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ffwd: peach melba

Peach Melba is a dish I hadn’t thought of in decades. When I was a child, I spent a few days of my summer vacations visiting with my grandparents, by myself. My father’s parents lived in Center City Philadelphia, so it was an urban adventure for a suburban girl. My Gram took me to museums, to lunch, and all around the town. We had a great time. My Pop-Pop worked nights, so each evening, Gram made a delicious dinner before sending him off to work.

Often, for dessert, she would make a special treat: Peach Melba. This is not something I ever had at home, or anywhere else, come to think of it. I’m sure I thought that my Gram invented it. Sliced peaches, vanilla ice cream, and raspberry sauce. Sort of a sundae, but something more.

I was thrilled to see that Dorie had a recipe to share for this dessert. I was game to try it for myself. I poached fresh peaches in a lemony sugar syrup, then boosted the syrup with cassis and vanilla extract which made it blush. For the sauce, I pureed frozen raspberries (from my yard) with a little of the syrup. For the ice cream, I was going to make a batch from Jeni’s Splendid recipe. (Have you tried this? If not, you must! It’s amazing, seriously). As usual, I ran out of time, so opted for Ben & Jerry’s instead.

In a fun glass, layer a spoonful of syrup, poached peaches (I used a quarter), some ice cream, and more peaches. Drizzle with raspberry sauce and sprinkle with toasted almonds. You have a festive dessert, and for me, a very nostalgic one, filled with happy memories of time spent with my grandmother.

Gram and Me (August 2002)

This marks the 100th recipe for French Fridays with Dorie. We’ve been at this for nearly two years, starting in October 2010. Each week, we cook a recipe from Dorie Greenspan’s book Around My French Table. I can honestly say that, even though I am a cookbookaholic, I have never made so many recipes from a single book before. I’ve made 95 of the 100 recipes so far. It’s been a blast, and I’ve “met” so many wonderful people from around the world. I’m glad that the adventure will continue. Cheers to my fellow Doristas and to Dorie Greenspan!

You can check out other Peach Melba experiences at the LYL post for this recipe on French Fridays with Dorie.

P.S. I just diced up a poached peach in mixed it along with raspberry sauce into Greek yogurt. Peach melba was great for breakfast, too!

Berry Bonanza

One of the advantages of traveling up and down the East Coast in summer is the ability to chase the fleeting berry season. We had plenty of strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries in July.

It started early in the month when we visited my sister Jane in Maryland. Strawberry season was long over at her house, but we got an early taste of black raspberries which were at peak there. They had buckets and buckets in the fridge. One day for lunch, we made a version of the FFwD recipe for Mozzarella, Tomato, and Berry Salad, substituting black raspberries for the strawberries, and drizzling with some raspberry balsamic vinegar we came across at Lebherz Oil and Vinegar Emporium. Then for the family dinner celebrating my niece Maggie’s 10th birthday, I made this Brown-Butter Raspberry Tart with the black raspberries. It was like a sugar cookie studded with fruit in a pastry crust. Yum!

The following weekend, back in New England, we caught the final weekend of U-Pick strawberries at Chipman Farm in Maine. We picked 17 pounds in the morning and spent the afternoon making three batches of strawberry freezer jam (21 containers). Until next summer, we’ll enjoy strawberry jam stirred into yogurt for breakfast. I also made a no-bake strawberry pie: a graham cracker crust with crushed strawberries cooked with cornstarch and sugar to make a gorgeous glossy jewel-toned filling and some fresh berries stirred in.

Two weeks later, again up in Maine, we made an expedition to Goss Berry Farm to pick raspberries. This is one of Howard’s favorite outings every summer. They have the most organized berry fields we’ve ever seen. It’s a joy to pick there. The blueberries were just starting to be ready, so we decided to pick a couple quarts of blueberries to go with the raspberries. Another round of freezer jam, 21 containers of raspberry and 5 of blueberry, to alternate with the strawberries for yogurt.

Now, the blueberries are peaking. We have one giant bush next to our dock at the lake. They’re not the big plump cultivated berries like we picked at Goss Farm, but they’re not the tiny wild low-bush blueberries either. We’ve already picked a couple quarts, and they’re not over yet. I love July! I wish the season lasted longer.

Strawberry Pie

Graham Cracker Crust, baked (see below)
1 quart strawberries
¾ cup sugar
1 Tbsp lemon juice
¼ cup cornstarch
¼ tsp salt
2 Tbsp cold water

Hull & wash berries, leaving the best ones whole. Mash about half the berries. Make a paste from the cornstarch, salt, and water. In a medium saucepan, combine mashed berries, sugar, and lemon juice. Stir in cornstarch paste. Cook over medium heat until thick, smooth, and transparent, stirring constantly. Cool a bit, then, stir in whole berries, saving 8 or so for garnish. Pour into baked pie shell and chill. Garnish with reserved berries. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream, if desired. (I prefer it plain.)

You can also make this in a 9-inch pie pan. You can also use a prebaked pastry crust, but I like the graham crackers.

Graham Cracker Crust
1¼ cups graham cracker crumbs (about 9 crackers)
2 Tbsp sugar
1/3 cup butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350F. Combine crumbs, sugar and butter in a small bowl and mix well. Press mixture evenly over the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan. Bake in the center of the oven for 8 minutes. Cool completely on a rack.