Light, Glorious Light + Stewed Fruit in Red Wine Syrup

I’ll be the first to admit, this site isn’t usually a hub for food porn. My photos aren’t going to end up on Foodgawker. No one is blowing up my inbox with requests to shoot for their cookbook. I’m just an amateur slowly figuring out the nuances of a DSLR, and sometimes good things happen.

Like with this dessert. I’m not sure what’s up with the beautiful winter morning light in our house, but I’m in love.

Photography has made me obsessed with natural lighting. I started out shooting in the pure, diffused light of the Pacific Northwest, and didn’t know how good I had it until we arrived in Savannah. Here, the light in all my photos is green and I spend a lot of time trying to minimize harsh shadows. But still, the south-facing kitchen window in our current apartment has served me well.

After about a year and a half of blogging, it’s encouraging to notice a style developing here. Clean, uncluttered staging. Lots of wood backdrops and cheap white china from the thrift store. I’ve learned the angles I love (bird’s eye view, as above), and that my best photos always occur in mid-morning. Also, a piece of tin foil makes a halfway decent reflector!

Editing-wise, the objective is to take good photos from the start. There’s no fix for a bad angle or sloppy plating. Next comes cropping, straightening, and bumping up the fill light. Other than that, what you see is what I see. Despite my husband’s occasional offers to teach me to use Photoshop, I’m content with the small range of options provided by Picasa‘s editing platform. My goal is to improve at photography, not photo editing. (Though I’m certainly aware that editing is a huge portion of modern digital photography.)

So enough about the photos. I’m sure the experts of the internet will remind me that they’re nothing to write home about and I’ve got a lot to learn (which is true).

What on earth is this dessert, anyways?

Last weekend was my husband’s birthday, and he doesn’t do dessert. Or fancy dinners, or cooking or eating in general, really. If he could het his nourishment in pill form once a day and get on with his life, he would. Nonetheless, every so often a dish pushes through that indifference and makes an impression. Fruit stewed in wine and served over Greek yogurt is one of those things.

Remember our conversation last week about eating seasonally? This recipe is perfectly in line with that ethos. Done right, dried fruit, a few spices, and red wine can make a striking and complex dessert.

When summer rolls around again, revisit this recipe, won’t you? As good as dried figs, prunes, and apricots are, fresh cherries, plums, apricots, and figs will be delicious in their own season as well. (I’m especially looking forward to swapping in thyme for the warm spices with fresh cherries.)

At the end of a relaxed, completely unstructured Sunday, this made a perfect birthday dessert for J. I let the fruit simmer away while we ate dinner, then quickly reduced the poaching syrup after we’d eaten. A simple yet completely satisfying end to a beautiful day.

Stewed Fruit in Red Wine Syrup
Serves 6
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Total Time
45 min
Total Time
45 min
Ingredients
  1. 8 oz. dried fruit (figs, prunes, apricots, and/or cherries)
  2. half of a cinnamon stick
  3. 1/8 tsp. coriander seeds
  4. 1 clove
  5. a 3" strip of orange zest, removed with a vegetable peeler
  6. 1/4 - 1/3 c. sugar
  7. 1/2 vanilla bean, or 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  8. 4 c. red wine (I use cabernet sauvignon)
  9. plain Greek yogurt, for serving
Instructions
  1. Place wine, cinnamon stick, thyme, coriander, clove, orange zest, and sugar in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and stir to dissolve the sugar.
  2. Add dried fruit and simmer approximately 30 minutes, until wine boils down substantially and fruit is plump and tender. (This may take longer if your fruit is a bit old. Add more wine if necessary to keep fruit mostly submerged.)
  3. Reserving the poaching syrup, strain fruit into a bowl and pick out whole spices. Return poaching syrup to saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil 5-10 minutes, watching carefully, until reduced to about 1 c. Remove from heat and add vanilla extract, if using.
  4. Spoon yogurt into serving bowls and top with fruit and a spoonful of the syrup. Can be made ahead and served chilled.
Adapted from from Sally Schneider's A New Way to Cook
Wooden Spoon Baking http://www.woodenspoonbaking.com/