By Carolyne

For this recipe, you should prepare all the items ahead of time but keep everything separate and refrigerated. Assemble it near to serving time. Choose very firm fresh tomatoes so they don’t leak their water content onto the plate.

When preparing to serve, select a large rectangular serving platter, smear the plate with either my special Caesar salad dressing or use my warm fresh amazing blue cheese dressing; if you love garlic, when using either sauce, stir in a little oven-roasted light golden colour garlic purée from your refrigerated jar, as much or as little as you like; then arrange the fruit in symmetrical rows, overlapped with quite thick slices of fresh firm juicy tomatoes with equal thickness slices of fresh firm, skinned peaches.

An even more interesting plate: use yellow tomatoes with the yellow peaches or go completely different and use white tomatoes and white peaches. Yes, they both are available white. Depending on where you live you might have to ask your green grocery department to order in for you. So, get organized well ahead of time so you know where you can buy what when you are ready.

Both fruits love fresh ground pepper, so use plenty, and just a little granular salt. If you can find it in a specialty shop, use garlic scape sea salt.

Just before serving, use room temperature sauce again to drizzle overtop the fruits. Yes, tomato is a fruit.

Serve this platter buffet-style along with a cognac marinated black mission fig tart tartin, and a pie-shaped piece of warm baked smoked Norwegian salmon frittata made with minced dill, a little mustard and Canadian goat cheese, using a dozen whisked eggs, a little flour, baking powder, salt, pepper and a bit of oven-roasted garlic purée.

Bake the frittata in a stainless-steel sauté pan with an oven-proof handle, on the centre rack on high heat, perhaps at preheated 400 F to 450 F.

Know your oven. If baking in glass, always drop the oven temperature 25 degrees. Test at a half hour but allow 45 minutes just in case. Set your timer.

The frittata is done when a knife inserted comes out clean. It’s no different than a baked custard. It will keep overnight in the fridge but remove it in plenty of time to serve at room temperature, or then reheat for a few minutes only at 200 F. Pre-cut into individual servings but serve in the baking dish with a pie piece serving lifter.

And the table pièce de résistance…add a whole beautiful round genoise, filled with fresh fruit and stiff Chantilly cream, to the table.

Remove one serving size wedge, so people can see what’s inside, and provide a long, thin serrated knife and a pie slice lifter so people can decide for themselves whether they prefer a tiny piece or an extra-large serving.

An urn of fresh brewed hot coffee might be appreciated, or even espresso (hint: make the genoise filling coffee cream).

Depending on what fruit you choose in the genoise filling, provide a matching fruit coulee in a small gravy boat, with a little ladle, in case someone might like a fresh fruit drizzle on their cream-covered genoise.

You could substitute a fruit cream-filled homemade, layered, horizontally sliced pound cake, completely covered in Chantilly cream and decorated using a forcing bag with a large star tip.

Use an offset spatula to spread the Chantilly and a sharp knife to slice, or you could pre-slice and overlap the slices on a generous rectangular serving platter. Surround with whole fruits; perhaps a mix of whole strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries or even gooseberries.

It’s a royal exquisite buffet table selection that is light and beautiful to look at as eye candy, making it even more delectable on the palate.

Easy to prepare; takes no time at all, and it’s all so fresh. The genoise can be made a day ahead, sliced into three horizontal slices ready to fill just before preparing the buffet table, but refrigerate either finished cream cake until the last minute.

Invest in a large plastic dome container to cover whipped cream cakes, to avoid their taking on any fridge fragrances. For example, if you have sliced fresh cucumbers in the fridge, remove them if you are storing whipped cream covered cakes.

Always add fresh cut flowers or at the very least, a generous flowering potted plant placed strategically or use a row or grouping of little pots artfully arranged in pretty little soup cups perhaps. If it happens to be pansy season or nasturtium time, they make great little container fillers as table pretty helpers, mixed with little bunches of fresh herbs for a little greenery.

Maybe choose a loud contrasting colour mix, or pair up using a matching flower colour for synchronizing. For example, if you are doing a white carpaccio, perhaps use stalks of white phlox or wild lupins. Strategically arrange bunches of fresh herbs if no flowers are available.

You could even chop fresh basil or rosemary and scatter all over the table between the food serving plates. Kind of like herb snowflakes. The fragrance is grand. Best perfume in the world, and a natural air-freshener too.

Offer a bowl of lemon wedges for those who would enjoy. Especially nice squeezed over the frittata.

