How many of you keep track of the changing season with the coming and going of fruit and vegetables? I really do. And almost every year right about now I start to panic as I realize we are heading towards the cooler time of the year.
Asparagus came and went, the last of the cherries can be spotted in the stores and my favorite this season, berries are becoming harder to find.
I am buying in bulk now to freeze and help me get through my fruit and veggie cravings during the winter. Yes I am currently living a squirrels nightmare. Hogging and saving for colder and rainy days.
Often when Tom comes home he is greeted with a kitchen that looks more like a production line of a busy factory. Washing and drying, pitting or peeling, cutting, spreading, freezing on trays and then finally placing in bags and freezing again. If I am making purees, sauces or stock - add cooking or steaming to the production line. Soeren is always a great help and we often have a ball in the kitchen together.
At the moment we've zeroed our focus on apricots. This year the apricots have been extremely sweet and have a gorgeous ripe aroma. This is actually the first time we're freezing apricots and I have already made a nice large amount of apricot puree. The next thing we want to do is freeze the fruit. I've never done this before nor have I ever tasted apricots after they have been frozen, my neighbor however swears they are great for desserts. So, I am hoping that after the next trip to the Farmers Market we will be able to save enough to freeze.
It's hard - they taste so good and every time we go to the fridge to take something out, the rosy, golden fruit shine brightly at us. We simply cannot resist the temptation to quickly grab one. Before I can get anywhere near the freezing process most of them have already disappeared.
I've also been making a few spontaneous desserts with them. Recently we had some friends over for dinner, I had to plunder my apricots - that were meant to end up in the freezer - for a quick, on-the-spur-of-the-moment dessert.
Clafoutis is actually the perfect dessert for fruit of many types. It's made quickly and tastes heavenly. The batter is somewhat similar to a pancake batter and all you do is bake it with the fruit in the oven. Presto - you have a fantastic tasting dessert leaving a beautiful aroma of freshly baked fruits in the air. Cherries are used commonly for this dessert, but I thought ripe baked apricots would do perfect justice to my clafoutis.
Beautiful small orange colored fruits with velvety skin and flesh. Apricots are a gorgeous and delicate fruit that can be enjoyed throughout summer. Ripe apricots are plump and juicy and have a delicate aroma. The flavor lies somewhere between a plum and a peach with a musky, slightly tart taste. Apricots can be enjoyed from May through to August and one really should take full advantage of the fruits.
Relative to the peach, apricots are full of beta-carotene, fibre and an excellent source of vitamin C. According to the American Cancer Society, apricots, and other foods rich in carotenes, may lower the risk of cancers of the larynx, esphagus, and lungs. Apricots also provide potassium, iron, calcium, silicon, phosphorus.
Apricots contain nutrients such as vitamin A that promote good vision. Vitamin A, a powerful antioxidant, reduces free radical damage to cells and tissues. Furthermore, the high beta-carotene and lycopene activity of apricots makes them important heart health foods.
A healthy, whole food diet should include apricots as a delicious way to add to the fiber intake.
Dried apricots are a great alternative during the winter months. Although the dried fruit is more expensive as it takes five pounds of fresh apricots to produce only one pound of dried; and, since drying removes only the water, the nutrient qualities are extremely powerful. Compared to the fresh, dried apricots have twelve times the iron, seven times the fiber, and five times the Vitamin A!
Organically grown apricots have a superior flavor when fresh. Although their appearance is not as appealing when dried, they have not been bleached or colored. Organic apricots have not been treated with preservatives and become darker in color. They have a caramelized, almost fig-like flavor. Buying organic apricots is recommended because sulfur dioxide has caused some allergic reactions, including anaphylactic shock in people sensitive to sulfites.
Selecting and Storing:
Look for plump, fairly firm fruit with an orange-yellow to orange color at the stores or Farmers Markets. Fully ripe fruit is soft to the touch, juicy and should be eaten as soon as possible. If they are too firm they have not been tree-ripened, and tree-ripened fruits always taste best.
Keep apricots cool to prevent over ripening. Store ripe apricots in the refrigerator where they may keep for up to a week. Hard apricots can be put in a paper bag and let ripen for a day or two. Avoid buying green fruit as these will not ripen.
To freeze fresh apricots, simply half the fruit and place on baking sheet until frozen. Then pack in a plastic freezer bag.
Both the fresh and dried apricot are a main food staple of a tiny Hunza principality in the Himalayas, who are known for their extreme longevity, excellent health, and an almost exclusive vegetarian diet.
More great ideas to enjoy apricots:
- Add dried apricots to your muesli
- Make an apricot puree and serve with pancakes
- Enjoy a salad with juicy slices of apricots.
- Add dried apricots to a chicken stew for a Middle Eastern flavor
- Make an apricot crumble, chutney or preserve
- Make a fruity apricot ice cream
- Enjoy a decadent Apricot Daquiri with the girls
- Dried apricots are great to make compotes and enjoyed on desserts
Get your recipes cooking for the latest mingle!
Earth Food is all about helping to raise awareness for the steps and actions we can take to save our beautiful blue planet. Hope you will find it in your hearts to party with me.
Deadline is August 6th!
Important Announcement: I have unfortunately deleted an entry by mistake that landed in my spam. It was from a Toni. Sorry I hit delete on my spam folder and while it was being deleted I got a glimpse of the entry. So, if a Toni sent me an entry for Earth Food. I would kindly like to request you to send it again. I am extremely sorry about the inconvenience!
500g ripe apricots - cut in halves, then sliced
2 tablespoons orange liqueur (e.g. Grand Marnier)
4 eggs - separated
pinch of salt
50g + 50g sugar
1 vanilla bean - insides scraped
6 tablespoons cream
2 tablespoons almond slices
butter for the forms
icing sugar to decorate
Pre-heat oven to 150 degrees C.
Put the apricot slices in a bowl and pour the orange liqueur over them. Mix and allow to steep for 30 minutes.
Whisk the egg yolks, salt, 50g sugar and the vanilla into a foamy mixture. Fold in the flour and cream into the mixture.
In a separate bowl beat the eggs until slightly foamy then drizzle the 50g sugar, beating continuously until glossy, stiff peaks are formed. Gently fold in the egg white mixture into the flour/egg yolk mixture in two batches.
Fill the batter in four small or one large buttered oven-proof form. Spread the apricot slices over the batter. Sprinkle the almond slices over the top.
Bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes. Take out and sieve icing sugar over the top.
There is always something comforting about a warm baked dessert. Even when it's hot outside I will find a certain solace in such desserts. The apricots in this clafoutis were baked to perfection. They were still juicy and gave the entire dessert an exceptionally fruity aromatic note. It's perfect the way it is but for an extra couple of bonus points from your guests, add a serving of vanilla ice-cream!
Marta has a great new event going, which I really am enjoying. Fresh Produce of the Month really encourages me to use the lovely, fresh produce that is currently in season. For her second session, Marta has chosen Apricots and I think I'll be sending her a a nice big helping of my apricot clafoutis.
Technorati Tags: apricots, dessert, bake, clafoutis, fruit, food, recipe, food blog, photography, nikon d70s
All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2007 Meeta Albrecht unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First