#360 Apple Sauce I

This is the third of four different apple sauces in English Food. I have had to wait to cook this one as it requires a quince.

Quince are an ancient fruit, related to apples and pears, that is not seen around too much these days as they have fallen out of favour somewhat and also have a very short season. They have also suffered because of the terrible wet weather we’ve had this year.

Apple sauce should not be reserved just for roast pork, by the way, use it with sausages, black pudding, chicken, turkey, goose or game. It is a surprisingly versatile condiment.

Chop up 8 ounces of Bramley’s seedling apples (those in North America, use Mackintosh apples) and slice one ‘small or moderate quince’. You don’t need to peel or core the fruit, but I would scrub off the naturally-occurring fluff from the skin of the quince, should it have some. Place in a pan along with ¼ pint of water, a heaped tablespoon of sugar (omit if using Mackintosh apples) and a pared strip of lemon peel. Cover and simmer until a puply, then pass through a sieve or mouli-legumes to remove peel &c.

Put back on the heat and stir until it thickens up; you don’t want it ‘sloppy and wet’ as Griggers says. Stir in one ounce of butter and give the finished sauce a healthy seasoning of black pepper.

#360 Apple Sauce I. I liked this one very much and ate it with some rabbit which it complemented very well. The quince mellowed the Bramley’s, making them much less tart. Tres bon. 7.5/10.

#275 Pears in Syrup

“Your old virginity is like one of our French withered pears: it looks ill, it eats dryly.” Bertram, As You Like It


What a great quote. Shakespeare was such a bitch.

This is an old, old recipe that Griggers herself has updated rather. In Medieval times a variety of pear called Wardens were used that were rock hard and required an hour’s cooking beforehand. These days, we use eating pears so it’s a lot quicker to make. It is best though to use unripe pears for this, though it doesn’t really matter what kind.

I chose to do this recipe as the dessert to a vegan meal I cooked with my good friends Danny and Eric. I was quite surprised that there was anything vegan in the book! In fact, of the remaining desserts this was the only one.

A some of you may know, one of my gripes is picky eaters. Vegetarianism and veganism don’t come under that term ofr me though. I think making a moral stance against eating animals or using the products of animals certainly has a lots of merit. Not eating honey is a bit stupid though. Anyway, what IS annoying is veggies who ARE picky. I mean, what is the point of restricting your diet if you don’t like most stuff anyway. Luckily noone fell into that category this night!

It’s an easy recipe that can be done well in advance.
Start by peeling, halving and coring the pears – you will need one per person according to Jane. Pop them in a pan in a single layer and pour over enough red wine to cover them. Add too, two tablespoons of sugar, a cinnamon stick and a good pinch of ground ginger. Cover them and bring to a simmer until they are nice and tender. This takes a good 25 minutes, but the time will depend on the variety and ripeness of the pears used. Remove the pears with a slotted spoon and keep warm whilst you boil down the wine until you get a nice slightly syrupy sauce. Add more sugar if you like. Pour over the pears and allow to cool. No need to serve anything else with them.

[If you don’t want to use wine, it can be adapted – swap the wine for water and the cinnamon for a split vanilla pod and add one sliced quince for every two pears cooked. Cook the fruit slowly to achieve a honey scented deep red sauce.]
#275 Pears in Syrup. This was a really good dessert. I’d actually put this one off because I expected to dislike it, but was totally wrong. The concentrated red wine sauce wasn’t heavy or sickly like I thought it would be, but light and refreshing. It must have been the pears and the spices that lightened the whole affair. That said, we could only manage half a pear each. The pudding looked quite impressive too with the dark, almost indigo sauce and the creamy-white pear flesh inside. Great stuff. 8/10.

#114 Quince, Medlar, Sorb or Crab Apple Jelly

The quinces I bought the other day were beginning to look a bit sad and I needed to use them up with something. I really like quince, so quince jelly was the obvious choice – making a few jars of this would mean I would still be eating them way beyond their season had ended.

By the way, this recipe can be followed as is but with medlars, sorbs or crab apples, so if you are lucky enough to know where their might be some growing near you try this jelly.

