Stone fruits are in high season, and while we might have to wait a few more weeks before the arrival of the glorious large peaches that come every August, fresh plums and apricots are currently available in abundance.
Recently, I was looking for inspiration for this column and made a visit to our local market. I knew that I wanted to feature a recipe that could incorporate a dry rose wine, a varietal that has been making a huge splash with nearly everyone I know this summer.
After coming across a display of apricots and plums in the produce section, I was struck by how pretty these two fruits were together - the smaller, dark red-purple plum was a perfect contrast to the larger, bright orange-yellow-pink of the apricot. They would make a perfect complement to the blush-pink of a dry rose.
Inspired by their beauty and knowing how wonderful stone fruits are when poached in liquid, I decided to feature a recipe for Rose-Poached Plums and Apricots. This dish is simple to prepare, delightfully refreshing and perfect for dessert or even as a midday cooler.
The fruits and a bit of sugar are the only sweeteners needed for this recipe, so be sure to use a dry rose wine and steer clear of sweeter varieties, especially white zinfandel. Look for French or Spanish varietals, as they are typically crisp, fruity and dry.
Dry rose wines are widely available in our local liquor stores, with most bottles ranging in price between $10 to $25. Since this recipe only uses 2 cups of wine, you'll even have some left to enjoy by the glass.
Before poaching the fruit, I cut each piece in half and remove the pits, saving them for later use. Next, I prepare the poaching liquid using a combination of wine, the fruit pits, sugar, vanilla extract, lemon zest and salt. You could add in other flavorings, like fresh mint or basil, orange or lime zest, or even freshly ground black pepper.
This mixture is brought to a boil, which allows the alcohol content to cook out so that the fruit can be enjoyed by all ages. Once the sugar is fully dissolved, the liquid rests at room temperature for at least 15 minutes. To poach, simply add the plum and apricot halves to liquid, remove the pits and zest, and simmer gently over medium heat until the fruit is just tender, which only takes about six to eight minutes.
This dish can be prepared up to three days in advance of serving and is best when served chilled, but in a pinch, you could prepare it and serve it warm. To garnish, top the fruit with a dollop of slightly sweetened sour cream (or creme fraiche, if you can find it), which gives a tangy punch to the almost-cloying sweetness of the poached fruit and rose juice.
Rose-Poached Plums and Apricots make a dish that is beautiful, simple and refreshing, and positively sings of summer. Enjoy.
Rose-Poached Plums and Apricots
4 ripe apricots, halved and pitted, pits reserved
4 ripe plums, halved and pitted, pits reserved
2 cups dry rose wine
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 large strip of lemon zest (2 to 3 inches)
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup sour cream or creme fraiche
1 to 2 teaspoons sugar
In a medium or large saute pan, add the sugar, rose wine, vanilla, zest, salt and fruit pits and stir to combine. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until the sugar has fully dissolved, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, cover and steep at room temperature for 15 minutes.
Remove the pits and lemon zest from the pan and discard. Return pan to burner and bring to a gentle simmer over medium heat. Add the halved apricots and plums to the liquid. Poach for 6 to 8 minutes until just tender, turning each a few times for even cooking.
Remove pan from burner and let the fruit cool in the poaching liquid to room temperature, then refrigerate until chilled.
To serve, place some of each fruit in individual bowls, and cover with a generous portion of the poaching liquid. Garnish with a dollop of the sweetened sour cream and a sprig of fresh mint if available.
Refrigerate fruit in the poaching liquid for up to 3 days.
For the garnish:
In a small bowl, use a spoon or whisk to mix sour cream and sugar together until well combined. Refrigerate until ready to serve. May be made 3 to 4 days in advance and refrigerated in an airtight container until ready to serve.