I do believe it is one of the more disappointing creative experiences to pick a recipe out of a magazine or cookbook, study it, shop for it, slave over it, only to have it turn not turn out. I only share recipes that have not disappointed me in the hope that you, dear reader, will also find the cooking efforts worth your time.
So it was a few weeks ago when meandering through the latest gorgeous glossy Martha Stewart Living that I lingered on the story featuring Bellocq Tea Atelier. The pictures and recipes were quite inspiring and I was particular captured by a recipe for Gewurztraminer-poached Apricots. Gleaming plump apricot jewels in a wine syrup- sounded like heaven.
They reminded me of that dialogue exchange from the film "Notting Hill": the one where Hugh Grant's character tries to be charming and play the good host to Julia Roberts movie star character and offers her apricots, soaked in honey. (I do love a good movie food reference: here and here) So, inspired on multiple fronts, I made them. (Small clarification: I made them but failed in advance to read the recipe all the way and so I had no cardamon pods or star anise. However, one of the nice things about a little kitchen experience is that I no longer panic when I do not have ingredients just as planned. I left out the star anise and substituted 1/2 teaspoon of ground cardamon for the whole pods.)
Such relief that they turned out to be quite lovely. They also hold a nice balance between the wine and spices while still retaining their apricot-iness. They traveled with me that weekend on a picnic out to Joshua Tree. We met up childhood friends from Alaska and adventured around the boulders, cactus' and snow (Yes! There was snow in Jtree! It was quite fun.) One of my friends captured the adventure on her travel blog. Please check it out here for lovely pictures and wonderful descriptions of all sorts of travels she's embarked on. Reading it is a good antidote to the late winter blues.
I served the apricots alongside my ever trusty cream cheese poundcake but I think they would be equally lovely to end a meal by themselves with a glass of wine on the side.
1 1/2 cups Gewürztraminer wine
3/4 cup sugar
10 green cardamon pods (or 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamon)
5 whole star anise
3 wide strips fresh lemon zest
2 cups dried apricots
1) Bring wine, 3/4 cup water, the sugar, cardamon, star anise, and lemon zest to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring, until sugar dissolves.
2) Add apricots, cover with a round of parchment, and simmer until fruit is softened and plump, about 45 minutes. Let apricots in syrup cool to room temperature. Apricots can be refrigerated in syrup up to 1 week.