Did you know that if you dream of apricots it is suppose to mean that good luck will soon follow?
Did you know that the word “apricot” means “precious” in Latin? Apricots ripen earlier than most summer fruits, making them a precious commodity every spring.
The apricot tree emerged in China more than 4,000 years ago and eventually made its way across Asia to the Mediterranean. Centuries later, Spanish explorers introduced the apricot to the New World and planted the trees all over the west coast. Today, farmers in California’s San Joaquin Valley produce 95% of the apricots grown in the United States.
Whether you prefer them fresh, broiled, grilled, or poached, enjoy an apricot today in honor of the occasion! Happy National Apricot Day and here is my celebration of this humble fruit that is so delightful. It is a breakfast and very quick and easy to make and assemble. We have recently served this as a course at a breakfast that we catered for.
What you’ll need:
- 6 Duck Eggs
- 6 Pork Sausages (I buy mine from Laasterus Pork on the Pretoria Boeremark – go for good quality)
- 2-3 large Aubergines to be panfried
- 6 Slices Toasted Rye Bread
- 50g Dolce Latte Gorgonzola
- 12-15 Apricots, halved and kernels removed
- 40g Demerara Sugar
- 20g Butter
- 100ml Balsamic Vinegar (aged 5-10 years and good quality)
- Start with your sausages, fry them until done, set aside. Do not slice yet.
- Wash and peel the aubergines, slice them thinly and fry in a pan with olive oil, salt and pepper until soft.
- While the sausages and aubergines are in the pan, toast the rye bread.
- To caramelise the apricots, put the butter in the pan, allow to melt, then sprinkle sugar over in a think layer, place apricots open side down allow the heat to caramelise the sugars. Apricots must still be firm, not soft and too soggy. Remove from pan, add the balsamic vinegar and reduce by a third. Set aside.
- Poach your eggs.
You are ready to assemble:
- Place a slice of rye in the middle of the plate.
- Add a heap of the fried aubergines and a poached egg on top of that.
- Slice the sausages at an angle, arrange on the plate with the apricots.
- Drizzle with the balsamic reduction and sprinkle some dolce latte around the plate, some black pepper and salt on the egg and serve.
We are back after a three week break from the kitchen, markets and any work for that matter, and it is good to be back in the kitchen again. We ended 2014 with an unexpected catering job for New Year, which was exciting as we had carte blanche from the client. The New Year kicked off on a high note when the same client asked me cook, cater and be the chef for her 50th birthday on 4 January. The challenge was that I was all alone in the kitchen, no help as my staff is still on holiday and only come on the 7th. However, I did it all on my own and we presented a delicious 3-course menu. I want to single out one of my favourite dishes for this menu, which was my Harissa Mussels cooked in Coconut Milk served with Jasmine Rice and fresh baked ciabatta. We served it as the Starter course. Be generous with your mussels, I detest it when I go out to restaurants and I have to send out a search and rescue team to find the mussels in the bowl of sauce! Make sure each guest gets at least 10-12 mussels if you serve it as a main course and 8-10 as a starter. Just a note about the Taste Café Harissa Paste – our Harissa Paste is potent, it has a sharp bite to it that lingers on the tongue, but it is rounded off by all the other wonderful herbs and spices we have blended into our paste. You can order from us, or buy from us when we are on a market near you again. A note on the wine, use a white wine that is not to sharp and sour, it detracts from the natural sweetness of the mussels. I used Place in the Sun, 2013 Sauvignon Blanc. Prep Time: 30 mins | Cook Time: 15min| Recipe: Easy | Serve: 4-6 For the Rice:
- 400g Jasmine or Basmati Rice – cooked as per instructions on the packaging
For the Mussels:
- 700-900g Half Shell Mussels
- 1 Tin Coconut Milk
- 120ml Double Cream
- 30g Butter
- 125ml Dry White Wine
- 4 Shallots, finely chopped
- 4 Cloves Garlic, finely shopped
- Zest of one lemon
- 1tsp Saffron Strands
- 1tsp Taste Café Harissa Paste
- Salt & Black Pepper to taste
- Chopped Flat Leaf Parsley and Spring Onions for sprinkling
- Boil and prepare the rice as per instructions. Start with the rice first, once cooked it can wait while you cook the mussels.
- Melt the butter in a heavy pot and add the chopped shallots and garlic and fry until soft over low heat. Add the saffron, lemon zest and harissa paste and fry for about 20 seconds.
- Add the white wine and allow the alcohol to cook off. Add the coconut milk and cream and allow to reduce by about a third before you add the mussels.
- Once reduced add the mussels and black pepper, put a lid on the pot and allow to steam/cook for about 8 minutes, giving it a good stir once or twice as to cover the mussels in the sauce.
- Once cooked, taste for salt, but be careful the mussels adds enough salt and I find that you don’t need any more salt, but this is a matter of taste.
- As the mussels will release their liquid into the sauce, check that your sauce isn’t too thin. If too thin, remove the mussels and reduce it, once reduced add the mussels and serve with the rice and sprinkling of chopped parsley and spring onions.