We’re now well and truly into winter here in Sydney. I usually sound like a little ridiculous whinging about our relatively mild winters, but it has been truly cold the last few days! Sydney city has been having record low temperatures, but it’s been even colder where I live, as low as 1°C when I’ve left the house in the mornings. There’s frost on the windows and the grass, and a couple of nights where the temperature has dipped below zero. But as much as I’m willing the short days and frosty nights to be over as soon as possible, there’s also a lot to love about winter. Inspired by MAV and her summertime list, here are a few of the things I’m most looking forward to:
Fireplaces, soup, cup after cup of green tea, buying new boots, whiskey, sleeping in, chocolate fondant, baking all weekend, wearing my favourite red coat, cuddles with the boy, self-saucing puddings, lunchtime walks in the sunshine, Sunday roast, cosy restaurants, comfort food, polka dot gumboots, hot chocolate and churros, Rutherglen Muscat, reading in bed, red nail polish, homemade baked beans, Christmas in July, crumbles, quinces.
You’d be crazy not to cook with quince in winter. I only discovered them last year, but they are already one of my favourite fruits. They can’t be eaten raw, as the fruit is quite hard and sour, but when cooked slowly for a long time they turn a magical ruby red. The taste is somewhat like an apple or a pear, but more beautiful and floral. They can be used in many kinds of desserts as you would expect, but I’ve also eaten them cooked with duck, which was delicious!
Crumbles are one of my favourite desserts in winter, and I found this fantastic recipe on a great blog called The British Larder, where the quinces in the filling were poached with vanilla and bay leaf. I was definitely intrigued by the combination. The smell coming from my kitchen as the quinces were cooking was divine, and it tasted beautiful. I used my usual almond crumble topping, and served warm with a big scoop of ice cream, this is the ultimate winter dessert.
Quince and Almond Crumble
Adapted from The British Larder
Topping (you will probably have some leftover, which you can keep in the freezer until next time)
• ¾ cup plain flour
• ½ cup almonds with skin
• 3 tablespoons brown sugar
• Pinch salt
• 65g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
• 200g caster sugar
• 150ml water
• 1 bay leaf
• 1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
• 2 tablespoons lemon juice
• 2 quinces
For the topping, place flour, almonds and brown sugar in a food processor and pulse until nuts are finely chopped. Add butter and pulse until just blended. Coarsely crumble in a shallow baking tray and chill for 1 hour.
For the filling, place the sugar, water, vanilla seeds and bean, bay leaf and lemon juice into a saucepan and bring to the boil over very low heat. Let the syrup boil for 2 minutes and then start to prepare the quinces.
Peel and core the quince, cut into 1cm cubes and place into the hot syrup. Half cover the saucepan with the lid, allowing the steam to escape. Slowly poach the quinces over low heat so that they retain their shape but cook at the same time. Once the quinces are tender, turn off the heat and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) and place 4 espresso cups on a baking tray. Spoon the quince mixture evenly into the cups. Sprinkle with crumble topping. Bake for 15-20 minutes, rotate tray and bake for another 10 minutes or until topping is golden brown and filling is bubbling. Cool to warm or room temperature and serve with ice cream or custard.