In both love and literature, quince has long had an undeserved bad rap. This golden apple-like fruit has caused problems in Greek mythology (instigating the Trojan War), musical theater (quince pudding flambe causes a romance to break up in Pippin), and even in the Bible (as it's thought to predate apple cultivation, quince is likely the culprit in Adam and Eve's expulsion from the Garden of Eden). But this delicious fruit, now in season, is more fragrant and succulent than it is malevolent. Quince, with its aroma of pineapple, guava, and pear, is the base for Spanish membrillo, a sweet, reddish paste served with cheese and charcuterie, and it's also one of the key flavors of the Loire Valley white wine Vouvray. But like love and all relationships, this fruit needs to be coddled in order to derive its full benefit. In a raw state, most quinces are mealy, granular, and dry and have an acidic astringency. But with a little heat, a little sugar, and perhaps a little sweet wine, this proverbial "apple of discord" transforms into a culinary delight.
Recipe: Quince Crumble
Ingredients: * 1 qt. quince, peeled and cut into half-inch dice * 3/4 cup sugar * Juice of 1 large lemon * 1 tsp. fresh ginger, grated * 2 tbsp. brandy * 1 tsp. cornstarch * 1/2 lb. butter, cubed * 1/2 lb. sugar * 1 lb. flour * Pinch of salt * 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
Method: Mix the quince, sugar, lemon juice, ginger, brandy, and cornstarch together and place in the bottom of a nine-inch pie mold. Place remaining ingredients in a bowl and, with your hands, rub the ingredients together until blended and crumbly. Top quince mixture with the flour mixture and bake at 350@ until golden brown and crisp, about one hour. Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
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