Angelcots, The Sweet White Apricot

white apricots

Sometimes when I buy fruit at the Farmers Market the vendor will put a couple more pieces of small fruit in the bag after he weighs what I have selected. A nice gesture but sometimes its something that I don’t like (yes there are fruits I’m not crazy about.) or it might be something I may not have even tried before. That’s what recently happened. I carefully selected some white nectarinesDonut peaches and apricots placing them carefully in my market bag.  After weighing my purchase the vendor popped three small light colored fruits that were shaped like apricots into the bag, saying as he handed it to me, “they are very sweet, you would like them”. I was curious as to what they were but didn’t ask and didn’t think about them again until I was shopping at Trader Joe’s later that morning and saw a plastic container, in the fresh fruit section, with fruit that looked just like the ones I was given, that was labeled Angelcots. Humm, wonder if that could be the same thing he put in with the fruit I bought at the Farmers Market?

sliced white apricots

The difference in color between white apricots and Blenheim apricots.

Turns out it was. The fruit is truly angelic, tasting light, sweet and juicy.  After trying these sweet gifts, I wished I had a lot more than the three I was given.

Remembering the plastic container of Angelcots at Trader Joe’s I made a trip across town to get some and give them a try. Sure enough, they tasted the same and now I had more than three to enjoy. I ate them out of hand as snacks whenever I passed the kitchen counter where they lay seductively waiting for my visits and tried them cut into quarters topped with Greek yogurt and roasted sliced almonds for breakfast. They were gone all too soon but definitely not forgotten. You can bet I’ll be looking to buy more at the market this weekend if I can find them.

I hope you can find them at a market near you. If you do, give em a try. You just might discover why they were named Angelcots.

To learn more about the history of the Angelcot check out this Nov 2002 SF Gate article on Ross Sanborn the passionate pomologist, who after receiving the white apricot seeds from a cousin’s husband who was living and working in Iran in the late 70s, planted the seeds at his home in Lafayette, CA, and as they say “the rest is history”.

Angelcot article link

Foraging Breakfast On My Morning Ride

There is a certain fig tree growing along a sometime part of the trail that I ride my bike along on summer mornings that becomes a passionate object of my curiosity each year starting late July. Really it’s an obsession that started several years ago when I stopped and tasted its succulent sweet fruits. This part of the trail also has an abundance of wild blackberry so during the late summer months you can not only get a nice ride in, you can forage a pretty sweet breakfast too. The blackberries are wonderfully sweet and abundant until the scorching days of August when only those fruiting in partial or full shade can survive. It is these times when the hunt for a wild blackberry breakfast on the trail becomes more challenging that the fig tree starts bearing ripe fruit, and this year, much to my delight, it’s loaded. From the look of things from my last couple of visits it doesn’t appear that that many fig aficionados are as interested in it as I am. I can’t say that for another tree that sits along the river road that I have only been able to get one or two ripe figs off of so far and I’m positive it isn’t the birds that have plucked the ripe ones. This situation is upsetting because it’s a fifteen mile round-trip to that particular tree and when the pay off is two figs it’s kinda depressing. It’s not that the ride is awful, it isn’t it’s a beautiful ride, it’s just my expectations are high all the way there. To find two or nothing is not what I call a good pay off.

This morning I needed to go back to the tree along the bike trail to look for the clip to my garage door opener that was missing when I got home. I always carry it clipped to my bike shorts so I can easily open the garage door as I approach the house.  I was sure that’s where it had popped off, or maybe that was only my excuse to myself to visit the tree again. So, before I went to the Farmers Market this morning, I headed in the opposite direction, down the river road. First to the fig tree along the road, not to look for the garage door opener clip, to look for figs. No surprise here, there were tons of hard green figs but only two ripe enough to eat, which I did. I guess I should be grateful there were two.  Satisfied that there were no figs to be had, I headed back down the road to the tree along the bike path which I know how to also access via a near by country road. I didn’t dare go to the tree first, I went to the area I had put my bike down yesterday and hunted for the garage door opener clip. A through search found nothing but weeds and gravel. My mission, or should I say my excuse for coming complete, I headed straight to the fig tree where I saw lots of ripe juicy figs just waiting for me. I didn’t have anything to put them in but the pockets in my fleece jacket I was wearing so that’s where they went. I ate and picked and stuffed my pockets until they were filled, then popped a few more into my mouth. All of this was accomplished carrying my handy little camera that I had brought along to take a few pics of the figs on the tree. Hands sticky, pockets sticky and stuffed with figs and fig sap adorning my camera I headed back to the car, a very happy girl.

