Apricots are my favourite summer fruit, hands down. And right now - oh happiness - apricot season is in full swing, so we are taking full advantage of these golden days.
Just before Christmas I visited Beau Baddock of The Nashdale Fruit Company and The Agrestic Grocer (busy guy) as he picked a few trees on his Nashdale orchard, taking home a kilo or so for myself. Then our neighbours arrived at the back door yesterday with a big bucket of freshly picked apricots. So yes, we have been stonefruit spoiled and are loving it.
This past week, in and around Christmas cooking, entertaining and eating, we have made poached apricots, apricot jam, apricot curd, apricot tarts, apricot chicken and apricot ice cream (recipes all below).
Tim, I think, has almost reached his apricot threshold. Me? Never.
We like to jam in this house. Or I do at least. So first up in the apricot blitz was a few batches of apricot and vanilla jam (recipe here). I also made an apricot curd by following the below recipe
Apricot curdI based this recipe on Josie Chapman's passionfruit curd posted earlier this year and was really happy with the results. As a curd-lover, it's always nice to have a new number for the repertoire!
Zest of two lemons
225 gms unsalted butter
10 egg yolks
200 gms caster sugar
2/3 cup poached and pureed apricots (see recipe below for poached apricots)\
Combine lemon zest and butter in heatproof bowl over simmering pot of water and stir until the butter melts.
Whisk yolks and sugar to combine and pour over lemon/butter mixture. Whisk continuouslyuntil mixture coats the back of a spoon. Stir through the apricot puree, strain through a fine sieve and decant into sterilised jars. Makes about 3 cups.
I've always loved this classic recipe and now discover that my kids do too, nice. Serves 4-6.
1 tbsp olive oil
1 x 2kg chicken1 cup chicken stock
1 cup white wine
Preheat oven to 160C. Heat the butter and oil in a large oven-proof casserole on high and brown the chicken well on all sides. Remove from heat. Season chicken generously with salt and pepper then pour over stock and wine, cover and cook for 45 minutes. Add half of the apricots, cover and return to heat for another 45 minutes. Remove from heat, take chicken out of the dish and set aside to rest under a tent of foil.
Skim off most of the fat in the remaining sauce then transfer to a saucepan (apricots and all). Bring to a rolling boil and let bubble away to reduce for a few minutes. Pass this sauce through a sieve and discard apricot pips and excess pulp.
At this point you could just joint up the chicken and serve with the remaining apricots (I blanch them for a few minutes). Or, keep it whole, in the fridge until dinner (or lunch) time, then joint your bird, add the remaining apricots, pour over the sauce and place in a hot oven (180) for 10 minutes or until hot. I love doing the latter as it makes an easy, make-ahead meal. Don't worry about the meat becoming dry, all that sauce and extra apricot keep it beautiful and moist.
Poached ApricotsThis is my master recipe and it comes via Stephanie Alexander's Cooks Companion.
1 cup caster sugar
1 cup white wine
1 cup water
1 tsp vanilla paste
1 kg apricots, halved, stones removed
Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Add the apricots, reduce heat to a low simmer and cover the fruit with a layer of baking paper. Poach for 5 minutes or until fruit is soft then remove from heat and keep in the fridge.
Apricot ice creamThis may well have been the best ice cream I've ever made (I think at least...) and this was because the apricots were so good and the duck eggs so very rich.
500mls thickened cream
500mls whole milk
1 tsp vanilla paste
6 tbsp caster sugar
7 duck or 8 chook eggs
2 cups poached apricots, pureed
Place the cream, milk and vanilla in a saucepan and bring just to boiling point. Set aside for half an hour to infuse. Meanwhile, whisk the yolks and caster sugar until pale and thickened. Whisk a little of the hot cream into the yolks then add the remaining hot cream mixture and whisk well. Return this to the saucepan and place over a gentle heat. Cook, stirring constantly for six minutes or until the mixture coats the back of your spoon. Remove from heat, pour into a jug and place in the fridge overnight.
To make the ice cream, pour custard in your ice cream machine, add the apricot puree and churn according to manufacturers' instructions. Makes about 1 litre.
We served this ice cream last night with crumbled homemade lavender honeycomb, recipe on its way!
Apricot Frangipane tartInspired by the scucess of last year's apricot frangipane tart but short on time, I made the below tart by thawing a roll of good quality puff pastry, rolling it out until a large rectangle then scoring a border around the edges. Then I just spread the pastry with frangipane mixture and topped with poached apricot halves and baked the tart for 30 minutes or until golden and cooked through.
It was delicious with the apricot ice cream, of course!