Last year, our neighbour Nettie gave us a huge bag of Quince. I don’t know if you’ve ever had Quince? You can’t eat them raw – they will rip the inside of your mouth out with sourness. They look a bit like apples – big, yellow, lumpy apples – and they smell sweet and almost clove-y as they ripen.
They make the most beautiful garnet-coloured jelly (which we have with lamb), and I did just that, but there were a lot of them, so I poached them and put them in the freezer – and promptly forgot about them. Then yesterday my new blogging friend Celia who is a New Zealander married to an American now living on a wee farm not far from Chicago – blogged about making a classic Kiwi favourite pudding called apple crumble. It sounded so good – you can read about her version here – and her blog is wonderful too: http://thekitchensgarden.wordpress.com/2012/02/22/undressed-apple-crumble-in-a-jar/. She reminded me, not only of the pud itself, but that I had apple in the freezer that needed to be eaten – and in looking for the apple, I found the quince too…
So I made this:
I didn’t use Celia’s recipe – it seems each family has their own – and I needed to make it gluten-free anyway… so, I just used a gluten-free flour mix for the crumble part:
4 parts flour, 2 parts sugar (I used brown sugar), 2 parts butter and a goodly amount of ground cinnamon and ground cloves. You rub the butter into the other ingredients until it gets a bit like breadcrumbs… gluten-free flour feels very squeaky when you do this – a sensation I did not like (a bit like finger-nails down a blackboard!) The crumble didn’t get golden – gluten-free flours don’t, but I could have used ground almonds instead of flour (then you have to watch it closely because almonds burn quickly)
The star of this pud is the poached quince:2 1/2 cups red wine 50g sugar 6 whole cloves 3 long strips lemon zest (or orange) 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon (or use cinnamon sticks) 1kg quince – peeled, halved, cored and cut into 1/2 inch slices
Bring the wine, sugar, cloves, zest and cinnamon to the boil in a medium saucepan and simmer until reduced to 2 cups of syrup. Add the quince slices, cover and cook over a medium heat until tender [this will take about 2 hours, quinces are tough old things], don’t stir it – you don’t want the quinces to break up – just push the slices under the syrup from time to time.
Carefully strain the quince – discard the peel and spices, but keep the syrup. Return the syrup to a pan and boil it to reduce by at least a half. Pour the reduced syrup over the quince slices.
I promise you, this is worth the phaffing round you do in the peeling/slicing stages – not only does your kitchen smell like heaven while you are poaching them – it smells gorgeous again once you turn it into something else…. pie, crumble – it would be wonderful naked, with custard… the QUINCE naked – NOT YOU!
We had it warm with a drizzle of cream last night… there is no ice-cream in this house at the moment. I had some cold this morning for breakfast – still good 🙂 Thanks Celia – I was right – Rick loves you XO