Today a friend asked me what my blog is all about. Without hesitation I told him, it’s about food, it’s about travel, it contains recipes…and then it suddenly dawned on me that most of my recipes are from the food I sampled throughout my trips, inspired by the looks and tastes of a particular local dish and the anecdotes surround it. Cooking or reproducing it simply becomes an extension of the fond memories, back home.
This recipe came from the Esalen Cookbook, a collection of recipes practiced in the kitchen of the world-renowned Esalen Institute, a retreat center where people live and work in a communal setting, participating in a variety of alternative education and personal growth programs in subjects ranging from meditation to massage, yoga, psychology, spirituality, art and music. I’ve always known it as the place which got me to think that it is not so bad to be a vegetarian after all.
Apricot Walnut Bread
Makes 2 loaves
- 1 1/2 cups dried unsulfured apricots
- 2 cups hot water
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 egg
- 3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons non-aluminum baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 cup nonfat dry milk
- 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
- 1 cup chopped walnuts
Cut the apricots in 1/4-inch dice and cover with the hot water.
In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until you have a grainy paste. Add the egg and beat until you have a smooth mixture.
In another mixing bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and dry milk.
Pour the water off the soaking apricots and reserve 3/4 cup. Add orange juice. Whisk this liquid into the egg mixture. Stir this into the bowl with the dry ingredients, stopping when everything is incorporated. Gently fold the apricots and nuts into the dough. The dough should be the consistency of cake batter.
Oil 2 bread pans and divide the dough into them. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 350 degrees F for about 45 minutes or until a knife inserted into the bread comes out clean. The bread should have a golden brown appearance. Place on a wire rack to cool.
Note on Unsulfured apricots
The process of sulfuring dried fruits, including apricots, is to maintain the bright color of the fruit. It also gives the fruit a sour taste, kills all of the B vitamins, and gives one intestinal gas. Unsulfured apricots are darker than sulfured ones; they are also sweeter and healthier for you.
Love one another, but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Your daily life is your temple and your religion.
— Posted on a sign by the door of the Esalen Kitchen, quoting Kahlil Gibran