A José Recipe

Blue Cheese with Two Apple Compotes

I love the combination of salty, tangy blue cheese with sharp sweet apples and this is just the season for it.  I make a fresh apple compote to serve with blue cheese for a superior finish to a Winter meal.

Apple compote couldn’t be easier to make.  Here are two versions for you to try.  Make sure you choose a variety of apples that won’t collapse into a mush during cooking, like Cox’s or Braeburn.  Soft pieces of apple is what you are after.

In one version I cook the apples with membrillo.  Membrillo is Spanish quince paste, that is now widely available outside of Spain.  Membrillo has a mellow, fragrant sweetness that’s perfect with sharp cheese.  Cooking it down with apples makes it amazing!

One of my favourite blue cheeses is Cabrales from Asturias in the north of Spain.  It’s very strong and pungent.  Picos blue and La Peral are similarly pungent northern stars of the Spanish cheeseboard.  Try to track them down.  A little goes a very long way.  Otherwise any good, strong blue cheese will do.

The compotes will keep in a jar in the fridge for up to a week, so this is a great standby dessert for the festive season.

Version 1: Zesty Apple and Lemon Compote

Mix the apples with the lemon zest, juice and sugar.  Cover and leave to marinate for 30 mins.  Transfer to a saucepan and place over a medium heat.  Cover and leave to cook gently for 5 mins until the apples are just tender.  Take the cover off and increase the heat slightly.  Cook fo ra futher 4-5 mins or until the excess liquid has evaporated.  Remove and leave to cool.

Version 2: Apple and Membrillo Compote

Melt the butter in a large non-stick frying pan.  Add the apple slices in a single layer and fry gently for 4-5 minutes, turning halfway through.  Lift the slices onto a plate and pour off the excess butter.  Add the membrillo to the pan with the sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon and apple juice and cook gently, stirring, until you have a smooth, jam-like sauce.  Return the apple slices to the pan and stir to coat them in the sauce.  Remove from the heat and leave to cool.

To Serve:

50g per person Picos Blue, La Peral, Cabrales or similar strong blue cheese, sliced.

From José Pizarro’s Spanish Flavours: Stunning dishes inspired by the regional ingredients of Spain.   Reproduced with the kind permission of Kyle Books.  Photograph by the wonderful Emma Lee.

Ingredients:

Serves 4-6

Version 1: Zesty Apple and Lemon Compote

  • 4 large, firm dessert apples, peeled, cored, quartered and cut into large dice
  • Finely grated zest of 1 large lemon and 3 tbsp of the juice
  • 30g caster sugar

Version 2: Apple and Membrillo Compote

  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 4 large, firm dessert apples, peeled, cored, quartered and each quarter cut into 3 slices
  • 50g membrillo, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp light muscovado sugar
  • 1 1/2 – 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp pressed apple juice