Prune and Apple Compote in Vanilla and Earl Grey Tea
I made this as a special treat for my sister, who is visiting from Chicago. She's always a pleasure to cook for because she loves to eat. I'm not calling her a piggy (yes I am) but it is always gratifying to share food with someone who really loves it. This fruit compote is truly delicious, almost indescribably so. It comes from my beloved In the Sweet Kitchen by Regan Daley, and when served over french toast makes for a sublime breakfast. In fact, Daley says that, served that way, it was the star of Sunday brunch at the Delisle Bistro and Wine Bar, where she worked with chefs David van den Driesschen and Chris McDonald. In the book, Daley also provides a recipe for Armagnac Parfait over which to drizzle the compote, but for now we decided to stick with french toast.
Daley recommends using Agen prunes, which are simply prunes imported from the Agen region of France. If you're lucky enough to find them, great. I was not so lucky. Instead, I just used plump, juicy, dried prunes from Eli's. Just make sure to use unsulphured dried prunes regardless. This was the first time I'd ever used an actual vanilla bean, and let me tell you, there is no comparison. It seems to be as much about fragrance as about flavor, and combined with the Earl Grey Tea from Twinings (Daley says this brand is the best) the compote was amazing.
This is a good recipe to start on a Saturday and enjoy on a Sunday since the prunes require 3 hours of steeping in the tea, and the compote needs 24 hours of refrigerated melding time. But it's easy to put together and then you'll be all set for a spectacular Sunday morning.
Prune and Apple Compote in Vanilla and Earl Grey Tea over French Toast
3/4 pound pitted prunes, try to find Agen if you can
2 cups water
2 bags Earl Grey, Twinings is available
3 cups water
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 vanilla bean, split
3-4 firm, semi-tart apples like Cortland
Boil the 2 cups of water with the tea bags, then pour over the prunes. Allow to steep for 3 hours.
In the meantime, peel, core and cut your apples into 8ths. Combine the 3 cups water, the vanilla bean and the sugar in a large pot and cook gently, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Increase the heat and bring to a boil. Boil for 4-5 minutes then add the apples. Return to a boil and simmer for 1 minute. Put the mixture in a container to cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate until the prunes are ready.
Once the prunes have steeped, drain them and add them to the apple mixture. Refrigerate for 24 hours so that the flavors can mature and meld. Serve over french toast, ice cream, or anything else that catches your eye.
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