One of the goofiest fruits I’ve ever come across, they’re a member of the rose family and are prepared similar to rose hips, or backside-scratchers, which doesn’t make me want to eat them. And my trusty fruit-searching sidekick made a snide remark about their bilious taste.
Results tagged quince from David Lebovitz
I’m going to get this out of the way right off the bat: I worked with Mike Tusk at Chez Panisse – he was a cook upstairs in the café and I was downstairs in the pastry department, and although I knew he was a good cook, I was blown away the first time I ate at his restaurant, Quince.
I went there shortly after it opened, when it was in a residential neighborhood in San Francisco. The kitchen was nice and rather large if I recall, and he explained to me that he was figuring out how to do everything that he wanted to do in that space. I had dinner later that week in the dining room, which is run by his wife, Lindsay, and was really delighted at the wonderful meal I had, especially the pasta dishes.
I’ve been living in France for almost eight years and in all that time, I’ve yet to make even one of these classic French pear tarts. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a bakery that didn’t have wedges of this tart in little paper footings, ready to take out and be consumed right away. So I guess because I could always buy one, why make it? But since I had a kilo of almond paste that I bought for another project, a batch of poached pears on hand, and an unbaked tart shell waiting it’s turn in my freezer, I decided to give one a go.
This is a wonderful tart: pears fanned out in a golden-brown, buttery pastry shell that’s been spread with almond cream, then baked. And after I pulled this one out of the oven, I realized why it’s important to make this yourself; because it tastes amazing when still-warm from the oven, and you can use your own poached pears so you can vary the spices to your taste. (However you can use canned pear halves, which many of the French pastry shops do.)
Aside from the almond paste, I also had a jar of quick-candied sour cherries on hand from another baking project (if it seems like I have a lot of baking odds and ends on hand, welcome to my world…), so I used them as well, which is something I haven’t seen in any French bakery. I’m thinking of suggesting they use them on my next visit.
When I moved to Paris, almost immediately I went looking for a tarte Tatin mold. The one I’d bought years ago in Paris, I’d left back in San Francisco.
I suppose could’ve packed it with me, for its third overseas journey but that would be one heck of a carbon footprint for a simple little pan, wouldn’t it?
So I went to my least-favorite kitchenware shop in Paris, where the over-eager salesman, hearing my accent américain, tried to talk to me into a very, very expensive copper mold; the priciest option available. Extricating myself from his clutches (and his hand from my wallet in my back pocket) I left and walked over to Bovida, and bought a far less-expensive non-stick tarte Tatin mold, one that I’ve come to love.
It’s annoying to come across a recipe raving about the taste or beauty of something exotic or unattainable. You can’t please everyone (no matter how hard I try…) and although not everyone can find quince in their local market, they’re not necessarily all that hard to track down. Heck, sometimes they’re right in your own back yard.
Yet even if you do scope some out, the bummer is that quince aren’t all that easy to prepare. But like most things that we so desperately want, they take time and patience, and they take work. If not, all us men would be walking around with abs like Daniel Craig. No matter how hard some of us try.
I’ve had a lone jar of quince marmalade sitting in the back of my refrigerator for about a year now, and thought it was about time I humanely dealt with it.
Personally, I love quince.
I like them poached, stewed, roasted and make into jam. But judging from the still-to-the-brim jar that’s been relegated to the back corner of my fridge, it’s not as popular with others as it is with me. So I decided to kill two birds with one great recipe.
I’d flagged a lovely tart that Luisa at Wednesday Chef made a while back which featured—get this, a no-roll crust! I’m not a fan of cleaning up my counter (or my refrigerator, for that matter) especially when my housecleaner is on her annual eleven-week vacation. So the idea of a crust you just press into a tart mold, fill with jam, and top with the remaining bits, appealed to be more than you can imagine. It doesn’t take much to please me, does it?
