Is anybody else having trouble accepting that we're firmly ensconced into December already?!! How did it happen so fast?! Time seems to be speeding up at an unnatural rate. But hey, the seasons change--there's no stopping them. And speaking of seasons, I will take the chance to segue, somewhat clumsily, into my Famous Fridays honoree this week, Sophie Dahl, author of Very Fond of Food: A Year in Recipes, a cookbook that's not only focuses on seasonal home-cooking, but on story-telling as well, two of my greatest passions. It's a beautiful book filled with gorgeous pictures, anecdotes and recipes that celebrate the things that make life worth living, like this nostalgic Tapioca with Apple and Apricots, a true classic!
Sophie's book is really adorable--she tells all sorts of funny family stories alongside her recipes that indulge the soul as well as the belly. She's a self-taught cook and her recipes really are do-able for regular folks. There aren't a lot of fancy ingredients or recipes that require you to pull out every pot, pan and kitchen gadget you own. It's warm and homey, like having a friend share her favorite dishes with you.
And speaking of homey, it's time to get back to this old-fashioned, classic dish. Now when you think about tapioca, and I realize that most of you out there are not spending excessive amounts of time pondering these little pearls derived from the cassava root, do you want them for breakfast or dessert? Did you grow up eating it? My grandma made this wonderful farina pudding I've already shared here which we generally ate for dessert and a fabulous rice pudding she was famous in many parts for, which I promise to share soon, but I don't ever remember tapioca as part of her repertoire, nor my mom's, so when I saw this recipe as the first in the book, it was a slam dunk! Originally, I made these for a special weekend breakfast, but once we tasted them I could easily see enjoying a bowl of this on a cold winter night, cuddled before a fire. Oc course, first we have to get the flue cleaned out which will probably be never, but I can dream, can't I?
The pudding is a snap to make. Most of the work is just remembering to soak the tapioca pearls in water overnight so that they're ready to go first thing in the morning. Aren't the beads gorgeous?!! Then, all you have to do is boil it with some milk, butter, vanilla and agave nectar or some sort of sweetener.
What makes this extra special though is the simple compote of dried apricots and apples that gets spooned on top. Like the tapioca, you soak the apricots overnight, but in some orange juice instead, which softens and plumps them up.
The apples get cooked with some water, orange juice, agave and a cinnamon stick, which you can do while you're cooking the tapioca, and the result is delightfully tender spiced apples which, along with the apricots, provide the perfect counterpoint to the milky, vanilla-y tapioca. Each bite is a wonderful balance of texture and flavor--the bland creaminess and slight chewiness of the tapioca combined with the cinnamon-y softness of the apple and the tanginess of the apricots. True comfort food! Try it this weekend for a special breakfast or dessert. And if you're very fond of food, or you know someone who is, pick up a copy of Very Fond of Food. It would make a great holiday gift for someone who not only loves to cook, but also read about food and the memories it conjures up.
And...today at midnight, EST is your last opportunity to enter the holiday giveaway to win a copy of Wintersweet. The hours are ticking away so click here and don't miss your chance! Have a great weekend and I'll be back next week with lots of great holiday treats!
Sophie Dahl's Tapioca with Apples and Apricots-Famous Fridays
Makes 4 servings
Prep Time: Tapioca and apricots need to be soaked overnight. Cook Time for Tapioca: 15 minutes; Prep Time for Apple Compote: 5 minutes; Cook Time: 15 minutes
For the Apricots and Apples
- 12 dried apricots, soaked overnight in the 1 cup of orange juice
- 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons orange juice, divided
- 1 cup water
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 tablespoon agave nectar or honey
- 2 apples, peeled, cored and sliced ( I used Yellow Delicious)
For the Tapioca
- 1/2 cup tapioca (I used small pearl-don't use instant), soaked overnight in plenty of water
- 1 1/3 cups milk (I used 1% but it would be creamier with whole)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons agave nectar, brown sugar or honey
1. To make the Apricots and Apples: Soak the apricots in about 1 cup of orange juice overnight. In the morning, you'll see that they've plumped up. Cut them into halves or quarters and set aside. In a medium saucepan, place the water, cinnamon stick, 3 tablespoons of orange juice, agave and apples and bring to a boil, stirring every now and then. Simmer for about 15 minutes, until the apples are tender. Remove the cinnamon stick and discard. Stir the apricots into the cooked apple mixture.
2. Meanwhile make the tapioca. Soak the tapioca overnight in plenty of water. Before you're ready to cook, drain them and then place them in a medium saucepan with the milk, vanilla and butter. Bring to a boil, turn to low, stir in the agave or other sweetener and simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring every now and then, until creamy.
3. Transfer the tapioca to individual bowls and top with the apricot/apple mixture. Serve immediately.
4. Any leftovers can be stored in an airtight container and refrigerated for 2 days.
Note: Recipe adapted from Very Fond of Food: A Year in Recipes by Sophie Dahl.