Ode to Quinces
Last week, I had a paper bag full of quinces in my kitchen - what a treat! I discovered this magnificent fruit in a nearby farm one crsip Autumn day, about 2 years ago. I bought some because they smelt divine even though I had no idea what to do with them. Since then, I have cooked these beauties many times and I never tire of them.
The fact that they fill the room with a heavenly perfume that breaks your heart is reason enough to buy them. (I'll share a little secret - I keep them in the paper bag and then stick my nose into it from time to time to draw in the wonderful smell.) The fact that that they seem to appear out of nowhere during the Autumn season makes them take on a magical quality. The fact that they are hard to find - you can't buy them in the supermarkets, but you can sometimes find them in small, hidden farm shops - makes them all the more precious. Of course, you can't eat them raw. But when cooked slowly, these princes of autumnal fruit come into their own.
I baked these ones with vermouth and maple syrup. Here's how I cooked them:
½ cup sweet white vermouth
⅓ cup maple syrup
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 large cinnamon stick
1-2 star anise
Peel and quarter the quinces, removing the cores as you go along. Place them in a bowl of lemon juice and stir them so that they are coated with juice. This helps to prevent browning. In an ovenproof casserole with a lid, place the quinces (you can discard the lemon juice now, or use it for something else). Add the vermouth, maple syrup and spices, and stir. Cover and bake in a 150⁰C for 1½ hours.
I served these with some clotted cream, and they were lush!