Sunday, October 21, 2012

Familial Tastes + Preserving Quince

I inherited my love of quince from my mother who in turn inherited it from hers. My mom is from Germany, where quince are called Quitte and my Oma would cook compotes and more with them. The past number of years we've both been gifted quince from friends with trees of their own and have of course shared the bounty with each other. This year, while she's been recreating the quince dishes of her childhood  and making a phenomenal James Beard's Quince Tart!  mine were languishing in my fridge.

When I first took them out, they were so fragrant even through the plastic bag I worried they were overripe. Perhaps they were as some of the larger ones were getting a bit gritty, but the beauty of making preserves is some slightly imperfect fruit really doesn't matter.

Quince are similar to large apples, but can be much tougher to cut and core. Since these were well-ripened, I was pleased to find that cutting and coring was actually pretty painless. Some cooks also complain about peeling them, but I've found the perfect tool for that task is a serrated peeler.

I debated between making membrillo (quince paste), poached quince or quince preserves, but in remembering the look and flavor of my beautiful quince jam jars from last year (and in the interest of available time), I went with the latter.

Like apples and other fruits, quince turn brown once exposed to the air, so squeeze some lemon juice over them while you're prepping the fruit to prevent this.

Magically quince also change their complexion when you cook them with sugar. From their natural golden color, they become a gorgeous rosy hue that somehow perfectly matches their aroma. And the longer you cook them, the rosier they become.


Vanilla Quince Jam
Adapted from Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving
Yields approximately 6 half pints

7 cups quince, peeled, cored and chopped
8 cups water
3 cups sugar
1 vanilla pod, split
Juice of 1 lemon, to prevent fruit from browning

Scrub the fuzz off the fruit under a cool, running tap. Dry the fruit and cut into quarters. Remove the core from each piece and then take the skin off each piece using a serrated peeler.

Chop into pieces and place in a large non-reactive pan, squeezing in the juice of one lemon. As you add chopped fruit from the additional quince, mix it around to coat with the acidic citrus juice.

Add water and sugar to the pot and bring to a full boil. Once sugar is dissolved, turn heat down to medium-high and stir frequently to keep from burning.

Once the fruit has begun to break down and turn somewhat translucent, smash the chunks down further using a potato masher.

Cook until your jam comes off a spoon in sheets, and ladle into hot, prepared jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace.

Process in a water bath canner for 10 minutes.

If you are not an experienced home canner, please consult the USDA guidelines or follow the detailed directions in a trusted source such as the above-cited cookbook.

Vanilla Quince Jam on Punk Domestics

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Cooking The Breakfast Book, Chapter 8: Pink Grapefruit Apple Dish

In case you are just tuning in to this Cook the Book project, the first and third Tuesdays of the month deliver recipes from Marion Cunningham's The Breakfast Book to your mornings  brought to you by myself and four blogger pals: Emily, Natasha, Rachel and Claudie. Chapter 8 is titled 'Fruit Fixing' and includes a range of fresh and cooked fruit preparations.

Marion's Pink Grapefruit Apple Dish appeals to me in all kinds of ways. I love the literalness of the name, I really love grapefruits, and I appreciate how these ingredients you might not normally expect to be together actually marry well for a fresh, bright and surprisingly tasty side dish.


Pink Grapefruit Apple Dish
Serves 2-4
Adapted from from The Breakfast Book by Marion Cunningham  

3 pink grapefruits
2 sweet, firm apples
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint
A sprinkle of sugar, as needed

Peel two of your grapefruits, removing as much white pith as possible. Then break into sections and remove the fruit from the membranes and skin. Put the grapefruit sections in a bowl. Slice your third grapefruit in half and squeeze the juice out it, straining out the bulk of the pulp if that is your preference.

Next peel and core the apples, slicing them into thin slices. 

Immediately add the apple to the grapefruit, gently stirring to coat them with the acidic grapefruit juice to keep them from browning.

Chill the fruit and top with a tablespoon or more of chopped fresh mint. If your grapefruits are not sweet enough, sprinkle a small amount of sugar over the top and serve in fancy dishes.

Cooking notes: I modified the quantities of the original recipe as I found that just one grapefruit and one apple were enough for single servings for two people. The use of an additional grapefruit just for juice was needed though, and the mint is really the secret weapon here, so I increased the amount. Also, since my grapefruits were actually quite tart, I sprinkled just a tiny bit of sugar over each dish before serving.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Dehydrating Fruit - Cook It! September Resolution: Raisins

Grapes = Raisins. So simple. And so much more lip-smacking when you make them yourself. That's what I did for the Grow It Cook It Can It September Cook It! 2012 dehydrate fruit resolution.

I started with a bunch of small organic green grapes; seedless, and very flavorful. Gave 'em a rinse and pulled out all the stems. Though now I know why you sometimes get little stem bits in your raisins  those suckers can be tough to remove! Popped the grapes into the dehydrator at 135 degrees, and went to sleep.

After 12 hours, to my delight they were starting to look like raisins!

And after a little more than 26 hours, my grapes had been truly raisin-ified.

Since grapes are pretty much pure water, it can take some time to dehydrate them. Count on anywhere from 24-48 hours depending on the size of the grapes you are using.

These raisins really do pack so much more punch in terms of their pure, grape-y flavor, I have found myself mostly just eating them as a snack. This is one of the best dehydrating projects I've done so far, and the payoff was great.

Making Your Own Golden Raisins on Punk Domestics

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Cooking The Breakfast Book, Chapter 7: Buttermilk Baked Eggs

I adore eggs. I like them all ways, any time. Especially soft boiled, or poached, or in what I call "egg things" and most others call egg-in-a-hole. I also recently started a new job and have been trying to eat breakfast before I leave the house in the morning, which is far from easy for this night owl. But, this is my kind of recipe, and it makes breakfast extra easy. I made these Buttermilk Baked Eggs yesterday before work even.

The things I like best about this dish are the following: (a) it's an effortless way to fancy up a favorite dish, (b) it's an ideal use for that leftover buttermilk you inevitably end up with from some baking project or another, (c) aside from super simple prep, it's mostly cooking time, so this is a breakfast that you can make quickly and while doing other things, and (d) the buttermilk makes this humble dish surprisingly luscious and creamy. Thumbs up for eggs transformed.

Buttermilk Baked Eggs
Serves 2
Adapted from from The Breakfast Book by Marion Cunningham  

2 slices sandwich bread
2 eggs
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly toast the bread slices, and cut a hole in the center of each one using a 1½-inch circular cutter (or a small glass). Butter the bottom of an ovenproof dish and place the toast in it. 

Break the egg directly over the center, so that the yolk fills the hole. Add salt and pepper to taste, and then spoon 1/4 cup of buttermilk over each egg and bread slice.

Bake for 15 minutes.

Clamoring for more eggs? Of course you are! Find them among our society of Cook the Bookers: 

  • Rachel from Ode to Goodness
  • Natasha from Non-Reactive Pan
  • Emily from The Bon Appétit Diaries
  • Claudie from The Bohemian Kitchen
  • Sammy from Rêve du Jour