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What to do with perfect apricots? Make this sauce

Recipe: French toast gets a flavorful fruit topping

Apricot french toast on a turquoise plate
This French toast showcases perfectly ripe apricots. (Photos: Debbie Arrington)

June in California tastes like apricots: Fragrant, sweet but with an edge. Delicate and distinctive, this golden fruit can be tart like a cherry, its close cousin, especially if picked too soon. The longer it hangs, the sweeter apricots get.

Apricots develop sugars only while on the tree. A piece of fruit may get softer after harvest, but not sweeter.

Of course, an apricot can stay too long on the tree – and turn to overripe mush (if the birds don’t get it first). With apricots (as in many things), timing is everything.

So a perfectly ripe apricot is a precious thing. This simple sauce showcases just-right apricots. The little bit of almond extract (almonds being another close cousin) brings out the apricot flavor. Stir gently to avoid breaking apart the apricot slices.

This sauce also can top ice cream or pound cake. Or try it on the savory side, atop pork chops or grilled chicken.

4 apricots on a wooden board
Apricots are in season, ripe and precious.

Apricot French toast

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

For sauce:

½ pound apricots (3 to 4 large), pitted

1/3 cup sugar

1/3 cup water

1 tablespoon lemon juice

¼ teaspoon almond extract

For toast:

2 eggs

¼ cup milk

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 thick slices white, French or sourdough bread (day-old preferred)

1 tablespoon butter

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

Powdered sugar

Apricots in pan
Simmer the apricots for 3 to 5 minutes.

Instructions:

For sauce: Slice apricots into eighths. Set aside.

In a heavy saucepan, combine 1/3 cup sugar, water and lemon juice. Bring to a boil and boil for 1 minute.

Gently add apricot slices to simple syrup. Over medium heat, simmer apricots until just tender, about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and gently stir in almond extract. Set aside.

While apricot sauce simmers, prepare French toast. In a shallow bowl or pie plate, beat together eggs and milk. Add 1 tablespoon sugar and vanilla extract.

Heat griddle or large pan. Melt butter. Dip bread slices in egg batter, covering both sides. Transfer slices to griddle or pan. Sprinkle cinnamon over each slice. Fry until golden brown, turning once (about 5 minutes total).

Transfer toast to plates and spoon apricot sauce over top. Sift powdered sugar over sauce and toast as desired.

Serve immediately.

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RECIPE

A recipe for preparing delicious meals from the bounty of the garden.

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Garden Checklist for week of May 19

Temperatures will be a bit higher than normal in the afternoons this week. Take care of chores early in the day – then enjoy the afternoon. It’s time to smell the roses.

* Plant, plant, plant! It’s prime planting season in the Sacramento area. If you haven’t already, it’s time to set out those tomato transplants along with peppers and eggplants. Pinch off any flowers on new transplants to make them concentrate on establishing roots instead of setting premature fruit.

* Direct-seed melons, cucumbers, summer squash, corn, radishes, pumpkins and annual herbs such as basil.

* Harvest cabbage, lettuce, peas and green onions.

* In the flower garden, direct-seed sunflowers, cosmos, salvia, zinnias, marigolds, celosia and asters.

* Plant dahlia tubers. Other perennials to set out include verbena, coreopsis, coneflower and astilbe.

* Transplant petunias, marigolds and perennial flowers such as astilbe, columbine, coneflowers, coreopsis, dahlias, rudbeckia and verbena.

* Keep an eye out for slugs, snails, earwigs and aphids that want to dine on tender new growth.

* Feed summer bloomers with a balanced fertilizer.

* For continued bloom, cut off spent flowers on roses as well as other flowering plants.

* Don’t forget to water. Seedlings need moisture. Deep watering will help build strong roots and healthy plants.

* Add mulch to the garden to help keep that precious water from evaporating. Mulch also cuts down on weeds. But don’t let it mound around the stems or trunks of trees or shrubs. Leave about a 6-inch to 1-foot circle to avoid crown rot or other problems.

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