Never content to rest on my laurels—or in this case, someone else’s, I tweaked the original recipe, swapping out some of the flour and mixing in stone-ground cornmeal, because frankly, anytime I can add cornmeal to something, I will.
What do you do with a fruit who’s flesh is gritty and rock-hard, inedibly astringent when raw, and as vexing to slice through as a tough ol’ catcher’s mitt?
No one seems to know what to do when they happen upon some quince at the market. The gnarly-looking fruits seem as if they’ve just been plucked from a medieval centerpiece, surrounding by medlars and split-open pomegranates, mounded alongside sugary dates and clusters of grapes cascading over the sides of the over-sized platter of fruit, waiting to be served with perhaps a chalice of wine.
Quince should be yellow-ripe when you buy them. If bought green, quince should be allowed to ripen at room temperature for a few days until yellow and fragrant. My favorite varieties are Smyrna and Pineapple, but often you just have to pick from what’s offered.
Quince are usually covered with a gray layer of lint-like fuzz, which can be easily washed off. It’s a task I find as satisfying as cleaning the lint filter from the dryer.
(That is, when I had a dryer to clean the lint from.)
The most splendid thing you’ll discover about quince, however, will be the day after you bring them home: your kitchen will be filled with the most marvelous rose-and-violet-like aroma imaginable. I like the fragrance so much that I always left one on the dashboard of my car during quince season.
(That is, when I had a car to drive around with my quince.)
In Paris, I think I’d get some rather peculiar looks if I tried balancing a quince anywhere level on the métro.
Since quince have lots of tannins they’re impossible to eat raw. Don’t believe me? Try a slice, and I guarantee you’ll be unable to produce saliva for a week afterwards. But you can simply grate raw quince into a bowl of sliced apples destined for an Apple and Quince Crisp, or follow my simple recipe for Quince Marmalade from Ripe For Dessert which calls for several quince to be grated and cooked with sugar and jam, until the tender bits of rosy quince are suspended in a quivering, softy-gelled syrup.
Fully cooked, however, quinces reveal their most beautiful side and turn a rosy-red hue. The stunning quince slices can be served warm or room temperature with some of the cooking liquid, perhaps with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or creme fraiche, or mixed with other poached dried fruits, such as prunes, apricots, sour cherries, or cranberries.
I’ll sometimes alternate quince slices with apples when making a caramelized tarte Tatin…
And the highly-scented cooking liquid becomes even more lovely when reduced to a thick syrup, then drizzled over the tart. Or just pool some of the thick syrup on a plate alongside some slices of sharp cheddar, Roquefort, or sheep’s milk cheese with a handful of dates or some ripe figs.
- 3 quince (about 2 pounds)
- 1½ cups sugar
- 4½ cups water
- 1/2 vanilla bean, split and the seeds scraped into the syrup
One caveat: Please don’t cut yourself when slicing or peeling quince. They’re tough little suckers. Tougher than you are. They’ll turn a lovely shade of red on their own without you cutting yourself while slicing them.
1. In a large non-reactive saucepan, bring the sugar, water, and the vanilla bean pod and seeds, to a boil.
2. Peel and quarter the quince using a chef’s knife.
With a paring knife, cut out the tough core and any bits of hard matter surrounding it. Take care, as the flesh is very hard (some people suggest poaching the quince with the cores, then remove them later, but I remove them).
Cut the quince quarters in half or thirds, making 1-inch slices.
3. Reduce heat to a simmer and add the quince slices to the syrup (they’ll begin to brown quickly once cut, so submerge them into the syrup as they’re sliced). Cover with a round of parchment paper, and simmer gently for about 1 ½ hours, or until they’re rosy and tender (poke them with a paring knife if you need to check.)
Once poached, the quince in their liquid will keep in the refrigerator for at least 5 days. You can also use these as a base for my Quince tarte Tatin.
This recipe was updated, and you can find a variation of it here: Rosy Poached Quince.