Monday, April 23, 2012

Enduring Sun

Dried apricots have long been one of my favorite fruit snacks. Sweet-tart and chewy, I always have them on hand for a healthier alternative to sugar laden snacks. I was introduced recently to the Enduring Sun line of products, most of which is dried apricots. Not only does Enduring Sun carry a line of delicious sun-dried products, they're also local, which I love.

There are four varieties of apricots, each with a distinctive flavor, color and texture. I chose the Jelena, which is sweet and slightly tart with a slight flavor of clementine at the end. They were perfect for dessert risotto and were so naturally sweet that very little sugar was needed to round out the dish.

Dried Apricot Dessert Rissoto

They also sell sun-dried cherry tomatoes from Morocco, which were excellent in a Dried Tomato and Basil Risotto. Both recipes are below and anything and everything you want to know about Enduring Sun can be found at their website:

Sun-dried Cherry Tomato and Basil Risotto

Risotto is essentially the same recipe-by-recipe. They start with onion cooked briefly in oil and/or butter, Arborio rice stirred in and then hot stock, little by little and stirred constantly until done and finished with Parmesan cheese. This savory risotto is only marginally different and the dessert risotto quite different except in method.

Dessert risotto is perfect for dessert or a hearty and warm breakfast. It may take slightly longer to absorb the milk as it thickens faster and sometimes more liquid is necessary, but the result is very worth the time and effort.

Sun-Dried Tomato and Basil Risotto
Serves 4
1 medium shallot - minced
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons butter
1 cup Arborio rice
4 - 5 cups hot chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 cup freshly shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup Enduring Sun Mediterranean Sun-Dried Cherry Tomatoes
1/4 cup freshly snipped basil

Pour hot water over tomatoes and let stand for 30 minutes or until softened. 
Drain and chop finely - set aside.
In a heavy bottomed pot with straight sides, heat oil and butter over low heat until butter melts.
Add shallot and cook until translucent. Do not brown.
Add rice and stir until all rice is coated with oil.
Begin adding hot stock, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring very often until liquid is absorbed.
Repeat until rice is just tender but still holds its shape - about 20 minutes.
You may or may not need all 5 cups of stock - this can vary.
Remove from heat and add tomatoes, basil and Parmesan cheese. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary (salt and pepper). Serve immediately.

Dried Apricot Dessert Risotto
Serves 4
2 Tablespoons butter
1/2 cup Enduring Sun Jelena Dried Apricots - chopped finely
1 cup Arborio rice
2 to 2 1/2 cups evaporated milk - warmed
2 to 2 1/2 cups sweet milk (this is regular milk - any fat content will do) - warmed
1/2 cup caster sugar (this will melt quicker and more evenly than regular sugar)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
slivered almonds if desired for garnish

Melt the butter in a heavy bottomed straight sided pot. Add chopped apricots and stir briefly.
Add rice and stir until rice is coated with butter.
Slowly add heated milks (combine first) 1/2 cup at a time, stirring very often, until milk is absorbed. Continue adding milk until rice is tender but still holds its shape - 25 to 35 minutes. Remove from heat and add in sugar and vanilla. Stir well to combine and serve immediately.

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