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I started developing a strong love for drawing since I was very small. I still remember my frustration when, at 3 years old, I insisted on drawing on air and out of the white sheet only to learn that pencils did not work outside of tangible surfaces.
In middle school, art class was the only beacon of hope I had to cling onto and get to my 15’s with a sane mind. My drawing were much loved, and the little talent I had brought my classmates to forgive my nerd-ness.
Yet, one day, one of my classmates walked up to me and said: ‘y’know, you’re great but it looks like you’re painting with bleach,’ which was his own way to say that I wasn’t really that bold with colors.
His name was Alex and he absolutely did not mean to be nasty. He just said it in such a peaceful, matter-of-factly way that all I could do was stare at my drawing and think ‘damn, he’s right’.
This episode has always stuck with me, but, even as I grew as an artist, I could not help but prefer black-and-white, or washed-out pastels.
It is about to be summer and, with it, the usual explosion of color I always dreaded is fast approaching. I thought, once again, of vivid red poppies, bright yellow Ginestre (which apparently are Scotch Brooms in English), blushing orange apricots and lipstick-red cherries. How I dread capturing their color, which so hardly fits into my faded ukiyo-e world of fleeting pastels. Alex’s words, once again, ring into my ear.
I realize that, all my life, I avoided going too hard on chiaroscuro and colors because I knew that stronger marks are more difficult to erase. In drawing, as in life, I was scared to make mistakes, but not scared enough to avoid the status quo. As I am slowly learning to stop drawing marks I might have a hard time erasing in life, I want to free my photography of some of its dullness, darkness and repetitiveness as well.
Lately I’ve been feeling like my photography has become ‘adult’ in a way that most adults don’t want to become. I do not want my photography to lose that secret voice that tells all kids that everything will be fun and all right. Many times, things are not. But it is the belief that it will be that eventually creates magic.
This notion is valid with art as well.
So I got me a new table with a brighter top, put it in a new room that I had the luck to discover recently (it was where my grandpa’s kept his rabbits, and I had never came across it just until a couple weeks ago), and accepted Zaffy and Fuudly‘s challenge #CucinaconZaffy to create a recipe with the brightest of ingredients: (organic) saffron. I foraged yellow flowers and chose orange organic apricots (from Podere Stuard) to go with it. I made elderflower syrup a couple weeks ago, following Beth’s recipe for Honeysuckle Cordial but using elderflower instead, and since it is definitely one of the most delicious things that has ever sat in my fridge, I decided to add it to the recipe. You cannot believe the smell and flavor of the juices of elderflower and roasted apricots combined. I am extremely proud of this summery dessert, and of the bright photos that go with it. These might not be the best photos I’ve taken, that’s for sure, but they’re warming my heart in a way my own photos haven’t done in a long time. So, I am extremely happy with these.
I wanted to make this recipe vegan, but I tried a more traditional one with yogurt first, and honey goes so well with both saffron and elderflower apricots that I couldn’t help but using it (I used Casa del Sole‘s wonderful Acacia honey this time).
A Note on the Recipe
For this recipe, I used raw egg whites from our hens. Therefore, this recipe contains raw eggs, so if you do not feel safe eating it, replace the eggs with cream. Instead of 2 egg whites, use 200 ml (about 3/4 cup + 1 tbsp) whipping cream.
My desserts are never too sweet, so double the amount of honey if you please, but the apricots I used were so sweet and delicious that they hardly needed any sweetener.
How to Make it Vegan
This recipe would work wonderfully with a cashew based ice cream. For anything vegan sweets, I refer to Vanelja‘s websites and books. I have both her books (this and this) and they are S-T-U-N-N-I-N-G. Linda Lomelino has a great recipe as well. Just add the saffron to the cashew base. As for the honey, replace with rice or a maple syrup that does not taste excessively strong.
- 2 tablespoons acacia honey
- 3 tablespoons elderflower cordial/syrup
- Half a vanilla bean
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 4 apricots
- 6-8 saffron strands
- Half vanilla bean
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 cup thick full-fat yogurt
- 2 egg whites
- ⅛ tsp cream of tartar
- 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
- Roasted nuts, rose petals and saffron strands, to serve
- Preheat the broiler.
- Combine the honey, the syrup and the seeds scraped from the vanilla bean, and heat them gently, either over a bain-marie or for a few seconds in the microwave. Stir well. The mixture should be runny. Stir in the lemon juice.
- Halve the apricots and remove the stone. Line them cut side down on a baking tray (use a metal tray with no baking paper for best caramelization effect) and pour over the syrup.
- Broil until soft and caramelized, which should not take long, about 3-5 minutes. The syrup should be bubbly and it should get thicker. If not broiling, make at 200 C˚ / 390 F˚ for a few minutes. Collect the extra syrup in a bowl and refrigerate, covered, for up to 3-4 days.
- Combine the saffron, honey and scraped seeds from the vanilla bean and, just like before, heat them to make the honey melt and the saffron release its flavor. Stir well and let sit until slightly cooled, at least 10 minutes.
- Blend this mixture with the roasted apricots and half the yogurt with a blender or an immersion blender, and let cool. Fold in the other half of the yogurt. Put the mixture in the freezer to cool it quicker. it is important that the ingredients are cold (but do not freeze them!)
- NOTE: You can also blend only half the apricots and keep the other half for serving along with the semifreddo.
- When ready, whip the egg whites until they start to set, then add the cream of tartar and half the sugar. Continue whipping, adding the rest of the sugar little by little, until glossy and very stiff. Use fresh egg whites, or they won't whip nicely. If not using eggs, whip 200 ml / ¾ cup + 1 tbsp heavy cream with the sugar until stiff.
- Very delicately and using downward-upward circling motions, fold in the cooled yogurt-apricot-honey mixture until fully incorporated.
- Distribute the mixture into 6 125 ml capacity cups and freeze until thickened and ready to eat.
- When ready, serve the semifreddo with the extra syrup from the apricots. Sprinkle on some roasted nuts (I suggest hazelnuts or pistachios), crushed dried rose petals for the pretty factor, and a saffron strand.
Un super grazie a Giovanna, che mi ha fatta saltare nel carro!
Per vedere le altre ricette di Zaffy (ce ne sono di carinissime!) cercate l’hashtag #CucinaconZaffy su Instagram e/o Facebook.
Alcuni dei miei preferiti:
Fancy Factory – Macaron allo Zafferano
La Petite Xuyen – Bao Sandwich con Pollo Fritto allo Zafferano
A Tavola con Willi – Gyoza di Gamberi e verdure su Crema allo Zafferano
Brodo di Coccole – Challah Dolce con Zafferano e Miele