Last week's full calendar carried over into the weekend with a lot of social activities! Yesterday morning I had a few hours to catch my breath and make a bite to eat. I wanted something warm and hearty and to encompass ingredients residing in my kitchen.
The Thanksgiving cranberry chutney and a mango chutney from one of the cooking classes that I have been assisting inspired me to cook up a few apples. It was the perfect opportunity to evolve them into something warm and flavorful to put on my toast.
The purpose of a recipe like this is to use things already on hand. So any sort of fruit will do. Leftover pears or apples or frozen mango or peaches. I had tidbits of slivered almonds and sesame seeds (leftover from making my crunchy szechuan green beans) and tablespoon's worth of crystallized ginger. But use any sort of nut or seeds you may have.
I am slowly but surely working through a giant bag of dried cherries, so I tossed in a good portion of them. The cherries darkened the compote quite a bit. If you pureed the mix after it is cooked, it would probably to very similar to apple butter. Any sort of dried fruit will work though. I added a sizable portion of vanilla extract because there is this vanilla pear butter that I splurge on sometimes, so I thought would be a great way to make it taste like that.
Basically, combine any fresh fruit, nut and dried fruit with your favorite flavorings to make a hearty spread for your toast. And as a byproduct, your house will smell of spicy sweet holiday season!
Cinnamon Apple Compote
makes about 2 cups
2 apples, diced into small cubes
A large cup of water to use throughout cooking process
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup dried cherries
4 whole cloves
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 heaping tbsp crystallized ginger, chopped
1/4 cup toasted slivered almonds
1 tsp toasted sesame seeds
Heat a medium saute pan on medium heat. Add apples and enough water to generously cover them. Add the cinnamon. Stir, cover and let boil for about 10 minutes.
You will have to continually add water to the cooking apples to keep it from burning, so have the cup on hand throughout the process. Add more water here if necessary.
Toss in the cherries and cloves. Stir well, and cover. The cherries soak up some of the water, so keep adding it to maintain a syrup-like consistency in the bottom of the pan. Lower heat and cook for 10 more minutes.
While this is going on, get a small saute pan and put over medium heat. Add the almonds and sesame seeds in the dry pan. Continually flip them around in the heat until they begin to brown and become aromatic.
Add ginger and vanilla to the apples and cherries and stir well. Add a little water if necessary. This will be about the time to stop adding water so it can fully reduce. Add the almonds and sesame seeds. Mix well. Turn off heat and let the flavors blend.
Serve hot or cold on a piece of toast or mixed in with yogurt and granola. Or eat with a spoon!