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A new reason

I just sat down, looked at the calendar, and noticed that it’s August 9th. June is eleven months old today. On Monday, Delancey will be four years old, and on Thursday, Essex will be one.  Is this what happens when you become a firm-and-fast adult? You’ve done enough stuff and crossed paths with enough people that at some point, each day comes with a birthday or anniversary? I mean, in addition to bills and tax deadlines and increasingly tight hamstrings? In other words: there’s always a new reason to eat cake, isn’t there?  Or drink wine?  Both?

I have a very cold bottle of riesling in the refrigerator. But there is no cake here, and that is because there is no oven.  We live in a 1958 house, brown enamel appliances and knotty pine cabinets and banana-colored formica and all, and a couple of weeks ago, the tiny, squeaky-doored Hotpoint oven up and died. No warning! Just when we had finally put aside our differences - you say you’re 400 degrees, I say you’re 350 - and reached an understanding!  There won’t be cash for a proper renovation for a while yet, so Brandon went out last week and found a cheap used oven to temporarily replace it. And now we’re waiting for the Sears guy to come install it, because if we did it ourselves, it would all end in a sudden flash of light and a cloud of smoke, and I do not mean to imply that there would be wizardry involved.

In the meantime, there is no cake, but there are apricots poached in riesling and vanilla bean. (Which were supposed to be baked in riesling and vanilla bean, but blah blah blah BLAH.)

It’s probably too late in the summer to talk about apricots? Let’s do it anyway. I’ve made these apricots three times already this year, and I’m not ready to stop. I just made them a fourth time tonight.  The recipe is a twist on two others: Nigel Slater’s Baked Apricots with Lemon Tea, from Tender, Volume II (also known as Ripe) and my friend Jess’s Sugared Apricots with Cardamom Pistachios. Nigel’s, if I may refer to him on a buddy-buddy first-name basis, calls for baking apricots in sweetened lemon verbena tea with star anise and a vanilla bean, and Jess’s calls for dredging them in sugar before baking them in white wine and serving them with cardamom-dusted pistachios. I took one recipe in each hand and banged them together, and ta da, I give you Soft Apricots with Riesling and Vanilla Bean.

Here’s the gist: take seven or eight fresh apricots, cut them in half, and press their cut sides into a saucer of sugar. It doesn’t take much - just a couple of tablespoons, and you could use even less, if you prefer. Then arrange the apricot halves in a baking dish if you’re baking them, or in a skillet if you’re poaching them, and tuck a split vanilla bean in there, too. Pour in a good splash of riesling. Then slide them into a hot oven, or set them over a low flame, and let them stay there until their color deepens to the orange of a very good egg yolk, their flesh gets velvety, and if you pick one up in your hand, it feels heavy, slack, almost jiggly, like a slightly tired water balloon. You could eat them warm, but I like them very cold, with a spoonful of their winey syrup.

I first made apricots this way last summer, and though I didn’t write down the method or bookmark the recipes, when this summer came around, I remembered it, sort of, and after a couple of go-rounds and tweaks, I feel confident about sharing it. I think it might be my absolute favorite thing to do with apricots, which is saying a lot, but I’m going to go ahead and write that down before I second-guess it. Either way, I’m posting this not only for you, but also to record the method for myself, so that next summer, I’ll be able to find it without scratching my head. And then maybe I’ll be able to make it five or six times, instead of only four.

P.S.  This will simultaneously destroy you and rebuild you (via Youngna Park).  Thank god for radio.
P.P.S. Ask, and ye shall receive:

Soft Apricots with Riesling and Vanilla Bean

You could use any sweet-ish white wine here, though I particularly love the flavor of apricots with an off-dry riesling. (I’ve been using Memaloose 2012 Idiot’s Grace Riesling.) I’ve also used Dolin Blanc vermouth and Cocchi Americano, and both have yielded great results. You’re also welcome to try a drier white wine, or a rosé, and if you do, please report back.

2 tablespoons (24 grams) sugar
7 or 8 apricots (450 grams, or 1 pound), halved and pitted
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped free
1/2 cup riesling

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Measure the sugar into a saucer or a small plate. Press the apricot halves, cut side down, into the sugar: each one should wind up with a nice sugar crust on one side. Arrange the apricots, skin side down, in a baking dish that will comfortably hold them all in a single layer. Scrape the vanilla seeds into the baking dish - don’t worry if they clump - and wiggle the vanilla bean down between the apricots. Pour the riesling into the dish, taking care to pour it between the apricots, so that you don’t wash away the sugar.

Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the apricots are tender. [Alternatively, you can do this all on the stove, placing the apricots in a large skillet with a lid and cooking them very gently over very low heat, covered, for 35 to 40 minutes.] Sometimes they start to fall apart, and that’s okay, but I like them best when they maintain their shape and barely resist the fork. Allow them to cool, and then carefully layer them in a jar, and pour the syrupy juices over the top. Chill thoroughly.  They’re best eaten icy cold, and as long as they’re covered in syrup, they’ll keep for more than a week.

Serve the apricots with a drizzle of their vanilla-flecked syrup, or with a scoop of ice cream (salted caramel is very good) or a spoonful of plain yogurt.

Yield: many tiny snacks or breakfasts, or dessert for 4 people


Blogger Stewey said...

Those apricots look delish! And, June is adorable!

10:40 PM, August 09, 2013  
Anonymous Carie said...

Oh that sounds delicious - I wonder how it would work for other stone fruit - thinks the girl with a punnet of plums in the kitchen! But I have to say its the sound of cardamom pistachios that I'd love to know better

10:50 PM, August 09, 2013  
Blogger Adana said...

The apricots look almost as delicious as that darling girl of yours! Brava!

1:06 AM, August 10, 2013  
Anonymous Elizabeth@Thebackyardlemontree said...

I've got some desert wine cluttering up my pantry which I will never ever drink so when apricot season comes again down under I will try poaching apricots in it.

1:12 AM, August 10, 2013  
Blogger Emma Gardner said...

The apricots look glorious! If I didn't want to use alcohol, what would you suggest? Go back to the tea?

June, as ever, looks totally adorable. My mum has lovely curly hair like that :)

1:54 AM, August 10, 2013  
Blogger thinking of the days said...

I've been following our Nigel (as we Brits say ...my Nigel sounds too possessive doesn't it) for so many years..and there's never been a recipe of his that doesn't hit the spot for me.
But I will try your tinkering about with apricots!
Have you seen his Tv programmes over there yet? You'll love him even more...

PS June is looking so grown up and gorgeous....

2:17 AM, August 10, 2013  
Anonymous Bake said...

Just made this with a lovely rosé that had been open a few days (weeks!) too long. It was delicious, thank you for the inspiration! xoxo

4:31 AM, August 10, 2013  
Blogger The Chubby Vegetarian said...

Oh my, this oven situation is exactly our week as well. We had the sparks and flashes of light and smoke first, just crazy! It's forced me to think differently (and even make microwave rice). Love this dessert idea and will be making it this weekend!

A & J

4:50 AM, August 10, 2013  
Blogger AuntieAllyn said...

Yum, this sounds magical. Unfortunately, I live in a small rural area and it's rare that I find nice fresh apricots. Still, I think I'll try to track some down . . . this would be so lovely to have in the refrigerator for special snacking!

5:08 AM, August 10, 2013  
Blogger slip4 said...

June is beautiful, but you knew that, right? Love all that hair (coming from a thin-haired mama with a daughter who sports a head of thick hair).

5:15 AM, August 10, 2013  
Blogger Eleanor said...

My early 90's Jenn Air wall oven won't heat up past 170 for weeks now. Thank goodness it's summer but it really puts a cramp in my style.

6:51 AM, August 10, 2013  
Anonymous Karen White said...

Hi Molly, I've just finished 'A Homemade Life' and closed its pages with a sigh of satisfaction. A curiously comforting read, even in the sad parts. And it's only the beginning, as now comes the best part of all, making and eating all your delicious recipes. Shall I start with the first and end with the last or just dip in? Probably just dip in, as I doubt I'll be able to resist your sumptuous 'Winning Hearts and Minds' chocolate cake for very long. My one tiny grumble is that I cannot source a large coeur a la creme mould in the UK - yes, I know I don't need a special mould but I want one! :o)
When I next get apricots in my organic fruit box I'll try this recipe!

7:36 AM, August 10, 2013  
Anonymous Karen White said...

Btw, June is a cutie!

7:37 AM, August 10, 2013  
Blogger Zoomie said...

If it's too late for apricots, how about peaches! June, June, June. Heavenly.

7:44 AM, August 10, 2013  
Anonymous Val {ALL MUSSED UP} said...

I have the long-lost twin of your enamel paella pan living in my kitchen, but have never poached fruit in it. It looks so right that I may have to take it for a spin!

Also...thank you, o life guru, for linking getting old with more cake and more wine. The birthdays are stacking up and I'm stoked. (:

8:38 AM, August 10, 2013  
Anonymous Kim said...

