Mar 01 2007

Quince

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Quinces on the tree

My Quince Ratafia will be wonderful by Christmas. It will add a glow as we drink it, to the Christmas Pud and the Mince Pies. It will cheer up vanilla ice cream and add a sparkle to the winter fruit salad. Added to the pork gravy or stirred into a pheasant and apple casserole, it will enrich and bring a sweet wintry depth to the sauce.

Grate a really ripe quince into a litre jar. Add a little sugar depending on your taste. Fill the jar with vodka being sure to completely cover the fruit. Cover with a tight fitting lid and store for at least two months in a dark place. Occasionally give the bottle a shake to help the sugar dissolve. The longer you keep it the better it gets!

Quince, Apple and Tangerine Compote.

Peel the quince with a potato peeler, core and chop into even size chunks. Even ripe quince are very hard, so watch your fingers! Peel, core and chop the apples and slice the tangerines, skin and all, just take out the pips. Put everything in a heavy based pan, tip in 500grams of sugar and heat through, gently at first, till the sugar melts. Then simmer for about an hour till you have a thick, rich puree.

It freezes brilliantly so over the winter months you can eat it with yoghurt or ice cream, or make it into a winter fruit fool.

I will use it as the base of a Tarte au Pommes. Having lined a flan tin with pate sucree and baked it blind, I will cover it with the fruit puree. Next I will arrange the sliced apple in neat circles on the top. I will put it back in the oven until the apples is soft. Then, when it is cool, I will glaze the tarte with rosehip syrup or redcurrant jelly. I will serve it with Devonshire Clotted Cream or home made ice cream.

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