Aug 7, 2015

Poached quinces - a winter's antidote

If the reader prefers, this can be regarded simply as a poached quinces recipe. The one that gets you a ruby-red tenderness from the hard and inedible fruit.

As a matter of fact, when I came across it in Gourmet Traveller, I was completely desperate for an antidote to my winter blues.

Winter is not the type of fair you buy a ticket too. Like it or not, you are in attendance, with or without your scarf and gloves.

The daily orchestra of rain and never ending wind chorus sets sadness even in the most joyful of souls. This questionable composition plays out till its natural end, months in a row.

Deep in suburbia, I was ready for a battle. Armed with vanilla, cinnamon quill and lemons, I set my eyes on a pair of quinces.

I needed some burgundy from the virtues of poaching; I got the happiness and spring itself.

From Gourmet Traveller with some small changes.

800g organic coconut sugar
1 vanilla bean, split
2 lemon, cut in half
2 cinnamon quills
3 star anise
2 or 3 large quinces


Place all ingredients apart from the quinces in an ovenproof pot and bring to the boil. 
Peel, cut and quarter the quinces, remove the cores.  Add to you a pot and bring to a simmer. Place in oven until quince are the desired tenderness and colour (between 2 to 3 hours for a ruby colour). To get a deep burgundy, leave them to cool completely overnight in oven.

Aug 1, 2015

The Juicy Story of Cherry Dumplings

Of course there is a better way to tell a story - intelligent characters, sophisticated dialogue, a well designed plot.

This little spiel is all about dumplings. Tender pastry morsels filled with cherries. Back in Kiev, growing up, it was far too lavish to get this any other time, but only when abundant warmth and summer sun would bear cherry season.

Away in holiday houses it was a family affair to gather round the garden table and spend hours on end creating little pockets filled sometimes with blueberries, but mostly cherries; by far the most popular and affordable.

Fresh from markets, they'd come in rattan baskets, still holding sun in their burgundy weight.

You'd need to brake the flesh apart and take the stone out; carefully collecting the thick and sweet juice for the sauce. You'd shield the cherry in delicate pastry florets, protecting the rest of the sweet berry nectar.

Allowed to eat with my hands, condensed cherry savor would cover my face and drip down my fingers.

That's how I learnt that messy things that happen in life were always for the best.

On the subject of pastry
(enough to make 60 dumplings)
50g plain flower
4 table spoons olive oil
250ml warm water

Cherry Filling
500 g sour cherries (fresh or frozen), pitted
100 g raw coconut sugar

Sour cream to serve, if desired.

Pile the flour on a work surface or board. Add the form water little by little, to make a soft dough. Add in olive olive, work together. Place in a bowl and cover with a towel or plastic wrap, so it does not dry out while you work on cherries.

Wash and stone the cherries, reserving the juice for later, it can be used to serve the dish, as it has a lot of beautiful flavor. Mix in the sugar, and taste to see if the sweetness is as you'd like it. You can always add more if your cherries are not too sweet.

Sprinkle the flour on your work surface. Roll out the pastry to about 3mm thick. Use a cup or a glass to cut out the circles, place them separately and cover again, so that they don't dry out.

Place some cherries in the middle of the circle, fold it in half and use your fingers to close the pastry pocket together. It's important to make sure this is properly sealed, so that it does not open when it will be boiled. 

Place the dumplings into the boiling water, a few at a time. Let them boil for a couple of minutes. Take them out and drain. Serve warm, with addition of reserved cherry juice and sour cream if desired. A little bit of sugar can also be sprinkled on top.