I am lucky enough to have not one but two orange gems in my life. First, the apricots…
Apricot season in the Bay Area is oh-so-sweet and always too short, lasting only about a month or so. So, it makes me happy to report that at this very moment and for a few moments more…it is apricot time! I bought a sack full of the delicate, orange orbs from a friendly guy at the Tory Farms stand at the farmers market last Saturday. I was shopping post-shoot, my mind mushed from interviews, observations and takes 1..2..3rd time’s a charm, maybe not 4…final take 5. I wanted to buy produce that would inspire me to cook something innovative and exciting. I ended up with cooking simple dishes instead – avocado and kumquat salad tossed with lemon juice, olive oil and cayenne pepper, this salmon, and baked apricots with cardamom.
A few years ago when I’d just moved back to the Bay and was living with Dan and James in Oakland, I wrote a Happelsauce called A Tale of Three (and a half) Galettes. I confessed my love: Something magical happens to an apricot when it bakes. As if a tiny oven fairy waves her sugar wand and they morph from softly scented to potently perfumed orangey golden gems. And I still feel that way. My love for baked apricots has not wavered.
This time, instead of baking a galette, I was inspired by the Haitian rum that Sister Hazel gave me and figured that the apricots were perfectly suited for a brown sugar and rum bath. Apparently, apricots and I have something in common because I am also perfectly suited for a brown sugar and rum bath. Really, who isn’t?
Baked Apricots with Cardamom
fresh apricots, cut in half with the pits removed
brown sugar, to taste
rum, to taste (brandy or bourbon would be good too)
crushed cardamom pods
cardamom sugar (pinch of ground cardamom with granulated sugar, mixed to taste)
- Preheat the oven to 400. Place apricots on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Whisk together the brown sugar and rum to a thick glaze. Be sure you make enough to coat all the apricots.
- Drizzle the glaze over the halved apricots, filling the hole where the pit was and spilling over to cover.
- Bake apricots for 25-30 minutes, until browned, bubbly and bright orange.
- Let cool and dust lightly with cardamom sugar, then sprinkle crushed cardamom pods on top. The pods are not for eating, but they will infuse the apricots with even more cardamom flavor and they look nice.
- Serve on top of Greek yogurt for breakfast or with vanilla bean ice cream for dessert.
Finally, it wouldn’t be right to declare my undying love for the orange gems mentioned above and leave out my love for the other orange gem in my life…the Golden Gate Bridge. It turned 75 on Sunday. I missed the fireworks display, but by all accounts I hear that it was nothing short of jaw-dropping. For me, the Golden Gate Bridge summons the spirit of San Francisco – imaginative and impressive. There’s a great article about the bridge that states it “is a monument to chances taken…” I love that. May we always celebrate chances taken and look forward with hope.