I found this recipe the other day and for the life of me I can’t remember where. A Google search says it’s from Asweetspoonful.com and was published in Sept 2010, so that’s whom I’ll give the credit to. I made a few changes; I cut the amounts in half and I used regular pie dough instead of the pate brisee (which if you have the time would definitely be the better choice). I also used the figs I picked which were not black Mission figs and only sliced the figs in half not in slices and sprinkled the whole galette with turbinado sugar after the crust was brushed with the egg wash. It’s a nice way to celebrate this beautifully delicious fruit but I the way I like them best is straight from the tree, early in the morning.

You can find the recipe: Rustic Fig and Almond Cream Galette here

SWEET AS NECTAR, THAT’S WHY.

Although I said my next post would be about Anderson Ranch and what I saw on the marsh boat trip, I didn’t feel like writing about that today. Today my interest was focused on a question that came up when I was putting away my Farmers Market purchases from this morning. The question: Why do I always pick white nectarines and peaches over the yellow varieties? I know it’s not because I don’t have a choice. I do. They are almost always displayed side-by-side at the Farmers Market. They are both right there in front of me yet just about every time I come home with either white nectarines or peaches. Most often it’s white nectarines.

From what I have read the main difference between yellow and white nectarines is the amount of acid they contain. This holds true for peaches, the fuzzy-skinned version of the nectarine, too. Lower acid = sweeter fruit. The word nectarine means “sweet as nectar” and some say that is most likely the origin of the name. You can’t say that about the yellow fleshed versions, which tend to have a tangy taste.

Actually, nectarines are a cultivar group of peaches belonging to the same species as peaches. Genetic studies have concluded nectarines are created due to a recessive gene, whereas fuzzy peach skin is dominant. Peach seeds may occasionally grow into trees that bear nectarines, and nectarine seeds may grow into trees that can bear either nectarines or peaches. Because it’s impossible to know which fruit will grow on trees grown from nectarine seeds, nectarine branches are grafted onto peach trees to guarantee the tree will only produce nectarines.

According to several articles I read, the history of the nectarine is unclear; the first recorded mention is from 1616 but they probably had been grown much earlier. Early records of the peach however, occur in central and eastern Asia as early 2000 BC. From there the peach was brought to India, then through Persia, until it reached Greece around 300 BC. It is said that Alexander the Great introduced it to Europe after he conquered the Persians. Romans began cultivating peaches in the first century AD and they were brought to the Americas by Spanish explorers in the 16th century, and eventually they made it to England and France in the 17th century. One publication mentions nectarines being raised on a farm in Jamaica, Long Island, New York as early as 1768. However and whenever by whoever, I’m grateful they arrived here. They are one of my summer favorites.

So now you, like me, know probably more that you wanted to know about nectarines and peaches and I know I always choose white nectarines because they are “sweet as nectar”.

For those of you wanting to try your nectarines in a baked treat, here’s a yummy little recipe from Donna Hay’s book, Entertaining. I found it while poking around looking for nectarine facts and it seemed like the perfect recipe to try. She describes these Little Nectarine Cakes as “being perfect partners for a morning cup of coffee or an afternoon latte”. Taking her advice I mixed up a batch and put them in the oven. As they baked their aroma filled my kitchen and then then the timer rang. They were ready. I carefully moved them from the oven to the cooling rack and let them sit for around ten minutes, then I  gently took them out of the pan and before I knew what was happening I broke off a nice piece and popped it in my mouth. It was still hot and moist and oh so tasty. I know, no  self discipline. Not only no self discipline, no remorse either.  I’ll try the next one with my morning coffee tomorrow.  I definitely recommend you try them warm from the oven or reheated. They would also be good served warm with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream or perhaps whipped cream with a little orange or lemon zest. The only changes I made were;  I substituted Greek yogurt for the sour cream and added sliced almonds to the topping. You could also substitute other fruits like apricots, plums or peaches if you don’t have nectarines.  They’re easy to make and delicious.

