Saturday, September 12, 2009

Peach Melba


Peach Melba and Nellie...

Peach Melba
is an extremely simple
little dessert
but quite yummy

However it is the origins
of that dessert
that are fascinating

Dame Nellie Melba
was an opera soprano singer
from Australia
and one of the most famous singers
of the late Victorian era
and the twentieth century

Nellie was born Helen Porter Mitchell
but took the stage name Nellie Melba,
a contraction of her hometown
of Melbourne

She was the first Australian
to receive recognition
as a classical vocalist

Despite an angelic voice
she was a demanding,
diva personna

Dame Nellie Melba
made so many final concerts in Australia
that a phrase was coined
in the Australian vernacular,
"more farewells than Nellie Melba"

She travelled to Europe in 1886
to launch her career
and whilst singing Wagner's Lohengrin
at Covent Garden
a dessert was invented in her honour
by French chef Auguste Escoffier,
of the Savoy Hotel London,
for a dinner party
given by the Duke of Orleans

The original Peach Melba
was presented
on an ice sculpture of a swan
from the opera,
and featured peaches
topped with spun sugar

A second version
was later devised
by Escoffier,

very simply the dessert
layers peach halves
on vanilla icecream
with has a drizzling
of raspberry puree

The Melba sauce of raspberries
can be substituted
with melted red currant jelly

The dish above
is a little more interesting
although equally as simple:

Grilled Ginger Peach Melba

2 cups raspberries
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
3 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon orange juice
1 teaspoon Ginger, Ground
4 ripe peaches, halved and pitted


1. Gently toss raspberries with granulated sugar and 1 teaspoon of the vanilla in small bowl. Set aside until ready to serve. Mix butter, brown sugar, orange juice, ginger and remaining 1/2 teaspoon vanilla in large bowl. Add peach halves; toss gently to coat well.

2. Fold the edges of a sheet of heavy duty foil to form a shallow baking pan.
Place on grill over medium heat. Arrange peaches, cut-side down, on foil.
Cover with second sheet of foil. Grill peaches about 6 to 8 minutes or until browned and caramelized around edges, turning once.

3. To serve, place 2 peach halves on each dessert plate. Top each with 1/3 cup raspberries. Serve immediately.




  1. The perfect dessert for a perfect diva. Thanks for the recipe. I just happen to have a couple of peaches on the counter just waiting for inspiration.

  2. Hello Nancy

    Are you having trouble sleeping's very late for you...

    I hope you enjoy the melba...

    Happy days

  3. Hi Delwyn, what a lot of delightful blogposts to catch up on! Loving the history of Dame Nellie and your family, beach walks, birds, grevillia and of course the black swans.. hope you are having a great weekend!

  4. Hello Karen
    it's good to see you are a loyal reader catching up. Thanks for your company...

    Happy days

  5. Hello Delwyn...
    Who would have thought a simple dessert would have such a rich history...involving opera singer Dame Nellie Melba and her diva attitude.
    Nice to have a dessert named after you...there should be a dessert named "apple delwyn"...a variation of apple delight or apple dumpling!

    Smiles always,

  6. Ooh, very nice, Delwyn. DMJ loves peaches, I'll give it a try.

    Around the corner from where I used to live is Coombe Cottage in Coldstream, which Dame Nellie built in 1912. It's a lovely property behind a huge hedge. Her granddaughter lives there now.

  7. Delwyn:

    Thanks for the history of Dame Nellie Melba. I knew of the origins of the dessert, but little about Melba herself.

    I like your version of the Peach Melba much better and will certainly give it a try. It is just the end of peach season here now.

    I love grilled peaches and adding a bit of vanilla and ginger sounds like a wonderful idea.

    DB and I are officially starting our new vegetarian eating plan today. So I think this dessert could appear on tonight's menu, sans ice cream however (we are trying to reduce dairy too).

  8. Hello Wanda

    My mother used to make apple dumplings a lot but I haven't had them since childhood...even the name takes me back 50 years...
    Do you make them with a half apple wrapped in pastry?
    Mum's was always home made pastry too...tasted a bit suety if I remember - probably a result of being very frugal post wartime...

    thanks Wanda for the touch of humour...

    Happy days

  9. Hi Alaine

    How wonderful that you can add that snippet to the story and fill it out more...

    I tried the simple version of Peach Melba tonight as I was telling daughter2 when preparing dinner about the post and she said she had bought some icecream so we found some tinned peaches and frozen raspberries to make the coulis...voila...and yum...

    Happy days

  10. Hello Bonnie

    We won't have fresh peaches 'til summer here- just before Christmas is peach and nectarine time...and we become stone fruit gluttons...

    I ordered some books from Amazon today but clean forgot about the China time...

