Tuesday, 30 August 2011

The proof of the peach is in the pudding

It may look like an orange but it ain´t


Perfumed red skinned peaches are superabundant right now, so make the most of this voluptuous fruit.Gauging quality without tasting, however, is well-nigh impossible. There are pointers - a ripe peach should give a little when pressed (gently, so as not to bruise), and it should be perfumed, plump and voluptuous-looking -think Beryl Cook and a Putto´s bottom and you wont be far off what you need.But even the most promising examples can turn out to be disappointing, with a woolly texture and dull, muted flavour.The next thing you need is a recipe.The answer was handed to me on a plate.Last Sunday´s Observer food column was filled, in Nigel Slater´s absence by Bocca di Lupo's Jacob Kennedy who gave us this mouth watering recipe.

Peach, wine and vanilla granita

At the local market, 1 Euro buys 10, exactly what you need for this recipe and, assuming that you can choose your own, I reckon you cannot ask fairer than that.So "Cupid draw back your bow and let your arrow go, straight to my lover's heart for me".... and in the words of Jacob Kennedy

"This granita is dramatic, delicate and complex in taste, but so easy to make. It is a great thing to do with less-than-perfect peaches, especially if they have dark red skins – but it is one of the only dishes I can think of where it's excusable to use good peaches, too (such peaches are so hard to find it is normally a travesty to do anything other than eat them as they are).
The recipe, or the principle behind it, came from my dear friend Zaki, who made it for me after eating something similar at the Eagle in London's Clerkenwell. He decorated his with frozen grapes, which I absolutely loved – only recently have I become so austere in my outlook as to omit them. With or without, it is summertime perfection.
Choose peaches that have very dark skins and a good aroma, and are pretty much ripe, but ever so slightly firm. The ones that would be perfect to eat tomorrow will be the best to cook today."

Serves 4-6
white or yellow peaches with dark red skins 6 large or 12 tiny
lemon zest 2 strips made with a potato peeler
vanilla pod ½, split lengthways
cinnamon stick 3cm
white wine 500ml
caster sugar 175g

DIRECTIONS
Put everything into a pot, and add water to just cover the peaches – 500ml or so. Bring it to a simmer, and cook until the peaches are tender and the skins ready to slip off. This may be as little as 3 or 4 minutes if they are ripe, 15-20 if they are firm.
Use a slotted spoon to lift them from the syrup and leave to cool until you can just handle them. Remove all the skin with your fingers and return it to the liquor; put the peeled peaches, covered, in the fridge.
Allow the syrup to simmer with the skins in it for at least 20 minutes longer (to extract all the colour and flavour), and taste for sweetness. If it's too watery, boil it down a little or add more sugar to taste. Strain the rosy pink liquid, let it cool, then pour it into a deep tray that will fit in your freezer (metal is best). Place it in the freezer and check after half an hour. Once ice crystals start to form, stir every 15 minutes or so with a fork or sturdy balloon whisk until you have a satisfyingly thick slush. If it gets too hard, thaw it a little before serving – it can be stored this way (frozen solid) for weeks.
Serve the ice (whose colour is about as beautiful as can be, especially on a sunny day) with the whole peaches on top. 

MY VERDICT: Tried and Tested, A truly delicious combination of complex and subtle flavours. A beautiful and stunning summer desert. Don´t forget the frosted frozen grapes, it´s like "finishing the hat".

3 comments:

  1. I think the comment about Beryl Cook's bottoms and testing a peach for freshness is possibly an example of genius!!!

    BTW, one of my friends sent me a 21st birthday card of one of BC's laughing ladies lying on a leopardskin rug - she said it reminded her of me . . . I have still not worked out whether to be be offended or not, although I am still laughing!

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  2. Bless you Rachel.You´ve brought some colour to my cheeks!!

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  3. This is a great way to savor the flavor of a perfect peach! I love the color, simply inviting and delicious!

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