See these apples? Look closely. They’re not perfect. They have dings. Little bruises, even. They’re all slightly different shapes, and even the coloration isn’t the same from one to the next. Grown about an hour’s drive from Paris, by the grace of the good rains of the north, these apples were a gift from my dear friend Catherine, who brought them to me one morning in a paper sack. She’d just picked them from her apple trees in Normandy.
I almost didn’t want to eat them they were so pretty, these non-grocery store, unstickered, non-mass produced apples.
Thing is I couldn’t resist making up something with them, and since I had some leftover figs hanging around, too, I thought, Hmmm. Figs and apples. Yes.
I decided to make a compote, since I was packing to go out of town, and I was short on time. Plus, I wanted to have something that I could eat day after day, and that would keep for a bit in the fridge.
A compote — fruit cooked with sugar — is one of those things that you can literally throw in a pot and let cook while you’re doing something else. You can throw in whatever you’d like — pears instead of apples, pears and apples, or add some cinnamon, orange peel, or whatever else strikes your fancy. It all depends on what you can get your hands on. Winter isn’t the most bountiful time of year for fruit, but taking something seemingly ordinary and turning it into something elegant – in about the time it takes for the water to get hot, as my mom would say — is really rewarding, especially when the skies are gray and it seems like spring is an eternity away.
2 pounds apples (your choice), cut into 3-inch chunks
2 cups figs, chopped
1 cup cane sugar/piloncillo or brown sugar
pinch sea salt
Put apples, figs, sugar and pinch of salt in a saucepan, cover, and cook over low heat until apples begin to soften, about 30-45 minutes.
P.S. I like to spread my compote on toast, slathered with fleur de sel butter, and chunky peanut butter. Would be super-lovely warmed up and spooned over ice cream, or used as a filling for a tart or a pie, on top of split and buttered scones, French toast, pancakes, waffles, crepes…mmmm.