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Dean's Corner

Dean's Corner – Comports & Compotes

Most tableware glossaries define “compote” as a large, covered glass bowl on a stem, which can be used as a serving piece. These items were commonly found on tables from the mid-1800>s until well into the 20th century. However, at a conference several years ago, we learned from glassware expert Frank Fenton that all compotes are actually comports!

Fenton explained that “compote” was a type of food, and that comports were the pieces used to serve this tasty dish. He then showed us a number of period catalog illustrations; indeed, the glass objects were listed as comports in every instance.

So if the covered bowl on a stem is a comport, what is compote? We went looking in the dusty files of the culinary world to find out, and discovered a “Pear & Berry Compote” recipe, as follow:

Pear & Berry Compote

1 1/2 cup cranberries (fresh preferred, frozen acceptable)
1 cup orange juice (fresh squeezed preferred, frozen acceptable)
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 firm, ripe Bartlett or Bosc pear, peeled, cored, and diced
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Mix the cranberries, orange juice, and brown sugar, and simmer on low heat for 5 minutes, or until cranberries split.
Stir in the diced pear, and continue simmering for 12 to 15 minutes, until the cranberries break down and the sauce thickens.
Stir in the vanilla, and heat thoroughly.
Cool to room temperature. 

Another compote recipe we found makes good use of a variety of tropical and summer fruits:
Summer Fruit Compote with Strawberries and Blueberries

1 pint strawberries, hulled and cut in half, lengthwise
1 cup blueberries
2 kiwi, peeled, cut in half lengthwise, and sliced
11-ounce can of orange segments
1/2 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons light rum or orange juice

Combine all the ingredients, and cook on low heat until the mixture thickens, then cool to room temperature.

So now we've cleared up the confusion between “compote” and “comport”, and we've discovered a couple of delicious recipes to boot!

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