Sunday, May 31, 2020

681/1038 - Quince paste

This recipe is not difficult but does take a number of hours to complete. I made a half batch which still produced quite a large amount that will take some months to get through. Thankfully quince paste lasts for a very long time!

The recipe states that a non-reactive saucepan should be used but what I didn't take into account was that the knife should also be non-reactive. I have a gorgeous knife that was made by a cowboy named Billy - an incredibly talented blacksmith who we met at New Mexico Farm & Ranch in the US.* The knife is not stainless steel and hence is very reactive! I didn't realise this until I started to see the quince turning black where the knife was touching it. Needless to say, I quickly switched to a stainless steel knife to complete the task. 

To ensure the paste will set, it is recommended that one quarter of the pips and core (home of the pectin) are left in the mixture. Rather than trimming each quince and then measuring a quarter of the off-cuts, I found it easier to hack up a quarter of the quinces and throw them in as they came - no coring required. Then I simply cored the rest. One quarter of pips and cores sorted! 

Something I was fascinated with was the look of the quince puree at the beginning of the process, which was so pale it looked more like apple puree. As the quince cooks it darkens and becomes the beautiful deep rose colour we all associate with cooked quince and the ever-popular quince paste. 

My family have been enjoying the paste on biscuits with oozy Camembert and below is my preferred method of eating; nice and simple on a slice of apple.

*While writing this post I got distracted and visited the Facebook page of the New Mexico Farm & Ranch and discovered that beautiful Billy is no longer with us. I would therefore like to dedicate this post to Billy who I will always think of fondly whenever I use his beautiful knife.

Lovely on a slice of apple!

Sunday, May 24, 2020

680/1038 - Quinces baked in honey

Apparently this recipe was originally published by Stephanie's Mum, a fact I find absolutely gorgeous. Imagine being able to carry on your Mum's beautiful work? 

This is one of the only challenge recipes in a little while I have actually been able to eat and so suffice to say, it got me very excited! This was actually my second attempt at photographing the result. I made a batch of these and was in the middle of taking a picture when Archie Roach came on TV - a performance I had been waiting for ALL DAY. I grabbed my quince and ran...and by the time I came back to photograph the others my family had eaten the lot. 

It was so good (and so simple) I absolutely did not mind making it again. Thanks to my own gorgeous Mum who donated the quinces for this recipe! 

Lovely synergy, indeed. 

Sunday, May 17, 2020

679/1038 - Pickled cumquats

More cumquats!

This little pickle is very versatile and can be used in all sorts of ways to make savoury dishes taste good. I have used it three ways to date; in stuffing for a roast duck, in cumquat butter and in the slow cooker with some stewing lamb, tomatoes, white wine and cinnamon. Reports were that the lamb dish had the most beautiful and subtle citrus flavour throughout and that the combination was a big success. I had thrown both the juices and also two finely diced pickled cumquats in there - something I think I will be repeating again in the near future!

The cumquat butter recipe was also from The Cook's Companion and I made it specifically to pass on to my Mum for Mother's Day, assuming it would not be popular enough to be used quickly in my house. There are so many times I have made unusual foods and have been the only one ploughing through the leftovers. Of course, the one time I make something and give it away, my eldest (who did the taste test for me) has not stopped asking me to make more to satisfy his morning toast and cumquat butter cravings! Apparently it was that good and so a second batch of the butter is on my cooking list for today.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

678/1038 - Cumquat butter

What do give to your mum when you are self-isolating and don't want to go to the shops? A home made gift hamper of course! 

I tested this beautiful cumquat butter on my family and the reaction was overwhelmingly positive! Flavoured butters are so very easy, with all of the ingredients simply being chopped and blitzed together. I sent a stick of it over to my Mum today, along with some cumquat marmalade, home-made amaretti, gorgeous organic wine and also our goofy dog to keep her and her partner amused for the next week or so. 

The wine is from a case I bought for myself. It is preservative free and tastes absolutely brilliant. But even better, I can drink it! I have been avoiding wine for years now (under much duress!) because I knew I was reacting to it but didn't understand why. It turns out the added preservative in wine increases the histamine levels which I now realise is a trigger for the majority of my health issues.*

Enter my new favourite wine distributor, Organic Wine! Theirs is the first website I have found that makes it ridiculously simple to find wines that are free from added preservatives. Not only that, but their range is very generous and the people who run the business are absolutely lovely. Win, win, win. So today I thought I'd share the organic, preservative free Sauvignon Blanc love with my Mum. 

A very happy Mother's Day to all, but mainly to my own lovely Mum who I am just dying to see and hug when this crazy time is over and done with.

*I just reread this and realised it made me sound like an alcoholic! To be clear, it's the histamine in all things which is a problem - not just in wine...

Home-made Mother's Day hamper and a goofy dog
 on loan for an isolated Mother's Day 

Sunday, May 3, 2020

677/1038 - Witlof in cheese sauce

It seems amazing that there are chapters I still haven't started after almost nine years, but here we are. With 125 chapters to explore, entering the witlof arena marked the 118th chapter officially underway. 

I halved this recipe, mainly because I only had two witlof to work with but also because I didn't want each serve to dominate the meal. I have mentioned before that there are only two types of cheese I am able to eat and so I replaced both the Gruyere and the Parmesan with mozzarella. Honestly, I think any type of cheese would be an acceptable substitute! As well as switching cheeses, I realised my home was completely devoid of breadcrumbs and so I made my own from home-made coconut bread I had stored in the freezer.

The dish I cooked this in is old, chipped and battered but it belonged to my grandmother and so is very special to me. She was one of the best cooks I have ever known and it was an amazing feeling to create dinner in the same dish she would have used to put food on the table for my dad and his four brothers. 

All in all, this was a beautiful and simple side dish, devoured and enjoyed by all. Even better was the amount of cheese sauce which stretched far enough to make the rest of the vegetables on our plates even tastier.