Well hello there 2016. I’m just emerging from a paradise of good food, good wine, good travel and really great company. The extended festive season was incredibly festive this time around and it’s sad to see it end.
Over the Christmas break we went over to Tasmania. My first and most definitely not my last time there. When we returned the apricot tree in Mum’s backyard was bursting with beautiful ripe fruit. The apricots were perfect to eat fresh when they still had a tinge of green to them, but I also couldn’t wait to cook with them.
Looking to Nana’s books I found countless apricot recipes. However most wanted apricot nectar or dried apricots. While Nana had apricot trees in her orchard, availability was limited to season and the harvest from those trees. We take for granted now that we have much greater access to fresh fruit and vegetables, and are no longer reliant on tinned or preserved produce. And in saying that, we have also largely lost touch of seasonality of fruits and vegetables, with shops stocking produce from around the world all year. It really is a great thing to be able to go to your garden and pick a fresh apricot off the tree. So while I did not want a single fruit to go to waste, I also wanted to make sure these apricots were made into something simple and delicious. Like Nana would have wanted.
You will need:
– 1kg (2lb) ripe apricots
– 2 tablespoons vanilla sugar (or regular sugar if you prefer; see recipe below)
– 1/2 cup water
– Brandy or Cointreau (although I actually used sherry which worked well)
Arrange apricots in an ovenproof dish (I halved mine before doing this and removed their stone). Sprinkle with vanilla sugar, water and brandy/liqueur. If the apricots are under ripe add a little extra water. Bake at 150c (300F) for approximately 1 hour. I served ours with some creamy vanilla yogurt and a crisp tuile, although they would be delicious with custard or ice cream.
For the Vanilla Sugar:
Cut a vanilla bean into short sections and bury in a cup of castor sugar in a screw top jar. Leave for a week or two, by which time the vanilla flavour will have permeated the sugar. An alternative to this is to warm castor sugar in a covered dish with a split and cut vanilla bean in gentle oven for 20 minutes.
This is an incredibly simple dish and one that is great when you have people around. I prepared mine before guests arrived and then simply popped it into the oven just before we started eating dinner. The apricots were a wonderful end to a meal. They were fresh, tasty and not too heavy. Most importantly they got the tick of approval from my old man.
Love Kath and Kate x