Got a glut of apricots? These three top chefs show us what to do with them.

Apricot season is in full swing, and there is no joy like biting straight into its amber flesh straight from the tree. A great source of fibre, they also contain carotene, a form for vitamin A, and even help us to absorb vitamin C. Most importantly, however, they are truly delicious, walking a mouth-watering tightrope between sweetness and tartness. Eating them unadorned is always going to be perfect – but if you’re looking for inventive apricot recipes, then Ben Tish of Cubitt House, Asimakis Chaniotis of Pied à Terre and Lucy Carr-Ellison and Jemima Jones, co-founders of Wild by Tart share their tried and tested favourites. Plus, Gill Meller and David Josephs, Owner of Panzer’s Deli give us their tips for selecting and cooking with one of the summer’s sweetest treats.

Poached Apricots, Orange Flower Water, Whipped Mascarpone


Ben Tish, Chef Director, Cubitt House


The origin of the apricot is shrouded in mystery and uncertainty. It is said by some to have originated in Armenia and others say that its beginnings lay in the far. However, we do know that they’ve been cultivated in Persia since antiquity and from there have made their way around Europe and grown particularly well in Spain and southern parts of Italy.

Apricots were (and still are) an important fruit in Arabic and Moorish cuisine. Apart from being delicious and versatile when fresh and in season they also dry and preserve very well. Important for shelf life but dried apricots are another thing all together from their fresh counterparts- they have an intense sweet and sour flavour from the dehydrating process and are brilliant added to tagines and sauces for depth of flavour.

There’s also much evidence that these dried orange fruits have many medical benefits including helping with digestion and skin conditions. I've used both fresh and dried in this recipe as I feel the textures contrast well together.

Serves 4

Ingredients


• 6 fresh apricots, cut in half and stone removed
• 6 dried apricots (an organic variety is best as they don’t include preservatives)
• 5 drops orange flower water
• Peeled zest of ½ orange
• 75g golden caster sugar
• 100ml full fat mascarpone
• ½ vanilla pod- seeds scraped out

Method


• Place 50g sugar and 150ml water in a saucepan with the orange zest and bring to a slow boil.
• Add the dried apricots, cook for 3 minutes and then add the fresh apricot halves.
• Continue to cook for 10 minutes until the fruits are nice and tender and the liquid has turned syrupy.
• Turn off the heat; add the flower water and leave to macerate for at least 1 hour at room temperature.
• Vigorously whisk the mascarpone with the remaining sugar and vanilla until fully incorporated.
• Serve the poached apricots and some syrup with a dollop of mascarpone. Also delicious with my almond and caramel ice cream.


Apricot Greek Milk Pie


Asimakis Chaniotis, Executive Chef of Pied à Terre


This is my refined take on a classic Greek Milk Pie. I created it last summer when I was in Greece back at my family home on the island of Kefalonia where we have apricot trees in the garden. I had fun experimenting with the harvest and made lots of apricot ‘membrillo’ to go with our cheese course at the restaurant along with this creation. The dessert is simple to make but has a wow-factor – give it a go!

Serves 3-4

Ingredients


• 6 filo pastry sheets 7cm by 7 cm
• 6 filo pastry sheets 6cm by 6 cm
• 6 filo pastry sheets 5cm by 5 cm
• 6 filo pastry sheets 4cm by 4 cm
• 3 tbsp melted butter
• 3 fresh and ripe apricots - cut in half, stones removed and then cut into wedges about 1cm thick
For the cream filling:
• 300ml milk
• 130g sugar
• 60g fine semolina
• 2 whole eggs
• 1 tbsp butter
• 1/5 vanilla pod (seeded scraped) or 2 drops of vanilla essence
For the lavender syrup:
• 50 ml water
• 50 g sugar
• 1 teaspoon lemon juice
• 2 sprigs of lavender

