Poached Quince and Cranberry Crisp

It's official, I've regained my cooking mojo! It's been a long and busy autumn, and I was beginning to think that I'd never get back into my kitchen in a serious way. Maybe it was the cold weather that inspired me, or the snow, or Christmas, or the fact that work has gotten back to a predictable pace, or maybe it was these beauties.......

Quince! These are neither local nor organic, which breaks some of my rules, but they are seasonal, and I was anxious to try them, so I went with it. I think that they could be grown here, there's just no one growing and selling them in Dane County.

We're trying some new and different things in the Co-op produce department - this is one of them. My previous experience with quince was limited to keeping one in my car as an air freshener - the fruit is extremely fragrant and gives a car or a room a wonderful fruity aroma reminiscent of Juicy Fruit gum (or so says Stanley).

I was under the impression that quince is a hard and bitter fruit that needs cooking to be palatable. We tried a raw one at work and we were all surprised: It was interesting and very edible. The flavor was good - sweet, with notes of both apple and pear. The texture of the raw quince was fascinating... spongy, almost like eggplant. Maybe we just have really good quince, but it was good enough to eat without cooking at all. The sponginess of it was intriguing to me. It made me think that it would soak up flavors just like eggplant does.... I just had to try cooking with it!

Luckily I had a holiday party to go to this weekend and everyone had been asked to bring a dish to pass. The quince seemed the perfect thing. After some researching online, I decided to poach them, mix them with cranberries and bake it all into a simple crisp.

I peeled and cored the quince, quartered them, and poached them with their peels, water, sugar, orange peel, cloves, and a little ginger. Wow, did this make the house smell good!

As the quince cooked I mixed up a simple crisp dough. I am not the world's best baker, but crisp dough is something I can do blind. Brown sugar, oats, chopped pecans, a little flour, cinnamon, salt, and just enough butter to get the right texture.... the finished product is a crumbly sweet dough that's just amazing. The hardest part is not eating it all raw!

After about 30 minutes, the quince were nice and tender. I kept a quart of the syrup, which has a wonderfully floral clovey gingery quincy flavor.

I cooked a pint of cranberries in a little bit of the quince syrup until they "popped", and then mixed the quince back in to make this beautiful fruity mixture.

Putting a crisp together is one of the simplest things to do. Fruit on the bottom..........

.... then the crisp topping.

45 minutes at 375.

Fruity spiced quince, tart cranberries, sweet crunchy topping..... perfect.

I'm sorry I don't have a recipe for this dish.... I never ever measure the ingredients of the crisp topping, so I really don't know what the recipe is. It's all about getting the right texture. One of these days I'll figure it out. The secret is lots of butter, lots of sugar, and the chopped nuts.

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  1. that looks fabulous! I love quince, and have made different relish-type things with it (and have you tried membrillo (quince paste) with cheese? lovely). I will have to try this when I can find some quinces!

  2. I'm obsessed with quinces. Thankfully, I found a local orchard that grows them! I bought forty pounds. A little over zealous, hmmm? But now I think I may make a crisp...


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