If you have a craving for fruit in the winter, but wish to avoid out-of-season fruit flown in from far-away places, you really have three choices. Eat last fall’s apples and pears which have been kept in cold storage, eat citrus fruit which is very much in season in California, or eat dried fruit. This winter fruit compote combines a little of all three strategies. You could make a fine fruit compote only with dried fruit, and many people do. Here’s where my native frugality kicks in. Dried fruit, especially the organic variety, can be pricey. So I mix dried with the fresh, yielding a lovely, simple dessert and at much less cost. If you like, top the compote with something. Greek yogurt would be delicious, but I’m including a recipe for an easy-to-make vegan cashew-maple cream which also satisfies that urge for something rich and creamy.
WINTER FRUIT COMPOTE
3 cups apple juice
4 medium apples or pears (or a combination)
1/2 orange halved the long way, and cut into thin slices
1 or 2 cinnamon sticks
1-2 tablespoons mirin (optional)
small pinch of salt
1/2 cup each (packed) raisins and dried peaches or other dried fruit of choice (cut peaches or other large dried fruit in half)
3/4 cup (packed) dried apricots
Wash the apples and pears, slice in quarters, remove the core, and cut the fruit into bite-size pieces. No need to peel, unless the skin is unusually tough or damaged.
In a roomy, heavy-bottomed pot, bring the apple juice just to a boil. Add the next five ingredients, reduce heat to a simmer and cook about five minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer on a very low heat 15-20 minutes or until all the fruit has reached the degree of tenderness you prefer (spoon out a little and sample it.) Cool before serving. This is best made in advance so all the flavors can slowly combine. Remove the cinnamon stick before serving.
A wonderfully rich, creamy topping for desserts
1 cup raw cashews
6 oz. tofu, drained
1/4 cup soy milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons maple syrup (or slightly more, depending on how sweet you like it)
Insert the blade and put all the ingredients into the bowl of your food processor. Process several minutes, stopping to scrape down the sides, or until very smooth and creamy. Also best made in advance, so the topping can firm and the flavors meld.