Now that the nectarine questions are answered maybe I can get motivated to finish the Road Trip post. That won’t be as much fun as this post was since there’s no warm cake to look forward to. That is unless, I make more.

Last Year’s Valentine’s Day Recipe Revisited

I love this recipe but it’s not easy to get macadamia nuts and for most of us they’re not local. So I thought I’d try it substituting toasted almonds, which, for me, are local. I really liked how it turned out, which is no surprise since I love the combination of dark chocolate and almonds.  Just ask See\’s Candies they can tell you that out of all they wonderful candies they offer the one I buy most often is their dark chocolate covered almonds. Simply delicious.

If you’re looking for something special to make for Valentines or any special day give this a try. It’s not only yummy it’s very easy to make.

Macadamia Heaven - A Valentine From Me To You! This is, far and away, my favorite Valentines’ Day dessert. It’s a luscious combination of dense chocolate cake studded with chopped roasted macadamia nuts, topped with a semi-sweet chocolate ganache, and all sitting atop a beautiful raspberry coulis. It might look complicated but it’s quite easy to prepare and more than easy to enjoy. Happy Valentines Day! MACADAMIA HEAVEN Cake ¾ cup roasted macadamia nuts 1 tablespoon flour 8 oz. semi-sweet cho … Read More

via Anniespickns’s Blog

Your Farmers’ Market is a great place to do holiday gift shopping!

These are just a couple of ideas I found while walking through my Farmers’ Market today.  Many markets have hand crafted items and some even feature live and fresh cut Christmas Trees during December.

Beautiful holiday wreaths.

Gift baskets of herbs and edible flowers.

Personal products with an herbal touch.

Almonds, walnuts, pecans and pistachios; natural, spiced, salted, unsalted, and candied.

Jams, jellies, special sauces, local honey, olive oil and dried herb mixes

Natural soaps and lotions.

What ideas for gift giving did you find at your Farmers’ Market?

Bradon’s Choice – Seascape Strawberries Dipped in Chocolate!

Another weekend, another grandson visits. This time it was with my oldest grandson, Bradon. We had a wonderful weekend filled with a variety of activities, including of course, a trip to the Farmers’ Market. This time we went to the Davis Farmers’ Market, a market he and I have traveled to many times in the almost nine years we have been hanging out together. Not to have his younger brother out do him, Bradon also decided he wanted to buy strawberries. There were plenty to choose from. My theory on strawberries is that if there is no “strawberry” aroma and they aren’t red all the way to the stem they aren’t ripe and will not be flavorful and juicy. Using this theory, we looked for the reddest berries and when we found some that looked particularly good; we’d slowly bend down and breathe deeply hoping the “strawberry aroma” would fill our noses. It came down to either Chandler or Seascape strawberries. Fitting choices since both varieties were developed at the University of California, Davis. Bradon decided the Seascape berries were the best. After tasting them, I think he made the right choice. Of course, I’m also his grandma, so I could be slightly biased.

Bradon decided he wanted to dip his strawberries in chocolate. So hunted through my cupboard and found some chocolate chips that we could melt. We added some butter and put it all into a little cup in a waterbath on top of the stove to melt. When the chips and butter had melted, we stirred it until the mixture was smooth, then Bradon dipped his strawberries. He laid the freshly dipped strawberries on a sheet of waxed paper to dry, and impatiently checked them every few minutes hoping that I would say they were ready to eat. I finally did and Bradon taste tested his creation. Needless to say he was very happy with the results.

As with Landon, there were a handful of strawberries leftover so grandma knew just what she was going to do with them. No, I didn’t have any more Panna Cotta left. But, I did have some stewed rhubarb that I wanted to pair up with some strawberries, so that’s just what I did. I also had just enough vanilla bean ice cream in the freezer to make one strawberry-rhubarb parfait. After a few tastes I added a handful of roasted sliced almonds.  It was the perfect combination; creamy, sweet-tart and crunchy. I’d definitely try this again. Since I have a little of the strawberry-rhubarb mixture left, I think I’ll try it for breakfast substituting Greek yogurt for the ice cream and granola for the nuts.

strawberry-rhubarb parfait with roasted sliced almonds

strawberry-rhubarb parfait