Monday, 18 July 2016

Grilled Apricots with Thyme

I love apricots - in what ever form I can get them - in jam, dried, as a puree or sauce, or just bursting with juice and flavour straight out of the fruit bowl.

One way I often like to serve them is cooked in a sweet or savoury dish. This way if they are imported and not quite ripe, sweet and juicy the cooking process will bring out those lovely rich apricot flavours.

Savoury - they go really well with pork or goats cheese. I sometimes will halve them and bake alongside a pork chop or just place a circle of goats cheese on top, drizzle honey and a little olive oil over, sprinkle on some fresh rosemary or thyme and grill for a few minutes until the cheese starts to bubble - perfect! Especially served with a little Serrano ham.

Last week I fancied something sweet after my supper and decided a plate of grilled apricots would be just right. I would normally serve them with a little clotted cream and maybe few chunks of bitter, dark chocolate. But although I had the apricots, the rest was sadly lacking! So an alternative accompaniment was require -  all from what I could find in the fridge!

So ...... thyme grilled apricots served with a vanilla ricotta and salted caramel sauce was born.....

recipe - serves 4

6 ripe but still firm apricots - over ripe ones will fall apart on cooking.
2 tablespoons icing sugar
a few sprigs of thyme

for the vanilla ricotta
95g tube ricotta
2 teaspoons icing sugar
half teaspoon vanilla powder or the caviar from a vanilla pod

for the salted caramel sauce
(I had a pot already in the fridge but here's my recipe)
200g granulated sugar
90g butter - cut into small cubes
120ml double cream
1 teaspoon sea salt

First you need to make up your caramel sauce - so it has time to cool whilst the rest is cooking.

Heat the sugar in a heavy based pan until it first forms clumps and then melts - at this stage you need to stir constantly with a wooden spoon - it will eventually turn a beautiful caramel colour. As soon as its a smooth, caramel coloured sauce remove from the heat and add the butter cubes. Beat the butter into the melted sugar - this can cause the sugar to bubble, so be careful not to burn yourself!

Once all the butter has melted into the mixture add the cream in a gentle thin drizzle - stir the whole time.

Return the pan to the heat and bring back to the boil. Boil for just a minute, remove from the heat and add the salt. Cover with a cloth and allow the sauce to cool.

This sauce will keep well, in a covered container, in the fridge for at least 2 weeks.

Ricotta cream - really easy - just whisk together the ricotta, vanilla and icing sugar, until you have a smooth creamy paste. Taste and adjust your vanilla/sugar ratio to your liking.

Place the ricotta cream into the fridge until needed.

And finally you can now grill your apricots.

Set the grill on high and whilst it's heating, half and stone the apricots. Dust the cut sides heavily with icing sugar and add a sprig of thyme to each one. Place under the grill and cook for a few minutes - until the sugar has melted into the apricot juices and the top/edges have started to colour and burn slightly.

(A top tip - if your apricots are not completely ripe and perfect, grill cut-side down for a few minutes before turning over and adding the sugar and thyme.)

Place the apricots onto serving plates and add a little ricotta to each half along with a drizzle of slightly warm, salted caramel sauce. If your caramel sauce is cold from the fridge a quick burst in the microwave with smooth and warm it.

Have a good start to your week
Love Lizx

 Grilled Apricots