I now know where the expression "nipping it in the bud" comes from.
It refers to my apricot tree which every year thinks it's spring in early March, produces thousands of glorious blossoms believing warm weather is more than a fragile promise waiting to be broken one dark, cold night when the frost comes.
It's about to happen again this year, next week the weather woman says. In other words: Another year with no apricots. The abricotier stands in all its glory in the middle of the garden, surrounded by apple, cherry, plum and fig trees all understanding perfectly well -- and learning from experience -- one cannot trust mother nature. They're waiting patiently before they let their buds blossom.
One year, not because of the overly enthusiastic optimism of our apricot tree, but because it was a frost-free spring we actually had a little crop of beautiful, sweet, firm fruits. The ones we didn't eat, standing beneath the branches I used to make a clafoutis (pronounced, kla-foo-Tee) a sort of flan a la Française. A classic, easy to make dessert -- obviously, otherwise I couldn't make it -- everyone loves. Here follows as your cadeau de weekend, the recipe I use. It's a slight variation on that of Julia Child. (Some French cooks put alcohol in the batter or let the fruit macerate in a liqueur, but I think it's a shame to do that when the seasons for perfect fruit are so short.)
Clafouti is equally delicious with cherries, apples, pears, plums, blueberries, peaches, etc.
Clafoutis aux Abricots
Serves six to eight.
1 1/4 cup milk
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 Tbs. vanilla
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 cup sifted, all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
*washed, pitted, cut into quarters apricots (about 12, but have more on hand just in case)
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
In a blender mix the milk, sugar, eggs, vanilla, salt and flour. Pour 1/4 inch of the liquid into a well buttered 8 cup fireproof baking dish. Place in the oven until a film of batter sets in the bottom of the dish. Remove and place the apricots over the batter, sprinkle on the remaining 1/3 cup of sugar and cover with the rest of the batter.
Bake for approximately 45 minutes to one hour. It will puff-up and brown. Plunge a knife into the center. When it comes out clean, the clafouti is done. Sprinkle top with powdered sugar and serve warm.
It's not a beautiful dessert, but that's part of its beauty, it's obviously homemade and it's mistake-free delicious.
(Picture of the clafouti aux abricots is from the French blog Caillou.)