Thursday, March 23, 2006

Membrillo

The house is full of the smell of quinces. I spent all morning making a big batch of Bimbriyo, or Membrillo, or quince paste. Until very recently my only contact with quinces had been quince paste on the cheese boards when I worked at Wellington City Council with Nic Hill who was, and presumably still is, a quince paste fanatic. I enjoyed it a lot at the time, it's so expensive that I never had it again. However, this week an abundant crop of quinces here has cried out to be pasted.

Leafing through my favourite Book of Jewish Food (Claudia Roden) I discovered that quince has a special place in Judeo-Spanish cuisine, inherited from the Arabs in Andalusia. Quinces cannot be eaten raw when they are chartreuse yellow, but when cooked "the seeds and skin produce a rich and scented pink jelly". When cooked for a really really long time (I'm sure that's why it's so expensive), the pulp and juice become a garnet coloured paste which is tangy and sweet and aromatic. And is a dream with cheese.

Speaking of cheese, I made a salad with our own walnuts and pears and a creamy blue cheese last night. Mmmmm...

1 comment:

Penny said...

Hi.
I live in Spain.
At present am making membrillo paste from Claudia Roden's book (Jewish Food) and would like to verify that boiling the juice down to 6 fluid ounces is correct, before the final stage..
Can you help?