Recipe: Vanilla-Poached Apricots
Book: Marie Claire Fresh
Have you ever come across one of those recipes where the ingredients list seems so short, and the instructions so straightforward, that you can’t help tilting your head to one side and thinking “well, okay, I suppose, if you say so…”?
Have you ever decided to put aside your suspicions in order to make such a recipe, partly because you’re a sceptical person who wants to crow “I told you so, silly recipe!” when the flavour falls flat?
Have you ever experienced the epiphany of humility that occurs when a seemingly simple, uncomplicated recipe sends forth one of the most intense, swoon-worthy, how-on-earth-did-those-ingredients-create-this-flavour-explosion dishes of your year-so-far?
I’m not saying that this is what happened to me today.
But it did.
I’m just not saying it.
But I am.
It was all for the benefit of the 2011 Cookbook Challenge, which I’m delighted to be joining this year. The theme was Stonefruits. At first, I was going to post a photo of bananas resting on top of a rock, but then I discovered that no cookbook in my house would support such an artistic* interpretation of the theme.
So I whipped out my Marie Claire Fresh cookbook, chose a recipe with rosewater in it simply because I recently ate Turkish Delight for the first time in over a decade, and happily discovered that this recipe would take an hour to cook.
This hour of cooking time meant I’d be able to run a load of washing while I cooked, you see. My plan worked brilliantly, until I finished the cooking, went to collect my washing, and discovered I’d forgotten to put any washing powder into the machine.
Just as well the following dish is not only insanely and intensely delicious, but can justifiably be enjoyed at breakfast, for dessert, at morning tea, or as a way to eat through your feelings of domestic failure.
After all, who cares if I can’t wash clothes to save my life? I can cook, cross-stitch, and once I even tied a tie. Single men, please leave your names at the door.
Adapted from Marie Claire Fresh
Serves 4 (cookbook says 6. I disagree, but then again I like to eat.)
- 200g dried apricots
- 1 vanilla bean, split (I used 1 tsp vanilla extract, because I wasn’t prepared to sell a kidney in order to buy vanilla beans)
- 2 1/2 cups (625ml) water
- 1/2 teaspoon rosewater
- 1 tablespoon honey (I used raw Leatherwood honey from Tasmania, which is crazy delicious and very unique in flavour. Use agave or maple syrup for a vegan version)
- To serve, the cookbook recommends toasted slivered almonds and plain yoghurt. I used pumpkin seeds, because that’s what I had on hand and I liked how their green colour offset the bright orange of the apricots.
1. Put the apricots in a small/medium saucepan with the vanilla bean or extract and water. Bring to the boil, then partially cover and simmer on low heat for an hour, keeping an eye on the pot towards the end so that the apricots don’t stick.
(The original recipe said to cover the pan completely, but there was far too much water left towards the end when I did that. I had to remove the lid completely and simmer the concoction at high heat for the last 15 minutes, just to evaporate some of the excess liquid. I’ve amended the recipe above to what I intend to do next time.)
2. Remove the vanilla bean, if you used one, and stir in the rosewater and honey. Serve with your preferred garnishes. (Also, this is wonderful hot and cold. I think I might it prefer it straight from the fridge, actually.)
3. I know this recipe may not sound like anything special, but I cannot reiterate enough how overwhelmed I was, and am, with its intensity of flavour. It’s not overly sweet, and is in fact very tangy, but that’s something I adore in desserts. Neither the honey nor rosewater dominate, but instead render the overall flavour complex, mysterious, and satisfying. I’d like to say that a small-ish serving is more than adequate, but then again I just ate two-thirds of it in one go.
What can I say? It’s fruit. And therefore a much better option to have stretched my tummy with than the 14 squares of sesame candy from Hong Kong that I ate last night in the space of an hour.
* cough, cough.