Hey, it’s officially summer! I know, I know, it’s not really OFFICIALLY summer until you have tomatoes coming out of your ears, but this year it’s all stone fruit all the time, so I’m declaring it to be officially summer.
Two weeks ago, we were gifted ten pounds of overripe apricots, so of course I immediately got out the canning stuff. Usually my apricot jam sets like the sun on the British empire, which is to say IT DOESN’T, but this time I pulled up a barstool by the stove and stirred with one hand and played SimCity Buildit with the other (there may have been a gin and tonic, too,) and lo, I eventually had a batch of apricot jam that had actually set. I mean, you can SPREAD it. And it tastes amazing. Just fruit, sugar, lemon juice and the precious precious cyanidey nugget of noyaux. And some damned patience for once.
Obviously that batch is getting used for toast, but that still left me with a bunch of last year’s annoyingly runny batch. There’s also way too much of the carrot-habanero hot sauce/chemical weapon I made last month, so I decided to throw them together and see what came of it. It was nothing short of miraculous.
I sauteed half an onion in some olive oil, then dumped two jars of the runny apricot deliciousness in, added a couple of tablespoons of the incendiary hot sauce, then tinkered around with salt, dry mustard, vinegar and Worcestershire sauce until I had a sweet, savory, tangy masterpiece, if I do say so myself.
I seasoned a rack of spare ribs with salt and pepper, Nathan fired up the Weber grill for the first time in a shamefully long while, then those ribs eventually got slathered with the sauce. It was heaven. It was summer.
The sauce really was just made up on the spot, so I can’t produce a recipe. I’m going to pay attention next time, because it turned out so well that we’re going to try to reproduce it and actually can some. However, here is the recipe I used for the carrot-habanero sauce. Be careful not to take any deep breaths once you’ve added the vinegar. It was painful and I had to leave the kitchen for a minute.
15 garlic cloves, unpeeled
2 cups peeled, chopped carrot
4 medium sweet yellow onions, chopped
30 medium habanero chiles, stemmed
3 cups white vinegar
¼ cup salt
¼ cup sugar
Juice of 6-8 limes
Roast the garlic in a skillet over medium heat, turning regularly until soft and blackened in spots, 10 to 15 minutes.
In the same pot, combine the carrot, onion and habanero chiles with the vinegar, 3 cups water, salt and sugar. Partially cover and simmer over medium-low heat until the carrots are thoroughly tender, about 20 minutes. Blend until smooth. [Drunkard Comment: I used an immersion blender (aka “rhnn thingy”) to do the blending. It was very successful, but I had to cover my mouth so I didn’t breathe in the chemical weaponry.] Thin with a lime juice and more water if the sauce seems too thick. Taste and add salt as preferred. Store in glass jars in the fridge.
Okay, it seems kind of stupid to call this a recipe, because this delectable treat is what it says it is – figs with blue cheese and honey. These three ingredients are fabulous on their own, but put them together and add heat, and you have some seriously sexy food.
- figs – two or maybe three per person, depending on the size of the figs. You don’t want enormous ones, but don’t get little tiny ones either. We used Mission figs because they inexplicably had some local organic ones at Raley’s that looked great.
- blue cheese – maybe a half teaspoon per fig, again, depends on the figs.
- honey – just a little for drizzling on top. Don’t use crappy honey. We were lucky to have been gifted some amazing gallberry honey from Georgia. Use whatever you have that is best.
- Heat oven to 350.
- Wash and dry the figs. With a sharp knife, trim off the stem and cut an X across the top of the fig, about halfway down the fig.
- Give the fig a little squeeze and stuff a generous pinch of blue cheese into the cavity.
- Place the figs into a baking dish (we used a pie pan) and drizzle a little bit of honey on top.
- Put the dish in the oven and cook the figs until the cheese is all melty and the figs are soft, about 10-15 minutes.
- Take the dish out and LET THE FIGS COOL for a few minutes, then gobble them up. There will be a lot of oohing and aahing and ecstatic eye-rolling. It’s kind of a R-rated experience, so don’t invite any children.