People often think of the apricot as a "subtropical" fruit, No – the apricot is native to regions with cold winters, although it can grow in Mediterranean climates very well. The tree is moderately cold-hardy. Flowering in March it can suffer in northern climates from spring frosts, however what happened here in The Algarve this year was that when the blossom appeared in March so did the heavy rains and knocked all the blossom off the trees. Alas we have no apricots this year other than what we can find in the market or on one occasion a donation from a neighbour who normally exports to England but this year had only four pickers working the trees.
Pan fried apricots with thyme honey whipped cream
Here is a quite unexpected treat
1 Cup double or thick cream
1/2 cup thyme honey
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
6 apricots, stone removed and cut into six segments each
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
6 home made tart shells or one 20cm tart case
Combine the cream and honey in a small saucepan and heat over a medium heat, stirring until the honey has dissolved. Transfer to a bowl, cover with clingfilm and make small slashes in it with the tip of a knife. refrigerate overnight.
The next day melt the butter in a frying pan over a medium heat. When the butter sizzles drop in the apricots and saute briefly. Sprinkle with sugar and saute for a further minute. Allow the fruit to cool on a plate.
Place the chilled cream in a bowl and whisk until firm peaks are achieved.
Spoon the cream into the tart shells or one large tart shell and arrange the apricots irregularly spaced in the cream in upright crescent shapes. Chill until ready to serve. Just before serving sprinkle with some finely chopped fresh thyme leaves.