Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Quince Tart With Cheese

Sometimes I do really well guessing. I couldn't find a recipe for what I wanted, but I knew strong cheese goes well with quince paste-so why not baked quince? Why not indeed.

I used a hard goat cheese and a very aged, granular sheep's milk cheese mixed with some Swiss to give it a bit of softness. The Swiss is very mild- I wouldn't use a strong one that would compete with the hard cheeses.

I'll post what I did, but obviously, don't run out and try to find the same cheeses, or even use the same spice combinations. I used a vanilla bean because I had one that was drying out-but I could have as easily used star anise, or cinnamon, or cardamom-you get the idea. I also like juniper berries (did I ever mention I was named for the Donovan song, "Jennifer Juniper?" Well, I was. People did things like that in the 60's, and my mother liked the song. You don't want to know what her name was) which probably explains my deep affection for gin. I don't have much affection for Donovan, and I'm getting somewhat sick of seeing his kids turning up everywhere, but it does put me in a league of children whose stupid beatnik mothers named their children after popular songs. Actually, it never was that popular of a song. I guess I should be thankful she didn't name me "Sunshine Superman." I don't know who or what my sister was named for. She doesn't like gin. Or Donovan. Juniper berries are handy to keep around because they are wonderful for seasoning duck or goose. Or duck, duck, goose. Or drinking too much gin and goosing someone. Or ducking.

Yes, yes, get on with the tart then, will you?

You Will Need:

For the Quince:

2 large quince, ripened to the yellow stage, peeled, cored and quartered
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup ruby port
1 1/2 cups water
1 tablespoon dried juniper berries
1 vanilla bean, cut and scraped (but toss the pod into the pot as well)

For The Tart/Cheese

1/2 cup hard cheese of your choice, finely grated
12 sheets phyllo dough thawed
1/2 cup clarified butter, melted (You probably won't need it all, but better to have it)
The poached quince
1 cup finely grated white bread crumbs

To poach the quince:

Place wine and water in a small pan and add sugar. Whisk until dissolved. Add everything else, bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Cover halfway and cook until quince are tender (about 20 minutes). Remove quince with a slotted spoon. Remove the juniper berries and vanilla bean. Return to burner and reduce over high heat until syrup begins to thicken and almost reaches the gelling point. Remove, scrape from pan with a spatula and mix over quince. Chill until needed. The sauce will thicken to a jelly-like consistency-that's good. You don't want it too runny.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly brush a baking sheet with melted clarified butter. Working quickly and keeping a damp towel over the sheets of phyllo, layer three sheets and brush each with butter. After three, sprinkle lightly with bread crumbs, then repeat until all sheets are used, ending with a butter (not breadcrumb layer). You need not be meticulous about this. You could even do a light coating of breadcrumbs between each layer. Roll the edges up to form a wall of sorts around the tart (I totally stink at this sort of thing and made liberal use of clarified butter to er...mend the dry edges that shattered.). Sprinkle with the cheese and lay quince slices over. You will have more quince than you need (and probably enough phyllo for a second tart) but it is also good for breakfast with some thick yoghurt. Take spoonfuls of the jelly from the chilled quince and spoon it over the exposed fruit slices. Just enough to give it a glaze as it melts in the oven-you don't want a mess.

Bake until tart is dark and golden-mine took about 25 minutes, but keep an eye on it.

Cool on rack before serving.

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