Vail Simply Seasonal: Delicate, velvety apricots are ready now | VailDaily.com

Vail Simply Seasonal: Delicate, velvety apricots are ready now

Sue Barham
Simply Seasonal
Vail CO Colorado

Special to the Daily

VAIL – Right behind luscious Colorado cherries, Palisade apricot orchards grow heavy with fruit. Coloradans enjoy a summer full of stone fruits and now is the time to pick up a bag of fragile, musky apricots at the farmers market. Despite their small, delicate appearance, these fruits are full of beta-carotene, contain powerful antioxidants and plenty of Vitamin A and fiber.

Apricots are relatives to peaches and were discovered growing wild in China thousands of years ago. Though the apricot has migrated to the Mediterranean regions, it can still be found across Asia. Spanish explorers can be credited with bringing this fruit to the New World in the 18th century. It now thrives in the temperate climate of California, and, surprisingly, in Western Colorado.

“The beauty of fresh summer fruits, like apricots, is that they are equally spectacular in rustic or elegant desserts,” said Larkspur’s Pastry Chef Mark Metzger. “Or in savory dishes, their fresh flavor stays true and bright.”

Grilled pork tenderloin and apricot salad

1 pound pork tenderloin, trimmed

1/2 teaspoon salt, divided

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1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, plus more to taste

3 tablespoons apricot preserves, divided

4 ripe but firm fresh apricots, halved and pitted

2 tablespoons white-wine vinegar

2 tablespoons minced shallot

2 tablespoons canola oil

8 cups watercress or baby arugula

Preheat grill to high. Sprinkle pork with 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper. Grill the pork, turning occasionally, for 10 minutes. Brush the pork with 2 tablespoons preserves and continue grilling until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers 145°F, 2 to 5 minutes more. Grill apricot halves on the coolest part of the grill, turning occasionally, until tender and marked, about 4 minutes. Transfer the pork and apricots to a clean cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk the remaining 1 tablespoon preserves, vinegar, shallot, oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste in a large bowl. Cut the fruit into wedges and place with watercress in a bowl; toss with enough dressing to coat lightly. Slice pork. Arrange salad on 4 plates and top with sliced pork. Serves 4.

Apricot napoleon

8 Palisade apricots

2 cups water

1 vanilla bean

1 cinnamon stick

1 star anise

3 whole cloves

1 cup superfine sugar

5 sheets of phyllo dough

6 ounces melted butter

3/4 cup superfine sugar

1 pint vanilla ice cream

Preheat oven to 300-degrees. In saucepan heat 1 cup sugar, vanilla bean, anise, cinnamon stick and cloves. Bring to a simmer for 1 minute. Let stand 10 minutes to allow flavors to infuse. Split apricots in half and remove pit. Place apricots face down in an oven safe pan with rim so no liquid leaks out. Pour the sugar syrup over the apricots. With a brush, brush some of the syrup over each apricot. Cook the apricots for 10-15 minutes or until the fruit is soft.

For the caramelized phyllo, lay out on a cookie sheet sprayed and lined with parchment 1 sheet of phyllo dough. Brush the phyllo gently with melted butter, and then sprinkle lightly with sugar. Repeat this process 4 more times. Using a round cookie cutter cut 18 circles about the size of the apricots. Using a fork dipped in sugar punch a few small holes into the circles. Bake at 350-degrees or until golden.

To make the puree peel the skins on four of the apricot halves (the skins should remove easily). Place the apricots in a blender or food processor with 3 tablespoons of the sugar syrup from the baking pan. Blend till smooth.

To assemble,place some of the apricot puree on a plate. Place a phyllo circle on the puree and top it with a roasted apricot half, top with phyllo, another apricot half followed by one more phyllo circle. Top the napoleon with vanilla ice cream and serve. Serves 6.

Apricot cherry cobbler

8 fresh apricots, sliced

1/3 cup sugar

2 cups pitted fresh cherries

1 cup plus 1 tablespoon flour

1/2 cup yellow cornmeal

1/4 tsp salt

1-1/2 tablespoons plus 1 tsp sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon grated orange peel

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled

3/4 cup milk

Heat oven to 375°F. Combine apricots and 1/3 cup sugar; set aside. Combine cherries and 1 tablespoon flour; set aside. Combine remaining dry ingredients, reserving 1 teaspoon sugar. Stir in orange peel. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add milk; stir just to moisten dry ingredients. Combine fruit in buttered 1-1/2-quart baking dish; spoon batter over top. Sprinkle with remaining sugar. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown. Cool slightly and serve with whipped cream or ice cream.

Sue Barham is the marketing director for Larkspur Restaurant and Restaurant Avondale. Larkspur, (larkspurvail.com) at the base of Vail Mountain, has been serving American Classics with a fresh interpretation since 1999. Avondale, (avondalerestaurant.com) opened in September 2008 in the Westin Riverfront Resort and Spa and features a West Coast inspired, market-driven menu.