A cheese board and frozen-grape presentation is always welcome. Freeze a cluster of seedless sweet sugar-coated grapes, green or purple. Keep refrigerated until serving time. Bunches of fresh basil are nice on the serving plate, put in place at the last minute.

Extra special treat:

For fresh firm tomatoes, any colour: If you have never done this, using a box grater on the coarse side, push the whole tomato, starting at the bottom tomato end, along the wide grating holes side, until there is only the tomato skin in your hand.

Stand the manual grater on a large plate and all the tomato pulp solids will be on the plate along with a little tomato water. Drain off the liquid (I use a small sieve) and you have the most fabulous tomato pulp that seems to exacerbate the incredible fresh tomato taste.

The fresh pulp can be used for a multitude of things, including a topper for a wonderful omelette, or as a side dish with my fabulous grilled goat cheese sandwich. Or just serve plain and simple as a side dish with any meal. Or mound the pulp on a grilled garlic-smeared bread, sliced on the diagonal to make an amazing bruschetta for a mega special treat.

Chop a little flat leaf parsley or fresh basil and enjoy. You could add herbs and spices, but just plain pulp is amazing. Maybe sprinkle with fresh real parmesan.

Why this process enhances the fruit flavour I have no idea. But it certainly heightens the taste bud experience way over the top. Try it. You might be surprised.

And now for a couple of hints you can’t resist. Buy a bottle of sweeter label Prosecco. Ruffino works. Pop the cork as you would champagne. Add it to a mix of peach coulee, made using your food processor and fresh tomato pulp (prepared as above using the box grater) combined with sugar-water syrup to which you have added a little orange juice. Pop the mix into a glass or metal tray that can be frozen.

Just before the mixture is frozen solid, scape from end to end using a fork. Re-freeze and process in this manner three times. Freeze and scrape.

You have made a wonderful “granita,” sort of a cross between sorbet and semi-freddo. A wonderful summertime treat that is excellent all year round.

Use an ice cream scoop and serve in a martini glass with a sprig of fresh mint. Works beautifully between courses of a heavy meal, as a palate cleanser. (Perhaps with a venison meal, or stronger game dishes, or roasted rabbit.)

Here’s a magical tip for not wasting any leftover Prosecco, for people like me who would have leftovers because I mostly use spirits for cooking. Freeze it in ice cube trays and add it to special sauces, gravies or even to soups; or pop a Prosecco ice cube into a glass of your favourite smoothie or fruit juice or into a fruit coulee, served in a bowl stem wine glass. This ice cube process will prevent the Prosecco from turning to a vinegar taste.

You can make ice cubes from any leftover wines. I know: some of you will say there are never leftover spirits at your house! Whatever suits your fancy. Many people who live alone avoid buying spirits due to the cost and fear of waste, so this great idea solves that issue.

© “From Lady Ralston’s Kitchen: A Canadian Contessa Cooks” Turning everyday meal making into a Gourmet Experience

The working title for Carolyne’s Gourmet Recipes cookbook is From Lady Ralston’s Kitchen: A Canadian Contessa Cooks. This kitchen-friendly doyenne has been honoured and referred to as the grande dame of executive real estate in her market area during her 35-year career. She taught gourmet cooking in the mid-70s and wrote a weekly newspaper cooking column, long before gourmet was popular as it is today. Her ebook, Gourmet Cooking - at Home with Carolyne is available here for $5.99 US. Email Carolyne.


  1. A Special Add-on for REM Readers… Spring is right around the corner, and that means fresh peach season will soon be here… ENJOY!

    Grilled Fresh Peaches with Gougere Cream-Filled Topping – and others

    Select firm fresh juicy peaches. Carefully hand-select and make sure they pass the smell test. If the peaches don’t smell like they have been fresh-picked from the garden, reject them. They will be tasteless, as so often happens.

    A serving could be both halves of a medium or small peach or just one half of a large peach.

    If the skin is thin and easily pierced, some people enjoy leaving the skin on and eating it. If you prefer your peaches skin-free, removing the skin is very simple.

    Just remove the skins the same way you remove tomato skins. Cut a generous wrap around “x” on the bottom of each peach, just piercing the skin, not the flesh. Place the peaches into a large bowl or pot.

    Using a kettle, boil enough water to cover the peaches completely. Allow the peaches to sit, covered in the boiling water for just a few minutes. Set your timer for 2 minutes, so you won’t forget, because you absolutely do not want the peaches to begin to cook.

