I am teaming up with my fabulous friend, Sofia, at Papaya Pieces, to feature a special ingredient. We are going through the alphabet – and challenging ourselves with a new ingredient each month. We started at “P.” Last month, we created two pear recipes. Curls and Carrots made a salad and Papaya Pieces created a main course. This month, the letter is “Q,” and the ingredient is Quince!
The history of sweet, rich quince paste is long and rich, dating back to medieval times, when quince marmalade, including beautiful designs on the surface, was often prepared.
Later, in the thirteenth century, King Edward I planted a quince trees a quince tree in England. Then, in the sixteenth century, nearly every English orchard had such a tree.
During the times of the Tudors, quince marmalade was commonly eaten. It has a long shelf-life and travels well – which was important before cars and refrigeration. Plus, the quince fruit itself is quite bitter and not very enjoyable when eaten raw – so a jam is ideal, no matter what century.
As for my neck of the woods, quinces are difficult to find in North America. The trees are susceptible to disease and dwindled to near oblivion in the last century. Fortunately, quinces flourish in Latin America. There, dulce de membrillo, i.e. quince paste, is a common and affordable treat. Membrillo is imported to the United States from Latin America. Here, it is a pricey (but well worth the cost).
To me, glacé quince paste, or membrillo, has deep, earthy notes – almost reminiscent of a fig (one of my favorite fruits). Its rich, fruit flavor is delectable in a cocktail, such as a fusion of the “Old Quincy” and “Manhattan” cocktail recipe featured below. I have named this subtly sweet, festive drink “Old Quincy in Manhattan.”
Of course, the traditional way to enjoy membrillo is paired with Spanish Manchego cheese as an appetizer. The duo is served on thin slices of baguette or crackers. The saltiness of the cheese is an ideal juxtaposition to the sweet quince paste. But why stop there? A scattering of Spanish marcona almonds provide a needed crunch. Additional depth of flavor provided by a few drizzles of flavorful, extra virgin olive oil; floral, golden honey – and a sprinkling of savory rosemary leaves – elevates the dish.
The buttery, complex hors d’Oeuvres is best accompanied with a Spanish Tempranillo or Rioja wine, which is dry, yet bright with lively, burgundy fruit notes. Of course, a dry neutral white wine would also pair well, if desired.
Enjoy a night in with some great “amigas,” and make sure to invite Mr. Quincy.
Shanna and the Clan at Casa Curls and Carrots
Manchego and Membrillo Hors d’Oeuvres
A taste of Spain, wherever you may be. High quality ingredients shine in this straightforward dish.
1 very fresh, artisan baguette, thinly sliced on the diagonal
8 ounces of mature Manchego cheese, aged at least 12 months, thinly sliced
Membrillo (quince paste)
Marcona almonds, cut in half
A delectable, rich and thick floral honey
First cold pressed extra virgin olive oil (Spanish, if possible, to keep the theme)
Fresh Rosemary leaves taken off of the stem
Freshly cracked black pepper
Old Quincy in Manhattan
Inspired by Wayne Collin’s Recipe at the BBC
Serves one. Feel free to multiply the recipe to serve guests.
2 1/2 ounces good quality bourbon or Kentucky whiskey (very cold)
1 ounce good quality extra Italian dry vermouth (very cold)
several dashes of angostura bitters
a twist of clementine orange, plus one or two slices of the orange for garnish
2 to 3 tsp. of quince paste (use 3 tsp. for a slightly sweet cocktail)
2 ice cubes
1 cold Martini glass
©Shanna Koenigsdorf Ward, shannaward.com (2013), unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this blog’s author, Shanna Koenigsdorf Ward, and/or owner is strictly and completely prohibited.