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Spring Compote

by Jayne Cohen

Yield:
6-8 servings

  • cup sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 vanilla bean, split
  • 1 pound rhubarb, washed, trimmed, tough strings removed with a vegetable peeler, and cut into 1-inch pieces (discard the leaves; they are toxic)
  • cup pitted prunes, halved, if large, quartered
  • 3 blood or navel oranges, or a combination, peeled, white pith and any seeds removed
  • 1 cup (about 5 ounces) fresh raspberries
  • Fresh mint leaves, for garnish (optional)

Place 2 cups of water and the sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla bean in a medium, non-reactive saucepan and bring to a boil. Add the rhubarb and prunes and simmer over low heat until the rhubarb is just, 7-10 minutes. Don't allow it to get too soft - it will "cook" further while macerating. Using a slotted spoon, remove the rhubarb and prunes and transfer to a large attractive serving bowl. Slice the oranges into thin rounds (if they break apart into little sections after you slice them, that's perfectly fine), and add them, along with the raspberries, to the bowl.

Boil the syrup remaining in the saucepan over moderately high heat until reduced by about half. Remove the cinnamon and vanilla bean (you can dry the bean and save it for another use, like burying it in a bowl of sugar to prepare vanilla sugar) and pour the hot syrup over the fruit. Stir well. Let the fruit cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate for several hours. Garnish the compote, if you'd like, with fresh mint leaves, and serve with the macaroons.

Hazelnut Macaroons

Yield: 25-30 macaroons

  • 2 1/3 cups (about 12 ounces) hazelnuts (also called filberts), shelled
  • 1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons white or light brown granulated sugar
  • teaspoon kosher-for-Passover pure almond extract, or 1 teaspoon hazelnut-flavored liqueur, such as Frangelico, or another nut-flavored liqueur, such as amaretto (optional)
  • 3 large egg whites

Preheat the oven to 350F. Toast the nuts. Spread them out in a single layer on a baking sheet, and roast in the oven, shaking occasionally, for about 15 minutes, or until they are fragrant and most of the skins have popped. Wrap the nuts in a dishtowel and let them cool slightly. Rub them vigorously against each other in the towel to remove most of the loose skins. Don't bother about the remaining skins, they'll just add to the flavor.

When the nuts are completely cool, grind them with the sugar in the food processor, using the pulse motion, until chopped fine. They won't be perfectly ground and they shouldn't be. With the machine on, add the extract or liqueur if you are using it, and the egg whites, a little at a time. Process just enough to combine the ingredients into a smooth paste. Scrape the mixture into a bowl and refrigerate, covered, for 15-20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 325F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. (You will probably need to use either 2 cookie sheets or work in batches.) Drop rounded tablespoons of batter on the cookie sheet about 2 inches apart. Smooth and flatten the tops slightly with the back of a spoon or your fingertips (the batter will be quite sticky, so you may have to dip your finger occasionally in cold water). Bake for about 15 minutes, or until just dry to the touch, puffed, and beginning to color. Remove from the oven and transfer the sheet to a rack to cool or slide the parchment paper off. The macaroons will be very soft but will harden as they cool. Don't remove the macaroons until they have cooled completely, then carefully separate them from the parchment. They store well in airtight containers for at least 5 days.

 


Adapted from
"The Gefilte Variations"
by Jayne Cohen,
Scribner, 2000.

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