Sunday, September 17, 2006

Turning Gold to Rubies - WHB

Apparently we are getting immature fruit. Well, it probably fits in with us better anyways. We are not really oozing with maturity here. Markets around here sell the fruit when it is still green, although fully mature fruit turns a bright golden yellow.

Bur I love the fruit not for it’s golden color, but for the beautiful translucent ruby color it turns after roasting or sautéing.

It’s the quince, of course. One of the main reasons I love fall.

Once one of the most popular fruits across Europe. Now, seldom seen. Looking like a cross between an apple and a pear, usually hard as a rock, and not at all flavorful raw. Until cooked somehow, usually for quite a long time. Whereupon it transforms itself into one of the most delicious of all fruits. A favorite of mine.

Actually, quinces grow pretty well in SoCal. Although they are not such a common tree here. For some odd reason, I associate then fruit with New Zealand, apparently a big producer. Although, as I found out recently at our local Persian market, the fruit is very integral to the Persian cuisine, and indigenous to that region.

Known as the golden apple, the fruit was a favorite of Aphrodite, the goddess of love, and so carries those sensuous connotations. Ancient Greeks loved it. Those of Christian faith are of the opinion that Eve actually plucked a Quince from the forbidden tree and fed it to Adam. Charlemagne brought the quince to France around 810 AD, where it spread quickly. The English probably brought the fruit and seeds to Australia and New Zealand in the 1800s. It was brought to the colonies early in the 1600s, and had a brief stint of popularity in America, but that has long ago given way to the apple, and to some extent the pear.

Here are a couple of links with some more detailed info on quinces:

Most commonly served now days as a sort of jelly, or often made into a hard paste, which is sliced and served with cheese. But these preparations hardly show off the quince to its fullest.

Over the years, I have most often roasted quinces along with chicken, fish, etc. Pork would also be a good choice, if I could get anyone here to eat pork. They also work well peeled, sliced into sections, and pan roasted. This can be done in both a savory preparation, such as in a stew, or as a sweet dish, maybe cooked in a buttery caramel. Or you can just roast the whole thing, and serve it as it as a side dish, or puree it into a sort of ruby-red quince apple sauce.

Quince based deserts are also good.

So when I found a recipe for a Quince Tart Tatin, that upside down dessert where the fruit is cooked in butter and sugar, then covered with dough and baked, I went for it. For this edition of , sponsored this week by Piperita of .

I was hoping the quinces would develop that wonderful ruby color during the roasting, and they did. They didn’t turn red until after the dough was put on top and they were baked in the oven, so it was a real pleasant surprise when we flipped the dessert out of the pan and revealed beautiful result.

All pictures are by TeenGirl, by the way. I think she did a great job!

I made a few changes to the original recipe, however. We basically don’t eat white flour anymore. No white bread, and all the things we bake are predominantly based on whole grains (teenagers!). Mainly because we are eating predominately carbohydrates with low glycemic indexes. So if you are into all that, and you have a clue what the glycemic index of a food means, then you know why we are doing this. If not, or if you are on a carbohydrate restricted diet, check here: Oddly enough, although most people use the glycemic index as a guide to choose foods to help lose weight, we use it as a guide to maintain weight. Turns out eating low glycemic index foods help control weight in general, helping maintain a proper weight, rather than focusing on specifically losing weight. Seems to be working well.

Plus, I mentioned a few weeks ago that we have given up sugar. No more white powdery sugar. So to make the caramel for the Tart Tatin, I used butter and agava nectar. I was more than a bit interested to see if the agava nectar would caramelize and brown up as required. And it did. Perfectly. Aside from having to boil off a bit more liquid than with sugar, I could not tell the difference. The caramel turned deep golden brown, and had a wonderfully buttery flavor.

I have been using this agava nectar for every instance where sugar is called for. Salad dressings, baked items, ice creams, everything. Works perfectly. And eliminates the well documented problems with white sugar.

So, even though this decedent looking Quince Tart Tatin would appear to be fattening and unhealthy, it is actually sugar free, made only with low glycemic index whole grains, and very healthy. Of course, adding the Crème Fraiche sort of tipped the balance back towards decedent and naughty.

Quince Tarte Tatin
Recipe adapted by surfindaave

2 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup cold butter, cut into little cubes
1/3 cup very cold water
4 whole quince, peeled, cored, and cut into slices
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup agava nectar (or sugar)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Combine the pastry dry ingredients in a bowl. Add the cold butter and quickly massage with your fingers until the mixture resembles a very course meal with pea sized lumps of butter. Add the cold water and quickly mix and form the mixture to a ball. Turn out onto counter and form into a disc. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.

