Quince apples poached in syrup (“mele cotogne in giulebbe”)
|December 1, 2014||Posted by ameliaps under dessert|
The more time passes, the more I gravitate towards rituals, traditions, antique preparations and ingredients…
…it’s the desire to preserve what is long gone and the fear of loss (a culinary self preservation instinct?), but also a wonderful longing for the repeatability of the seasons.
I like documenting and passing on what might be forgotten to my children and whoever else would like to partake.
There are in fact some flavors and ingredients on the way to extinction (or maybe we should say they are “endangered”).
Quince apples (“mele cotogne” in Italian) are one of those…
My mother has a special memory from her childhood, when her aunt would make “cotognata”, quince jam… it “it would melt in your mouth like Eve’s apple”…
Quince is a weird fruit: you would not give it a second chance were you to try it raw. It is very “ugly” in the modern supermarket kind of way… but so beautiful in the renaissance or baroque still life kind of way. It is bitter, sour, hard, astringent, difficult to peel. But once you give it the proper treatment and get to know it, it will most definitively “love” you back! Sounds a bit like some people you might have come across, in some ways.
Because the quince is native to Persia, some of the flavors associated with ancient recipes to prepare it will have Persian flavors, like rose water.
I found this preparation in search for something unique. It’s called “mele cotogne in giulebbe”, which loosely translates in quince apples poached in spiced syrup.
Giulebbe is an arcaic Italian word derived from the arab word “juleb”, which in turn derives from “gul-ab” (where gul = rose, and ab = water). The syrup is typically prepared with a 3: 1 ratio of water to sugar, and then spices (cinnamon, cloves, star anise, etc.), honey, and even flowers (roses) are added. Sometimes citrus peel too. I like that.
“In giulebbe” in Italian has also assumed an interesting meaning: that is to be drowning in sweetness, sometimes referring to someone terribly in love.
It is also a jolly situation, something that makes you happy or happens to be positive for you. How can one not love this expression?
RECIPE: Quince apples poached in syrup (“mele cotogne in giulebbe”)
2 pounds quince apples (about 4 apples), peeled, cored, and sliced (about 8 per apple)
6 cups water
2 cups sugar
1 vanilla bean, scraped
1 star anise
4 slices of an organic lemon
1 peel from an organic tangerine, in strips
Optional: a few drops of rose water or pomegranate juice
Bring the water and sugar to boil, then add spices.
Then add the apples and citrus. Let simmer everything for 50-60 minutes. Let rest.
The poached quinces are perfect as-is, and delicious served with cheese (maybe a pungent one?) and/or boiled meats (in the style of “mostarda”, another Italian preparation of candied and spiced fruit… not to be confused with mustard!).
But, you can also encase these poached quinces in a tart shell (1 cup whole-wheat flour, 2 tsp sugar, grated zest of 1 lemon, a pinch of salt, 6 tbsp. cold butter, 3 Tbsp ice water)
and bake in a pan with the reduced syrup on the bottom, then layer the poached quinces and roll the dough over. Bake at 375F for about 45 minutes. Invert.
I got this idea, and adapted the dough, from David Lebovitz. This is what I did for Thanksgiving this year. Crumbs were left… minutes after serving.
May your holidays be totally “in giulebbe”!!!