Begin by scrubbing clean your quinces and chop them roughly along with the same weight in Bramley apples. Do not peel or core them – that is where the pectin resides that will set the jelly. Place the fruit in a pan and barely cover them with water. Simmer the fruit until they have become a pulp (I used a potato masher to help the quinces along).

Place the pulp in a jelly bag suspended over a bowl – if you don’t have one, use a muslin-lined sieve instead. Leave the pulp to drip dry – this takes a while, a few hours at least, overnight if you’ve done loads. Measure the volume of liquid and pour into a heavy-based pan and add a pound of sugar for every pint of liquid. Boil this mixture until this has reached setting point (read the recipe for marmalade for more info on this) and pour into sterilised jars.

Quince jelly can be used like any fruit jelly, but is typically an accompaniment to cheeses, game and turkey.

#114 Quince Jelly – 6.5/10. A nice conserve, but I perhaps more apple than I should have, as the quince flavour is not super strong and is sweeter than I’m used to. That said, I used as jam and I think it’ll be a lot better with some game or cheese. Also, the recipe’s very good as I got four jars of jelly from just two quince!

#109 Quince Comfits

I went into Unicorn in Chorlton, Manchester to stock up on my favourite seasonal fruit and vegetables – this time of year they are quince, Jerusalem artichokes and Seville oranges. Once I’d bought them, it was a quick trawl through the book to see what I could do with them. The one recipe that didn’t require me to buy anything extra, other than was in my store cupboard, was quince comfits; all they need is water and sugar.

FYI: A comfit is a sugary sweet, rather like a pastille, that go way back In fact, quince comfits were made as part as Henry IV’s coronation banquet in 1399. This is a fact that I’m still in awe of. Get some made if you find some quinces and have a rare medieval treat!

Scrub the fluffy stuff that coats the quince’s skins, wash them thoroughly, and chop roughly. Put them in a pan with around an inch of water and simmer them, covered, until they are very soft. This takes a while as they are so hard, so keep a check on them and add extra water if need be to prevent them boiling dry. Once they are very soft, pass them through a sieve and weigh the pulp. Return it to the pan and add an equal weight of sugar. Bring it to the boil and allow to simmer, pop and bubble for up to half an hour. Make sure you stir it often to prevent it catching. It is ready when the mixture comes away from the sides as you stir. Pour the mixture into Swiss roll tins or sandwich tins that have been lined with greaseproof paper. Now you have to be patient – the mixture has to be dried slowly in a very low oven (less than 50ºC) or in the airing cupboard for a few days. Cut it into squares and shake the sweets in a tub of caster sugar to coat them. Hey Presto: Medieval sweets!

Griggers reckons they’re really good melted on grilled pork chops.

#109 Quince Comfits – 7/10. I love quince. I think they’re my second favourite fruit after the raspberry. Their wonderfully perfumed toffee flavour really does come across in these little sweets. I don’t really go for sweets like this usually, but these are good and have the added interest of being eaten by a medieval king!

#20 – Quince Vodka (Part 2)

The quince vodka, now named “Quodka” has now been officially drunk, as were we after drinking it. We tried it with apple juice, but was too overpowering; but then we had it with tonic and it was lovely! I’m usually not a big fan of tonic water in drinks, but the sweet, subtle perfumed quince made it a very delicious drink. In fact, it may have been too delicious as we all necked it pretty quick – much quicker than if it was a strong normal voddie. Anyways, we all got even more pissed out in Manchester at Bollox, which by the way is totally brilliant!
#20 Quince vodka – a healthy 7/10. It was very nice and I shall make some if I have any spare next year

#20 Quince Vodka (Part I)

My second quince recipe. All very easy. Grate two Quinces. Put in a 1 litre jar along with 2 ounces of sugar. Top up with vodka. Leave for 2 months. I have no idea what it’ll be like. I’ll do a more throrough report in February!
Greg says:
Re the quince vodka, I will update you on it’s progress weekly as I will be unable to keep my ahnds off the jar for 2 months. Also, I am probably shortly retiring from Grigson life, partly because I can’t fit into my Levi drainpipes any more and partly because the veggie selection is drying up. Carnivores, it’s over to you . . .

