Archive for the ‘Fruit’ Category

Spiced, poached Quince

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

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Pickled Lemon Peel

This is a recipe Ruth taught us at the recent class. As a caterer, she goes through an awful lot of lemons – growing most of them on the land they have at Te Horo. But, to everything there is a season – and that goes for lemons too.

Ruth says, for large events, menus are sorted very early – sometimes months ahead. For a recent event, they calculated they needed a massive amount of lemon zest – at a time when there would be no lemons on their own trees, so they would be forced to buy lemons.

So instead – every time they used a lemon, the chefs  were asked to take the zest off and to put it into containers in the freezer. By the time the event came around they had kilos… KILOS… of lemon zest in the freezer. I can’t remember how many kilos Ruth said… around 37 I think…. I can’t even imagine 37 kilos of lemon zest. But I was really impressed at the planning involved in catering an event. I’m so glad I don’t have to do that – imagine the freezer space that would take…

So, that’s one idea for preserving lemon peel.

One of the side dishes we ate at the Christmas class was a salad of Quinoa with a whole lot of yummy additions – cranberries, pistachios, cinnamon… and this pickled lemon peel – finely chopped.

I love to eat  Middle-Eastern style food.  I have often preserved lemons in salt. You preserve the whole lemon, but only use the peel. This method is quite different, but really good.

Use a vegetable peeler to take the peel off 4 lemons – you don’t want any white pith. Put the peel into a small bowl and add 2 tbsp lemon juice, 1/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup salt, 1 chopped red chilli (take the seeds out), and 3 fresh bay leaves (I used dried chilli and dried bayleaves.

Stir everything up, cover the bowl and put it in the fridge for a couple of hours.

Tip it all into a sieve and rinse it under the cold tap to take off all the salt.

Then tip it into a clean tea towel and dry it completely.

Pack it into a clean jar and cover everything with extra virgin olive oil.

The pickle will keep in the fridge for up to 1 month.


The lemon added a lovely, fresh zing to the quinoa salad. It would be great with couscous (if you can eat that kind of thing), I imagine it would be just as good with rice too. I’m going to cook chicken for dinner tonight and I’ll chop some lemon pickle on top of that.

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I’m always on the lookout for lemon dessert recipes.

I saw this on the Food Network, and since I still have heaps of lemons from my sister Sue’s tree, I thought I’d have a go.

Jamie made this into a pie, but mentioned that you could pour the left-over mixture into little cups – so I decided that was the way to go. It’s a type of custard – I’m crap at custards – they never work for me, but I figured… this is Jamie – what can go wrong??

In a large bowl, mix 2cups lemon juice, 3 cups sugar, 4 whole eggs and 4 egg yolks.

Put the bowl over a pan of simmering water and whisk until the mixture is light in colour and smooth.

Remove from the heat and whisk in 350g butter which has been chopped up a bit.

Whisk until the butter has melted.

Pour the mixture into a pre-cooked pie shell, or into cups.

Allow to cool and set.

You can caramelise the top by using a blow torch thing on it. Or, you can put it under the grill till lightly brown

Serve with raspberries, or toasted almonds.

At least… that’s what Jamie said to do.

It didn’t work for me. I did everything he said to do, but it just didn’t work. It has separated into layers – light and fluffy on top, runny-lemon-curdish underneath. Also, it is sweet enough to make my eyebrows vibrate. This is an oops for me.

My Nana made the most superb baked custards. She tried to teach me (she taught me to bake). Even under her guidance, my custards separated and refused to set. I think I will  have to admit to self, that there are some things I will never do…. make good custard, dance with George Clooney under a silvery moon …. sigh

I will throw it out before Rick gets home from work, because he was huffing about the waste of eggs, lemons and butter…:-(

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If you’re going to get a disease, I’ve decided that Celiac disease is the one to get! No drugs, no operations – just good food! How lucky can you get? (Well actually, if I could be a skinny Celiac it would be grand, but – life is not perfect….and I have finally realised that NOTHING is perfect, so that’s ok too 🙂
But – it is summer, icecream season. And while I can eat a little dairy, too much is just too much. So I was very pleased to find this recipe. It is part of a recipe in Annabel Langbein’s “The Free Range Cook” – a most beautiful book.
Fruit Cloud

250g berries – chopped up a bit if large
2 egg whites

1 cup sugar
1 Tbsp lemon juice

Have all your ingredients at room temperature – it helps the mixture fluff up.
Put everything in a bowl and beat till the sugar has dissolved. This will take about 8 minutes.

Pour the mixture into a container, cover and freeze for at least 4 hours. It will keep, covered in the freezer for about a month.
The Fruit Cloud delicious, soft, sweet and melty. Perfect served with extra berries and meringues.

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