Food has always been much more than just a means of nourishing the body. Food can take us on a journey, allowing us to explore new flavours that can provide us with an experience which heightens our senses and arouses our taste buds.
As we head into late autumn, with the festive season nearing, I’ve put together a simple way to spruce up your cheese board, using a fruit which is often forgotten – the modest quince.
Belonging to the same family as apples and pears, quince is rich in vitamin A and C and packed full of fibre and iron. Resembling a lumpy pear, quince rocks smooth, golden skin and has a white/yellow flesh which quickly transforms to a beautiful deep rose pink when oxidised.
Growing predominately in Turkey in Southeast Asia, quince can be a tricky fruit to get your hands on in the UK. If you’re anything like me, though, you enjoy the thrill of the hunt, and might find success by asking around at your local farmer’s market. Often enough you’ll stumble across someone who has a few quince trees scattered around the farm that their grandparents planted 50 or so years ago.
WHAT YOU'LL NEED...
• 3 tsp Baking Powder
• 1 tsp Cornish Sea Salt
• 350g Plain Flour
• 90g Unsalted Butter
• 5 Sprigs of Fresh Yhyme
• 140ml Water
• 4 Quince
• 8 Sprigs of Thyme
• 500ml Dry Cider
• 100g Honey
For the thyme crackers, finely chop the thyme and dice the butter. Combine the remaining ingredients in a mixer until it forms a dough, but do not over mix. Divide into 6 balls and cover in cling film to chill for 1 hour.
Remove the dough from the fridge an allow to come to room temperature. Roll the dough through a pasta machine, starting at the widest setting and working it down to setting 2. Place on a non-stick baking sheet.
Bake in a preheated oven at 180°C/Gas mark 4 for 12 minutes. Break the crackers into sizes to suit. Cool and store in an airtight container until ready to serve.
Place the cider, thyme and honey in a pan.
Peel and core the quince, and slice each quarter into three pieces. Make sure as you are cutting them, you place the quince straight into the cider as they oxidise very quickly.
Put the pan on the heat and very gently poach until the quince is just soft. Remove the quince from the cider mix, place into a container. Reduce the liquid that is left by half then pour over the quince and chill.
Serve with blue cheese I recommend Monkland blue from Herefordshire, and your homemade thyme crackers.