Basil Poached Apricots a la Mode – A 6 year old romance

by on June 24, 2012

I’ve always had a romance with apricots since I was about six years old. If a young child ever knew the feeling of love and obsession, it was me and a hidden apricot tree in Reno, Nevada back in the 70′s. Those memories of racing heart beats, sweaty palms and nervous butterflies-in-the-stomach feelings are still so clear to me after all these years.

Almost every weekend, my parents would head to their friends house for weekly dinner parties. I don’t remember much of the hosts nor their nourishing dinner gatherings. Mom and Dad would always reminisce about how much they loved these friends and their loving hospitality. But what I did remember, clearly, was a lonely apricot tree that grew at the back of their mobile home.

This mobile home park was rather bare bones. It was in the middle of the dry, desert shrub community of Reno, specifically Carson City, Nevada. If any of you have ever been to Carson City back in the 70′s, you’ll remember that aside from the bustling casino’s of downtown Reno, Carson city inherited all the dry hills, tumble weed, dirt roads and mobile homes of the area. My family lived in one of those mobile homes and pretty much everyone we knew back then inhabited one of these “cardboard houses”.

What I loved most about these friends mobile home was the apricot tree that was dripping with fruit in late spring. My first encounter of the tree was when I chased a ball that my friend kicked behind the mobile home. The branches dotted with small orange fruit was so striking against the hot, dry evenings. The velvety skin was something I had never experienced before.

I remember being so taken by a tree with edible fruit that I completely forgot about the ball that I was to retrieve. My arms reached for the lower branches and the ripe apricots literally fell off the branches to the most delicate touch. The warm, soft, sweet fruit was such a surprise and I kept stuffing my mouth till I couldn’t eat anymore.

I brought in a handful of the fruit to my parents and asked what they were called. Even for them, it was the first time they’d ever seen such fruit. The hosts didn’t know what they were called in Vietnamese, but in English, they were called apricots.

Ah, apricots. That’s what they’re called. My obsession and romance with them began.

My visits to this mobile home was never the same for the following weeks. This tree was seriously my first childhood crush. I couldn’t wait to get to the house and visit the tree, hug it’s branches and reap the sweet gifts it saved for me.

Even till this day, I can spot an apricot tree from a long distance away. The grown form, branching shape, leaves in both leafing and dormant stages can’t pass my eyes. If it’s in fruit, you can bet I can spot it a mile away. And every time I spy a fruiting apricot tree, I always remember my first love of that lonely apricot tree and dream that one day, I’ll be able to grow one for myself.

Until then, I’ll continue to eat them as fresh as possible when the season arrives. But when I get an abundance of apricots, I enjoy poaching them with a touch of basil. The floral notes combined with the sweet apricots is heaven, especially on top of a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

This poached apricot recipe is dedicated to that one apricot tree that changed the life of a 6 year old.

hugs,

diane

Basil Poached Apricots a la Mode

Yield: 6 Servings

Total Time: 30 Minutes plus cooling time

Apricots will be best poached when nearly fully ripe. We use basil blossoms from the garden, but if you can't get any, feel free to use Italian basil leaves instead.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb Apricots, halved & seeded
  • 1 1/2 c Water
  • 1 1/2 c Sugar
  • 1/4 c Honey
  • Handful Basil Blossom tops
  • Vanilla Ice Cream

Directions:

  1. Combine water, sugar, honey, and basil blossoms in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally to help sugar dissolve evenly.
  2. Add apricots, reduce heat to medium to medium-high, and poach for 2-4 minutes or until soft but still intact.
  3. Using a slotted spoon, gently remove apricots. Strain and place on a plate to cool. (Apricots are nice served slightly warm, at room temp., or chilled. We vary it depending on the weather. The warmer the day, the cooler we like them. If serving chilled, place plate in refrigerator until ready to serve.)
  4. While apricots cool, increase heat to high, and reduce down poaching liquid, caramelizing the liquid. Skim any scum that develops and occasionally brush sides of pan with a brush dipped in cold water. Reduce to about 1 cup, or until caramel is a nice golden color *See Note 1. (you may have to remove from heat occasionally to allow bubbles to relax so you are able to check caramel's color). Set aside to cool, or quicker service is needed, cool in an ice bath.
  5. If desired, cut apricots into quarters, or else just serve as halves. Serve with ice cream and caramel sauce drizzled over the top. Garish with basil blossoms.

Note 1.

If you cook the caramel down too much and it is too thick after cooling, add some hot water back into the caramel to create the thickness you prefer.

Recipe Source: WhiteOnRiceCouple.com.

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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kalyn June 24, 2012 at 1:07 pm

We had apricot trees in the backyard and one of my best childhood memories is drying the apricot seeds in the sun and then using a rock to crack them open and eat the nut inside! I still go to my dad’s house and pick those apricots even now.

