Poached peaches with rose geranium and vermentino
"There are peaches that are made to be eaten, subito, preferably over the sink, and then there are peaches that are a little firmer, still with a fine scent, but less yielding – and these are peaches for poaching," says Letitia Clarke in the book La Dolce Vita. "I used to be indifferent to poached fruit, because I mistakenly thought it was served hot, and to my mind the only place for hot fruit is steaming inside a pie or skulking under a crumble. But, actually, the true joy of good poached fruit is that it is served cold, and a wonderfully fresh way to finish a meal. The syrup is the prettiest blush pink, and rose geranium leaves lend a hint of citrus alongside the blowsy musk of rose, too. Served with ricotta ice-cream, or simply cream, they make a very elegant and delicious summer sweet. If you can find the smaller doughnut peaches, then poach these instead and keep them whole, as pictured."
500ml Vermentino di Sardegna or similar dry white wine
2 strips of lemon zest
150g caster sugar
6–8 ripe peaches, washed and halved, stones removed (or use 8 small doughnut peaches)
4–5 rose geranium leaves, plus geranium petals or leaves to garnish (see note; optional)
140g caster sugar
250g firm fresh ricotta
1. For the ricotta gelato's base, bring the milk and sugar to a simmer in a saucepan, stirring occasionally to help melt the sugar.
2. Put the cornflour in a bowl and add a ladle of the hot milk mixture, whisking well to form a smooth paste. Return the cornflour mixture to the pan with the milk and whisk over a low heat for a few minutes until the mixture becomes the consistency of a thin custard or double cream. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for a few minutes.
3. Once the base mixture has cooled, add the ricotta and a pinch of salt. In a blender or using a stick blender, blitz well. Strain through a sieve (discard solids), transfer to an ice-cream machine and churn according to manufacturer’s instructions. Store in an airtight container.
4. For the poached peaches, put the wine, lemon zest, sugar and 100ml water in a wide, deep saucepan and bring to the boil. Turn down to asimmer. Place the peaches into the syrup and cover with a cartouche (baking paper lid). Allow to simmer gently for 7–10 minutes, until the peaches are soft. Remove the peaches with a slotted spoon and place them in a dish. Peel away and discard the skins.
5. Place the poaching liquid back on the heat and simmer to reduce for 3–5 minutes, to form a nice syrupy liquid. Set aside to cool slightly, and then add the geranium leaves, scrunching them a little in your hands to release their scent before dropping them in.
6. Allow the syrup to cool. Strain out the leaves and lemon zest (discard) and pour it over the peaches. Serve the peaches with their syrup and a scoop of the ricotta gelato, or mascarpone. Scatter over geranium petals or leaves before serving.
Rose geraniums can be bought at select garden centres.
Credit The sweet life: Extracted with minor changes from La Vita è Dolce by Letitia Clark, published by Hardie Grant Books, RRP $49.99. Photography copyright © Charlotte Bland.