Monthly Archives: August 2019

Poached Apricots with Lemon Verbena

Too often when you buy apricots they are a disappointment.    They are under ripe and tasteless.  Far from the sun warmed apricots whose intense juices explode in your mouth when you bite into them.    This apricot recipe goes a long way to helping fix that,  turning them into juicy deliciousness via a gentle poaching in sweet wine and a bit of sherbet from lemon verbena

The apricots are completely transformed into soft, juicy and fruit that are full of flavour.  The finished dish uses only four ingredients and is so versatile.  It’s even vegan if you make sure you choose a vegan wine.  This apricot recipe uses baking paper which is made into a cartouche rather than a lid which allows the apricots to stay submerged and juicy without any danger of bruising.

This poached apricot recipe uses lemon verbena.  If you don’t have it you could leave it out all together or use lemon balm or 3 strips of lemon zest instead both of which are much more readily available, but if you can use it, do!  It’s got a lovely sherbety lemon smell and flavour which gives a real depth to the syrup.

Serve the poached apricots with vanilla ice-cream or cream – or both!  I also like to add some texture to the finished dish by adding an almond biscuit.   Try Little Almond Biscuits or add an amaretti biscuit if you are short of time.

Ingredients (serves 6)

  • 18 firm apricots
  • 500ml pink moscato (or any sweet wine)
  • 100g caster sugar
  • Lemon verbena leaves (optional) I used about 12 with extra for garnish


  1. Put wine, sugar and about 150mls water into a saucepan and heat until sugar has dissolved and syrup is gently simmering
  2. Halve the apricots, put in pan and cover with baking parchment shaped in a cartouche – for instructions see photos below.
  3. Simmer for 10 mins or until apricots are tender.
  4. Remove fruit from syrup and place in serving bowl.
  5. Return syrup to heat and boil until reduced and syrupy.
  6. Remove from heat, add lemon verbena leaves and leave to cool and infuse for 10 mins or so before pouring over apricots.  Serve any remaining syrup in a jug alongside.

Spiced Runner Bean Piccalilli

If you grow your own runner beans you will know that they are a bit like growing courgettes – they are the gift that keeps on giving.   Just a few vines and you have runner beans all summer long.

As much as I love runner beans there comes a point when there are protests at the thought of runner beans for supper yet again (let alone for breakfast and lunch) and even friends and neighbours don’t want a bag of them.  So I needed ideas as to how to deal with the surplus.   I have frozen some (strung and cut to size, blanched for two minutes, open freeze on trays so beans don’t clump, before putting into small bags to be cooked from frozen later) but frozen beans aren’t as good as fresh, and don’t seem right in the depths of January so freezing has limited appeal.  So what else can be done with the surplus?  Spiced Runner Bean Piccalilli take a bow! Continue reading

Blackberry and Merlot Sorbet

When anyone talks about blackberries I always think back to when I was eleven.   I had just passed my Cycling Proficiency Test and was allowed to go on my bike with my best friend to go blackberrying.   From then on, right up until I was 17, the last week of the school summer holidays was always bookmarked for me by picking blackberries.  My poor mother couldn’t keep up with my collecting abilities.   There were endless jars of blackberry jam in the cupboard and bags of frozen fruit in the freezer.   

This recipe for Blackberry and Merlot Sorbet is a very grown up and sophisticated sorbet that I would not have been allowed to have back them.     Continue reading