Poached quince scented with lavender

26 September 2019

On her travels through Andalusia food writer Fiona Dunlop meets a chef who shares his fragrant poached quince and lavender dessert.

Cooking time

2 hours

Serves

6



Ingredients

  • 2 cups (500 ml) freshly squeezed pomegranate juice
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1¾ cups (12 oz/350 g) sugar
  • 6 quince, peeled, keeping stalks intact
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 teaspoon dried lavender heads

Method

Lavender is a rarity in Andalusian kitchens today, so I was overjoyed to find Clive Ridout, owner of guest house Finca De Las Encinas, using it for this dessert. In the days of Al-Andalus, it was common in syrups, desserts, and even alongside cinnamon in chicken and meat dishes. One Sephardic recipe even adds it to stuffed partridge.

In a large pan, combine the pomegranate, lemon, and orange juices with the sugar and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer to thicken slightly, 8 to 10 minutes.

Add the quince to the liquid, cover the pan, and simmer slowly for 1½ to 2 hours, or until tender.

Once cooked, add the cinnamon stick and lavender and leave the quince to steep in this juice for 3 to 4 hours. Remove the fruit, strain the juice, and serve together at room temperature.

About Finda De Las Encinas, Los Juncares, La Subbética

Walk through the gates of this converted farmhouse and it feels like entering an oasis. Hidden amid the olive groves of the Sierra Subbética, its spectacular views, beauty, and tranquility attract a steady flow of international visitors. Many also come to hone their cooking skills with the Welsh chef-owner, Clive Ridout who, together with his Japanese wife, Maki Murakushi, runs this highly personalized gourmet guesthouse.

After catering college and training with a French chef in Cardiff, Clive and Maki moved to London, then Cornwall, before deciding to uproot and escape to rural Andalucía. Over a decade later the rambling finca (country house) has matured beatifically. Beneath towering holm oaks (encinas), the focal points are the eating areas beside the pool or on a panoramic terrace. Chickens cluck (fresh eggs for breakfast!), dogs and a cat trot between dozens of blossoming plants, while the couple’s energetic young son, Cei, zips in and out. Behind the house, Clive’s vegetable and herb garden ensures abundant organic produce which, coupled with wild rabbits or quails from neighbors, make perfect ingredients for his focus on traditional Andalusian food. Between Maki’s warm intelligence and background in finance, Clive’s dry wit and knowledge, and the bucolic setting, Las Encinas achieves that perfect balance between the spirit and the plate.

Andaluz: A Food Journey Through Southern Spain by Fiona Dunlop is out now, published by Interlink Books

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