Greek Yoghurt, Poached Quince, Honey and Toasted Oats

With a load of leftover poached quince and no bread in the house for breakfast, I decided to whip up something to avoid having to resort to industrial bread.

It was pretty simple really. Empty two small pots of Greek yoghurt into a bowl, top with poached quince, drizzle with honey and chuck some toasted oats on top. It really needed the oats for some texture, as the poached quince are melt in the mouth soft. If I wasn’t addicted to toast and marmalade for breakfast, I could easily see myself eating more of this.

Oh, a quick word about the honey, choose one with a bit of oomph. A light an delicate one isn’t what’s required here, get a good strong chestnut or, other dark and strongly flavoured runny one.

Quince and Pear Tart

Quince and Pear Tart

One weekend a few months back, I decided that I’d like to bake a fruit tart. My first thoughts were along the lines of a traditional apple affair, but as we had some quince and pears kicking around, I decided to use those instead.

I knew I wanted to use the quince, but I wasn’t sure what else to use. I opened my copy of the Flavour Thesaurus, expecting it to be replete with quince pairings, but found only the one, mentioned as part of the Apple & Pear entry. Luckily it mentioned that quince was the ideal thing to flavour apple or pear tarts with, which is just as well, as I wanted to use up some pears I’d been given.

The Flavour Thesaurus also mentioned grating the quince, and adding it skin and all, which is what I did. I knew the gratings would have been be cooked for a while, along with the chopped up pears, so decided to adapt Tony Singh‘s Apple crumble with star anise recipe from The Incredible Spice Men, mainly as everyone knows that star anaise and pears go togeather. I was just after the way he par-cooked the filling, rather than the crumble topping.

Filling sorted, I hoicked my copy of the Good Housekeeping Cookery Book off the shelf and opened it at the pages dealing with pastry. I knew I was after some sort of sweetened shortcrust and decided to go with a pâte sucrée, rather than a pâte brisée. I decided not to blind bake the pastry, as being sweetened, I was convinced that it would be fine. So I lined a loose bottomed flan tin with the pastry and ladled the filling into it.

I’ll be honest and say I was a bit worried, as the filling was quite wet, from all the pear and quince juice, plus all the butter. So it was with a bit of trepidation that I put the top on and plopped it into the oven. I needn’t have worried though, as the pastry was fine, even though a bit of juice did come bubbling out of the slits I’d cut in the top. A quick sprinkle with some caster sugar and it was left to cool for a bit, before we had it for pudding. The leftovers lasted for a few days, they made lunchtimes at work just that extra bit tasty.

I’m normally that kind of person who slavishly follows a recipe and gets very stressed when things aren’t going according to the instructions. I was quite impressed with myself for managing to knock this up from inspiration, rather than than from a found recipe. I was going to list all the ingredients and the method I’d used etc, but to be honest, I sort of winged it. If you’ve found this page because you want to make something similar, then I hope I’ve given you enough hints and pointers to the books and recipes that inspired me, so you can figure out what I did.

Quince Cheese

Putting the softened quince through a sieve...

I attempted quince cheese last year, but it turned out more like quince concrete, as I massively over cooked it. I had to have another attempt, as I’m sure that if such a place as paradise actually existed, it would smell of ripe quince.

When I attempted to make quince cheese last year, I ran into the same problem that befell the green tomato chutney. I was so focused on following the recipe instructions that common sense went out the window. Since I couldn’t see the base of the pan for a couple of seconds after drawing a spoon through it, I kept on cooking and cooking and cooking. When I finally gave up cooking it, I stupidly put it into jars, rather than into a loaf tin. It set so hard, that it was impossible to get out, and the entire batch, jars and all, ended up in the bin.

Chopped quince, ready for softening...I was determined not to make the same mistake this year, but to just use my judgement about when it was ready. I also decided to forgo the jars and put it all into loaf tins, mainly so that if I did over cook it, we’d at least be able to turn it into a sweetmeat; cubed and rolled in icing sugar to turn it into a quince Turkish delight kind of thing.

My main issue this year though, was getting hold of some quince. My source of quince last year has moved house and since she got them from her old neighbour, I figured I wouldn’t be getting any. Luckily for me, my boss at work has a mature quince tree in his garden, so after a quick pretty please, I was handed bag, after bag, after bag. The kitchen has smelt amazing all Autumn.

Heating the pulp before adding the sugar...Quince are quite hard and I find that if I use any of my Global knives to chop them, I get blisters on my index finger. I totally forgot to bandage it up, so naturally I got a big blister. I’m not sure what it is about the knives, but my right index finger does suffer if I have to do a lot of chopping, or chop something hard. One day I’ll invest in some really posh knives, but I have the nagging feeling it’s more a problem of my crappy skin, than the knives.

In a similar fashion to last year, the chopped quince were simmered till soft and then left to sit for a few hours to extract the flavour. After that, the real ball ache of the whole operation commenced, putting the softened quince through a sieve. I really, really need to invest in a mouli, as putting two kilos of softened quince through a sieve is soul, arm and sieve destroying.

Reduced and almost ready...I brought the resultant paste up to boiling point and instantly regretted it, as it turned into a pot of hissing and spitting lava. I quickly took it off the heat and added all the sugar, before putting it back onto a heat that was just short of it spitting everywhere. I tried not to stir it too much, but it does have a tendency to catch on the bottom of the pan, so it did get stood next to and stirred occasionally.

So the big question was, when is it done? I knew I wasn’t going to cook it for as long as last year, but when should I stop, I didn’t want it to be too jelly like, firm, with just a bit of wiggle was the aim. I’ve seen quince paste for sale in Gog Magog Farm Shop before and I’ve been bought some quince cheese in a jar, so I knew roughly what the colour and texture should be like. So after some length of cooking, I didn’t note exactly how long, I decided it looked about right and took it off the heat.

Left to set... As I mentioned earlier, I’d decided not to put it into jars this year, just in case, so the whole lot went into a couple of greaseproof paper lined loaf tins. There was so much, there wasn’t a lot of room to spare. I let it set overnight, then chopped it up into slices, wrapped each slice in it’s own bit of greaseproof and wrapped them all in cling film and put them in the fridge. Next year, I might do a loaf tin and some jars, as the jars would be ideal to give away.

It would appear to have gone down well with the rest of the family. I asked my daughter what her favorite cheese was the other day and she replied quince cheese. My wife has also been scoffing it most lunchtimes and has even made her own batch with some of the quince we had left over. A definite winner!