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Rhubarb and Strawberry Compote

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Serves 4
by Chef Didi Davis, from A Fresh Look at Saucing Foods

In this unusual spring dish, red wine complements the poached rhubarb and fresh strawberries. The sauce is made by reducing the poaching liquid to a syrup, which intensifies the flavors of the spices. This sauce keeps for several days in the refrigerator.

½ cup heavy cream
1 cup Didi Davis Food Lemon or Orange Ginger Sugar (or any other natural sugar)
1 cup red wine
2 strips lemon zest, measuring 3 inches long by 1 inch wide
½ teaspoon allspice berries
¼ teaspoon Australian Mountain Peppercorns
1 pound rhubarb
1 pint strawberries

Beat the cream until soft peaks begin to form. Keep the whipped cream refrigerated until you are ready to serve.

Combine the sugar, wine, zest, allspice, and Australian Mountain Peppercorns in a saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, lower heat, and simmer for 3 minutes.

While the syrup cooks, trim the rhubarb and cut it on the bias into pieces about ½ inch wide and 2 inches long. Poach the rhubarb in syrup in 2 batches for between 3 to 5 minutes each until it is tender when pierced with the tip of a knife, but not falling apart. With a slotted spoon, remove the rhubarb to a plate. Return the lemon zest and spices to the pan if they were removed with the rhubarb. When all the rhubarb is cooked, raise the heat to high and reduce the syrup to ½ cup. Strain it and set it aside at room temperature.

Hull the strawberries and cut them in half lengthwise.

Just before serving, heat the syrup gently until it is just warm. Arrange the strawberries around the edges of 4 plates. Place a portion of rhubarb in the middle of the plate and drizzle the strawberries and rhubarb with the warm syrup. Beat the whipped cream briefly to homogenize it and spoon it over the fruit.

- For a low-fat topping, serve the compote with a dollop of yogurt instead of cream.
- The Rhubarb and Strawberry Compote may be served over cakes, steamed puddings, French toast, pancakes or waffles. Leftover syrup may be mixed with sparkling water.

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