Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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The world is filled with distractions . . .

Some of them clamoring for attention with surprising urgency. Like, for example, the apricots.

This is the first year we’ve really gotten a good crop of apricots. Missouri is really too cold to expect to get apricots — we’re told to expect a crop about 2 out of 7 years, and I think that’s probably accurate.

They’re beautiful when they’re ripening, though.

And beautiful in the bowl, too.

I don’t much care for fresh apricots just as something to, you know, eat. Although the little tiny ‘Sweetheart’ apricots, barely larger than cherries, are good just out of hand.

But of course there’s an infinite number of very tasty things to do with apricots. It may amuse you to know — depends, I guess — but yesterday? I had pancakes with apricot syrup for breakfast, fresh apricots for dessert at lunch, chicken with apricot sauce for supper (plus snow peas and stuff, but let’s stay focused, right?) and then I couldn’t decide which to try, so I had a little sliver of apricot cheesecake AND an apricot-sunny-side up pastry to finish off the day.

The apricot-sunny-side-up pastries come for Julia Child, but I didn’t use the puff pastry base she recommends — I used a sweet pie pastry. Then you layer on ordinary pastry cream and poached apricot halves. Very tasty and not actually too much trouble.

The apricot cheesecake was even easier — I just used a pumpkin cheesecake recipe, but took out all the spices and substituted 16 oz of a thick simmered-down apricot puree instead of pumpkin. Except come to think of it, I was a little worried the puree might be too liquidy compared to pumpkin, so I added an extra 8 oz cream cheese, an extra egg, and an extra 1/4 C sugar, plus 3 Tbsp flour. It worked great. Honestly, you can’t beat cheesecake, right?

The apricot chicken was quite good. I added sugar and balsamic vinegar to the apricots and let that set while I sauted cubed chicken breasts. Then I pureed half the apricots and added the puree and a tsp of hot sauce and a little water, simmered that to reduce, added the rest of the apricots, and there you go.

So that was The Day of Apricots. Now my mother’s home from visiting relatives, and SHE can take over picking and processing apricots!

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2 Comments The world is filled with distractions . . .

  1. Elaine T

    Missouri is too cold for apricots?! My mental associations have it in the warm & humid South. huh.

    I tend to prefer dried apricots to fresh, myself. The fresh ones have a very strong flavor that I have to be in the mood for. There’s another chicken/apricot recipe I used to make that you might like: pureed apricot, with dijon mustard, cook chicken in that liquid, serve with a splash of lime juice.

  2. Rachel

    That does sound good . . . and I still have plenty of apricots! And, come to think of it, a lime! I was going to use the lime to try out these interesting lemon-lime-basil shortbread cookies (doesn’t that sound interesting?), but I would have plenty of lime juice left over.

    The thing about MO is, we do get hot and humid summers. Weeks where lows are in the eighties or nineties, the highs in the nineties or hundreds, with the humidity way way way up there. But we ALSO have long, unpredictable, lingering springs with sudden temperature changes and frequent late frosts. I swear, the transition zone — where cold air from Canada runs into warm air from the Gulf, producing violent temperature changes — runs straight through my yard. The most abrupt drop I know of was a drop of thirty-six degrees in three hours. An orchardist I met said he went out to his orchard and listened to the bark explode off the trees.

    The worst ever since I moved here? Lows of fifteen to seventeen degrees for five nights in a row . . . in mid-April. That will half-kill your Japanese maples and doublefile viburnums, and don’t even ask about my poor baby Persian perrotia, which never has really recovered. Never mind zapping all stone fruit crops, obviously. Thank heaven, it’s also very unusual to get that severe a hard freeze that late.

    Now, droughts, we get every single year. But very seldom starting in April. Honestly, thank heaven I’m not trying to make a living as a farmer here; I don’t know how anybody can manage.

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