Saturday, May 26, 2007

Weekend Herb Blogging #84

Weekend Herb Blogging heads back down here to Melbourne where the wonderful Ellie from Kitchen Wench is hosting.

This seems a bit egotistical but this edition marks for me, a year of participating in WHB so I thought I'd make a mosaic to celebrate the event.

whbwhb

Many thanks go to Kalyn for starting the whole concept of Weekend Herb Blogging and for all the work she does in keeping it running so smoothly. It's been great to take the time to look a little more deeply into the ingredients we use - it's been the best learning experience and lots of fun to boot.

With that said it's time to return to this edition and this week it's more seasonal produce in the form of Quince!

quince

It does resemble a rather large and misshaped pear but the Quince is quite an ancient fruit. It's mentioned by the Greeks in 600BC where it was considered a symbol of fertility. Some believe it has a far more nefarious past and that it was a Quince and not an Apple that lead to Adam and Eve's expulsion from the Garden of Eden.

Nutritionally Quince is high in Vitamin C, Fibre and Potassium. They really can't be eaten raw and the best method of extracting their hidden beauty is in stewing or poaching the fruit. In fact, the idea of cooking Quince in sweetened liquids date back to first century Rome.

When I stew Quince and other fruits for that matter, I don't tend to add a lot of flavourings as I really just want the fruit characters to emerge. Besides the beautiful perfume that's released as the quinces slowly cook, we also get an amazing colour change - from its rather bland off-white flesh, it becomes almost jewel like with its reddish-pink hue.

quince

Stewed Quinces

approx. 1.5 kg Quinces (roughly 4 medium sized Quince)
4 cups water
1 cup sugar
1 vanilla pod, sliced in half

Prepare the Quince:

Have a bowl of water at the ready in which you have added the juice of 1 lemon - this will stop the quince pieces from browning.

Cut each Quince into quarters, then peel and core, placing the pieces into the prepared water.

Put the water, sugar and vanilla pod into a large pot and place over a low heat - stirring well until the sugar dissolves.

Add the drained quince pieces - the water in the pot should just cover them.

Turn the heat down so it barely simmers and cover the pot. Allow the quince to cook undisturbed and very slowly for about 3 hours. It's most important that this is done slowly as you'll achieve a much deeper colour change.

Once cooked, let the quinces cool in the pot.

If you aren't going to use them straight away, store them with the syrup in a sealed container in the fridge.

quince

To serve:

There are many things you can do with your stewed Quince but here I'm serving it as lovely lazy Sunday breakfast.

On a bed of yoghurt (I used Tasmanian Vanilla Yoghurt) lay 2-3 quince quarters.

Take a cup of syrup and place in a small saucepan and boil rapidly - you want to reduce this syrup by about half to three-quarters. This will intensify the colour and when cooled will become jelly-like.

Let the syrup stand for a few minutes so it cools a little before pouring it over the quinces. The chill from the yoghurt and quince will cause the syrup to begin setting.

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13 comments:

  1. The mosaic is just amazing. Of course each of your photos alone is amazing, but seeing a whole collection of them together, Wow! Really stunning. Thanks for your support for the event. It's the wonderful entries people like you produce every week that keep Weekend Herb Blogging interesting, not anything I've done. And I do agree, it's been such a learning experience for me too.

    Can you believe I've never even tasted quince? I don't actually think I've even seen it for sale here, which is kind of puzzling. I'm going to look harder for it when it's fall here.

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  2. I love the mosaic!

    Quince! I've heard of quince but I'm not sure I've ever even seen quince. Your quince stew looks very good though!

    -Elizabeth


    P.S. I see from the wikipedia article that quince seeds are poisonous. And that quince requires a period below 7C in order to flower properly! And that it can be eaten raw if it has been frozen.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quince

    -Elizabeth

    P.S. There are some hilarious photos showing how quince tastes raw: http://www.ayershome.org/~eric/kids/

    What does it taste like cooked?

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  3. happy 'herb' birthday!

    - anne, menuism.com intern

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  4. What a wonderful recipe and beautiful mosaic. It's been such a delight reading your recipes.

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  5. Just found my way here via Kalyn -- that mosaic of photos is just astounding. Beautiful work -- I'll look forward to reading more of your blog.

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  6. Thank you so much Kalyn - when I looked over the recipes for the last year I was really quite happy to see the variety and I think that's one of the great things about WHB.
    As for quince it does seem from what I've read that it never really took hold in America - it might be one of the fruits where you need to know someone that has one in their backyard.

    Thanks Elizabeth - even I wouldn't feed raw quince to little kids ;) The taste of quince is really hard to describe - it's the perfume that develops which is so attractive. When cooked the flesh is sort of like a poached pear but the taste is something else. It's floral with those middle eastern notes that you find in something like orange flower water. It matches well to flavours like cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and honey.
    I'm not sure about the seeds being poisonous because you do use them along with the peel if you make quince paste or quince jelly - they are loaded with pectin so I wouldn't throw them away.

    Thanks Annie!

    Thank you Truffle, that's so sweet of you to say!

    Thanks Christine and welcome!

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  7. Congratulations on your one year of contributions to WHB, aren't I lucky to be hosting in the week of your anniversary! :D

    These quinces look amazing, I love the intense colour of cooked quinces, and I think this would be marvellous with just a little natural yoghurt on the side :)

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  8. I don't know about quince seeds being poisonous or not, but I do know that we use apricot kernels (also known as bitter almonds) in our apricot jam, but don't put a lot because too many of them can be toxic, but just the right amount adds a wonderful flavour. That Adam & Eve thing seems a bit dodgy, no one could tempt me to leave that garden for a bit of raw quince. Congratulations on one years worth of entries, that's a top effort.

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  9. Haalo, you have been a greast contributor to a great event! I just love all your posts, very informative and delicious. Thanks so much for sharing with us all your passion for herbs and food!

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  10. Thanks Ellie - they are perfect with yoghurt if you are feeling good and double cream if you are feeling bad ;)

    Thanks Neil - we use apricot kernels in amaretti - from what I can gather with bitter almonds cooking removes the toxic component, it's eating them raw in quantity, that seems to be the problem.


    Thank you so much Anh!

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  11. I've never had quince before, and I don't think it's available here. But thanks for sharing this lovely stew, I had a visual feast :)

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  12. Happy herb birthday and congratulations to your astounding mosaic. :))
    Till now I never tried quinces, but your recipe is too yummy so I try next fall.

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  13. Thanks Angie - that's a shame about Quince.

    Thanks Maria - I hope you enjoy it when the season arrives!

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