It’s been 30 years since chef Sally Clarke opened her quiet restaurant, Clarke’s among the antique shops of W8, and to mark the occasion, she’s written a new cookbook, Sally Clarke: 30 Ingredients. The book celebrates Sally’s ingredients of choice – from figs to chicory, and shows the reader how to use them in a variety of ways. For this recipe, she chose the humble apricot, ‘apricots cannot be ‘half baked’ – the cut surfaces discolour easily and turn a rather nasty brownish-grey if the heat has not fully penetrated the fruit, so a soft, slightly melted look is what should be aimed for.’
• 650g apricots
• 1 vanilla pod cut in 2 lengthwise
• 150 ml white wine
• 100g caster sugar
• 150 ml water
• ½ cinnamon stick,
• 10-12 lavender sprigs (keep 6 of the best for decoration)
• Wash and remove stems of the apricots and pull apart at the natural line. Place snugly in a terracotta or ovenproof dish (ideally the one you will serve them in) skin sides down.
• The fruits should be slightly overlapping at this stage as they will shrink a little on baking.
• Preheat the oven to 180˚C. In a small pan bring the remaining ingredients (except the lavender decoration) to a rolling boil for a few minutes.
• Pour the entire contents of the pan over the apricots and cover with aluminium foil.
• Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, then remove the foil and continue to bake for a further 5 to 10 minutes or until the apricots are soft and the syrup has become deliciously fragrant.
• Remove the lavender and cinnamon shards for ease of serving. Arrange the fresh lavender sprigs as decoration and serve.
From Sally Clarke: 30 Ingredients, Frances Lincoln, £25, out now; sallyclarke.com