Making Membrillo or Spanish Quince Paste

Monday, August 16, 2010

Well, I knew that I wasn't going to be able to finish all my food so I wanted to process my quince into a product that would keep for about a month...and decided on either quince jelly or quince paste. But since I have 5 types of jams in my fridge and I was too lazy to sterilize my glass bottles, quince paste would do. All i need to do is wrap it well and store in the fridge. As seen above, my fruit is beyond ripe and the skins are turning rubbery. 

Quince has been discussed widely on food blogs galore, so just to summarize, it looks like a cross between an apple and a pear and is too tart to eat raw. The root word of marmalade is a derivative of the Portuguese word, "marmelo" which stands for quince jam. That said, I found a recipe for membrillo, which is a basic quince paste/jelly eaten traditionally eaten with Manchego cheese. When cut, the flesh is white and upon cooking for a prolonged period of time, turns red. Mine, however, was already rosy and blush-colored uncooked. 
chopped up into chunks
blanched until fork tender with 2 lemon peels (20 minutes)
Transfer to a food processor.
Add blanched lemon peel. 
I modified the recipe. Like every other asian who favors mildly sweet desserts, I halved the amount of sugar, ie 1 cup quince paste to 1/2 cup sugar and zested more lemon into the mix (I have been OD-ing on zesting ever since I got my microplane!). I stirred the mixure under medium heat until the sugar melted.
Added half a lemon. My mixture wasn't very wet, so I omitted the extra drying in the oven bit. 
I patted my cup of quince paste onto parchment paper and allowed to cool. The end result is not the fine, elegant membrillo like below but it tastes really good nonetheless. It has a floral, nutty scent reminiscent of sweet chestnuts (?) + the chunkiness contributes to the nut comparison. If I had to troubleshoot, my quince was rubbery as mentioned and probably lost alot of moisture sitting around in my kitchen-> processor didn't make it paste-like because there wasn't enough liquid, I didn't have to dry it out->Chunky Membrillo :) Hmm, maybe when I get back I could add water and repeat the blending and cooking process to refine the texture further. For now, it will have to do. 
(photo credit Elise of Simply Recipes)

Finish Food Fast Project (countdown to Tuesday)

Sunday, August 15, 2010

On Saturday, I binged and I gorged, and only managed to finish the Korean fish cakes, and half my raspberries and blueberries. Also, Monica's wedding and the banquet was a 12 course affair. I managed a takeout because I hated seeing all that glorious food go to waste. And there was still major wastage! :( But I knew I wasn't going to be able to finish more food without passing out from bloat and feeling malaise for the rest of my Sunday so I curbed myself and resisted taking a good chunk of wedding cake home. Pretty proud actually.

But since I changed my eating habits, I have been a little lackluster in the binge/gorge/buffet department. Feeling the tummy ache.... :(

Sunday: stuff stuff stuff

Monday: working on it...

Fresh Food STILL to be eaten, I have:
vine tomatoes  turned into Gazpacho and tomato paste
tofu into tofu salad
1 lemon
almost bad quince turned into Membrillo
1/2 box wild blueberries from Maine
1/3 french baguette (ancienne)
+ 1/2 swordfish steak and lobster mashed potatoes (from Rustic Kitchen)
+ Chinese Yee Fu Min and steamed fish (from Monica's wedding)

Dinner for a friend at my shoebox apartment-Part I

Friday, August 13, 2010

Location: Winnie's shoebox studio
Food: ??? You tell me, Yvette.
Service: 10.0/5.0 (free food, full service prep and cleanup, a/c, I cleaned up my apartment which took me n hr, great company, no faults there.)

In case my friends are reading this, I'll be going back to Singapore for a vakay next week. That's right, I kid you not because I'll be spending December in the US this year :( Anyhoo, before I leave, I need to empty all the fresh ingredients I have in my fridge. There is nothing I hate more than food wastage and if it's still viable, I'll be sure to use it, even after expiry dates, which I think is a mere number. So there. 
I invited my friend Yvette over because we were supposed to go out for a sushi dinner but I decided on cooking instead and she seemed enthusiastic so it turned out well.

Fresh Food* to be eaten, I have:
smoky andouille sausage
chinese sausage aka 'lup cheong'
vine tomatoes
almost bad quince
cream cheese
black olives
white peaches

wild blueberries from Maine
french bread (ancienne)
korean fish cake
brie cheese
*this does not include food in the pantry and frozen food, fyi

Therefore, for dinner, here's my lineup
1) SALSA-tomatoes, avocado, olive, corn, evoo, sel gris, garlic, pepper, apple cider vinegar (from Montreal)
2) w/ mini tortilla cups (not shown)

3) Spanish Frittata (omelette)-with andouille sausage, corn, broccoli, eggs, milk, a dash of sake, a sprinkle of paprika, a hidden handful of chinese anchovies. No potatoes, or it'll be called tortilla (y patatas) instead.