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2 Averie @ Averie Cooks June 24, 2012 at 1:27 pm

Diane, your story-telling, scene-painting, and sharing of your childhood memories is just…awesome. I always remember what you say, about sharing, letting food tell a story, about how one simple picture can lead into a big story or lots of memories and between the stunning pics, gorgeous apricots! and your memories, I love this post. And I, too, adore apricots.

Growing up in rural (and cold!) Minnesota, fresh apricots were a delicacy that I enjoyed about 1 week a year as a child. That’s why I live in SoCal now :)

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3 Joanne @ Fifteen Spatulas June 24, 2012 at 3:45 pm

I am so fond of apricots. When I grew up, we had an apricot tree in our backyard and I remember my dad, brothers and I would pick them from the tree…such nice memories! Great pairings going on here for lots of wonderful flavors!

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4 Jackie @Syrup and Biscuits June 24, 2012 at 8:48 pm

I’ve never picked apricots but reading your story put me right there with you. I feel like I just harvested a tub full.

Thank you for sharing.

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5 cindy June 25, 2012 at 7:10 am

Diane, these sounds amazing and make me long for Reno (something I thought I’d never feel)! I lived there for 10 years and my husband was born in Incline Village. My great-grandmother lived in a mobile home park in Sparks and her tiny garden had an abundance of rhubarb–hidden desert gems! This post truly touches my heart, thank you!

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6 White on Rice Couple June 26, 2012 at 8:27 am

Cindy- so great to know you lived in Sparks. We lived there for a short period too. We probably could have been neighbors. xoxo

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7 Maria June 25, 2012 at 7:14 am

My grandpa had apricot trees. We loved picking them, eating them, and making jam. They always remind me of our time on his farm. Thanks for sharing this post. Love the recipe too!

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8 JulieD June 25, 2012 at 7:32 am

I can so imagine you as a 6 year old enamored with the apricot tree. Such vivid storytelling, Diane! xoxo

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9 Deeba Rajpal (@vindee) June 25, 2012 at 7:56 am

I love this post, everything about it. The connect, the nostalgia…and the fruit. Oh, and the basil blossoms too. My basil is in full bloom, and stone fruit have flooded my home. Must try this soon. Thank you for the beautiful story!

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10 Purple Penguin June 25, 2012 at 7:56 am

As you tell your story, I can picture a little girl gravitating to the apricot tree, forgetting all else. the description through your eyes paints a vivid picture of a child’s perspective. Thanks for sharing your memories and obsession for apricots!!

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11 Allison June 25, 2012 at 7:56 am

Picking fresh fruit, warmed by the sun on a summer afternoon is one of the great pleasures in life. Thank you for sharing your story!

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12 Jennifer June 25, 2012 at 9:16 am

Lovely story! Thanks for sharing it and the recipe. Looks delicious!

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13 LiztheChef June 25, 2012 at 9:41 am

A lovely post, Diane, with exceptional photos…Working on my tomato chutney to send you the link later for your tomato recipe collection.

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14 Brandon @ Kitchen Konfidence June 25, 2012 at 11:05 am

So beautiful. I love the combination of basil an apricots.

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15 Shaina June 25, 2012 at 1:20 pm

You had me at “poached apricots.” The story was just sweet icing on the cake.

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16 Urban Wife June 25, 2012 at 1:53 pm

You have such a wonderful way with words! Thank you for sharing such a beautiful food memory with us.

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17 Elise June 25, 2012 at 3:03 pm

What a wonderful story! I live in Sparks, NV and love it here! The Lake (Tahoe) is wonderful and the mountains grand! Thank you for reminding me!
Elise

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18 White on Rice Couple June 26, 2012 at 8:28 am

Elise- my family lived and I lived in Sparks for a short period too!

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19 Madonna June 25, 2012 at 3:56 pm

When I see an apricot I think of my Dad, his favorite. Your photos are just striking. My sister is laughing at me because I am becoming obsessed with fruits and vegetables. Who knew they could be so beautiful?

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20 Shut Up & Cook June 25, 2012 at 9:38 pm

I’ve got apricots.
I’ve got basil.
I’ve got honey.

Sounds like I’ve got a delicious dessert!

Beautiful pix as always!

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21 Veronica of Muy Bueno June 27, 2012 at 1:54 pm

Your pictures always make food look so romantic and captivating. I love fruit and apricots is waaaaayyy up at the top of my list. As soon as I get my hands on some apricots and fresh basil I’m alllll over this recipe. Gracias for sharing….besos!

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22 Jenny @ BAKE June 29, 2012 at 3:30 am

that story is so cute! I hope you get your tree one day!

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