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Enjoy fresh apricots in an easy appetizer

Recipe: No cooking involved in this seasonal creation

This apricot-goat cheese appetizer can be put together quickly for a late-spring meal or event.

This apricot-goat cheese appetizer can be put together quickly for a late-spring meal or event. Kathy Morrison

Apricot season is here and gone in a blink. This recipe uses fresh, ripe apricots in the easiest appetizer short of opening a bag of chips. No cooking involved!

apricots with lemon juice
Brush the halves with lemon juice

There are variation on this type of appetizer, but they all look so messy: Honey is drizzled over the goat cheese and nuts that top the apricot halves.

Why not mix the honey into the plain goat cheese? Yes, it works beautifully. Be sure to use a floral or even an herb-specific honey (such as lavender) for subtle but effective sweetening.

Use your favorite nuts. I found red walnuts being sold at the farmers market at Arden Fair. They are beautiful as well as less bitter than a standard walnuts. But chopped pistachios or sliced almonds would work equally well.

Apricot-goat cheese appetizer

Makes 12

Ingredients:

6 ripe but not mushy apricots

Lemon juice (fresh preferred)

5 ounces plain goat cheese, room temperature

2 tablespoons honey, preferably a floral variety

Pinch of salt

1/4 cup or more favorite nutmeats, such as walnut halves, shelled pistachios or sliced almonds, roughly chopped

Instructions:

Slice the apricots in half and remove the pit. Brush each half with a bit of lemon juice, to keep the apricot flesh from turning brown. then set aside the halves on a plate.

red-walnuts.jpg
Gorgeous red walnuts for the topping.

Place the goat cheese in a medium bowl, and add the honey and the pinch of salt. Whip or beat it until fully combined and somewhat fluffy. (If it is soft enough, you'll be able to whip the honey into it with a spatula or spoon. If it's still a bit firm, use a hand mixer or immersion blender.)

Place the goat cheese mixture in a pastry bag with any tip or in a large zipper-lock plastic bag, then cut the corner off. (Make sure the bag is sealed, by the way.) Pipe about a teaspoon of the goat cheese into the center of the apricot halves (more for large apricots -- there will be plenty of filling).

Top each with a sprinkle of chopped nuts. The appetizers can be served immediately, or refrigerated for about an hour if working ahead.

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Dig In: Garden Checklist for week of April 7

The warm wave coming this week will shift weeds into overdrive. Get to work!

* Weed, weed, weed! Whack them before they flower.

* Mulch around plants to conserve moisture and control weeds.

* Smell orange blossoms? Feed citrus trees with a low dose of balanced fertilizer (such as 10-10-10) during bloom to help set fruit. Keep an eye out for ants.

* Apply slow-release fertilizer to the lawn.

* Thoroughly clean debris from the bottom of outdoor ponds or fountains.

* Spring brings a flush of rapid growth, and that means your garden is really hungry. Feed shrubs and trees with a slow-release fertilizer. Or mulch with a 1-inch layer of compost.

* Azaleas and camellias looking a little yellow? If leaves are turning yellow between the veins, give them a boost with chelated iron.

* Trim dead flowers but not leaves from spring-flowering bulbs such as daffodils and tulips. Those leaves gather energy to create next year's flowers. Also, give the bulbs a fertilizer boost after bloom.

* Pinch chrysanthemums back to 12 inches for fall flowers. Cut old stems to the ground.

* From seed, plant beans, beets, cantaloupes, carrots, corn, cucumbers, melons, radishes and squash. Plant onion sets.

* In the flower garden, plant seeds for asters, cosmos, celosia, marigolds, salvia, sunflowers and zinnias. Transplant petunias, zinnias, geraniums and other summer bloomers.

* Plant perennials and dahlia tubers for summer bloom. April is about the last chance to plant summer bulbs, such as gladiolus and tuberous begonias.

* Transplant lettuce and cabbage seedlings.

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