PICTURE HEAVY POST
South-western Ontario is a major producer of field crops ranging from tobacco to soy beans and tomatoes and vineyards abound as do orchards filled with apples and pears. Less commonly found are quinces which combine elements of both apples and pears. Unlike these two however, you can’t eat quinces out of hand. Baked or boiled/poached, the tannic creamy pale fruit turns into a tender pale pink fruit which can be used in pies, on tarts and processed into jam, jelly or a thick paste/cheese. The latter is known as membrillo in Spain where it is served with an actual cheese, manchego, especially as part of tapas or pinchos.
It’s also popular in Italy, Portugal, Mexico as well as a number of South American countries.
Shot of the creamy interior of the raw fruit
Years ago I baked quinces and served them with a scoop of vanilla ice cream but a recent purchase of the fruit led me to be a bit more adventurous.
Poaching the fruit in a spicy sugar syrup which contained lemon juice/sliced lemon, whole cloves, star anise and vanilla pods resulted in a delicious dessert when served over drained yogurt with a drizzle of wildflower honey and a scattering of toasted pine nuts.
Putting a parchment lid on the sliced fruit in the poaching liquid and weighing it down with a plate helps to submerge the fruit so as to cook it until it’s tender.
Poached fruit in canning jar
Poached fruit served over yogurt – strain the yogurt for a firmer and creamier dessert
I transformed some of my poached fruit into quince paste or membrillo. I didn’t want to stand over the stove for an hour or so stirring the pureed fruit until it thickened, so I threw the fruit and sugar into a microwave safe bowl and cooked it until it darkened in colour and thickened, stirring every couple of minutes. I poured the mixture into a plastic wrapped container and let it set until firm. The paste can be cut into wedges or cubes and turned into appetizers.
These little boats are toasted sliced baguettes with manchego cheese and quince paste on top. A half slice of Genoa salami forms the ‘sail’