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Herb Poached Nectarines

by on August 28, 2010
 

It’s all about timing, life is. I am often shocked at the ‘coincidences’ that take place. Mind you, I don’t believe at all in coincidence, I am more a fan of the law of attraction. Me, food, you, we happy.

IMG_1487A morning walk to the bus stop across the school’s car park with lots of  conversations circling around me is one instance. When I hear ‘My husband’s ill, with a tummy bug on his way back from Nigeria’, I stop in my tracks and with no intentions of rudeness, say to the lady speaking ‘I’ll have to know exactly what he ate’, with a smile. And then I let her know I’m Nigerian. In an instant, I saw her brows purse together and her eyes squint and then she said ‘Are you the one with the food blog?’, to which I replied ‘Yes’. It turns out she had my blog link, lost it and then was at the stage of searching for it. I left her with a huge grin and a KB card. The joys of life.

And this recipe for Peaches poached with basil would have escaped me had it not been a finalist in the ‘basil contest’ on food52. It won and in my mind, its fate was sealed and my attraction to it only just beginning.

IMG_1484The first batch I made combined ripe peaches with basil in a syrup of ginger wine and agave syrup, a slight twist on the original which used white wine and sugar. By ‘coincidence’, I only had prosecco to hand for white and couldn’t get the bottle open so I leaned on my 2 year old green ginger wine. The resulting peaches were rife with ambrosial deliciousness, dripping with a syrup that had heat from the ginger wine, ribbons of clove and peppery flavours from the basil and ‘minty freshness’ from the whole shebang. A peculiar taste, and exceptional in many ways. I took some over to friends for dinner and it was a surprising delight for them. And me too.

Though I’ve often combined fruit with mint and poached fruit with spices, infusing fruit with fresh herby flavours is not something I’d ever considered, thankfully all that’s changed. What I love is that once the peaches/nectarines are finished, the story still continues…with the sweet, rose-coloured syrup which makes a great drizzle on yogurt, ice cream and fruits; a superb addition to light wines for a blossomy wine cocktail. I’m wondering what a granita with it would look like? Taste like?  One to be tested!

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Batch two, presented here today follows the recipe to a T, almost. Save for the trio of lemony fresh herbs swapped for basilicum and nectarines instead of peaches. These formed part of a thank you lunch I made for a friend and his girlfriend last Sunday, as thanks for his help with a ‘fresh Kitchen Butterfly’ look, coming soon to a screen near you. And to think of how we met. He started work as an intern at my company and on his first day, I was supposed to pick him up from security and bring him to the office……It so happened that on the afore-mentioned day, I was ill, got to work late and ended up having someone else do the pick up. Later on, when I had woken up a bit, I walked over to him and we got chatting, my apologies tendered. From discussions of where he went to university and his course of study, we somehow landed on his passion for web design. Wow. He was keen to learn to use WordPress and offered to do it for free – him learning and me getting a new look.   So far, so good – I have to say I am REALLY pleased with what he’s done. Glad too that they enjoyed the meal of minted rice; couscous with courgettes; roast chicken a la Ottolenghi; creamy cukes and cumin carrots with this nectarine dish for dessert.

IMG_1484No coincidences. Whatsoever. The herbs that starred: Lemon balm (Melisse), lemon verbena and mint, all available in the back garden and window sill. Think supreme lemony, almost lemongrass strength, from the verbena and melisse. Think fresh, clean, scented. These taste makers worked well together.

IMG_1364We enjoyed it on the day with some whipped cream and thereafter I consumed some with a quenelle of creme fraiche, which is the ideal choice of dairy (for me) to serve alongside the golden, pink-kissed nectarine halves. As I write, I have a box of  nectarines, awaiting another go. This time, I’ll stick with my agave syrup and maybe try a new combination of herbs. Who knows? Orange & lavender could work as perhaps lemon and vanilla. We shall wait and see what the kitchen brings. I’ll keep you informed.

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Herb poached Nectarines, adapted from Peaches poached in basil by The Runaway Spoon

1 cup white wine (I used a sweet light white wine, which was a blend of grapes)

1 1/2 cups water, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
A handful lemon melisse
A handful lemon verbena
A handful mint
4 – 6 Nectarines, halved (I used 4)

Some tips

Use firm, slighly under ripe fruits – they hold their shape well and stand less chance of disintegrating. Also the flavoured syrup compensates for the slight tartness of the underripe fruit, balancing it out very nicely

Use a wine that has mild, clean flavours so it acts as the canvas (soaking up flavours) rather than the paint

Watch so you don’t  over poach the fruits or they’ll soften incredibly

How to
Place the wine, 1 1/2 cups water and sugar in a wide bottomed saucepan, stirring to dissolve the sugar slightly then place the pan on the stove over medium heat and bring to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes and then reduce the heat, leaving the syrup to simmer gently.

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Drop half of the melisse, verbena and mint leaves into the syrup, and then gently place the nectarine halves cut side down into the syrup. Poach for about 3 minutes and then gently turn over using a slotted spoon. Continue poaching for an additional 3 – 4 minutes, until soft (cooking time will depend on softness/ripeness of fruit). Carefully prick the cut side of the peaches to check for tenderness. The peels should be wrinkling up as well. You may cook the  nectarines in two batches if all the halves will not fit in the pan at once.

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Remove the nectarines s to a plate with a slotted spoon. When they are cool enough to handle, gently slide the skins off and discard. Add the rest of the herb leaves to the syrup and bring to a boil; boil until reduced by about half. Pour any juices that have collected on the plate with the nectarines into the syrup. Leave to cool to room temperature.

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The nectarines can be covered with plastic wrap and kept at room temperature for several hours till ready to serve or refrigerated for at least a week.

IMG_1406When ready to serve, place one or two nectarine halves on a plate and drizzle with a little  herb syrup. Reserve the remaining syrup for another use. Garnish with mint or verbena leaves and serve, with some manner of cream. I’m partial to ‘fraiche. And you?


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Other poached peaches recipes:

Anise hyssop & honey poached peaches, from Winnie Ab of Healthy Green Kitchen

Poached Peaches with Raspberries, from  Baked Bree

Poached Peaches in Chamomile glace, from Whole Living

Poached Peaches with orange flavored sabayon on Cucinone

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Have a great and blessed weekend. With love, Oz X X X

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