Kumquat-Peppercorn Compote with Cow's Milk Cheese

This easy-to-make compote works nicely with many different cheeses, but an aged sheep's milk cheese is particularly good. Although the compote is sweet, you can easily turn this into a savory course by adding a bit of prosciutto along with the cheese. In that case, think about serving this cheese plate before the meal, as an hors d'oeuvre.
  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 35 min
  • Prep: 10 min
  • Cook: 25 min
  • Yield: 6 servings
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Ingredients

1 cup water

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 pound kumquats, cut crosswise into 1/8-inch-thick slices and seeded

2 teaspoons whole peppercorns

1 star anise

6 large slices hearty Italian-style bread

6 ounces aged cow's milk cheese (or use any aged goat's or sheep's milk cheese)

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. To make the compote: In a medium heavy-bottom pot, bring the water and sugar to a boil. Continue cooking until the mixture is reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Turn the heat to medium-low and add the remaining ingredients except the cheese and bread. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the kumquats are soft, 5 to 6 minutes. Let cool to room temperature. (Makes about 1/2 cup.)
  3. Cut the bread slices into 3 pieces each. Place on a baking sheet and toast in the oven until light brown. Turn the slices and toast. Let cool completely.
  4. To serve, place a little compote on each slice of bread. Serve the cheese alongside.
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