Nov 1, 2013

Poetic Pome by Laura Silverman, Glutton for Life

We here at Portland Apothecary are big fans of Laura Silverman and her blog, Glutton For Life and we hope you will take the time to fully explore her work. Her adventures in foraging and then her consequent recipes in preparing those foods are inspirational and just plain stunning. In her own words the focus of her work is on the seasonal, nutritious, delicious and homemade. We welcome her guest post here on the quince, and hope it is just the beginning of working together! Thank you Laura!


In botany, a pome—from the Latin, pōmum, meaning fruitis a type of fruit produced by flowering plants in the subtribe Malinae of the family Rosacea, which includes apples, pears, medlars and quinces, among others. The latter are downy, golden orbs that send out a magical perfume as they ripen. With voluptuous curves worthy of Rubens and a complex sweet flavor, the quince is rightly known as the fruit of love, marriage and fertility. The “apples” referred to in the story of Adam and Eve, and in the Song of Solomon, were almost certainly quinces, as was the golden apple of Hesperides, which Paris gave to Aphrodite. It’s a unique fruit with an extraordinary legacy.

The paradox of the quince is that despite its intoxicating aroma—reminiscent of pineapple, guava, Bartlett pear and vanilla—its pale flesh is hard, grainy and exceedingly astringent due to lots of tannins. In Turkey, the world’s largest producer, “to eat the quince” is slang for “to get into serious trouble.” It needs a combination of alchemy and patience to be transformed into a sweet, silken tenderness. When cooked, the flesh softens and turns a gorgeous translucent pink.


Quinces are ready to eat when any greenish cast turns a rich yellow and they exude that come-hither fragrance. To cook them, rub off the downy fur and drop them into lemony water once they’ve been cut as they oxidize very quickly. High pectin levels mean quinces make excellent jams and jellies, or they can be boiled down into an intense paste—called membrillo in Spain, where it is often paired with manchego cheese. Roasted or poached, they are delicious with apples and pears in tarts and crumbles. They are also wonderful in a spiced pickle and perfect paired with rich meats (which the tannins help tenderize), as in Persian lamb stews. 

  
For your first venture, try simply poaching or roasting quinces. They have an affinity for honey or maple syrup, port or sweet red wine, and warming spices like cinnamon, clove and nutmeg. Any leftover poaching liquid is absolutely delicious stirred into bubbly water, tea or a cocktail. This ancient love potion is good to the last drop.
Sweet Roasted Quinces
serves 6

18 cloves
3 large quinces, unpeeled, halved and cored
juice of ½ lemon
¾ cup port
5 tablespoons runny honey
3 cinnamon sticks
2 whole star anise
Preheat the oven to 350F.

Press three cloves into the skin of each quince half, and place the fruit cut-side down in a roasting pan. Whisk together 1 ½ cups water, the lemon juice, port and honey, and pour over the quinces. Place the cinnamon sticks and star anise in the pan.
Bake for about an hour, until sticky and golden. Now, carefully remove the cloves from the skin and turn the quince right-side up. Continue baking until very tender, about 15 minutes more.

Remove the pan from the oven and let the quince cool slightly. Strain the sauce into a small pan and simmer to reduce to a thick syrup. Put a quince half on each plate, spoon over some of syrup) and serve.
 


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