A Culinary Ode to my Grandmother Alexandria
I have two powerful memories of Apricot pie. Both of which were created by the matriarchs of my family,
my maternal grandmother Alexandria who immigrated from Lebanon and my father's eldest sister Nell, also an immigrant, from Wales.
They both had this essential understanding of the Apricot, both had trees that bore abundant fruit in their respective yards, Alexandria's high atop suburban Mar Vista, California, a sea breezed enclave wedged between the beaches of Santa Monica and the West Side of Los Angeles. Nell's rambling old Victorian sat on the water's edge in the tiny town of Rodeo, California , a small little spot on the San Pablo bay north of San Francisco.
Both Alexandria and Nell knew the mysteries of stone fruits ,seemingly imbedded in their DNA.
Every June we would go to my grandmother's home to pick fruit. She would arm us with buckets and we'd make our way to the huge Apricot tree that grew on a southern slope beside her house. She was not so much a pie maker. It wasn't her culture but she made Amerdine, a shoe leather like dried fruit paste that she rolled out in sheets. One could tear off a piece and just hold it in one's mouth til it dissolved in infused one with the esssence. She used the Apricots in stuffings with roasted Lamb and blanched almonds and made a compote which was scented with Lebanese Orange Blossom Water.
Nell, being Welsh was a master baker and her apricot pie was tart, and not too sweet , fragrant with a buttery, flaky crust, served warm with vanilla ice cream. The fruit softened and creamy, redolent.
This is my tribute to them both. Aa fusion if you will.
An Orange Blossom Scented Apricot Galette
Try to find beautiful fresh ripe Apricots, deep in color and taste.
1 pound fresh ripe Apricots.
1 cup sugar ( i prefer organic)
1/2 cup fine tapioca
the juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup Orange Blossom Water
Quarter the Apricots and place in a bowl with the sugar, tapioca, lemon juice and Blossom water. Mix well and let stand while preparing the dough.
Pre heat oven to 350 degrees
1 1/2 cups organic unbleached flour
a pinch of sea salt
1/2 lb of COLD good sweet butter. ( I use Kerry Gold or Plugra, the high fat contact makes for a flakier crust)
a splish of apple cider vinegar in ice water
1 egg yolk
In a mixer, mixx the flour salt and butter ( add butter in small chunks) mix with paddle til the consistency
of corn meal. Add the water little by little til the dough forms, just enough to bind but not too much to make gooey. Take the dough out and chill .
Roll out in a large circle, and place in preferred baking vessel, add the macerated fruit and juices, add a few pats of butter on tope and gently fold the dough around the fruit. Make a wash of the yoke and brush on to the dough.
Bake for 1 hour or until the crust is a golden brown and the fruit is bubbling. About 10 minutes before removing from the oven, pull out and sprinkle sugar over the top.
Let cool for a bit and best served warm .
Yummy with Vanilla ice cream or a Creme Anglaise.