Recently I was reading about the Belle Époque period, known for flamboyant lifestyles and elegant dining. When my BW was a little girl, she went to England for the coronation in 1953. She saved souvenirs of the journey, and a couple are menus from the Cunard White Star steamship line’s vessel, R.M.S. Queen Elizabeth.
The 1953 menu is interesting and I noted a dessert that I haven’t enjoyed in many years: Peach Melba. I suppose Peach Melba is passé nowadays, I very seldom see it anywhere, but like an old song, it is still a wonderful thing to behold, so I served some a couple of weeks ago. It was splendid.
In 1891, a renowned Australian opera singer, Dame Nellie Melba, performed Wagner’s Lohengrin at Covent Garden in London. An equally renowned chef de cuisine, Auguste Escoffier, was invited to the performance, and afterward prepared a special dinner party in honour of Dame Melba. The dessert was named for her and became a sensation.
If the only Melba you know is toast, take a look at Peach Melba, it is a darling dessert.
PEACH MELBA serves 4
Poach the peaches.
4 nice peaches
2 cups of water
1 cup of sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
Prepare a Raspberry Coulis
1 pint fresh raspberries
¼ cup sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Vanilla ice cream
Cut the peaches in half, discarding the pits.
Bring water, sugar and extract to the boil.
Put peach halves in the syrup, reduce the heat and poach for about 7-8 minutes.
Retrieve the peaches from the syrup and remove the skin.
Allow the syrup to cool and then return the peaches to it and chill in the refrigerator.
When you make the dessert, discard the syrup or save for next peach melba excursion.
Prepare the Raspberry Coulis
Put the raspberries, lemon juice and sugar into an electric blender. Blend to a puree, strain out the seeds.
Assemble the Peach Melba
Put two scoops of vanilla ice cream in a serving bowl. Put two peach halves atop the ice cream and drizzle the coulis over it.
You can garnish with a few whole raspberries and fresh mint leaves if you wish
Enjoy a sweet piece of history.