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Tapioca with Stewed Apples and Apricots

Makes 4 servings
Tapioca, like semolina, is one of those things that a school kitchen could have turned you off for life. I couldn't eat it for years, having been force-fed it at primary school aged six, with tinned jam, as it oozed like frogspawn out of the bowl and I wept and retched. For years I had the same malicious feeling toward beets and mashed potatoes, which were instant and came in lumpy granules. My teacher and I had a silent war every lunchtime; a war that eventually came to an end after my parents removed me from the school. Made to your own wont, in your own kitchen, tapioca is ambrosial, and worth being a grown-up for, as is semolina. This could also be a pudding, not a breakfast, just don't serve it with dog food–like tinned jam. Try a lovely homemade compote instead.

This recipe was published as part of 10 Questions for Sophie Dahl.
Published in Gourmet Live 09.05.12

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 cup/70 g tapioca (soaked overnight in plenty of water)
  • 1 1/3 cups/350 ml milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon butter, plus more as needed
  • 2 tablespoons runny honey, agave nectar, or brown sugar

For the Apples and Apricots:

  • 12 dried apricots (like the tapioca, soaked overnight, but in about 1 cup/250 ml orange juice)
  • 1 cup/250 ml or so water
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • A few tablespoons of orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon agave nectar or honey
  • 2 eating apples, peeled, cored, and sliced

INSTRUCTIONS:

  • Having soaked the tapioca overnight, drain and place it in a saucepan with the milk, vanilla extract, and butter. Bring to a boil, turn to low, and simmer, stirring in the honey, agave, or sugar, for another 10 minutes.
  • Cut your overnight magically plumped apricots into halves or quarters, if desired. In another saucepan, place the water, cinnamon, orange juice, agave or honey, and apples and bring to a boil, giving it a good stir now and then. Simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes, or until the apples are tender.
  • Now, here you can do one of two things. Serve the stewed fruit as is on top of the tapioca or put the tapioca in a small ovenproof dish with another tablespoon of butter, pour the apples and apricots on top, and bake at 350°F/180°C for 15 or so minutes. The choice, Cilla, is yours.
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