10 April 2008

Jonesing For Quinces

I am taking off to Hawkes Bay for a few days but have an inordinately long post to compensate for my absence (should my absence bother you...)

We have been feasting rather decadently of late. On Tuesday, spurred on by Tim's loud hints that we hadn't eaten any meat lately, I defrosted some sausages and used them to fill Piroshki, which are small yeasted buns baked around a filling. They look and sound a lot harder than they are to make, something I always rather like in a recipe. I adapted this from the AWW Meals From The Freezer book, which my brother Julian got me for Christmas a few years ago. I halved it - there is only Tim and I to feed, after all - but it would be quite easy to double back to their original proportions.


450g plain flour
1/2 sachet dry yeast
2 T sugar
1 egg yolk
250ml milk, warmed
125g butter, melted

Combine all the dry ingredients, mix in the wet ingredients thoroughly, scrape down the sides of the bowl, cover and stand in a warm place for an hour or so. Oh, and don't do what I did, which was eat rather a lot of the surprisingly moreish dough...

Filling: (this is the bit I came up with)
1 onion, finely diced
3 fat cloves garlic, minced
3 proper pork sausages (ie, not those greying pre-cooked things that shall not darken my door!)
1 t paprika
1 t ground cumin
1 t dried oregano
1 T slivered almonds (or whole almonds, roughly chopped
1 T red wine

Heat a knob of butter in a pan, and sautee the onion and garlic till softened but not browned. Add the spices, and then - this job is either amusing or vile depending on what kind of person you are - squeeze the sausagemeat out of its casing into the pan. Let it cook through, stirring regularly, then add the red wine (I used Marsala though) and the almonds. Put it aside to cool for a bit, while you deal with the now-risen dough.

Heat oven to 210 C. Divide dough into balls - I got about nine, I think - and flatten each into about 12-15cm rounds. Put a small spoonful of sausagey filling into one of the rounds, and gently pinch the edges together to enclose. You don't have to be too gentle with these, just be careful not to let the filling break the dough. Place your piroshki onto a baking tray, brush with a beaten egg, and let sit for 15 minutes (I just pop the tray on top of the heating oven, the warmth of which helps them to prove.) Bake for 15 minutes. Eat.

Although I haven't managed to use the quinces yet, I have made good use (ironically) of the quince glaze I made from last year's season. A recipe of Nigella's, this jammy stuff had been hidden in the back of the fridge for too long. I might try freezing my current bunch, as the things I want to make with them are the sort of things I would make in the lead-up to Christmas...

Anyway, I tried marinating some chicken wings in this quince glaze, (two tablespoons) with cumin, garlic, and lemon juice. The alluring sweetness of the glaze became slightly scorched in places which was, of course, completely delicious. They needed a bit of salt to counteract the sugar, but otherwise...rather perfect.

Above: For the less Antipodean amongst my readers, for whom quince season is still months away, I should think that marmalade or honey would make a decent substitute. I served the sticky wings with potatoes that I'd cut into wedges and mixed with olive oil and za'atar - I make this heaps these days, because it is so simple but delicious. Za'atar is a heady mix of sumac, sesame seeds, and thyme, and lends its distinct flavour well to the crispy potatoes. The bowls that these are pictured in were given to me by the very generous Linda, who is always full of surprises!

Above: After marinating the chicken wings in it, I thought the quince glaze might also work well in a loaf cake. What can I say? It was buttery, fragrant and - phew! - delicious. I am taking the cake up to Tim's parent's place tonight but had to have a slice myself (just to make sure it had worked out okay...)

Quince Loaf Cake

150g butter, softened
3 T quince glaze
85g sugar
2 eggs
250g flour
2 t baking powder
1/3 cup buttermilk (or milk with a squeeze of lemon juice in it)

Preheat oven to 180 C. Cream butter, quince glaze and sugar together till creamy and fragrant. Add the rest of the ingredients, tip into a well greased and lined loaf tin (I used a silicone one so didn't have to worry) and bake for 45 minutes. You might consider covering it with tinfoil after 30 minutes, so as it doesn't over-brown, but ovens do vary. Once it's out of the oven, brush with a few teaspoonsful of warmed quince glaze.

