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Burata with poached apricots

Serves 4

Burata is a cow's milk mozzarella cheese from Italy. If you can't find it, try any other cow's milk mozzarella such as fiore di latte. They are both richer and creamier than buffalo mozzarella and, therefore, work a little better with sweet things.

300g/10oz burata
6 ripe apricots
1 vanilla pod
The peel of one lemon
3 bay leaves
100g/31/2oz sugar
250ml/8fl oz water
A little freshly ground black pepper
The zest of one lemon

Place the sugar, water, vanilla pod, bay leaves and lemon peel into a saucepan. Place over a medium heat and bring to a gentle boil. Split the apricots in half and remove the kernels. Place them in the gently boiling sugar syrup. Turn the heat down slightly and gently poach for 2-3 minutes until just soft. Using a slotted spoon, remove the apricots and place in a bowl to cool. Discard the syrup.

To assemble, tear the burata into pieces using your fingers and then divide among four plates. Pile the apricots on top and sprinkle over the black pepper and lemon zest. Serve.

This dish is also delicious and refreshing when slightly chilled. In which case, once the apricots have cooled, place them in the fridge for a half hour or so before piling on top of the burata.