Cinnamon: Cinnamon comes from the bark of a tropical evergreen, just like its cousin cassia. It has an ancient pedigree, even being used to embalm a few pharaohs. That may not sound appetizing, but it has been found to be good for the heart, the stomach and the joints. Not impressed yet? Well consider that it also seems to mimic insulin and therefore helps diabetics moderate their sugar levels. So don't be shy with this tasty and healthy spice.

Cloves: The dried buds of a tropical evergreen, cloves are a wonderful blast of fragrance and flavor. They were the first known breath fresheners, but have a long, rich history in the spice trades. These sweet but pungent buds can overwhelm a recipe, so beware!

Twelve-Fruit Compote

prep time: 10
cook time: 20


  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 pound mixed dried fruits (such as prunes, pears, apricots, peaches, apples and figs), cut into 0.5 inch pieces
  • 1 cup sweet white wine (such as Johannisberg Riesling)
  • 1 orange, unpeeled, thinly sliced
  • 1 lemon, unpeeled, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries, cranberries or currants
  • 8 whole cloves
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 cup seedless grapes


Combine 3 cups water and sugar in heavy large saucepan. Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Add mixed dried fruits, white wine, orange, lemon, raisins, dried cherries, cloves and cinnamon sticks. Simmer compote until fruits are tender and liquid is reduced to syrup, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Mix in grapes. Cool compote to room temperature, cover tightly and refrigerate. (Can be prepared up to 3 days ahead. Keep refrigerated.) Spoon compote into stemmed goblets and serve.