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Small Dried Fruits Simmered in Pedro Ximinez

(recipe, Deborah Madison)


Keep these on hand during the winter months to make simpler foods, such as a mound of ricotta, just a bit more complex. Measurements need not be exact for this dish; make whatever mixture appeals to you. And as for the wine, others beside the aged sherry are good, too, such as a robust Zinfandel or port. These fruits will keep, refrigerated in a tightly covered container, for up to two months.


    For the syrup
    1. 2 cups water
    2. 2 cups Pedro Ximinez, Zinfandel, port, or other red wine
    3. 1½ cups sugar
    4. ½ vanilla bean, halved lengthwise
    5. ½ tsp. peppercorns, toasted first in a skillet
    6. 1 cinnamon stick (3 inches long)
    7. 1 large piece of orange zest, removed from the fruit with a vegetable peeler
    8. 1 large piece of lemon zest, removed from the fruit with a vegetable peeler
    For the fruit
    1. ½ cup dried apricots, cut in small pieces
    2. ½ cup dried pears, cut into pieces
    3. 6 dried Mission or Calimyrna figs, halved
    4. 1 cup pitted prunes, quartered
    5. ⅓ cup golden raisins
    6. ⅓ cup large red flame or Monnuka raisins
    7. ⅓ cup currants
    8. ¼ cup dried sweet cherries


    1. Bring the water, wine, and sugar to a boil in a saucepan with the spices and citrus zest. When the sugar has dissolved, add the fruits. Reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, until the fruits are tender and the sauce syrupy, about 30 minutes. Transfer to a clean jar with a tight-fitting lid. Store in the refrigerator.