#17 Quince Cream

Found a couple of quince recipes. The first is (#17) Quince Cream. Seemed easy enough. In reality it was a massive ball-ache. The quince is one of my favorite fruits – I don’t know why they aren’t sold in more greengrocers or supermarkets. It may be that you have to cook them to eat them. They combine the best of apples and pears and go a beautiful golden-orange colour when cooked. They were used in medieval times as a jam or jelly – the word marmalade comes from the French (I think) for quince! Weird to think of our lovely English marmalade wasn’t made from Seville oranges (which are Spanish). Anyway. It all seemed like it would be easy. Chop up two quinces, add a little water, and stew until soft. Push through sieve. Add cream melted butter, an appropriate spice said the Grigson, so I used cinnamon. Add sugar to taste, plus egg yolks to thicken. I took about an hour and a half to sieve the fucker! I broke one sieve in the process too. Next time I’ll use one of the alternative fruit suggested.

Luckily for the Grigson it tasted nice! It was creamy but light. I’m going to have to try and reduce the amount of cream and butter in my diet though! I can feel my arteries harden as I type!

Greg says:
Quince Cream – The smell of quince is a joy and something brand new to me. This dish was lovely, another heart attack masquerading as ‘fruit’ but it was quite noisy during the preparation thereof, I couldn’t hear The Simpsons and had to close the door while Neil scraped away at boiled fruit in the next room. Hush please! It was sloppy and fruity and rich but when I attempted to eat more the following day it had become porridge so I don’t care what she says, eat it all on the day! 7/10.

#17 Quince Cream – 7.5/10. Anything with quince is OK by me! I’m starting to get sick of all these calories though!

#16 Palastine Soup

OK. Something with Jerusalem artichokes…
…(#16) Palestine soup. Brilliant. FYI Jerusalem artichokes have nothing to do with Jerusalem or artichokes. It was thought that they tasted similar to artichokes, but I don’t think they do. Jerusalem is a corruption of the word Girasole, which is the Italian for sunflower. (I used to grow them in the garden of my old house, and their flowers are like tiny sunflowers.) They are a much under used vegetable – at one point, before the domestication of the potato, it was attempted to make the Jerusalem artichoke a staple crop. It was considered too strong in flavour, and what a shame!

The soup was pretty easy; start by blanching a pound of Jerusalem artichokes in boiling salted water so that the knobbly skins can be peeled away. Place the peeled artichokes in the cooking water to prevent them discolouring. Meanwhile, gently cook 4 ounces of chopped onion, a crushed garlic clove and an ounce of chopped celery. When soft, add two rashers of streaky bacon and then after two minutes add the artichokes and 2 ½ pints of chicken stock. Simmer until the artichokes are tender then blitz. Finally stir in two ounces (!) of double cream and two tablespoons of chopped parsley. And then serve, under the strict Grigson rules, with croutons. It made a lovely soup – really brought out the earthy flavour of the Jerusalem artichokes. It’s the best Grigson soup so far. I made a veggie version for Greg too using veggie bacon (!) and vegetable stock. It tasted as good as mine.

Greg says:
Palestine soup – This is my fave recipe to date I think. I had the girl version which Neil made in a separate pan using veg stock instead of chicken stock and veggie bacon instead of real piggy which meant my soup went a litle bit pink due to the colouring and smelt more like bacon than the real stuff! It was clearly the better of the two though possibly not admissbale under the strict Grigson regime. Anyways, the smoky bacony flavour together with the cream and that very specific Jersualem artichoke flavour was honestly amazing, if I’d had it in a restauarnt I would have been supremely chuffed. The croutons were alright but I could live without em, the fresh parsley is garnish enough. Wonderful . 9/10.

#16 Palestine Soup – 8.5/10. A brilliant winter-warmer! It should be part of everyone’s repertoire!