    Good luck with the new meal plan...maybe some mango sorbet would be ok...

    Happy days

  11. That's fascinating, Delwyn. And your Peach Melba looks and sounds delicious. Thank you for sharing your recipes so generously. Blessings!

  12. Thanks for sharing, Delwyn! I had absolutely no idea what is behind the name of the dessert, which I happen to like a lot :) Your photos are great but they awakened my sweet tooth--have to go hunt for a dessert...

  13. delwyn what a great story, i had no idea of any of this. of course the recipe has arrived right at breakfast time and so i am thinking - well hmmmm i could nip over to the shop and get everything i need and be utterly decandent and put together peach melba or i could stick with saturday morning fare. what to do what to do?!!!! thankyou for this!!! have a lovely late night by the river. steven

  14. How can I be hungry this early in the morning? Thanks to you, my friend. And I thought Peach Melba was the province of the Texans. Oh, that's right, they toss in a bunch of cake-like carbs and call it Peach Cobbler. Fairly well the same. Makes me wonder if the good Madame ever made her way to the Fort Worth Opera House. They would have made her Sheriff.

    Wonderful post, and photos. Dessert time has come to Kansas, and it's only 11am.


  15. Fascinating and yummy post! As always, delightfully illustrated.

  16. I had no idea of the ispiration for Peach Melba. And I vote for Apple Delwyn. Shall we have a recipe contest?

  17. Hi Delwyn! Did you have peach melba for your birthday? (grilled with raspberries?!) I love the way stars were celebrated back then... The styles reminded me of Sarah Bernhardt--she got a cake named after her in New Orleans, made from raw doughnut batter, yum! Glad you had a great birthday listening to the Boss! Love! xx

  18. I had no idea about Dame Nellie! How interesting that she was a temperamental diva. Did she appreciate Monsieur Escoffier's dessert? or did she push it away disdainfully?

    I'm making Delwyn's grilled version tomorrow. But I'm drooling NOW.

    Lola xx

  19. The grilled version looks absolutely spectacular! I wish that I had a peach melba now.

  20. Delwyn, not only a fabulous recipe but a history lesson too...YES!!! I love both!! I've always had a fondness for peach melba but had no idea it was named for someone.

    I made a peach cobbler today and still have some peaches left...I know what's for dessert tomorrow!! thank you!! ♥

  21. Hello Marion

    I have to fess up and tell you I found the recipe in my research, but I bring it to you with love...

    Happy days

  22. Hi Jelica

    I hope you make some Melba soon...

    I have a problem sweet tooth too...I am always looking for choc almonds in the house even when I know that I don't have any!!!is that crazy or what...

    Happy days

  23. Hi Steven

    I think you should make it for after dinner tonight Steven...

    I whipped it up last night with stuff from the pantry and freezer- not as fresh as the real produce but good all the same...

    Happy days

  24. Hi Expat

    oh yes, crumbles and cobblers are pretty good too...I love rhubarb crumble the most and since I bought rhubarb this am at the markets at the ungodly hour of 6am I think I will make a treat for tonight...

    But first it's blogging, cleaning and a stand-up paddle ...and then a walk later... and that should generate some carb deficiency that I can rectify without too much guilt...

    Happy days

  25. Hello Lynne

    I am happy to see you today...

    Happy days


    So I a am apple-like am I?

    Happy days

    Bee, hi there

    Maybe tonight...

    Happy days

  26. Hello Margaret

    Beloved and I with daughter2 went out for dinner and we did have an ice cream dessert with a raspberry coulis but it was a choc chip and crushed meringue icecream...and delicious it was...

    I just love ice cream...

    Thanks for your kind thoughts Margaret...

    Happy days

  27. Hi Lola

    Dame Nellie would not eat ice cream - she said it would harm her throat, so the fist dessert Escoffier made was served on a bed of ice - the swan sculpture... But I guess making an swan ice sculpture gets a bit tiresome after a while so icecream became the substitute...

    Good luck with the gingered version...

    Happy days

  28. I knew the history! Very interesting....and the dessert looks fabulous! I bet the grilled peaches would really give it a nice flavor, too!

  29. Hello Bee

    Just writing these replies and thinking about the peaches is getting me salivating...I can smell peached grilling...and taste their still warn sweetness...

    Happy days

  30. Hi Sherry
    well next time you serve it at dinner you can share the story of Dame Nellie Melba...

    Happy days

  31. Hi Betsy

    you are a clever pixie - I knew it..

    Let's find out....

    Happy days

  32. I am late coming by, but, of course, cannot skip the dessert! I have always wanted to be thought of as "a demanding,temperamental diva personna." I am actually practicing (in the privacy of my own home - and only when I'm alone).


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