The quiet cousin in the family of summer fruits, the apricot, has a relatively short window of opportunity. During the heyday of summer, these Chinese natives are found throughout the entire temperate regions of the world, and where probably introduced into the United States by Spanish missionaries in the 18th century. Their slightly oblong shape always contains a pit, or stone, that is free – meaning that it is not fused to the flesh of the fruit and is easily removed. Its skin is pale yellow to newer varieties that have blushing cheeks, and when ripe their sweetness is trumpeted by a gentle scent and a slight give to its flesh. It is best to store them at room temperature to avoid a mealy textured apricot. Use whatever apricot presents itself in any recipe calling for them fresh. To remove the skin of the apricot cut into the base an “x” and then place the apricot into boiling water for 30 to 60 seconds. While the fruit is still warm peel the skin away – this technique works well for the apricot’s other relative: peaches and nectarines.
Stuffed Apricots - yields 10 servings as an appetizer
1-1/2 pounds apricot (approx. 20)
1 shallot – minced finely
2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves - chopped
1 tablespoon basil leaves- chopped
1 garlic clove - finely minced
1/2 teaspoon minced lemon zest
1/4 pound blue cheese
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Cut the apricots in half following the seam around from the top all the way around, and discard the seed. Hold on a platter cut side up.
In a clean work bowl mix the all the ingredients together to completely distribute except for the apricots.
Heap a tablespoon of the cheese mixture onto a half of an apricot. Garnish with chopped basil, and serve room temperature or cold.
Apricot, Blueberry and Cherry Compote - yields 8 servings
1/4 cup Water
1 pint blueberries
6 Apricots - halved and pit removed
1 pound Bing Cherries - pits removed
1/4 cup Sugar
1/8 cup Lemon Verbena leaves - minced
In a 2 quart sauce pan, add the water and all the other ingredients and bring to a simmer over a medium flame. Lower the flame and cook the mixture for 20 minutes. Serve hot or cold over ice cream, pound cake or angle food cake.