One of the best things about meeting my husband 14 odd years ago, besides the man himself of course <insert wink emoji>, was getting acquainted with his father. Ish, as he’s lovingly called, is not only an amazing, loving and fun dad, dad-in-law and grandpa to toddler but also, as I mentioned here before, a Cordon Bleu trained professional chef and ex-restauranteur. You can safely assume that many recipes I concoct are in some shape or form inspired by him. Having grown up on the Fiji Islands, trained in classical French cooking and run restaurants in culinarily cutting-edge California, Ish cooks with precise technique married to tradition with truly innovative flavours thrown in, all without compromising heart and soul.
On a recent visit to my in-law’s home in sunny Florida, Ish whipped up an old classic, the Peach Melba, and we were all blown away. This French dessert, invented in the late 1800s by the renowned chef Auguste Escoffier, consists of a poached peach, vanilla ice-cream and raspberry sauce, and like most French desserts, does not disappoint. I was especially pleased that Ish’s innovative spin on the dish included spices like cardamon, clove and star anise! In fact, I have a sneaking suspicion Monsieur Escoffier might have preferred this spiced, delicious interpretation of his famed creation.
Grandpa Ish’s Peach Melba
Toddler, Kid, Adult
6 peaches, cut in half and de-seeded
5 cardamom pods gently smashed
2 star anise
1/2 vanilla bean sliced lengthwise and scraped
6 tablespoons sugar
10 oz frozen raspberries
1/2 lemon juiced
3/4 cup orange juice
vanilla ice-cream or plain Greek yoghurt
few leaves of fresh mint (optional)
Place the peaches cut side up with the cardamom, cloves, star anise, vanilla bean and 2 tablespoons of sugar in a wide saucepan. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a low simmer and cook uncovered for 20 minutes until the peaches are fork tender. Take the pan off the heat and allow it to cool for 15 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the peaches to a fresh dish. Skin the peaches by hand (the skins should slide off easily at this stage but you can use a small knife if necessary). Chill the peaches for at least 3 hours in the refrigerator.
Place the raspberries, lemon juice, orange juice and remaining sugar in a blender. Puree well and chill.
When ready to serve, place a peach half in a serving bowl. Cover with a dollop of vanilla ice-cream or Greek yoghurt (for a healthier version). Drizzle generously with the raspberry sauce. Garnish with fresh mint and enjoy as a refreshing summer dessert. Don’t forget to think of Auguste Escoffier and Grandpa Ish :).