Things are moving slowly here on the kitchen remodel front. Or maybe it just feels slow because I keep seeing beautiful summer recipes posted everywhere, and then I look into my kitchen and just see a bunch of lath and plaster that's half torn down and give a deep long sigh. I got an old house because I wanted personality, I just didn't expect it to be so...spunky (especially during the demolition process.) But to ease my impatient nerves I've been taking out my excess energy in the garden, whacking away at the lawn to carve out more space for my spur-of-the-moment purchase of 8 gooseberry and currant bushes (they were 50% off, what else was I supposed to do?) Turns out, under the grass is a whole lot of rock, so I've been meticulously picking them out and piling them up along the fence to improve the soil quality (also, adding loads of earthworm casings). Afterwards, I come inside, collapse in front of my computer, and slowly begin collecting niche pieces for the new kitchen, pulling mostly from Food52's Provisions. My focus is on getting pieces that combine form and function, like this. Or this. And also that (who doesn't need a jug full of whiskey in the kitchen?) Hopefully all this hard work will be rewarded, though, when I have a finished kitchen in autumn and a caseload of berries next summer, so I can make all the pies and hot toddies a girl could ever want.
But until then, I'm leaving you with this recipe for salted caramel & apricot pots de creme that I managed to whip together in California while packing for the move. I used a single apricot in the recipe because I didn't want to add too much liquid to the dish and keep them from setting, and it turned out to be the perfect amount. The salted caramel hits you first, but then this little sweet tart flavor approaches about a second or two into the bite and the two play off each other marvelously. Creamy, salty, fruity, sweet, basically the ideal dessert for summer. Plus you can serve it warm or chilled, hurray for versatility! So hurry on out and use up the last of the season's apricots, for this little number makes for the perfect goodbye to our favorite early-summer stone fruit.
And in some fun other news, my photography is now being represented by the lovely Clem and Henry of The Production Department. I couldn't have found better agents and am really looking forward to the fun and beautiful photography projects this year will bring. Three cheers to many more photos of tasty, tasty food...
1 apricot, pitted and finely chopped
1 tablespoon water
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup butter
1 and 1/2 cups heavy cream, room temperature
3/4 cup whole milk, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 ounce dark chocolate, finely chopped
6 large egg yolks, whisked together in a large bowl
makes about 6 ramekins
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. In a small saucepan, bring the apricot, water, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla extract to a boil over medium heat, then reduce the heat to low and allow to simmer for about 10-15 minutes, or until the liquid has reduced by half and is mostly jammy in texture.
While it is simmering, heat the butter in a small frying pan over medium heat until it starts to turn amber colored and smells nutty. Remove it from heat as soon as this happens, if you leave it too long past that point it will burn.
Immediately mix together the brown butter, cream, milk, and salt in a medium saucepan over medium low heat until begins to bubble slightly around the edge. Slowly add some of the milk mixture to the eggs in the bowl, whisking constantly, until half of the milk mixture has been incorporated into the bowl. Pour the egg yolk mixture back into the saucepan and place the saucepan over low heat. Add the apricot mixture and the dark chocolate and stir until the chocolate is completely melted. Evenly distribute the mixture between 6 small ramekins that have been placed on a lipped baking sheet. Pour water into the baking sheet, taking care not to splash any into the ramekins, until it is about 3/4-inch deep all around the pan. Cover the pan with a large sheet of tin foil and place it in the oven.
Allow it to bake for 45-50 minutes, or until the caramel custard is set around the edges but still a bit wiggly in the center. Remove and allow to cool for 1 hour before serving. It can also be refrigerated for 4 hours and served chilled.