One of my favorite things about the holiday season is an impromptu get-together with good friends! Now that our halls are decked, I loaded up the fridge and pantry with a few fun nibbles that keep well and are a deluxe treat, not to mention- EASY to whip out when the doorbell rings!
My first pret-a-fete essential are Spiced Stewed Prunes from Barbara Lynch’s cookbook STIR. For those of you outside of the Boston area, Barbara is one of Boston’s Culinary Divas with over 6 restaurants and a cooking school & library under her name. (You can imagine how thrilled I was to find her cookbook at Homegoods last weekend on sale for $6.99!)
So, AJ and I love a great charcuterie platter and we almost always have some sort of prosciutto, lomo, or sopressata on hand in the meat drawer. What makes a great platter for me is a variety of flavors, temperatures and textures to mix and match. I love accompaniments like quince paste and chutney to mix with rich and salty pates and meats, so these prunes peaked my interest as they become spreadable, sweat, spicy and exotic all in one delicious bite ~and they keep nicely in a mason jar in the fridge for a week or two.
2 cups red wine (I used 2 buck chuck and it was fab)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cinnamon stick, 1 tsp coriander (the secret ingredient!), 1 tsp peppercorns, 1/2 tsp anise, 5 cardamon pods, 1″x2″ shaving of orange rind, tied into a bouquet garni (aka cheesecloth sachet-fancy)
1 Cup dried, pitted prunes
Bring red wine, sugar, and bouquet garni to a boil in a small sauce pan and simmer until mixture has reduced to approx. half (about 10-15 minutes)
Add prunes and simmer for an additional 2-5 minutes.
Pour mixture into a temperature safe container and let come to room temp.
Serve at room temp or refrigerate. I keep the bouquet garni in the container with the prunes in the fridge. Take out of the fridge 1 hour before serving so prunes can come to room temp. Can somebody please pass the pate!
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