Saturday, November 10, 2007

Experimenting with Quince

For some reason, I am super fascinated with the fruit called Quince. They are lumpy, bumpy and when ripe, smell intoxicating. A neighbor has a tree in her backyard and was gracious enough to share many, many with me. The beautiful scent made my kitchen smell wonderful, but this week, it was clear I needed to start doing something with them.

When I think of quince, the first thing that comes to mind is Membrillo, or quince paste. Typically served with Manchego cheese, I thought it might make good holiday gifts (especially if I keep with the homemade theme I wrote about last night). I followed a recipe from Epicurious that seemed simple enough - it involved baking the quince until soft, then peeling and pureeing and cooking with sugar. I think this is where I went wrong, as I should have cooked the quince paste much longer. Since I did not, I ended up with something closer to a quince jam, which actually is not that bad. We had it with some tasty cheeses, Patacabra (goat) and Ombra (sheep), both from Spain.

I also made Poached Quince, using a recipe from Sacatomato. These look pretty in the jars I canned them in, and I plan to give them as gifts, perhaps with some pound cake. All that in a pretty basket will be a nice gift for my busy friends during the holidays.

I also decided to cook my quince into Quince Compote, which interestingly enough, is almost exactly like the recipe above, with the main difference being the size of the quince pieces. On Epicurious, this recipe is paired with a Mascarpone Cheesecake, which I plan to make for the holidays - maybe Christmas dinner!

These cooking projects used about 13.5 pounds of my stash, so I have another 10 pounds to go. Since my first attempt at paste is more like a jam, I would like to try making that again. I will use the mistakes from the first batch for Stilton and Quince Jam Puff Pastries, which seem like a nice appetizer for Thanksgiving. For Thanksgiving dessert, I am considering the Quince Tart Tatin or Five-Spice Apple Quince Pie. And then maybe some Cranberry Quince Sauce. Nami-Nami has a recipe for Apple and Flowering Quince Jam, Elle at Feeding My Enthusiasms has a nice recipe for Quince Jelly (with pictures!), and over at Cook & Eat, a great recipe from Pure Dessert, Sesame Cake with Poached Quince (from eggbeater). Ooh, I cannot wait to work through my Quince stash!

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