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Powerful and Cold: Dried Apricot Sorbet

Saturday, September 22nd, 2007

I’ve always wanted to make an apricot sorbet. Fortunately, I was able to find some dried apricots at the local farmers market last week. When I was a kid we actually had apricot trees in our yard. Actually, a lot of people had apricot trees since Silicon Valley was once full of fruit orchards. I remember empty lots between houses that contained neat rows of apricot trees. Those lots are now long gone, replaced by homes, though Apple’s Steve Jobs tore down an adjacent house in Palo Alto to put an orchard back. My grandparents also had a couple apricot trees in their yard; they would pick them and dry them nearly every year. They have since moved but still give us dried apricots every year from a nearby fruit stand.

I couldn’t find too many recipes for apricot sorbet on the web, but fortunately one cookbook in my collection, Sorbets and Ice Creams, by Lou Pappas, had a recipe for dried apricot sorbet. I actually prefer dried apricot over fresh ones—the flavor is stronger and the varied texture of the dried apricots is more interesting to me. When buying apricots I always seek out the slab variety since they taste better. If you can score some Blenheim apricots, still grown in Silicon Valley, so much the better.

The sorbet that defies ice
When I first made this recipe I skipped adding water since it usually just makes for an icy sorbet, but the resulting sorbet was really strong—a little too strong, actually. The dried apricot flavor is surprisingly powerful, so don’t be afraid to add more water (and sugar if necessary) to make it appeal to less fanatic apricot fans. This sorbet is so smooth that you can really adjust the water level to suit your tastes without risk of iciness. A week in the freezer and this sorbet is still perfectly smooth. When serving, start with small portions since a little apricot flavor goes a long way.

Ingredients for making Dried Apricot Sorbet.

Add 2 cups of apricot nectar and 1 cup water to dried apricots in medium saucepan.

Apricots will become plump after simmering in nectar and water for 20 minutes.

Purée apricots with 3/4 cups of sugar, keeping hand over lid during mixing to prevent hot liquid from blowing lid off.

Pour 3 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice into cooled purée.

Add 1/3 cup limoncello. You could also use Grand Marnier.

Adjust strength of apricot flavor by adding additional water as needed, 1/4 cup at a time.

Once mixture has chilled to less than 45° F, pour into ice cream maker and freeze according to your maker’s instructions.

Transfer frozen sorbet to dedicated container to ripen in freezer.

The recipe pictured above, with detailed instructions and complete photo gallery can be found on the Dried Apricot Sorbet recipe page.

Are you kidding? I shouldn’t even be talking about it.

Tuesday, September 4th, 2007

I love blogs. Sharing is great, especially when it is being done by people that are passionate about their subject. Food blogs that share recipes are even better, but occasionally I come across a blog entry that features photos of a very delicious looking recipe. I continue reading, hoping to find the list of ingredients that starts any given recipe only to discover that it is being withheld since it is actually a <airquote>family secret</airquote>. A photo blog I could forgive, but what on earth is it doing on a food blog?

Family Recipe Withholder’s Worst Nightmare?
OK, here is the doomsday scenario: someone finds your secret family recipe and at the next gathering—let’s say at a reunion or even more public like a church potluck—you both bring the same dish. The problem is: everyone likes their version more than yours. Not only do they have your family’s recipe, but they are now stealing the inheritance that was rightfully yours. The nerve! If only there was a family recipe court (I just now trademarked that, by the way). HELLO—reality check! Does this really ever happen? More importantly, if the recipe was really improved, isn’t that a good thing?

Legitimate reasons why a recipe should be kept a secret:

  1. It’s a trade secret. This means you compete with other businesses using the recipe. Unless you are competing with another classroom for funds, bake sales don’t fall into this category.
  2. You don’t know the recipe. Perhaps you were high as a kite or were winging it and are now desperately soliciting assistance from others to reverse engineer the recipe from the few crumbs that are left.
  3. You promised you wouldn’t share it. Honor is good, but did the person that shared the recipe with you have a good reason to keep it a secret? And if so, how dare they share it with you? Shame on them!
  4. The recipe, delightful as it may be, was handed down from a relative that is now reviled for gruesome acts against humanity; revealing your direct lineage to them would be too much shame to bear upon your family. Think of the children, after all.

Do you want to know the real secret?
It isn’t the recipe. Who hasn’t gotten the recipe they have had prepared for them every year during the holidays and found disappointment that it tasted different when they made it themselves. The reason your relative’s recipe tastes so good is quite simply because your relative made it. It is their technique, their choice of brand or fresh local ingredients, their 50 year old mixer or oven, and possibly even their consistent disregard for one or more steps indicated in the recipe. Yes, the recipe is important, but ingredients, technique and sometimes even equipment play equally important roles in the creation of any dish.

It doesn’t hurt to ask.
I ran into an old friend from high school recently at my high school reunion. After he saw my blog he mentioned he had an interesting family recipe that he would share with me if I was interested. Naturally, I emailed him back and he sent me the recipe. Among questions about the recipe itself, I asked him if it was alright if I posted the recipe online—even though he just emailed the recipe to a food blogger. To my relief, he was delighted that I would feature the recipe and I asked if he had any interesting family anecdotes I could share. I’ll be posting his recipe this fall. It’s good to share, after all.