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

Chillin on a Hot Day

A forecast of 107°F more than caught my eye as I checked the weekend weather. Not liking what I saw, I quickly started checking where the nearest cool weather would be. The mountains were an option but coolest temperatures would be at the coast so that’s where I headed. Up early, I packed a lunch and left the valley missing both the heat and traffic arriving at Point Reyes National Seashore, via some interesting back roads, about two and a half hours later. I had made the right choice it was perfect in the areas I visited, avoiding the fog at one of my favorite beaches in favor of sun and some gusty winds but cool temperatures at Abbotts Lagoon an area I hadn’t visited in a while. The crowds were minimal, the wildflowers plentiful. The walk out to the beach was breezy but the winds at the beach itself were gusty which made for some great wave watching and it wasn’t hot or too cold, so I was happy to sit and enjoy my time there.

IMG_5068

After poking around Point Reyes for most of the day it was time to start heading back towards what I feared would be an inferno, home. After trying out a couple of new back roads I ended up in Petaluma and remembered that the Petaluma Farmers Market takes place on Saturday. I decided to swing by Walnut Park and see if the market was still going. It was, so of course I stopped to check it out. Getting out of the car I couldn’t help noticing the warmer temperature. It wasn’t exactly hot, not like it would be at home but it was definitely much warmer than it had been on the coast.

DSCN4186The market was in full swing with some great live music coming from the old fashioned bandstand that sits in the park’s center and a good variety of vendors selling fish, veggies, fruit and crafts eager to share their products.

musicians at Pentaluma

I like to cruise the whole market before buying, checking not only prices but also freshness and variety as I go. I had almost completed my observation round when I saw exactly what I wanted, ice cream. Not just any ice cream, locally made Nimble & Finn’s Ice Cream, made using organic Straus Dairy milk and cream and local produce. An ice cream that would bring back memories of homemade, hand cranked custard ice cream studded with fresh summer fruit. There were only five choices but there may as well have been ten. 

DSCN4196

They all sounded worthy of trying. Now all I had to do was make a decision. First, I tried the Strawberry Rhubarb sorbet but it wasn’t what I wanted, then I tried the Honey & Roasted Apricot Swirl. It was the perfect blend of sweet and tart, creamy and cold. I was in heaven. I carried my cone to a nearby table, in the shade, and sat people watching, which was by the way excellent, listening to the music and slowly enjoying every lick of my luscious ice cream cone. The perfect ending to a perfect get-away.

Honey Apricot ice creamMore on the Petaluma Farmers’ Market can be found here.

Pentaluma FM banner

Apricot Crisp for the 4th of July

Here’s a sure fire way to get compliments on your 4th of July dessert. Make a fruit crisp. They are easy to make and there are all kinds of variations that help to make them extremely versatile. First thing will be to get out to your local Farmers Market and pick up some nice fresh fruit. Peaches, apricots, pulots and plums are in season here in northern California. I love apricots, so that’s what I chose for my crisp.

Just out of curiosity, I decided to see what my mentor, James Beard, had to say about crisps. I know everyone’s more familiar with Julia Child, especially since the movie, but James has always been my favorite. His cookbook is one of the few, on my shelves, that I still use, both as a reference guide and for a few recipes that have become favorites. And, yes Julia’s books are there too.

Fruit Crisp or Crumb Pie

American Cookery ©1972

“These are often made without a crust and served as a pudding topped with whipped cream or ice cream.

Place the fruit in an unbaked shell with fluted edges. Melt the butter in a 1 ½ to 2 quart saucepan. Remove from the heat, stir in the sugar, flour, spices, and salt. The amount of sugar will depend on the type of fruit used. Apricots and some tart plums may take more sugar.  Apples, pears, peaches and prunes may take slightly less than 1 cup. Brown sugar is generally preferred for apples, peaches, and pears. The amount of spice will depend upon taste. Cinnamon is generally used for apples; nutmeg, mace or allspice is good with peaches or apricots. Add just a suggestion of clove along with cinnamon and nutmeg to prunes or plums. Pears are good with the addition of ½ teaspoon ginger. Scatter the mixture over the fruit. And bake the pie about 30 to 40 minutes in a 400-degree oven, or until the topping is crusty and the fruit is tender. Cool on a rack. Serve warm or cold, with whipped cream or ice cream, if you like.”

The version I have developed is a little different from James’,  in that I use oatmeal and nuts in the crumble topping and I never use a bottom crust. But I still refer to James for ideas on how to substitute other fruits and seasonings and how much sugar to add. You can also vary from pecans by trying walnuts or almonds. If you really want to get decadent try macadamia nuts in the topping with pears as the fruit and maybe just a hint of cardamon. You’ll also note in my recipe that I didn’t use any spice although James recommends allspice. I really just like the apricots on their own.

Annie’s Apricot Crisp

4 – 5 cups apricots cut in halves (about 15 apricots)

¼ cup sugar

1-tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Mix ingredients together and place in a lightly greased 8 x 8 glass baking dish.

For the topping:

½ cup butter

½ brown sugar

½ cup flour (I use oat flour, but you can use wheat or white)

½ cup Old Fashioned oats

1 cup chopped pecans

Mix together in a small bowl. I use a pastry cutter to mix this together as it keeps the ingredients in a more crumbly texture. Squeeze the topping into chunks and scatter over apricots (see photo of what I like the texture to look like)

Bake in a 350° oven for about 40 – 50 minutes or until topping is browned and fruit is bubbling.

Serve warm if possible, with ice cream, whipped cream or if it’s breakfast or brunch time try serving it with unflavored Greek yogurt.

Have a wonderful holiday everyone!

OH, THE CORN!

Sunday morning bounty amongst my reusable produce bags.

The weather forecast for today is 100 so I was up early watering and getting a few chores done before my 7:30 bicycle getaway to the Farmers’ Market. Another beautiful ride and this time I had my trusty little camera with me. The market was packed when I got there; evidently everyone else had the same idea. I made the rounds and found another vendor with fresh corn. The corn I got last week, although touted to be excellent, wasn’t much better than field corn. To say I wasn’t impressed would be putting it mildly. Sweet corn is serious business. This looked to be, not only fresher, but also sweeter. Of course only tasting would answer that. My market bag filled quickly with white nectarines, Donut peaches (more on these later), apricots, several kinds of summer squash, green and yellow wax beans, a couple of tomatoes, two Walla Walla onions and two ears of that beautiful corn.

Tower Bridge and the Sacramento River

Delta King and the I Street Bridge

On the way back I stopped to snap a couple of pics so you could all see the nice views of the river that I have on my ride. The first picture was taken just south of Old Sacramento and the second shows the Old Sacramento riverfront area. Quiet this morning, but this afternoon it will be busy with lots of folks enjoying the river.

Once I was home I laid out my bounty for a couple of quick pics then stored it all away. Since it was now close to 10 and I hadn’t eaten yet, I thought it would be nice to have brunch. Actually I wanted to have the corn I bought so I rationalized that it was late enough for brunch. And, since I was dining alone I could pretty much do what ever I wanted. My version of brunch included some leftover BBQ chicken and grilled veggies from yesterday and the corn. OH, THE CORN! I wish now that I had bought at least six ears. I would have skipped the the chicken and veggies and just had corn, slathered in butter and sprinkled with just a tiny bit of sea salt. It doesn’t get any better than that.