Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Apricot Poppers

Well, we made it back in once piece from the big abalone picnic up north, and what an exciting experience that was. We'd like to start off by saying thanks to Laura and Ian Batra for inviting us, and Lindsay and Sean Spanek for letting us join the house! A weekend full of good food and wine, can't ask for much more than that. For anyone who hasn't heard about our trip we'll tell a few stories and share the recipes we brought.

The whole weekend revolved around a big abalone picnic hosted by a few families from the Bay Area. For a few days leading upto the picnic, a hand full of guys go diving for abalone, a challenge in and of itself! The divers must free-dive (no tanks, no air tubes), pry the mollusks from the rocks and return to the surface in one breadth. Because abalone are such a sought after creature (and make such an amazing dish!) California's laws are extremely strict on the sport harvesting of abalone.The divers must be extremely careful about the size and number they pull from the water and follow a strict tagging procedure. The transportation of even the shells that are not tagged correctly can get you in trouble. On Saturday the abalone were cleaned and prepared at an event called the pounding party. We'll show you how the abalone are prepared next time (pictures are still downloading from the camera as of this morning). On Saturday night Ian and Lindsay cooked us a wonderful multi-course meal (it's nice to have someone else cook from time to time!) and we spent all of Sunday morning preparing our two appetizer courses for the picnic.

For our first (and most popular) appetizer we made Apricot Poppers: Apricots stuffed with Havarti Cheese wrapped and bacon and grilled. YUM. We hauled the old blue Weber with us and enjoyed the first official grilling session of the season. (Eric could write an entire post about why the Weber grill is the best grilling device ever made, but we'll get to that another day). Now here is where Eric made a tactical error (and lost some arm hair correcting it). These poppers need to be cooked at low heat with very few on the grill at any given time. Eric ended up overloading one part of the grill, and as the bacon grease started to drip, the coals ignited, sending 4 foot flames to slightly overcook the first batch. 6-10, spread in a ring around the coals is the most you want on there at any given time to keep the flare ups down, and the bacon cooking evenly without melting away all the cheese.

Eric's grilling tip #1: Lighter fluid is forbidden. FOREVER. It leaves a oil on the coals and taints the flavor of whatever your cooking. Buy a Charcoal Chimney, they are cheap, easy to use and start the grill 2-3 times faster than lighter fluid. Just pour your charcoal in the top section, add crumpled paper underneath and add fire. If your serious about good tasting food coming off the grill, this is what you want.
Pictures and recipe after the break...

Here's a great picture of Charisse with our friend Ian. Look for more pictures of the picnic over the next few days! 

Apricot Poppers 
What you will need:
Whole Dried Apricots
Havarti Cheese cubed

Take an apricot, find the seam (where they took out the pit) and open the apricot up. If you use your thumb you can make a nice pocket, making sure not to separate the two halves or rip the fruit. Press a cube of Havarti cheese into the pocket, and press the apricot closed around it. Wrap in bacon use a toothpick to hold the bacon in place. Place on bbq grill over very low heat. The best way to cook this is by making a ring of poppers around the edge of the pile of coals. Cook until bacon is done (3-7 minutes depending on bacon thickness and grill heat). Don't forget to remove the toothpicks prior to consumption.

A foodies@home original.

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