Sunday, February 3, 2013

Winter and fruit make friends

That's right - summer does not have a monopoly on fruit.

Winter is stepping up to the plate with pickled peaches, strawberry jam, flash frozen blueberries, preserved lemons, apple rhubarb chutney and my new favorite: dried fruit compote.

Picture this: plump figs, pears, cherries, dates and apricots swimming in sweet syrup turned dark from warm spices like cloves, star anise and cardamom. No extra sugar and it's a cinch to make.  Seriously - do you SEE the gorgeous figs strutting their stuff through the side of the mason jar?!

Ladle it over warm oatmeal for breakfast, thick Greek yogurt at lunch, or top with whipped cream and toasted nuts for dessert.  In fact, I would not blame you if you did all three in the same day.  

Go ahead. 
It's OK.  
It's fruit.  
It's good for you.

Dried Fruit Compote
adapted from Mollie Katzen's Sunlight Cafe 

3 cups mixed dried fruit (natural, not coated with sugar)
*whole spices 
A few strips of citrus peel, just the outer layer (I used orange and grapefruit)
Boiling water, enough to cover the fruit - about 3 cups
juice of 1 orange

Mix the fruit in a large bowl, pottery or glass work well.  Put in the whole spices and strips of citrus peel.  Pour boiling water over everything until submerged.  Put a plate on top of the bowl so the fruit can steep and stew.  After an hour or two, check to see if your fruit is plump and tender.  If so, then take out the whole herbs and citrus strips and stir in the orange juice.

Mollie suggests you serve it room temperature or chilled, but I envision it delicious warmed on ginger ice cream.  We enjoyed ours this morning on baked oatmeal with thick Greek yogurt and toasted nuts.  I intend on having more this week on various hot cereals from bulgur wheat to quinoa to steel cut oats.  With the yogurt and nuts of course.

Store your compote in jars in the refrigerator for a week or two (as long as their is enough liquid to cover the top of the fruit).  I'm going to try freezing a small jar as well.

*I used a few star anise and a tea ball filled with cloves & cardamom pods. A cheese cloth bag would've worked fine, too.  Use the spices you love.  I would've thrown in a cinnamon stick if I'd had one on hand.  Slices of fresh ginger would be nice, too.

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