|GOOD FOOD NEWS
Volume 7 Number 50 December 15, 2015
FIELD NOTES: Casa de la Pradera, Fiddletown
I've been having such a good time preserving the late harvests…the quinces, persimmons, pomegranates, Meyer lemons, and walnuts; all of which had abundant harvests this year, against the backdrop of the lovely rains and chilly temperatures of late fall.
Two of the traditional ways of preserving produce for the winter are drying, and candying. For the latter (jams, jellies, candies) we need to revert to the old way of consumption, before sugar became as cheap as dirt, when sweets were consumed by the teaspoon rather than by the pound. Then, they are a revelation--the burst of sweet fruit flavor when no fruit is growing, with yoghurt or cheese, or meat, or the stored grain.
The dried produce (persimmons and tomatoes, so far--I haven't tackled apples yet) are less intense, but still concentrated--it's amazing how much.
The market gardens are looking cold and wet, now that we are within a week of the shortest day of the year. There are a few greens hanging in there still. The winter winds have been blowing the frost cloth off the beds, which I patiently cover back up and try to hold down with stones. I have a few flats of seedlings in the greenhouse, waiting for a dry week so I can plant them out into beds.
This is the beginning of the 'seed porn' season too, when anyone with growing aspirations swoons over luscious photos and descriptions of impossibly perfect varieties of vegetables. I got burned last summer by several new tomato varieties that did not live up to the hype; back to the mostly tried and true with a couple of new test varieties. Still, it is lovely to dream of the coming growing seasons and what they might yield. This is the season of rest, and dreaming of the new growth of spring.
Some recipes advise soaking the peeled quince slices in lemon-tinged water to avoid browning. I’ve never done that, but instead, I simply slip them into the warm poaching liquid and any trace of discoloration soon disappears. Of course, this recipe can be halved, or increased.
7 cups (1.75l) water
1 cup (200g) sugar
1/2 cup (150g) honey
1 lemon (preferably unsprayed), cut in half
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
6 large, or 8 medium, quince
1. Mix the water, sugar, honey, lemon and vanilla bean in a large non-reactive pot and turn it on to medium-to-high heat. You can add any additional spices or seasonings, as indicated above, if you wish.
2. While the liquid is heating, quarter, peel, and remove the cores of the quince. Make sure to removed anything tough for fibrous, being very careful with the knife. (The intrepid can wear one of these.)
3. As you peel and prepare the quince quarters, slip each one into the simmering liquid. Once they’re all done, cover the pot with a round of parchment paper with a walnut-sized hole cut in the center and place it on top.
4. Simmer the quince (do not boil) for at least an hour, until the quince are cooked through.
Cooking time will vary, depending on the quince. They’re done when they are cooked through, which you can verify by piercing one with the tip of a sharp paring knife. It’s not unusual for them to take up to 2 hours, or more.
Serve warm, or at room temperature. To store, pour the quince and their liquid into a storage container and refrigerate for up to one week.
You can also use these poached quince to make my Quince tarte Tatin.
Quince tarte Tatin
The quantity of dough is suitable for any size pan, from 8 to 10-inches (20-26cm). If using a mold at the larger end of that spectrum, simply increase the quantity of quince liquid by about 25%.
And don’t worry if the quince syrup gels after it sits for a bit in the pan. Heat it with a bit more liquid, stirring until it’s smooth again.
To make the dough:
1 cup (140g) flour
2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons (85g) unsalted butter, chilled, cut into 1-inch cubes
3 tablespoons ice water
1. In the bowl of a standing electric mixer, or food processor, blitz together the flour, sugar, salt, and butter, until the butter is in small, but discernible pieces, about the size of large peas.
2. Add the water and mix (or pulse) until the dough just begins to hold together. If it looks too dry, add a sprinkle more water.
3. Use your hands to knead the dough for a couple of seconds, just until it comes together, and shape it into a flat disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least 30 minutes.
To assemble the tarte Tatin:
1. Pour 1 1/4 cup (310ml) of strained quince poaching liquid in a tarte Tatin pan or cast iron skillet.
2. Cook over moderate heat until the liquid is thick and syrupy (the consistency of honey) and remove from heat. The amount should be about 1/4 cup (60ml).
3. Lay poached quince quarters, which have been patted dry, snugly against each other, rounded side down, in the pan. Pack them in tightly as they’ll settle down once baked.
4. On a lightly-floured surface, roll the dough into a circle a few inches bigger than the pan you’re using.
5. Drape the dough over the quince, tucking in the edges, and bake on a lower rack in a 375F (190C) oven for approximately 45 minutes. The tart is done when the dough is deep golden brown.
6. Remove from the oven and let rest on a cooling rack for a few minutes to settle, then overturn a rimmed serving platter or baking sheet over the tart, and flip the tart over. You may wish to wear long oven mitts and be sure to take appropriate precautions, as hot liquid will inevitably escape, which you’ll likely want to save to glaze the tart.
Serve warm, or at room temperature.
Upside-Down Caramel-Apple Muffin
From : http://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes
For the apple topping
3 apples about 1 1/2 pounds, peeled, cored and sliced 1/4-inch thick
½ cup dark brown sugar
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
Pinch kosher salt
½ cup chopped walnuts, toasted optional
For the muffins
2 cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
¾ cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the apple topping
Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Generously grease a 12-cup muffin tin.
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, stir together the apples, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 8 tablespoons butter and pinch salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the apples are tender, about 15 minutes. Distribute the apple slices among the muffin cups. Add walnuts, if using, on top of the apple slices.
To make the muffins, in a large bowl, whisk together flour, 3/4 cup brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon salt.
In a separate bowl, whisk together 8 tablespoons butter, eggs, sour cream and vanilla. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and fold together until smooth. Distribute the batter on top of the apples. Bake until the muffins are slightly puffed, about 20 to 22 minutes.
Allow the muffins to cool partly in the pan; turn onto a platter and serve warm or at room temperature.