Friday, November 13, 2009

further developments

It's annoying to come across a recipe raving about the taste or beauty of something exotic or unattainable. I first heard about quince from the renowned Australian Le Dame D’Escoffier Maggie Beer. She makes an awesome quince paste that is imported from Australia that I found in a nearby specialty food shop. It is a reddish jello-like block or firm reddish paste. Once I tried it I was hooked. It is typically eaten in sandwiches or with cheese, traditionally Manchego cheese, or accompanying fresh curds and is delicious. The sweet , floral notes of the quince paste contrasts nicely with the tanginess of the cheese.

Although not everyone can find quince in their local market, they're not necessarily all that hard to track down. I actually found some at a Whole Foods market not far from my home. There were only a few, stuck in an odd spot off to the side. They look like a strangely deformed pear, and actually they are related to apples and pears. The immature fruit is green with dense grey-white kind of “fur”, most of which rubs off before maturity in late autumn when the fruit changes color to yellow with hard, strongly-perfumed flesh.

Most varieties of quince are too hard and sour to eat raw; mostly they are cooked before eating. They are used to make jam, jelly and quince pudding, or they may be peeled, then roasted, baked or stewed The very strong perfume means they can be added in small quantities to apple pies and jam to enhance the flavor. Adding a diced quince to apple sauce will enhance the taste of the applesauce with the chunks of relatively firm, tart quince.

Quinces aren’t all that easy to prepare. But like most things that we so desperately want, they take time and patience, and they take work. They are pretty darn hard to cut so be careful. They are about as hard as a pumpkin to get into, so it might be a good idea to steady it on a kitchen towel while preparing to stabilize it a little.

I have been baking, simmering and poaching quince this week, so stay tuned.  Who knows what will turn up.


No comments:

Post a Comment