My own (Frigidaire) oven gave up the ghost several months ago. I've since made a game of seeing how long I can go before replacing it. I use a countertop roaster for most items and a friend's oven for those that require precision (although it is a bit inconvenient to have your oven three miles down the street...)

9:05 AM, August 10, 2013  
Anonymous Catherine said...

Does dollbaby June get a little taste of the delicious sounding apricots?

9:24 AM, August 10, 2013  
Blogger Mallory Frayn said...

Way to improvise, looks good! And I cannot agree more about how quickly time flies. I'm taking summer classes in university and there's only a week left. But it feels like I just started. Time is a fascinating concept, the older I get, the faster it seems to go.

9:32 AM, August 10, 2013  
Anonymous lizykat said...

I always look forward to your posts... not only for recipes but the story that goes with. But I have to say you are 'killing' me with that babycakes of yours, those cheeks, that head of hair...sigh. thx

9:36 AM, August 10, 2013  
Anonymous wanderingeducators said...

I love, love, love apricots. I think i will also love, love, love this recipe. Thank you! GOOD LUCK with the oven. hoo boy. soon you'll be back and making granola. :)

10:47 AM, August 10, 2013  
Blogger tigerlille said...

I love how confident and self assured June is looking. Is she not the most gorgeous baby in the world? Er, aside from my beauty, who also had lovely round cheeks. The apricots look pretty good too. I'm liking the idea of them for breakfast. I wonder what would happen if you threw a few of the apricot stones in to stew with the sauce? Maybe add that delish almond/arsenic flavor?

12:35 PM, August 10, 2013  
Anonymous Pat said...

Where, oh, where did the photo go? Re: June holding on to your legs. It took me a while to realize the pink parts I was seeing were the soles of her feet. For me, that turned out to be a wonderful puzzle picture! Thanks for sharing your view of the world.

1:17 PM, August 10, 2013  
Anonymous Stephanie said...

I have been afraid of apricots since last year when I made a DISASTROUS poached apricot dish with (very cheap and very bad) apricot brandy.

Since then, I have only eaten apricots fresh and tried not to think about my aspirations to tart them up with alcohol. However, your riesling sounds cool and lovely. I do believe I will give it another go . . .

9:12 PM, August 10, 2013  
Anonymous Kirstin said...

I love love love how your photos look, like old and treasured keepsakes.

10:27 PM, August 10, 2013  
Blogger Pille said...

Gosh, love June's hair! My third bebe is 2 months younger, but her "wig" is nowhere near as impressive (and the colour is the exact opposite as well :))

We still get decent apricots here, and I cannot resist a Molly-Nigel recipe at all :)

2:06 AM, August 11, 2013  
Anonymous Carlinne @Cook with 2 Chicks said...

AprIcots in wine? Yum! June is absolutely adorable!

6:57 AM, August 11, 2013  
Anonymous LaurieA-B said...

I'm sorry to torment you with talk of cake, but yesterday I served your mom's blueberry-raspberry pound cake to a group of friends at the park, and it was a big hit. I believe one child made off with three slices.
We were meeting friends who had a beautiful outdoor wedding in Seattle, ten years ago this summer, after which they moved to the Midwest, and this was the first time we'd seen them again--now with an eight- and six-year-old, and us with our nine-year-old. Time.

7:28 AM, August 11, 2013  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read your recipe over morning coffee, walked to the local Bellevue WA farmers' market before lunch, bought eight beautiful apricots and made this in time to have it as a late afternoon snack. Fabulous. I added a few fresh raspberries and blueberries and a dollop of low-fat cottage cheese for some protein. It was beautiful, as well as incredibly delicious. Next I'll try it for guests for dessert, minus the cottage cheese but with a small scoop of vanilla gelato. Thanks for this wonderful addition to my personal collection of "favorite" recipes.


12:36 PM, August 11, 2013  
Anonymous Stacy said...

Your apricots are beautiful, Molly, as is June. I love that you posted this not just for us but for yourself. I can't tell you the times I have searched my own blog to remember how I made something. And I thought it was my sad, getting older, memory going.

RIP Hotpoint oven. May the Sears man show up soon.

2:48 PM, August 11, 2013  
Blogger Rachel Tyler said...

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10:54 PM, August 11, 2013  
Blogger Sandra Tranmer said...

I have peaches languishing on my kitchen counter. I wonder if this recipe would work with them too as it looks positively delicious :) x

5:00 AM, August 12, 2013  
Anonymous Sarah said...

I like poached fruit cold, too---but I've only ever done pears, not apricots. So pretty.
Tightening hamstrings and piling-up of anniversaries. sigh. But I think June is probably worth it. Hope you're well---S

5:31 AM, August 12, 2013  
Blogger London Notebook said...