Combine the butter and agava in a 10 inch diameter cast iron or heavy bottomed pan with short sides. Heat until sugar turns a golden amber color about 5 to 7 minutes. Swirl pan to combine butter. Add the quince slices, toss to coat completely, and sautee over medium heat until the slices start to soften, stirring frequently.

Turn off the heat. Working quickly, remove the slices from the pan to a plate. Arrange the slices in the pan, starting on the outer parimeter of the pan, and working in a circular manner towards the center of the pan, packing the slices close together and in an interlocking design. Cover the bottom of the pan completely and evently.

Place the pan over medium high heat, and, without stirring, cook the quince slices for a few minutes, letting the caramel come to a full bubbly boil, until the caramel is a deep brown. Remove the pan from the heat.

While the quince slices are cooking, on a lightly floured surface roll dough into a circular shape about 1/4 inch thick. Diameter should be at least 1 inch larger than the pan with the quince.

Place circle of dough over surface of quince and tuck edges underneath quince to neatly cover.

Bake for 20 to 40 minutes or until pastry is golden (mine took a long time, maybe because of the whole wheat flour?). Remove from oven and let stand 15 minutes. Flip quince tart onto a serving plate or wooden board. Serve warm with Crème Fraiche. Enjoy!

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Blogger Kalyn said...

I've never tasted quince that I can remember, but it looks like it would taste fantastic. I wish I could come to your house for a week or so and try all these new things!

6:20 PM  
Blogger surfindaave said...

Kalyn, thanks! Quinces are wonderful. Worth looking for and trying!

11:54 PM  
Blogger Brilynn said...

I've never had a quince either but it looks like something I should seek out.

8:36 AM  
Anonymous Sonia Robbins said...

I have a beautiful quince tree in my garden and it provides a glut of fruit every year. I have been collecting recipes for the last 14 years. I am relocating to Scotland in the near future and wonder if I can grow a quince tree up there?? For the last couple of years I have provided my local greengrocer with spare fruit..there's only so much quince based fruit you can force on the family!!

6:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Everyone.

I have tried to make quince jelly with quince from my backyard, but unfortunately, my quince won't turn red even when I cook it until it turns to pulp. Any ideas where I am going wrong anyone?



2:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To Anonymous:
I had the same problem - my quince jam would not turn red.

I found out that it's simple and easy:

Just cover your cooking pot with a kitchen towel or cloth, then place the pot's lid on top.

With the jam covered this way during cooking, the jam turned a beautiful red color. It's like magic. Just lift the lid and cloth periodically to stir, to prevent the jam from sticking to the bottom of the pot.

Good luck and happy quince jam making/eating.


12:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks - I have just been given some quinces and really appreciated finding your most fabulous recipe for Tarte Tartin.

7:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you think that agava nectar is not sugar, you are a fool.

6:41 PM  
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1:13 AM  
Blogger Henry North London 2.0 said...

I hate to burst your bubble but Agave nectar is almost pure fructose Its more damaging than ordinary table sugar It is more fattening than table sugar, primarily because the liver deals with fructose and turns it into fat.

I came here due to the Quince tarte tatin recipe but fructose will age you faster than simple table sugar. A good substitute is to use pure glucose which the body can use immediately rather than fructose in the form of Agave nectar which the body will store as fat.

You see fructose is a storage signal People would starve through the winter with no fruit and then gorge in the summer on fruit and put fat on for the winter Unfortunately now that we have cold storage facilities its permanent summer Fruit being available all year round. It means that you can eat too much fruit because you dont have a 6-9 month gap in eating it.

12:59 PM  
Anonymous Viagra said...

Beautiful work this is really very nice one post here.....!

12:49 AM  
Blogger Albertina Torres said...

I just got a couple of kilos of quinces and your recipe comes very handy as I didn't know what to do with them. In Spain "Membrillos"!

1:51 AM  
Anonymous said...

Actually, when quinces are fully ripe,they taste amazing raw. A very simple way to enjoy them without that pelty feeling on your teeth:
grate 2 quinces, leave out the cores (I don't peel)
mix in 3-5 tbs. sugar (depending on how sweet you like things and the tartness of the quinces)
whip 1/4 pint of cream
mix together and enjoy.
It also works with greek yoghurt, if you're watching calories.

One can also eat them like an apple, they just take a while. My son has been eating them that way ever since he's had the teeth to chew, and this year they are so sweet from a week of October sun before we picked them that even my little daughter likes them "this year they're really sweet".

p.s. Quinces will need a southern corner of the garden but will grow in Scottland.

5:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, I live in Southern Spain and planted two quince trees, 20 years ago. The fruit is amazing. You can poach it with grated lemon peel and juice and whilst poaching, add a vanilla pod, lovely with greek yoghurt. Otherwise, I make quince marmalade and, quince honey.

9:18 AM  

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