Thursday, May 13, 2021

Life & Style

Baking and Cooking for Christmas


With Christmas just around the corner, we are probably looking forward to another holiday that is different from what we might wish. In my heart of hearts, I believe that we will all be together celebrating a festive holiday, if not on Easter, then on Memorial Day Weekend with backyard barbecues and parades with marching bands.

I really do believe this.

I can’t wait.

In the meantime, we still bake and cook for Christmas. Perhaps dinner will be a baked ham with pineapple and brown sugar, scalloped potatoes, Brussels sprouts with bacon, and, of course, pies. My friend Jean Howard, whose son Lee Howard is my New London editor, makes an apricot pie that should be awarded medals. She evidently made one for Thanksgiving and Lee and his Libby saved a piece for me.

Jean explained that the recipe is simple, but the dried apricots are important. They must be California apricots, she explained, not the Turkish ones. I looked up the difference. The former are dried whole, without the pits, while the California ones are halved and less sweet but have are more apricot flavor. I found them at Trader Joe’s.

I had never made a dried fruit pie, but I have hydrated fruits for other recipes (and for braising) and love the very intense flavor that hydrating brings to food. I also looked into other recipes and added a few things to Jean’s recipe. For me, I needed a little more sugar. I also remembered that my friend, Rose Levy Beranbaum, also reduced fruit liquid to some pies. I also added some grated lemon and a whisper of pure almond extract. Below is Jean Howard’s recipe for one of the best recipes you will ever make.

Lee White of Old Lyme has been a food editor and restaurant reviewer for more than 25 years. You can email her at

Jean Howard’s Apricot Pie

Adapted with love from me and Nick Malgieri



1 pound California (or slab) apricots, diced into ½ –inch dice

3 cups water

¾ cups sugar

3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour

2 teaspoon grated lemon

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

½ teaspoon pure almond extract

1 prepared dough for a 8- to 9-inch pie*



Cook apricots and water to a boil in a medium non-reactive pan; remove from the heat and cool for about 2 hours.

Transfer apricots and water to a bowl. Set a strainer over the saucepan in which the apricots soaked and drain the apricots well, letting the liquid fall back into the pan.

Combine sugar and flour and whisk the mixture into the apricot liquid. Place pan on low heat, stirring constantly, until it comes to a low boil. Stir in zest, butter, and almond extract. Pour liquid over apricots and allow to cool.

When ready to assemble and bake the pie, set a rack on the lowest level in the oven and preheat to 375. Roll the dough around the pie pan, saving some for some lattice, if you like. Put the pie in the oven and decrease the temperature to 350 degrees. Bake until filling is simmering, about 45 minutes.


*Seems like everyone is using a prepared dough these days, but if you would like my recipe, which my late friend, Deb Jensen, gave me, write me at

Lee White is the Columnist for Zip06. Email Lee at .

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