Hi Molly,

Two things:

Firstly, I've been steadily reading your blog for two years now and I so enjoy it. If I ever come to Seattle, Delancey will be my first port of call.

Secondly, these apricots looks delicious. My grandmother used to add elderflower cordial (do you get that in the States?) to poached peaches and apricots - it's wonderful.

Katherine x

10:34 AM, August 12, 2013  
Anonymous Sharon said...

Man, you're funny sometimes!! The apricots sound simple but heavenly.

11:01 AM, August 12, 2013  
Blogger Rocky Mountain Woman said...

June is so cute! lovely shot..

Oh, and the apricots look wonderful also...

tee hee

1:15 PM, August 12, 2013  
Blogger Jess said...

I like the sound of your version, M. Re: your dear, departed oven, there's got to be a joke in there somewhere about its neighbor the Silent Partner. (Lovers' spat?)

7:33 PM, August 12, 2013  
Blogger Tin of tea said...

this looks and sounds delicious!

3:54 AM, August 13, 2013  
Anonymous Donald @ Tea Time said...

Sounds delicious - great recipe for soft apricots!

7:35 AM, August 13, 2013  
Blogger Trading Up said...

i wish i had read this before i dumped a nasty bottle of barefoot down the drain!

12:39 PM, August 13, 2013  
Anonymous Kate said...

I love your commitment to apricots.

7:42 PM, August 13, 2013  
Anonymous Laura said...

This is great for the summer when you need something cool and refreshing that doesn't involve the oven! Looks delicious :)

8:51 AM, August 15, 2013  
Blogger Sarah Patrick said...

I tried this with figs and chardonnay. It was very, very good! Extended the cooking time a bit. It probably would be better with a sweeter wine.

Your baby is beautiful!

1:51 PM, August 16, 2013  
Anonymous Kasey said...

Oh yeah, I feel that way. Is there a weekend when there isn't some kind of celebration? It's a good thing, I think. I hope to celebrate more and more the older I get. June, peaches, August...all good things :)

4:55 PM, August 16, 2013  
Blogger Kathleen McVey said...

June is a lovely little cupcake! I've been sitting in my backyard for hours this afternoon, just lazing it up, and have so enjoyed catching up on your posts. Second time in a few weeks I've been told to go get Jerusalem, so it's now on hold for me at the library. So happy for your success, in all areas, and looking forward to Delancey!

6:09 PM, August 18, 2013  
Anonymous Chiara said...

Oh this sounds delicious. I quite often poach peaches in this way but have never tried it with apricots. Looking forward to giving it a go.

6:06 AM, August 19, 2013  
Anonymous Christina @ but i'm hungry said...

This looks just too lovely. Now I'm hoping hoping hoping I'll be able to find some apricots at the farmers' market this week. Fingers crossed.

12:51 PM, August 19, 2013  
Blogger Bobbi said...

Molly, I am sending my last of four children off to college this weekend. I do know how quickly time goes by, often without noticing! Enjoy each day and give your darling daughter an extra hug today!

6:25 AM, August 20, 2013  
Anonymous Cara said...

Hi Molly, I just wanted to pop in and tell you that I am a loyal reader in Germany, and I was in Seattle a couple of weeks ago and decided to go check out Delancey and Essex. Super impressed! You guys have really done a great job there. My favorite was the pizza with the fennel sausage... sooo so good. I'll definitely be returning next time I am in Seattle.

8:32 AM, August 21, 2013  
Blogger patbarford said...

Apricots were gone by the time I got to the market, but have just given peaches the same treatment. Served warm over ice cream. Best. Thing. Ever.

7:08 PM, August 21, 2013  
Anonymous Karen White said...

Molly, I have made your Banana Bread with Chocolate and Ginger! It's a big hit, with me, my husband and our friends (and their children). It will be a recipe that I make many times.

8:46 AM, August 22, 2013  
Blogger Courtney said...

Thank you for sharing the radio story! What an incredible story. Very moving and a reminder of what really matters.

9:42 AM, August 22, 2013  
Anonymous Jeff @ Cheeseburger said...

June looks so cute in her high chair.

5:20 AM, August 28, 2013  
Anonymous Meagan said...

Hello! I just found and made this recipe. It got too hot! Maybe a toaster oven wasn't the best idea for this recipe. I'm left with some probably-too-soft apricots (i bet they'll still be good), but practically no syrup! (and a dish thats going to need a long soak before a scrub). Any advice? Mil gracias!

3:05 PM, July 08, 2015  

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