French Apricots Poached in a Syrup of Vanilla, Star Anise and Lavender-infused Rosé Wine

A much-loved element of French cuisine, apricots have been grown in France for hundreds of years. Right now, they are bang in season and I have no doubt that they are currently playing a starring role on the menus of countless neighbourhood bistros and brasseries from Brittany to Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur. This super simple recipe is an homage to an old Provençal recipe for apricot jam from a well-thumbed book that I picked up in Les Puces market in Paris when I was a student. The wine I have used here is a Pinot Noir Rosé 2016 from the Weingut Ullenburg vineyard behind my sister-in-law’s house in the Black Forest. It’s a little indulgent but, as they say, always cook with the wine that you love to drink; the result, in this case, is a blush pink syrup with a beautiful aroma and taste. Use any remaining poaching liquor as sexy little sirop for the dipping of a freshly baked lemony Madeleine cake or, if you fancy extending the pleasure for even longer, you can store it in a sterilised airtight bottle and add a cheeky splash to a glass of sparkling prosecco.

Apricots

Ingredients

4 ripe apricots, halved and pitted
600ml water
250ml of rosé wine
200g of unrefined granulated sugar
1 tsp of dried lavender flowers
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 star anise
A pinch of sea salt

How I make it

In a medium pan, mix together all the ingredients except the apricots.

Place the pan on a medium heat, bring the liquid to the boil and simmer until it has reduced by half.

Gently lower the apricot halves into the pan and poach for between 3 minutes, until softened.

Carefully remove the apricots from the pan and set aside.

Bring the liquid back up the boil and reduce by half again. Strain into a bowl through a fine sieve and set aside to cool.

Plate up the poached apricots and drizzle with the strained syrup. Serve with fresh mint leaves, a scattering of lavender flowers and honey-infused Greek yoghurt – and, perhaps, a freshly baked lemony Madeleine.

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