July 14, 2013
How to Stuff an Apricot
My friend Peter Biskind's book on Orson Welles has just been published, and we celebrated with a book party last night. Sixty people. It's been a while since I catered a cocktail party, and I'd forgotten how fussy and time consuming hors d’oeuvres can be. I felt like a jeweler, as if I had spent days creating tiny little edible tidbits.
The pulled pork sliders on mini buns were a big hit. So were the BLT tomatoes, but then they always are. You hollow out cherry tomatoes (a stupid lot of work, but fine if you have willing friends to help), and then fill them up with a mixture of mayonnaise, crisped bacon cut into little pieces and chopped romaine lettuce. They’re ridiculously addictive.
Pickled shrimp were fresh, beautiful and very welcome since I made them a day ahead of time. I made the salmon rillettes a day ahead too. (I poached a large filet of wild sockeye salmon and mixed it with smoked salmon, capers, cognac, shallots, parsley and a bit of butter, then packed it all into a terrine to let the flavors marry.) Heaped onto croutons it was gorgeous. People gobbled up tiny sandwiches of rare cold beef tenderloin with horseradish cream. But the surprise of the night was something I haven't made in years: goat cheese and pistachio-stuffed apricots. They were beautiful. Astoundingly delicious. And very small.
I was so busy assembling food and getting it out of the kitchen that I forgot to take pictures. So you'll have to imagine how pretty the apricots were. But here’s how you make them.
Soak half a pound of dried California apricots in a small amount (about half a cup) of fresh orange juice for about half an hour, then drain on paper towels.
Let 6 to 8 ounces of fresh, soft goat cheese come to room temperature. Meanwhile, shell enough pistachios to make about half a cup. Grind half of them very finely in a spice grinder and coarsely chop the other half. Mix the coarsely chopped nuts in with the goat cheese and spoon that into the apricot halves.
Sprinkle each apricot with a lovely dusting of bright green ground pistachios. If you have any pistachios left over, put one on top of each little filled apricot. The result was so delicious I found it hard to keep from eating them all myself.
One caveat: if all you can find are Turkish apricots, don't bother. They are sadly lacking in flavor.
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