A summer of peaches and soft fruit (peches de vigne au vin doux)


This is the best time of year, when the sun is shining and the soft fruits are ripening. For me the perfect summer in England is a garden full of red and black currants which has been preceeded by loganberries and strawberries. My perfect summer in France on the other hand is one where the peaches are so ripe and the melons so full of their sweet perfume that you really know you are on holiday.

Combining some of these fruit  can make a perfect dessert. The simplest is to peel some peaches. Drop them in boiling water for less than a minute to make it easy. Serve with fresh red currants and vanilla ice cream. An unusual combination you will find in my cookbook is sliced peaches, proscuitto ham and cheese  baked on top of a sheet of pastry. This  sweet, savoury pairing is fabulous served at a summer’s lunch, or as a first course on a balmy summer’s evening.

If you find yourself in an old vineyard in France you might come across  some small peaches on rough stubby trees  These peches de vigne are often  served in a baked dessert. Left to cool and served tepid  it makes a simple ending to an evening meal. The slight astringency of the peaches plus the wine  make this a satisfying dish.

Peches de vigne au vin doux                serves 8

Ingredients         8  peaches,    250ml sweet white wine e.g. Monbazillac,      50 g caster sugar,

2 eggs,     2 egg yolks

Method               Peel the peaches, and place them in a buttered gratin dish, round side upper most. Whisk together the wine, sugar, eggs and yolks and pour over the peaches. Place the dish in a bain-marie and bake at  180ºC (350ºF, gas 5 )until just set, between 20 – 30 minutes. Cool  and then serve.