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Posts tagged ‘recipes’

Seasonal Eating: Working with Quince

This is a guest post by Sarah Reinertsen, Chief Operating Officer at Foodtree.

I had never heard of quince until spending time in Australia, where the trees are all over the orchards surrounding the Adelaide Hills and into the Barossa Valley. My first encounter with quince was in its preserved form, as quince paste would be a staple at any Australian dinner party that finished with a selection of local cheeses. I quickly became addicted to this new flavour.

The quince fruit

Quince at Hannah Brook Farm

Quinces are popular throughout the Mediterranean, especially Spain, where it is called membrillo and is often paired with Manchengo cheese. They are used throughout the Middle East in tagines, preserves, roasts and stews.

Like a pear or apple, the quince is a perfect autumn fruit to transcend the line between sweet and savoury. It pairs equally well with roast pork, lamb or duck as it does in a crumble or tart.

How to Choose and Process Quince

  • They may look vaguely pear or apple-like, but quince are hard as rocks – and should be. A soft quince may indicate spoilage so choose the yellowish green ones with rock hard flesh. You can actually bruise them by dropping them, though, so don’t bat them around the backyard for baseball practice and expect a good result in the kitchen afterwards.
  • Don’t refrigerate the quince, as the aroma can be quite strong. They can be frozen whole or cored and in a sealed bag without compromising the texture.
  • Wash and scrub the soft fuzz off the exterior. Depending on how you are cooking them, you may or may not want to peel and/or core quinces, for the skin and pip contain gel-producing pectin. Like pears or apples, quinces do oxidise and brown when exposed to air so deal with them reasonably quickly and keep in acidulated water until use. (This is less essential for slow-cooking, where the fruit turns a deep brownish pink).
  • Cutting quinces takes a bit of muscle and a strong knife. Take care that your knife doesn’t slip, especially with the first cut.
  • Given the hard texture, quince need a long cooking time to turn from white-ish yellow to a deep rose. This makes them ideal for roasting or slowly poaching. Like apples or pears, quinces will turn to mush if overcooked, so bear in mind the size of the fruit and your desired result and keep an eye on them.

How to Prepare Quince

Roasting
Pan fry slices in butter for some caramelisation before scattering them around your next pork or lamb roast. The quince will add flavour to drippings should you wish to make a sauce and will likewise be caramelised in the juices of the meat.

Quinces can also be roasted simply wrapped in foil like you would a beet, removed from the oven when soft and chopped or sliced to serve. You can bake them with butter, sugar, nuts, lemon and spices for a sweet version.

Poaching
The simplest preparation for quince is to peel, core and quarter quinces and cover with a 1:1 simple syrup* and let them bubble away very, very slowly. Add some whole spices if you wish – a strip of lemon zest, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, vanilla bean all come to mind (be sparing your first go with this, and perhaps don’t put all of them in the same pot).

The beauty of this is that you get poached quinces to use in desserts such as tarts or crumbles, but you also get the gorgeous rose syrup which can be kept in the fridge for future use. The syrup can be reduced to the desired consistency and used to flavour custards or glaze desserts.

*Simple syrup is made with equal parts sugar and water by weight, heated until the sugar dissolves (and no more, lest you start to make a caramel)

Pickling
A favourite preparation technique of mine for any fruit or vegetable, pickling quinces yields a tangy sweet-sour chutney like sauce that can be used as an accompaniment to meats and curries. Bring vinegar, sugar and desired spices such as peppercorn and clove until sugar has dissolved and then add sliced or chopped quinces and simmer until just soft and pink. The pickle can be canned at this point, or kept for a few weeks in the refrigerator.

Jams, Jellies, Preserves and Pastes
Quince jelly, jam and paste can be made by cooking with sugar and a bit of lemon juice. Strain for a jelly, mash for a paste, mix with other fruits to come up with your own creation and preserve in jars (ensure you consult trusted sources for recommended canning times, sugar ratios and temperatures). Quince jelly can be used to flavour savoury dishes, sauces and gravies much like you might use redcurrant or apricot jelly.

Give some a try and perhaps you’ll also be captioning your next Foodtree quince photo with my standard catch-cry: QUINCES!!!

Thanks to Australian Stephanie Alexander’s “The Cook’s Companion” and Claudia Roden’s “The Food of Spain” and “The New Book of Middle Eastern Food” for information on quinces. All three books I heartily recommend for your library!

Recipes for Seasonal Eating: Rhubarb Meringue Cake

As I was about to start writing this post to share one of the best rhubarb recipes ever, I realized I had no idea whether rhubarb is a fruit or a vegetable. Wikipedia provided me with some fascinating reading on the subject. Apparently it is a vegetable, but because it is commonly used as a fruit, rhubarb is counted as a fruit for the purposes of regulation in the US. And now I know…

If you’re looking for a new recipe to try with a fresh pile of rhubarb acquired at the farmers market, I cannot recommend this one enough. It is the most delicious thing a human being can do with rhubarb (aside from combine it with strawberries).

This is a family recipe that comes from my partner’s mother, Anne Mann, who runs the Seven Hills B & B on Bowen Island. The ingredients are simple and the taste is usually tart more than sweet to highlight the rhubarb rather than disguise it as one does with strawberry rhubarb pie.

Anne has shared photos with me of the original recipe hand written by her mother in German. She was kind enough to translate this into English.

Rhubarb Recipe - Part 1

Rhubarb Recipe - Part 2

Rhubarb Meringue Cake:

Batter:

80 g Butter

80 g Sugar

3 Egg Yolks

160 g Flour

1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder

Rind of 1 Lemon (grated)

small amount of milk

750 g Rhubarb, peeled and cut into 2 cm lengths (cut very thick stalks in half lengthwise)

Beat the butter until soft then add the sugar and egg yolks. Beat everything until it’s nice and creamy then add the grated rind of one lemon. Blend in the flour with just enough milk to make the batter drop off the spoon.

Meringue:

3 Egg Whites

200 g Icing Sugar

Juice of 1 Lemon

Combine ingredients and beat until they form into stiff peaks.

Assembly:

Preheat the oven at 175 Celsius. Spread the dough on a greased and floured round springform 9″ baking pan. Add the cut rhubarb pieces on top and then bake for 40 minutes. When the timer goes spread the meringue on top of rhubarb and return to the oven. Bake for another 10 minutes until the meringue is lightly browned on top.

How to make Yorksire Pudding, provenance-style

We had a nice little dinner of Braised Venison with Pureed Squash and Cranberry-Red Wine Jus. A request for Yorkshire Pudding from Sarah reminded me I had just found my grandmother’s recipe for it. To make it work for us, we made two small changes, with delicious result.

The Sydney Island Venison was slowly braised; the squash was simmered in vegetable stock and then quickly pureed with some milk and butter; the dried cranberries were bloomed in some red wine. The braising liquid was reduced with the now cranberry infused red wine for the jus.

Grandma Judy’s Yorkshire Pudding

2 eggs
1 C milk (Avalon Diary- via Bradner Farm- see milk and butter link above)
1 C Flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 T sugar
(1tsp Vanilla- we omitted, because we don’t know anyone growing vanilla beans)

1. Beat eggs until thick and foamy.

2. Mix flour, sugar and salt, add milk.

3. Gently combine eggs and flour mixture.

4. In a 375 degree oven, melt a tablespoon of butter in a round baking pan. When butter is melted, pour Yorkshire batter in and bake for 25-30 minutes.