    Using a spider, transfer the whole peaches into a large container of ice cold water. The skins will slip right off, using the pointed tip of a small knife, starting at the bottom. Dispose of the skins.

    Using a sharp knife, the same way you cut an avocado in half to reveal the pit, cut the peach in a vertical circular motion and twist both portions to reveal each pit.

    Using the pointy end of a small knife, pop out the pit, being careful not to damage the peach, as best as possible. You might want to hold the peach in your hand in a clean kitchen cloth or a strong white paper towel to secure it while you pop out the pit. You don’t want to squeeze too hard. Always use care in the kitchen. And using sharp knives creates less danger than dull ones. Always point the blade side away from you.

    Brush each open face peach, cut side, with just a swish of melted unsalted butter, or use ghee if you have it. Sprinkle the cut side with the smallest pinch of salt. Yes.

    Using tongs, carefully position each peach half, pit hole side down on a medium hot BBQ or grill pan. You want to sear the open face side of each peach half. Remove from grill as soon as grill marks appear. Don’t walk away.

    Several ways to serve:

    Fill each pit-hole with your favourite flavoured firm Chantilly Cream (you can even freeze the Chantilly to make faux ice cream). You might want to use your tinned crushed, in sweetened syrup, pineapple Chantilly. Using a mini ice cream scoop, or the large end of a melon baller, fill each hole.

    Serve immediately.

    OR: Spritz each seared half with Asbach Uralt cognac, then top with your favourite. Peach liqueurs mostly don’t work as well as brandy, I discovered. The contrast is better.

    If you have a tin of fresh or reserved homemade gougeres in your pantry, fill each puffed choux paste with stiff fresh whipped cream or use Chantilly.

    You don’t need to make the pâté a choux with cheese (gougeres), unless you prefer; you can make them plain. And you can fill pâté a choux with many choices. Easy to have on hand for surprise uses. The puffs store well. Keep away from humidity.

    Using a sharp serrated blade knife, split each Gougere vertically, and cream side down, place the cream filled pastry bump on top of each seared peach half.

    Park each topped peach half on a bed of shredded iceberg or cross-cut romaine lettuce either of which that you have drizzled with my warm blue-cheese dressing.

    This dressing can be made a day ahead and gently reheated; it will congeal and become firm but malleable while refrigerated. You could even fill a peach hole with a scoop of the firm refrigerated blue cheese dressing, using it as a topper. Maybe drizzle with a little figgy jus from your refrigerated black mission fig marinating jar.

    OR: There’s dozens of combinations you can create; use your imagination – and INDULGE!

    If you have serrated edge grapefruit spoons, this is a perfect opportunity to dress your table with them, alongside each serving. Provide a pie fork, a light weight serrated steak knife, and a spoon. Serve each topped peach half on a see-through glass pie plate on top of a folded napkin on a charger plate.

    Tuck into each top, a beautiful fresh basil leaf or a generous fresh picked mint leaf, to add a little explosive colour balance.

    You could surround the topped peach half with a sprinkle of homemade candied nuts from your pantry jar, strategically placed on the lettuce, or choose to surround with a few homemade candied citrus rinds from your pantry citrus sugar jar. (You could even mince the candid citrus rinds and fold into the plain vanilla Chantilly.)

    OR: You could cut a round of store bought butter puff pastry, the size to fit the open-face side of a fresh peach half. Brush with just a little egg wash. Position each peach half (slice off a tiny bit of the rounded side to keep each peach half stable) on a parchment lined oven sheet pan, and put the pan on a middle rack in a preheated 400 F oven, for just minutes, only until the pastry puffs.

    Remove and serve immediately.

    Drizzle the pastry topper with raspberry coulee or a bit of congealed brandy jus from your black mission fig marinating jar. And serve as above on the blue-cheese drizzled lettuce.

    A spectacular treat if you live alone (it’s easy to just prepare one peach), or to entertain friends or family, and even if you own a bed and breakfast.

    Over the Moon – Beyond the Sea

    Fill the peach pit hole with a salad made of lightly marinated baby pre-cooked shrimp, using a little of my marinated Canadian goat cheese (see my recipe), crumbled over the shrimp, and a little minced, brunoise, fresh skinned tomato and a pinch of minced red onion. The marinade oil drippings from the cheese will be enough moisture. OH, MY!

    © “From Lady Ralston’s Kitchen: A Canadian Contessa Cooks”
    Turning everyday meal making into a Gourmet Experience

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