The art of cooking with quinces can be a time consuming practice, requiring a certain amount of elbow grease with equal amounts of patience.
This is especially so according to Margaret Vandenberg who is a multi-media artist producing a series of hand painted water colour depictions of fruit and vegetables from her own garden at Barnes Bay on Bruny Island. The above recipe card is from her Jardin Series and features in this instance, the quince. Margaret’s quince recipe is for ‘membrillo’ and was of particular interest to Brunyfire. Membrillo is a Spanish quince paste that is traditionally served with Manchego, a hard, sheep’s milk cheese.
A version of this type of cheese can be found at Grandvewe cheesery, a farm that produces award winning sheep related products. Grandvewe is situated past Kettering (the boarding point for Bruny Island) at Birch’s Bay in southern Tasmania……….………..and is practically opposite our own block on Bruny Island at Umbrella Point.The sheep at Grandvewe seem pretty content…….……..and the resultant milk makes a pretty good cappuccino. (Ps: I have just been professionally advised by my Beautiful Brazilian Barista sister, that these are in fact, a couple of lattes!! I knew that………..)La Mancha is Grandvewe’s version of the famous Spanish mature ewe’s milk cheese, Manchego. This cheese ranges in age from 12 – 24mths and is a waxy textured cheese that is best when made from spring milk. Interestingly, the Brazilian version of the Membrillo/Manchego partnership is Goiabada (a similar fruit paste, made from Guava) and Queijo Minas (or Requeijao – a kind of white, creamy fresh cheese). Referred to as Romeu e Julieta, it is a favourite Brazilian national dessert.
Whilst these quinces were not exactly foraged, they were sourced from Bruny – and the quince paste in this instance was served at Bish, accompanied by a soft cheese from the Bruny Island Cheese Company.
Quinces are currently in blossom at the moment in October – which is spring here in Tassie. Quince blossom (the one above comes from Brendan and Lesley’s garden in Richmond) look and smell a little like roses, and, like roses they belong to the Rosaceae family and are also related to apples, pears, plums, apricots and almonds. Originally from Persia (now Iran) they spread throughout the Mediterranean and can grow quite happily in temperate parts of Australia…….
……so they do very well here in Tasmania, and particularly well on Bruny – where these beauties were located.Having contemplated the recipe, and feeling put off by the amount of work required to make quince paste – all those hours of stirring for example – Brunyfire opted for Matt Preston‘s recipe (From Paris, With Love – Herald Sun, May 28th 2012).
The following recipe is (quotes Matt) ‘one that combines the simple joy of a poached quince with all the sexiness of its gelification properties’.
Poached Quinces in Red Wine.
- 1 bottle red wine
- 4 quinces
- 2 lemons
- 4 – 5 cups caster sugar
- 4 cloves
Preheat the oven to 140c. Wash or rub off downy fluff from the quinces and peel. Slice fat cheeks of flesh from either side of the quince. Remove zest from a lemon, and juice half of it. Place the quince cheeks in a bowl with lemon juice and water. Warm the wine with 2 cups of sugar, gently, till sugar melts, and then pour the wine/sugar mix over the quince cheeks that have been placed in a casserole enough to cover the quinces. Cover the pan and bake for about 4 hours. Chop up the remaining centres of the quinces, chuck them in a pan with all the quince peel and pips and juice of half a lemon. Toss in the remaining wine and simmer gently 90 minutes. Strain the liquid through fine sieve – and chuck out the trimmings etc. After about 3 /1/2, if they can be pierced easily with a skewer, look a rich ruby red colour they are done.
Return the quince liquor with additional sugar (one cup of sugar for every cup of liquor) and the zest of the remaining lemon and half its juice in a pan and back onto the heat. Bring to the boil and cook for about 10 minutes.
Remove the quinces carefully from the casserole, place in serving dish and spoon over thickened quince juice. The remaining poaching juice from the casserole can be kept to pour ice-cream or yoghurt.The colours are really quite jewel like, and the taste is pretty good too……