The elusive quince
Many people could not identify a quince either on a tree or in the produce aisle. Perhaps because its season is so brief or because it might be mistaken for an apple or pear. I hope by sharing these recipes for this winter holiday season, you'll familiarize yourselves with quince's elusive and subtle beauty and learn to share my deep appreciation for the fruit.
The quince flower is an exquisite color of deep peach whose branches I look forward to having on my mantel every spring. One cannot eat the fruit without cooking it, but there are different varieties of quince, such as 'Aromatnaya' and 'Kuganskaya' (which I’ve never come across), that don't require cooking and can be eaten raw. However, most varieties of quince that are available to us are too hard, astringent and sour to eat raw.
High in pectin, Quince are used to make jam, jelly and quince pudding, or they may be peeled, then roasted, baked or stewed. The flesh of the fruit turns from yellow to deep orange (like it’s blossoms) after a long cooking with sugar by formation of anthocyanins. The very strong perfume means they can be added in small quantities to apple pies and jam to enhance the flavor.
The term "marmalade", originally meaning a quince jam, derives from marmelo, the Portuguese word for this fruit. You may be familiar with membrillo, a quince paste, which is a lovely addition to a cheese platter providing a sweet and tart contrast to strong, rich cheeses.
A friend of mine, Jennifer Rosenberg, an accomplished cook and gardener, posted a beautiful video of quince jam bubbling away in an authentic copper jam pot. She described the taste as if “a rose and an apple had a baby”.
The following recipe is perfect for the upcoming holidays. Consider serving the Winter Fruit Compote as a dessert on its own or sliced and placed atop a tart. I hope you enjoy the whimsical illustrations by the lovely and talented Lila Volkas.
May this season of beauty and light fill your heart and home with happiness.
Lamb stew with quince and apricots
8 -10 servings
1 large onion, cut into small dice
3 garlic cloves, pressed
1/4 cup EV olive oil
2 pounds lamb stew meat
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
3 cups chicken stock
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
2 quinces, do not peel; just slice like an apple (make sure to remove the entire core)
1/4 cup lime or lemon juice or the juice of 3 limes
3/4 cup dried apricots
2 large Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into medium dice
In a 6-quart saucepan, sauté the onion and garlic in olive oil until the onion starts to become translucent (about 1 minute). Add the meat; cover and cook until meat no longer looks red, stirring occasionally. Add salt and pepper.
Add chicken stock, tomato paste, lime juice, quince, apricots, and potatoes. Simmer, covered, for 1 hour, stirring occasionally until meat is tender.
Serve hot in a casserole dish.
Free print-friendly recipe here
Winter Fruit Compote
2 peeled and cored Comice or D’anjou pears
2 peeled apples
2 peeled and cored quinces
1# dried fruit (apricots, raisins, cranberries, prunes) 1 medium-size orange 1 medium-size lemon 1 cup sugar 1 - 3" long Cinnamon Stick
3 quarts water
Peel, core, and cut the pears, apples and quince into 16 wedges. Remove peel from the orange and lemon in 1-inch wide strips. Squeeze juice from lemon to equal 1 tsp. (Refrigerate peeled orange for use another day)
In 4-quart saucepan over HIGH heat, heat the fruit, orange and lemon peels, lemon juice, mixed dried fruit, sugar, cinnamon stick, and 3 quarts water to boiling. Reduce heat to LOW, cover and simmer 15-20 minutes until the fruit is tender.
Pour fruit mixture into bowl and refrigerate at least 4 hours to blend flavors
Free print-friendly recipe here
Special thanks for the whimsical illustrations above, created by Lila Volkas.
Check out Lila's website at http://www.lilavolkas.com/
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