Quinces are rather neglected fruits, don't you think? Sure, pomegranates are pretty, and pretty fashionable these days, and apples and pears make for stalwart kitchen companions, while durians always get their moment in the spotlight whenever some middle-aged, middle-class TV host decides to film a 'daredevil eating adventure'. But what about the humble, oft-forgotten quince?
Looking (and tasting) somewhat like a lumpy, yellow cross between an apple and a pear, the quince can be eaten raw, although it's slightly sour, crunchy bite may not be to everyone's taste. However, should you spend some time cooking it gently, you'll be rewarded with a tasty dish laced with a delicate, rosy perfume.
The quinces had started appearing at the grumpy grocer's down the hill about a month ago, sparking off my current quince obsession. Honestly, I don't even know why I keep thinking about quinces, since all I've ever really had of them has been in the form of quince cheese - those deep red blocks of stewed, jelly-like quince paste that go so well with cheese. Because I haven't had much experience with quinces before, I restrained myself from buying up a box of them, until I could think of a suitable reason excuse to start stockpiling. The excuse came last week, when a friend suggested we have a Christmas meal together, and share the cooking. To which I replied 'Well, I'll just HAVE to make a quince pie!'.
Dissatisfied with most of the recipes I came across, I decided to come up with a simple one of my own over the weekend. As it was an experiment, I used store-bought shortcrust pastry, which I deeply regret -insomnia, unhelpful baking beads and stupid broken pastry all contributed to a dramatic bout of tears in the kitchen. The Mancreature may be off in his own little post-apocalyptic digital world most of the time, but he does have his uses, and saved the day by saving my pie.
I'll be refining the recipe and posting it soon, but here's a short run-down of what I did. I got 3 large quinces (which came to just over a kilo) and 4 little Braeburn apples (I'm not an apple expert at all, I only knew they were Braeburns coz the sticker told me so), and poached them for about two hours in a slowly simmering pot of water, with rosewater, cinnamon, nutmeg and sugar all thrown in for flavour.
Once I took the fruits out of the poaching liquid, I was left with a beautifully cloudy, soft pink liquid, which I thought was too pretty to throw away. It tasted of the quinces and apples that had been soaking in it for the last couple of hours, so I decided to make some jelly with it on the spur of the moment. All I had to do was add two packets of gelatin, stir it through, then pour the mixture into little containers. I put them on the balcony because there was no space in the fridge, and when I checked on them a few hours later, they had set! I have a balcony-sized fridge!
Also, it's exactly a year ago today that I started up this blog. I chose to forgo a proper introduction and simply rambled on about my unfinished Moebius cowl (which I still wear). It's been a year, and nearly 100 posts of me ranting and rambling on about eating and making! I hope I've been at least a little entertaining, if not very useful, and to those of you who've been checking in every so often to find out what's been happening in this little world, thank you so much! My 100th post in coming up very shortly, and I'm going to do a giveaway soon to celebrate this whole 'blogiversary' business, so check back in a little bit!