 
Chocolate Obsession: Confections and Treats to Create and Savor
by Michael Recchiuti, Fran Gage, Maren Caruso
 
The Food Substitutions Bible: More Than 5,000 Substitutions for Ingredients, Equipment And Techniques
by David Joachim
 
Recipes: A Collection for the Modern Cook
by Susan Spungen
 
Spices of Life: Simple and Delicious Recipes for Great Health
by Nina Simonds
 
Mangoes & Curry Leaves: Culinary Travels Through the Great Subcontinent
by Jeffrey Alford, Naomi Duguid
 
Chocolate: A Bittersweet Saga of Dark and Light
by Mort Rosenblum
 
Vegetable Love: A Book for Cooks
by Barbara Kafka, Christopher Styler
 
A History of Wine in America: From Prohibition to the Present
by Thomas Pinney
 
Fonda San Miguel: Thirty Years Of Food And Art
by Tom Gilliland, Miguel Ravago, Virginia B. Wood
 
Matzoh Ball Gumbo: Culinary Tales of the Jewish South
by Marcie Cohen Ferris
 
Washoku: Recipes From The Japanese Home Kitchen
by Elizabeth Andoh, Leigh Beisch
 
 
Weir Cooking in the City: More than 125 Recipes and Inspiring Ideas for Relaxed Entertaining
by Joanne Weir
 
Rick Stein's Complete Seafood
by Rick Stein
 
The Great Scandinavian Baking Book
by Beatrice A. Ojakangas
 
Serena, Food & Stories: Feeding Friends Every Hour of the Day
by Serena Bass
 
John Ash: Cooking One on One: Private Lessons in Simple, Contemporary Food from a Master Teacher
by John Ash
 
The New Mayo Clinic Cookbook: Eating Well for Better Health
by Donald Hensrud, M.D., Jennifer Nelson, R.D. & Mayo Clinic Staff
 
Foods of the Americas: Native Recipes and Traditions
by Fernando and Marlene Divina
 
The Provence Cookbook
by Patricia Wells
 
Olive Trees and Honey: A Treasury of Vegetarian Recipes from Jewish Communities Around the World
by Gil Marks
 
Last Chance to Eat: The Fate of Taste in a Fast Food World
by Gina Mallet
 
Bouchon
by Thomas Keller
 
A Blessing of Bread: The Many Rich Traditions of Jewish Bread Baking Around the World
by Maggie Glezer
 
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
by Molly Stevens
 
On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen
by Harold McGee
 
Entertaining: Inspired Menus For Cooking with Family and Friends
by George Dolese
 
The Breath of a Wok: Unlocking the Spirit of Chinese Wok Cooking Through Recipes and Lore
by Grace Young, Alan Richardson
 
Cooking New American: How to Cook the Food You Love to Eat
by Fine Cooking Magazine
 
The Japanese Kitchen: A Book of Essential Ingredients with 200 Authentic Recipes
by Kimiko Barber
 
Arthur Schwartz's New York City Food: An Opinionated History and More Than 100 Legendary Recipes
by Arthur Schwartz
 
Poet of the Appetites: The Lives and Loves of M.F.K. Fisher
by Joan Reardon
 
Bread: A Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes
by Jeffrey Hamelman
 
Everyday Dining with Wine
by Andrea Immer
 
 
Copyright © 2005-2008 KQED. All rights reserved.