Cardamom Poached North Fork Apricots, Honey Vanilla Cream

Summer, Sweet Recipes • 23 Jul 2014

We’re in the process of deconstructing our apartment, which has left my brain and surroundings a bit scrambled. We have yet to commence the fleshy job of packing boxes, but cleaning has come to a comic standstill, dust collecting in corners, piles of bills, preschool art and restaurant loyalty cards piled high on the wreckage that was our kitchen table. My kitchen counters have suffered the worst fate, a mess of sundries disrupting the flow of operation.

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When my surroundings become chaotic, the synapses fail to fire. My son caught me in a cliché, absentmindedly depositing a milk carton in the pantry. I keep forgetting to give my cat her breakfast, a major oops since it is laced with her kitty medication. The cobwebs developing in embarrassingly easy-to-reach areas have mingled with my brain’s cobwebs.

Last weekend we left behind the piles and dust and my lack of acumen for a long weekend on the North Fork (Long Island) for much needed respite. We weren’t bogged down with external forces- our brains lightened, our shoulders unburdened. We were forced to unplug due to seriously perfunctory cell reception, a blessing in disguise. Our copacetic bellies and taciturn throats relished the slow, silent pace as we reclaimed our family’s sanity.

The North Fork is defined by ornately interlaced wooded canopies, sprawling farms and lush wineries. Pebble and shell mosaics decorate the freckled beaches, the salty breeze mingling with the bitter smell of grapes.

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Wrapped in sun-kissed, salt-scented beach towels, my sweat-dampened brow hidden beneath a wide-brimmed straw hat, I munched on multi-colored raspberries from Oysterponds Farm. These are the most gloriously sweet and tart, juicy, perfectly ripe, sun-kissed berries I have ever tasted. Golden, plum-purple and mulberry-magenta juices running pooled at the corners of my mouth. I was so silently content, the salty air tickling my nostrils, the berry juice trickling down my throat, as I watched my son examining and plucking shells from the sand.

We visited Lavender By the Bay, a vast sea of creamy purple growing on 17 acres of luminous land. Our stay was brief as our son was terrified of the bees. On the way out I bought a jar of lavender honey, which I used to poach orange, freckled apricots from Wickham’s Fruit Farm.

The raspberries, bursting like shooting stars on the palate, never made it to my kitchen; one taste and all bets were off. On they way back to Brooklyn we gathered a haul at Wickham’s: mouth-puckering tart currants, sweet white cherries and apricots. Once again, my intentions never came to fruition- the lavender honey was meant for ice cream and the berries would be the cherry on top. Instead, I used the honey and cardamom to poach the apricots, which I served with a cold honey and vanilla custard cream.

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I guess I could call the custard crème anglaise or simply a custard sauce. I’m going to ignore semantics and just tell you that it is cold and refreshing, delicately sweet, undeniably rich and eggy, spiced heavily with honey and strong vanilla. The apricots on top were heady; the air became warmly rich and thick with the scent of simmering honey, cardamom and a hint of citrus. I topped the apricots with tart currants and sweet white cherries we bought at the farm stand.

We’re just polishing off the last of our North Fork fruit, and methodically eating the contents of the fridge. Now time to start packing that first box.

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Cardamom Poached North Fork Apricots, Honey Vanilla Cream

Cream:
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 vanilla bean (about 3 inches), split and seeds removed
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons honey
Pinch salt
4 large egg yolks, room temperature

1. Prepare an ice water bath in a large bowl and set aside.

2. Combine milk, cream, vanilla bean and seeds in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, whisking so the milk doesn’t burn, and immediately remove from heat.

3. Whisk egg yolks, salt, honey and sugar in another medium saucepan. Gradually add half the hot milk mixture to the yolks, whisking. Return pan to medium heat, slowly adding the rest of the milk in a steady stream. Stir with a wooden spoon until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat and place in ice bath. When the cream has cooled a bit, pass it through a fine mesh strainer into a medium bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold. Can be made a day ahead.

Poached Apricots:
6-8 apricots, about 1/2 pound, halved and pits removed
1 1/4 cups water
1/3 cup honey
1/2 vanilla bean
1/8 teaspoon fresh orange zest
6 cardamom pods, lightly crushed

Bring water, honey, vanilla bean, orange zest and cardamom pods to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. When it comes to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and add apricots. Simmer for about 3 minutes and remove apricots from the syrup with a slotted spoon. Let cool and serve with cold vanilla cream. Serve with fresh fruit such as cherries or currants.

3 Responses

  1. Jessica

    These photos are art!! Beautiful, Kate. Keep it coming!!!

  2. Paula Cohen-Martin

    Absolutely right. Great post and your photos are brilliant!

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