I may be channeling my inner hoarder, or maybe it's a touch of gluttony, but the appearance of any elusive produce sends me into a fit of obsessive accumulation.
Take quince, for example. These lovelies are only around for a few weeks in the winter, and they just showed up in the co-op.
Now, I have eight of the hefty, fuzzy, aromatic little beauties in my fridge.
It puts a little pressure on a gal, though, to do these rare treats justice.
Fortunately, I have the luxury of quantity, and don't have to choose just one thing.
One point for gluttony.
I also have a history of quirky homemade alcoholic beverages.
So it seemed fairly obvious to start with a boozy tipple of some sort, and Nigella provided some inspiration with a brandy-soaked riff, though she went for quantity in the form of two liters. I felt I should start small, so scaled down. I also went rummy, because I was clean out of brandy, and was afraid that the dude at the liquor store my husband my guilty conscience would give me a reproachful look as I bought yet another bottle of booze.
Personally, I think the caramel-oak base notes of the rum make an unexpectedly lovely pairing to the honey flower warm summer breeze wafting off the quince. I am kinda a little obsessed with star anise, and zippy cinnamon rounds it out nicely. I could just as easily douse myself in it as a woodsy, earthy perfume as drink it, and since I tend to dribble anyway, it's a win all around, really.
Drink as an aperitif or digestif, in a mixed drink, or add to cakes, frostings, pies or ice cream. If I can justify the craziness of wanting to make Christmas mincemeat a full year in advance (minus 11 days as of today, but go ahead and check yourself), I am eyeing this quince mincemeat recipe, which would be a fantastic place to use some quince rum goodness. Plus it satisfies my inner canning hoarder.
Two points for gluttony, me thinks.
Inspired by Nigella Lawson's recipe for Quince Brandy in How to be a domestic goddess.
1 large or 2 small, perfectly beautiful quince
1 star anise
1 small cinnamon stick
1 cup rum, plus more to top up
You will also need a 1/2 liter (or larger) jar with a leak-proof lid.
Wash and wipe the fluff off the skin of the quince, then quarter it and cut the quarters into 2 or 3 slices, depending on the thickness of the wedges. Trim off the fuzzy bottom and pull out the seeds.
Layer the quince in the jar, tucking in your star anise and cinnamon. Pour the brandy over, and add more if necessary to completely cover the quince.
Leave for at least 6 weeks in a cool, dark place to mellow. At that point, you can strain the brandy off and store in another container, if you wish. Use the quince in a jam or jelly, cook with apples for a boozy sauce, or bake with a slow roast of meat or stew for an unexpected fruity punch.