As with the chicken wings, any number of jams would make a decent replacement. Although I thought it would be rather mean not to give you the recipe from which sprang forth all this inspiration...from Nigella's How To Be A Domestic Goddess.

Quince Glaze
1 quince
750 mls water
750g caster sugar

Roughly chop the quince, (they are blooming rock hard so use a good knife) and put the pieces - peel, pips and all - into a medium sized pan with the water and sugar. Bring to the boil, then let it simmer away for a good hour or so, till gloriously pink and reduced by half. Strain into a prepared 350ml jar, store in the fridge.

It is wonderful with anything apple-centric - a spoonful to glaze an apple pie or mixed in a crumble - and it goes marvelously with ham.

Finally - I made Creme Fraiche. Look how casual I am about it! You can be, too! It is so expensive that I have never actually purchased it but there is many a foodwriter who will try and convince you that you are positively heathenish if there isn't a pouch of the stuff in your refrigerator. Luckily the bare ingredients - cream and buttermilk - aren't too taxing on the pocket, and even if they are a bit splurgy, you do get a lot of creme fraiche out of this.

Above: Creme Fraiche!
Inspired by this blog I decided to have a crack at it quietly just in case it didn't work out. Well, it did, and now I want everyone to do it. It's so easy! Simply find some cream - I used 600mls - and a few tablespoons of buttermilk - heat gently in a pan but do not boil - sit in a jar or tub in a warmish place overnight - stir - and pa-dah! Creme Fraiche, to be stirred into mashed potatoes, to add luxury to a pasta sauce, to serve with baked plums...it goes on. Now, our flat is very, very cold these days so after a couple of days I decided to sit it in my yoghurt maker, which did the trick. But I assume most of you aren't living in digs as derelict as mine, so this shouldn't be a problem. All the same, see what works for you - this is a surprisingly forgiving recipe.
Now, because the internet froze up at the eleventh hour, I have to absolutely zoom to pack my clothes (Tim of course, was packed long ago) and run to the train station...I will keep an eye out for Rent posters as we chug through Levin...


  1. Ooh you can make creme fraiche?! Fantastic! Must check that out.

    I love it but it's soo expensive here! You know you can get a 300ml tub of it in Germany for less than $2?!?! Yumm yum.

    Have fun at Hawkes Bay!!

    xox Sarah

  2. Hi Laura, did you realise that Nigella is on TV1 on Saturdays at 5.30pm? We are going to Hamilton this weekend to a Lions convention, so doubt if I will see it. Could tape it of course.Love and hugs, Nana

  3. Laura, your food all looks and sounds wonderful. I may have to have a go at making creme fraiche, it's hard to get hold of here.

  4. Those Piroshki look good and the filling sounds really tasty. I have never had a quince. I will have to keep an eye out for them so that I can try thee.

  5. Hey Laura,

    Everything looks so great. I am so jealous of your quince glaze, I wish we got quinces so easily in Blighty! Your blog is looking fabbo girly, Tim is a lucky man!

    AmyG xxx

  6. I've bought the pumpkin - you may want to bring the seasonings - 0h, and your cake tester-skewer. Be prepared though; the oven is making strange rattling-groaning sounds and when I switch it on there is an initial reluctance of any of the electronics to light up to indicate a readiness to get on with the job. I fear the oven is ready to give up - it's probably got a bit sluggish from under-use. There is a kitchen conspiracy going on here - the dishwasher is underperforming also. At best, the dishes appear to have been given a half-hearted desultory swish, requiring more pre- and post-washing time than if I'd entirely dispensed with any electronic assistance in the washing process. Sigh... time to join the cafe society. Hope you have a good weekend in Wairoa.

  7. Yumm I love creme fraiche! I'm almost tempted to run out to the market to pick up some cream now.