Method


• Preheat your oven to 180°C
• Start with the filo pastry which you have already cut into different sized squares. Butter each piece and stack each same-sized piece together so you have 6 piles, all different sizes. This will create an impressive tower shape when you serve your dessert.
• Place the filo piles onto a baking tray, lined with greaseproof paper, and bake for 15 minutes until golden brown
• Meanwhile make your lavender syrup by adding all of the ingredients into a pan and bringing to a boil, before taking off the heat. Remove the sprigs of lavender.
• Over a wire rack, pour the hot syrup over the hot cooked filo pastry and leave to cool until the pastry dries out and is crispy.
• Bring the milk to the boil and add the semolina, whisk constantly until it boils and thickens.
• In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs with the sugar and the vanilla. Take the milk mix off the heat and allow to cool slightly. When still warm, but not scorching, slowly start adding the milk mixtures to your bowl whilst whisking constantly. Add the butter and mix until it’s all emulsified.
• Leave the mixture to cool down but mix it every 5 minutes so it will not have a crust on top, then cover with clingfilm and place in the fridge for around an hour to set completely.
• When set, remove from the fridge and whisk for a minute before transferring to a piping bag.
• To serve, place the biggest piece of filo onto a serving dish. Pipe on a circle of cream, leaving space around the edge. Repeat until you’ve finished up all of the filo and you have a tower shape. Place the wedges of apricot into the layers of filo and cream. Serve immediately.

Apricot Tart with Almond and Hazelnut Crust


Lucy Carr-Ellison and Jemima Jones, Co Founders of Wild by Tart



Ingredients


• 150g chocolate hobnobs
• 100g almonds, toasted
• 100g hazelnuts, toasted
• 150g butter
• 1 tsp sea salt
• 500g apricots, quartered
• 50g butter, cut into small cubes
• 1 tbsp demerara sugar
• bunch of thyme
• ½ glass of masala or white wine
• 200g mascarpone
• 200g yoghurt
• 1 tsp vanilla extra
• 150g lemon curd
• zest of 1 lemon
• 150g honey
• thyme
• Juice of ½ lemon

Method


• Whiz the hobnobs in a food processor (or bash in a bag) to a fine crumb and place in a bowl. Roughly chop the nuts and add to the hobnobs. Place the butter in a small pan and melt then add to the nut mixture with the salt and combine.
• Tip the mixture into the tart case and push to create a tart shell, spread evenly and place in the fridge to harden.
• Heat the oven to 190c.
• Half the apricots and destone, place on a baking tray, drizzle with the wine and sugar, sprinkle over the thyme and dot over the butter. Place in the oven and cook for 15 minutes. Take out and cool.
• Mix together the mascarpone, yoghurt, vanilla, lemon curd and lemon juice – combine and leave to one side.
• Place the honey and the thyme in a small pan and bring to a simmer then take off the heat and add the lemon juice.
• Take the crust out of the fridge dollop in the mascarpone mixture and spread evenly. Place the apricots over the top then take a pastry brush and brush over the honey mixture. Either eat straight away or place back in the fridge till needed but serve within 24 hours.

TIP: To take the tart out of its tin place on top of a can of beans take a cloth and dip into hot water and run around the tin case – repeat until the case comes loose.


Expert Tips For Choosing And Cooking With Apricots





David Josephs, Owner of Panzer’s Deli


English apricots are coming on well now. The main harvest from Kent came in a few weeks early with all this sun we are having. The variety to look out for initially is Mediva, they are gloriously good! How to judge whether an English apricot is perfectly ripe and ready to be eaten; the skin should be 50 per cent red blush and 50 per cent orange hue. The smell of a ripe apricot will have a citrus, sweet, acid smell. If they don’t have this, then their sugars are not developed enough. The apricot should be dense, firm but not crunchy. The Mediva variety will be followed by Faralia, Fartoli and Farbela in mid-August. These wonderful English apricots are grown for us by Torry Hill Farm in Kent. For me, you can’t beat eating them fresh off the tree. Alternatively, I love making a simple salad of tomato, oven roasted apricots, mozzarella and fresh basil with a few drops of 12-year-old balsamic vinegar.


Robin Gill, Chef/Owner of Bottle & Rye and Bermondsey Larder

and Chef Director of Zebra Riding Club


I love having apricots for breakfast, they’re such a great start to the day. I serve them so simply, just slice them into wedges and place in a bowl with fresh ricotta, toasted walnuts and honey. Heaven! To avoid wasting any part of the apricot, you can keep the stones in a jar filled with vinegar. The stones give off an almond flavour which is great with a nice, fatty piece of pork belly.

By Nancy Alsop
August 2022

Nancy Alsop

Editor

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