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!

Apple-Date Compote with Apple-Cider Yogurt Cheese

prep time: 10
cook time: 303


  • 2 cups plain nonfat yogurt
  • 1 1/4 quarts apple cider or juice
  • 1 1/2 pounds tart green apples, peeled, cored, sliced 0.25 inch thick
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 cups water
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons grated orange peel
  • 1 cinnamon stick, broken in half
  • 4 large pitted dates, quartered


Set strainer over medium bowl. Line strainer with double layer of cheesecloth. Place yogurt in strainer. Refrigerate overnight. Discard liquid that drains out.

Boil 1 quart cider in medium saucepan until reduced to 1/2 cup thin syrup, about 30 minutes. Cool. Stir 3 tablespoons into thickened yogurt. Re-serve remaining syrup.

Melt butter in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add apples, 1 tablespoon sugar and lemon juice, saute until golden, about 10 minutes. Transfer apples to medium bowl. Add 2 cups water, cloves, orange peel, cinnamon, 1 cup apple cider and 1/4 cup sugar to same skillet. Boil until reduced to 2/3 cup, about 20 minutes. Strain. Discard solids. Return liquid and apples to skillet, add dates. Simmer 3 minutes. Cool. (Can be made 4 hours ahead. Chill yogurt cheese, store compote at room temperature.)

Place heaping spoonful of yogurt cheese in center of each bowl. Surround with apples. Drizzle with reserved syrup.