Saturday, October 1, 2011

The end of summer appears to be officially here.

In Istanbul, autumn has brought cooler nights and shorter daylight hours. I’m surprised how fast the weather has changed.

Back in my kitchen, I am trying to take the last of the peak-of-season nectarines, infuse them with rich flavor and preserve them for a bit longer.

I recently found some fabulous smelling Melissa çay leaves or dried Lemon Verbena leaves at Safran, Vali Konağı Cad. No:60/B, in Nişantaşı. Surprisingly, I’ve never found this lemon-scented herb fresh here at a pazar. In the U.S., Lemon Verbena was one of my favorite herbs to use in desserts, and I always had some growing in a pot on our terrace. Lemon Verbena angel food cake, anyone?

Here, another expat friend uses the Melissa to make a refreshing iced tea, definitely not Turkish, as most Turks don’t really like to use ice in their drinks.

Basically, to poach the nectarines or even peaches, I start out with an equal ratio of sugar and water - ie. simple syrup. Sometimes, I’ve added dry white or dessert wines to the liquid too to give it a different flavor.

This poaching method will sustain the life of the nectarines by 1-2 weeks. Serve the sliced fruit and a bit of the flavored syrup with cake, ice cream or with alone with a dollop of whipped cream on top. When I worked in the restaurants, I would serve this poached fruit alongside a vanilla pannacotta or in a chilled fruit soup.

No matter what your pleasure, enjoy the last of the nectarines or peaches while you can!

Afiyet Olsun!
A perfectly-poached nectarine takes on the pinkish hue of the liquid.
Melissa-(Lemon Verbena) Poached Nectarines

700 g. water
700 g. granulated sugar
1 sm. handful dried Melissa (Lemon Verbena) leaves
240 ml. extra water
6 ea. fresh nectarines or peaches

1. In a medium-sized pot, combine the water, sugar, dried lemon verbena leaves and extra water, and bring to a boil. (I used the extra water so the nectarines were covered with liquid.)
2. Cook until the sugar has dissolved. Let the “tea” mixture steep for at least 30 minutes and then strain the leaves out.

3. Then, reheat the liquid and bring to a boil. Gently, place the fruit in an even layer in the boiling syrup. (I did mine in two batches.)
4. Bring to a simmer and cook the fruit until a knife slides into the center with no resistance, about 20 minutes. Note: using a slotted spoon, gently turn the fruit once or twice during the cooking process.
5. Remove the fruit with a slotted spoon and set aside to cool. Chill the remaining liquid in an ice bath. When the fruit is cool enough to handle, use a paring knife to peel off the loosened skin. Transfer the chilled fruit and syrup to a container or large glass jar. Refrigerate.
Store the poached nectarines in a glass jar like this one - available for 1 TL at your local pazar.

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MJ said...

Just purchased a peach in Texas, already miss that Turkey fruit.

Kim, Living to Seas the Moment said...

Just started following your blog. I am so enjoying getting caught up! The fruit looks delish!

Joy said...

MJ - Glad you made it back to Texas safely! I'm sure your family is happy to see you. =)

Kim - Thanks for following! Hope some of the recipes inspire you too.