While I'm not envious of her commute, it's not difficult to work out why my friend J moved out to the country - she has a lovely home and an even lovelier garden. Her quince tree's been bearing (some) fruit and she invited a few of us over for a weekend of preparing, eating and celebrating them. Many quince recipes require involve gentle cooking over the course of hours, so we lolled contently in her kitchen area for most of our visit, rising occasionally to check the oven or stove, chop or fry a little something.
The quince eating began with quince paste cooked last year teamed with cheese and crackers.
My major contribution was this Ottolenghi salad featuring poached quinces - I'll post more about it tomorrow.
We used the leftover poaching liquid as a syrup for a little haloumi. 'Twas a terrific combination of sweet, sour and salty.
For a vegetarian main J dug up a tagine recipe with eggplant, chickpeas and quinces. Here the quinces weren't sweetened and they lent a pleasing hint of sourness.
We finished up with a baking triumph from GG. Cooked upside down, it used leftover poached quince from last year's harvest and paired it with a lemon zest-spiked, super-tender butter cake from Annie's Garden to Table.
... Except that we weren't quite finished! Amongst it all we'd poached three more small quinces in anticipation of breakfast. I think these were the most complex and interesting quinces of all. Their poaching liquid simmered down to a sweet jelly glaze, and inside the colour shifted from crimson through a sunset of orange, sweet and velvety through to tangy and pear-gritty. We ate them with French toast.
While J's quince harvest was far smaller than last year's we really made the most of it. If you can track some of these fruits down I'd highly recommend a meditative or social afternoon in your kitchen, simmering and stirring something sweet, sour and special.