I was very ecstatic when Ivy, a journalist with The Star Newspaper approached me for my opinion regarding an article they are planning to write on. It is for an article which comes with a theme and will be published every Monday in a cooking column of the paper. The coming up theme was set to be canned food and Ivy would love to hear what is my favourite canned food dish and why. Here's what I have to say:
My favourite canned food would have to be canned peaches. The celestial combination of peaches with both sweet and savoury dishes will have you yearning for more.From savoury dish such as Chicken Confit with Peach Purée to sweet things in life such as Peach tart, canned peaches definitely capture the essence of summer, albeit it being winter here Down Under!
The link is found here and below is a clip form the paper itself.
On top of that, I am also posting this easy and an all-time Aussie-French favourite recipe with canned peaches. This is Peach Melba and Wikipedia has a good write-up on the history of this dish. In a nutshell, a 118 years ago, a French Chef named Auguste Escoffier who works for the London's Savoy Hotel, created a dish known as the Peach Melba. He was very much inspired to do so after seeing the Australian soprano, Dame Nellie Melba, perform in Covent Garden. It is also fun to know that January 13 is National Peach Melba Day in the States.
The Peach Melba is nothing more than poached peaches served with good scoops of vanilla ice cream and a good raspberry coulis. The colour combination is so vibrant and yet the flavour comes through so well. Escoffier definitely executed this dessert well.
This is my version and instead of just poaching peaches, I've chosed to used canned peaches and infused it in a thyme-vanilla syrup. Not very original but this is how I like it. I added a touch of lemon juice because I felt the sudden acidic punch would bring out a burst of flavour from the tart raspberry and sweet golden peaches. I also made a French Vanilla Ice Cream to pair with it. You can use store-bought stuffs but I really just like making things from scratch. However, canned peaches is the only thing I always have in my pantry. Maybe I just don't like the idea of poaching and peeling stuffs. I hate peeling peaches and tomatoes, for some reasons. Yes, I know I have issues!
Anyway, feel free to tweek the recipe, you can add in a good splash of dessert wine such as Moscato or something stronger such as Cabernet Sauvignon and omit the water. For those with real sweet tooth, feel free to add more sugar but I've used the canned syrup to poach so it is sweet enough for me. Finally, a classic Peach Melba should be serve with dollops of ice cream in a glass, with peach slices or peach halves scattered on top and the whole lot dribbled with raspberry coulis but on this occasion, for better presentation and photo purpose, I've chosed to plate it the way I think it will look presentable. Feel free to play around, it is in no way affecting the taste, though I believe people always eat with their eyes first.
(makes enough to serve 2 to 3 people as an after meal dessert)
One punnet of fresh raspberries (120g)
One canned peaches in syrup (450g)
1/2 vanilla bean (you could use 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste instead)
2 tbsp castor sugar
1/4 cup water or wine
1/2 cup of peach syrup from the can
1/2 a small lemon
1 small sprig of lemon, juiced
1 tbsp castor sugar
Softly whipped Cream, to serve (optional)
French Vanilla Bean Ice Cream, to serve
Place the water, peach syrup, lemon and its juice and the sprig of thyme in a small pot with a lid. Scrap the seeds from the vanilla pod with a tip of a small sharp knife and place the scraped seeds and the pod into the pot as well. Bring it to a gentle boil over medium heat. When boiling, let it cook for a minute or two and remove it from heat. Drain the peaches completely of its syrup and place it into the pot. Cover with the lid and let it infuse for 30mins or so, flipping it once in a while and giving the whole pot with lid on a good shake to coat the peaches with the flavoured syrup.
Drain the peaches and reserve the liquid. Use 2 tbsp of the reserved liquid and blitz with the punnet of raspberries using a food processor until fine puree form. Pass it through a strainer to obtain a smooth puree. The word Coulis means 'Strained Liquid' in French so do not skip this step!
To assemble, arrange the peaches in 2 or 3 serving glasses. Dribble each glass with a tablespoon of the reserved poaching syrup. Top off with a scoop of French vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of the raspberry coulis.
You can choose to fold the raspberry coulis with the cream lightly to create a ripple effect else just the coulis by itself will not be too tart too but I always try to incorporate as much dairy as possible in my diet, just cuz I like it.