Monday, December 24, 2007

poached quince


Inspired by a fabulous salad we had at Rivoli (hands down my favorite restaurant in the East Bay), cowboy and I spontaneously bought a quince at Monterey Market, with our best intentions to recreate the winning ingredient. I based my poaching technique on the advice of popular food blogger David Lebovitz:

Poached Quince
1 quince
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 vanilla bean

1. In a medium saucepan, heat the sugar and water. Split the vanilla bean and scape the seeds into the pan (you can add the pod as well). Bring to a boil.
2. Peel and quarter the quince using a sharp chef's knife and cut out the tough core with a paring knife. (Be careful! This is a very hard fruit.) Cut the quince quarters into halves or thirds, making 1-inch slices.
3. Reduce the heat to a simmer and add the quince slices to the syrup as they are cut (they begin to brown quickly once cut). Cover the quince with a round of parchment paper, and simmer gently for about 1 ½ hours, or until the fruit is tender.

Once poached, the quince will keep in its syrup, refrigerated, for at least 5 days.

This is a simple and delicious way to enjoy fruit in these cold winter months. We had our quince with blackberries and a dollop of plain yogurt.

And now, to be completely honest, while poaching quince was certainly one of my most exquisite fruit experiences of 2007, it will probably not be making an appearance anytime soon in 2008. Remember how I said to be careful cutting the fruit? Well, I've also been wondering whether I should share my full ingredient list, which actually included "18 Band-Aids" and "1 tbsp. Neosporin". (No worries! I'm healed now...just about.)

Oh yes. And as a prelude to our poached quince, we also made the classic San Francisco fisherman's stew, cioppino, for which we spent the afternoon shopping in North Berkeley's "other Gourmet Ghetto" - at Hopkins St. and Monterey Ave. We visited Monterey Fish for scallops, mussels, and clams (and some wonderful fish stock); Magnani's for Italian sausage; Monterey Market for onions, parsley, bell pepper, etc. This is the only dish I have ever made that calls for both red and white wine. Loved it.