4) bread pudding-left over french bread from Clear Flour bakery, eggs, butter, milk, raisins, cinnamon, nutmeg. Garnished by my dying mint plant and summer raspberries!
The pudding looked a little too dry (blame it on the chatting!), so I drizzled grade B maple syrup and left over milk to increase moistness. But upon tasting it, the "dryness" on top was actually from the inherently crusty french bread, which i buttered so it was pretty good texture if I say so myself. So, crispy on top and moist on the bottom. Outdid myself this time. 

Another cook out perhaps to finish the remainder? Too bad my shoebox studio is too small to accommodate large parties!!! Unless my friends are willing to host? *big hint* Hahahha, you can even see my ghetto breakfast-in-bed fold table in the background :D

Dinner at Chez Jacky's

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Chez Jacky's
1414 Commonwealth AvenueBrighton, MA 02135
617 274 8687

Service (4.2/5.0)-Our friend M knows the owner of Chez Jacky's pretty well + since we were celebrating a birthday, desserts were gratis!
Food (3.8/5.0)-Based largely on my dinner entree and a little of what I sampled.

Chez Jacky's, a sibling restaurant of Petit Robert, my go-to for affordable French eats, recently opened its doors to the Allston neighborhood. Like the various Petit Robert's, their famed crusty breads are imported from Montreal partially-baked and then toasted to sublime perfection. However at Chez Jacky's, the bread was sliced prior to serving, causing it to lose precious steamy heat. I say just serve them whole and I'll do the tearing myself! 

At prices well below $15 per entree, the food was undeniably of good value. The trio de pates was my favorite appetizer, followed by the Saucisson plate. Despite the novelty of being house-cured, the smoked salmon was average. I was rather disappointed with my course of roasted pork with lentil and bacon stew because it sounded delicious (keywords: roast pork, bacon?) but came out overcooked. Would I come back though? Yes I would. 

Trio de Pâtés. Campagne, Rillette, Liver Mousse- My favorite, the light texture of mousse offsets the fatty richness of liver. Rillette and Campagne was firm and well-salted. Yummy.

Smoked Salmon Maison with Pain Grillé-So so.

Plate of 2 Saucissons and Cured Bayonne Ham-It was good but still go for the pate plate. 

Ratatouille Gratin- tasted ok and a tad too greasy

Duck Confit Potée. Braised Cabbage, Grilled Sausage-good.

Veal, Chicken and Champignons, Vol au Vent Pastry-Didn't have this. No veal.

Roast Pork with Lentil and Bacon Stew-Sigh. I usually have knack at picking out the yummiest entrees on a menu but clearly I have some off days too. As mentioned, pork was overcooked; lentil stew was meh, couldn't taste the notes of bacon either. 

2 Grilled Toulouse Sausages with Caramelized Onions-This was pretty good actually. After biting through the crispy skin, I was greeted with a burst of jus and then tender, bouncy chunks of flavorful meat. Sigh.. Crap, I hope it doesn't contain boeuf!

20 Mussels Poulette with Wine, Cream and Shallots-Does it look like 20 mussels? I have no idea, but the cream sauce was a good accompaniment. 

Giant Ile Flottante Meringue with Vanilla Ice Cream-
I've noticed, that in recent years, the desserts at Petit Robert have been slipping in terms of presentation 
(and Chez Jacky's too) . In the past, I used to get a luscious Ile Flottante served in a nice, chilled martini glass and caramel sauce artfully swirled on top of my crafted meringue at their dessert bar. Nowadays, it's misshapen pats of egg white dumped on top of creme anglaise (thankfully, this still tastes ok).
[Another catty note: I tend to get very annoyed when people start explaining what Ile Flottante means every time I order it, compounded by a good memory and the n times I've eaten this in the past n years.]

Rice au Lait Brûlé de Maman Robert-This rice pudding was my favorite dessert because despite appearances, it was light, fluffy, creamy and very palatable. Wished the presentation did the taste justice.

Poire Belle-Elène with Vanilla Ice Cream and Chocolate Sauce- It tasted too sweet, without depth and looked sloppy ... I felt that my amateurish efforts might win this one...

I've made a more exciting version of a pear dessert some years ago, and will elaborate further with help from Laura Calder's very no-brainer recipe for red wine and honey poached pears and topped it off with a spun sugar crown, garnished with mint and lemon zest (for acidity and burst of color). If I can find my pic, I'll post it.
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