The house is full of a delicious mulled wine smell – the first quinces of the season are slowly poaching in my oven. It's freezing cold outside and there is nothing I like better on a quiet afternoon than to have something bubbling away in the oven. I bought a few quinces when I was at the shops and thought that our house needed a homely smell today, to ease us into the coming weekend. So I peeled and chopped the quinces and slipped them into a red winey, cinnamony, vanilla-y concoction, popped the whole pot into the oven and left it there all afternoon. I'm not really sure what to do with them, but I'm sure I will think of something. Actually, I'd be happy just to cook them for the delicious house-warming smell.
This cold weather makes me crave comfort food, so I'm thinking to eat the quinces with a creamy, lemon and vanilla-infused rice pudding. The mere thought of that makes me very happy!
Spiced quinces with red wine
– juice of a lemon, plus a piece of peel
– red wine
– cinnamon stick
– vanilla bean, split
– strip of orange peel
Bring a litre of water to the boil, adding a few tablespoons of sugar, the vanilla bean, cinnamon, peels and juice, and a cup or so of red wine. Once the sugar has dissolved, let simmer until the quinces are prepared.
Peel and chop the quinces, making sure to get rid of any of the hard inner core (you may not have much of the quince left after this! Quinces really are a labour of love). Put the quinces into an ovenproof casserole dish (with a lid), pour over the simmering liquid and bring to the boil again. Put the entire casserole into the oven at around 160 degrees for quite a few hours. Check every now and then to make sure the quince pieces have a good covering of liquid, at least under them. Slowly, the quinces will turn a deep dark red, and the will liquid reduce. Take the quinces out of the oven and use in any number of ways – with the afore-mentioned rice pudding, with icecream, in cakes or tarts, over breakfast muesli or even better, porridge. Be sure to drizzle a little of the ruby-coloured syrup over everything, it add that extra unctuousness to the denseness of the quinces.