This recipe is one of the first dishes that appeared on my blog. It has been updated and rephotographed for 2014!
Not long after I started this blog, I wrote about a traditional Shabbat dinner that I cooked with my friends Etti and Bella Hadar. Etti had a family a memoir written by her late uncle, Dov Shimon Levin, a soldier in the Jewish Infantry Brigade who fought the Nazis during World War II. In his memoir, he wrote a detailed account of his life in the Pinsk region of Poland prior to the war. Being a lover of Ashkenazi cuisine, Uncle Dov wrote some amazing descriptions of the foods he enjoyed as a child. Etti and I pieced together a menu from the memoirs and recreated a traditional Polish Shabbat dinner using their family recipes.
Reading through Uncle Dov’s memoir, we came upon a dish called marak perot. It was the first time I’d ever heard the term. Marak perot is Hebrew for “fruit soup,” which is a pretty accurate description. It’s more widely known as “compote,” a dessert made from dried and fresh fruits, water, sugar and lemon juice. The fruit is slowly simmered as a soup, then chilled. It makes for a very refreshing dessert, a light and lovely way to end a heavy meal.
The marak perot recipe that appears here is from the Levin family memoirs. Once you get the basic concept feel free to improvise on the dish, adding your favorite fruits and spices to change things up. It can also be pureed for a sauce-like texture. Oh, and… by the way… the recipe includes prunes. Don’t cringe, please. When did prunes earn such a stigma? Let’s all agree to drop the collective prune disdain, shall we? Or we can just call them dried plums, if that makes you more comfortable… a little rebranding, long overdue, for an under-appreciated and tasty treat!
Are you familiar with this dessert? What do you call it– marak perot, compote, fruit soup or something different?
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- 3 apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
- 2 cups dried plums
- 1 cup dried apricots
- 3/4 cup raisins
- 1/4 cup sugar (or use your favorite sweetener to taste)
- 1 1/2 tbsp fresh lemon juice, or more to taste
- Place apples, dried plums, dried apricots and raisins in a pot and cover 4 cups water. Bring to a boil, stir in sugar till dissolved.
- Reduce heat to medium low and cover. Simmer for 1 ½ hours, stirring occasionally, until the water becomes a thick syrup and the prunes begin to dissolve. Remove the lid for the last 10-15 minutes of cooking so the liquid reduces.
- Remove fruit from heat and let it slowly return to room temperature. Squeeze the fresh lemon juice in, adding more to taste if desired. The lemon juice brightens up the flavor tremendously.
- Put the fruit in the refrigerator until it is fully chilled, at least 2 hours. Serve by ¾ cup portions in glass compote dishes.