I am a big fan of humble compotes made with fresh fruit or dried, especially to conclude a rich meal. Preparing this Sephardi koshaf, a favorite of mine, is incredibly easy: just pour cold liquid over the dried fruit and let it macerate until tender. Instead of the traditional plain water or a simple syrup, I use white grape juice—a nice complement to the raisins and currants—for a light sweetening without added sugar. The flavors slowly unfold while the fruit softens and plumps up dramatically more than if it were stewed. Nuts, a welcome contrast to the sweet fruit, are softened first with boiling water to provide mellowed texture without jarring crunch.
For the holidays, set off the koshaf with a crown of jewel-toned pomegranate seeds.
Put the dried fruit in a large bowl. Pour the grape juice over the fruit, cover with foil, and set aside to macerate, unrefrigerated, for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.
Put the nuts in a heatproof bowl, cover with boiling water, and let them soak for about 45 minutes. Drain. Using your fingers, rub off the pistachio skins: you’ll find they come off quite easily. Add the pistachios, almonds, and pine nuts to the macerating fruit at least 30 minutes before you are ready to serve the koshaf.
I prefer the compote well chilled, but many people enjoy it at room temperature. Offer the compote in a pretty glass serving bowl or in individual dessert bowls or martini glasses. For a striking presentation, garnish with ruby pomegranate seeds.
© 2008 Jayne Cohen. All rights reserved.