Peach Melba – Cooking a classic while crying quietly to myself.

Peach MelbaIs this true classical cooking? While I cooked my first paté (and the second smooth one) and served it with Toast Melba, my Mum reminded me that Toast Melba, just like Peach Melba is named for Dame Nellie Melba, the hugely successful Australian Soprano. The paté (and the Toast Melba) turned out very well. So, I resolved to prepare the Peach Melba for Mum (and the rest of us) and show it to you all. It’s a really simple dish to prepare. You can do this while listening to Puccini’s La bohèmeIt is one opera that can, and often does, bring me to tears.

Ingredients lists don't get much shorter than this.

Ingredients lists don’t get much shorter than this.

You will need:

  • Peaches
  • Raspberries
  • Caster sugar
  • A small amount of butter
  • Ice cream to serve

The raspberry sauce is an integral part of this dish. Use about three parts raspberries to two parts sugar (by weight). Add these and a small amount of water to a saucepan.

A good pouring shot helps a simple recipe along quite nicely.

A good pouring shot helps a simple recipe along quite nicely.

Reduce until you have a nice consistency.

A nicely polished copper saucepan helps too. I love these colours.

A nicely polished copper saucepan helps too. I love these colours.

Then pass the mixture through a sieve.

The hardest work is squeezing the best out of it with a spoon.

The hardest work is squeezing the best out of it with a spoon.

Put this in the fridge until needed. Half the peaches. Then add a small blob of butter to each.

This is hardly cooking at all. But, it is delicious.

This is hardly cooking at all. But, it is delicious.

Pop them in the oven and roast at 180ºC for 15 to 20 minutes, depending upon how hard your peaches are. Don’t use really ripe peaches, they will turn to mush.

I took them out just about the time that poor Mimi was beginning to expire. I love that opera.

I took them out just about the time that poor Mimi was beginning to expire. I love that opera.

Speaking of mush, On La bohème‘s release, management at the London Covent Garden took a view that it was a “new and plebeian opera”. Idiots.  Dame Nellie campaigned on the Opera’s behalf and helped change their minds about staging it and it has had generations (including myself) in tears ever since.

Serve the peaches with the ice cream and pour the raspberry sauce over.

One more pouring shot. This restored me and stopped the weeping.

One more pouring shot. This restored me and stopped the weeping.

This dessert is certainly neither new nor plebeian. So it seems we have a few things for which to thank the Dame. “Good on ya Nellie.” as they might say in her native Australia.

 

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Latest comments
  • A pearler of a post Conor! Cheers, from yet another Aussie. 🙂

    • Thanks for that. Strangely, Puccini also wrote The Pearl Fishers. And here’s me fishing for compliments rather than pearls.

      • Hmm . . . not so very diplomatic this Sunday afternnon, but methinks Georges Bizet kind’of did that? {Should have Googled, but . . . 😀 !!!!] Wrong or right?

        • Darnation! You are, of course, right. Thanks for the correction. I love both of them.

  • I had no idea that Melba came from the Australian soprano! Thank you so much for telling the anecdote. I will certainly remember that and play some opera the next time I make Pêche Melba!

    • Thanks Darya,
      Just don’t cry into the sauce.
      Best,
      Conor

  • thanks for the history, interesting background to what looks like an amazing dish, thanks!

  • Beautiful shots here. Hard to believe Covent Garden didn’t want to stage the opera. Just makes you want to shake your head. I would love to make this with our peaches. I would have if someone hadn’t stolen every one off our tree. I hadn’t even had one yet!

    • Bastards! It actually works best with slightly hard peaches. So, get out early next year and grab some. They’re yours!
      Best,
      Conor

  • Conor, I am on holidays at the moment so a dish that requires only 3 ingredients, all of which are available in the corner shop is absolutely perfect. Thanks!
    Nicki

  • There’s no crying in cooking! Or is that baseball? I can’t remember. Either way, these roasted peaches look great. I bet many people from Georgia (the state, not the country) would be impressed with these.

    • Thanks Tommy, those Georgians are welcome to try them any time.

  • Your posts always make me smile! I love La Boheme, and can’t believe that something that great (that also inspired Rent and Moulin Rouge) was called plebian. Just shows that critics don’t always know everything!
    As for the dessert, looks AMAZING – and summer will be the perfect time to try it!

    • Thanks Echo, Very kind comments and it is summer in these parts (for a short while only).

  • Beautiful photos, Conor, and a great dessert. Love the simplicity! With fresh peaches and raspberries, peaches with raspberry coulis is much better than with canned peaches and bottled raspberry sauce.

    • Funny, we were discussing an old Irish favourite from the 60s this evening. Ham and pineapple, both tinned. We have come a long way (thanks be to goodness).

      • Tinned pineapple is edible, but a far cry from fresh. Not to mention the fresh pineapple I had in Brazil – amazing.

  • If it makes you weep, then it must be a masterpiece 😉

    • Thanks MD. I am man enough to cry openly and often. I blame the onions, usually.

  • Envy at your copper pot! Now how am I going to make this without the darn pot…(throwing tantrum)…

    • You are welcome to borrow mine at any stage. Just don’t tell the Wife.

  • Thats a fantastic choice of music to listen to while cooking.

    • It was the popular music of its time. I love it and other “popular” opera. Low brow, that’s me.

  • Great photos and recipe, Conor. I love peach Melba and you did it just right. 🙂

    • Thanks Richard. Very simple and easy. Just how I like it.

  • Beautiful. Both post and recipe…I love opera too….

  • [smiling!] Lakme and The Pearlfishers do that to me . . . give me happy tears, I mean . . . and hate to tell you probably half the Aussies would say ‘Dame Nellie who? Whos’ she?’ I kid you not!!! No peaches here, no Peach Melba either . . .

  • Oh, that looks fabulous Connor! I’m gonna have to try this…

  • A bit of merlot might be good in that raspberry sauce!

  • This is wonderful. Interesting to roast them with the stone intact.

    • Easier than cutting them out. They fall out when roasted. Probably just the lazy man’s approach.

  • It may not qualify as cooking but just look at those colors! Love this dessert, Conor, and you did it proud. Your photography is food magazine worthy.

    • You are too kind John. You only get to see the passable ones. I shoot lots of doozies too. Lots and lots and lots….

  • This simple dessert has always been a favorite of mine.

    • Hi Karen,
      Very, very easy indeed and well worth the tiny effort.

  • Beautiful photos! These peaches looks really good! I think I have to to try this dessert 🙂

    • Thanks Julian for that and thanks for following the blog. I look forward to seeing you around here more often.
      Best,
      Conor

  • Wonderful dessert but what makes me cry quietly to myself are your copper pots. I’ve convinced myself mine are beyond ever looking like that again so I pretend I meant to let it happen. They are rustic and well used…. cough cough.

    • Lemon juice works wonders. The best cleaner I have found is tamarind. Entirely by accident when my brother brought some from Tanzania. Another post to follow.

  • Beautiful photos Conor. The first one needs no words!

    • Thanks, using nature to my advantage.

  • Lovely…and a horrible performance of La Boheme can send me into tears….like Mimi doesn’t have enough trouble, oh, to give her a terrible voice !

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