Thursday, January 21, 2016

Condiment of the Week - Compote

Compote (French for "mixture") is a dessert originating from medieval Europe, made of whole or
A rhubarb and apple compote 
pieces of fruit in sugar syrup. Whole fruits are cooked in water with sugar and spices. The syrup may be seasoned with vanilla, lemon or orange peel, cinnamon sticks or powder, cloves, other spices, ground almonds, grated coconut, candied fruit, or raisins. The compote is served either warm or cold.

Compote conformed to the medieval belief that fruit cooked in sugar syrup balanced the effects of humidity on the body. The name is derived from the Latin word compositus, meaning mixture. In late medieval England it was served at the beginning of the last course of a feast (or sometimes the second of three courses), often accompanied by a creamy potage. During the Renaissance, it was served chilled at the end of dinner. Because it was easy to prepare, made from inexpensive ingredients and contained no dairy products, compote became a staple of Jewish households throughout Europe. Kompot remains a popular drink made from homegrown fruit such as apple, rhubarb, plum, sour cherry or gooseberries in Western Europe and Russia. Kompot may have been a descendant of a Byzantine dessert.

The dessert may be topped with whipped cream, cinnamon, or vanilla sugar. The syrup may be made with wine, as in one early 15th century recipe for pear compote. Other preparations consist of using dried fruits which have been soaked in water in which alcohol can be added, for example kirsch, rum, or Frontignan.

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