Since My Man is from Turkey and I'm from Sweden it’s important to me that the traditions we create around this time of year reflect both our origins, particularly in the food we eat. And so by now our Christmas table has a wide and wonderful selection of foods from the east and from the north. This dessert is from Turkey and uses quinces; it is simple and elegant and absolutely delicious. The recipe is from a wonderful Turkish cookbook Classic Turkish Cookery by Ghillie Başan, but it has also been influenced by My Man's mother who was consulted during the process.
Since I haven't had much previous experience with quinces I decided to find out more, and came across a really informative page on a site called The Splendid Table, where I found out that some believe that it was the quince rather than the apple that tempted Eve in the garden of eden.
We call this the prototype because it’s My Man’s first try and he’s not entirely happy with it (frankly I think he’s just being a bit of a perfectionist, it's simply divine).
Ayva tatlısı (quinces in syrup) - prototype Serves 6
3-4 quinces, peeled, halved and cored (keep the seeds)
4 tbsp sugar
juice of half a lemon
300 ml water
Kaymak or clotted cream
Place the quince halves in a wide, thick-based pan with the cut side facing up. Sprinkle with sugar and pour over the water and lemon juice. Add the quince seeds and poach the fruit on a low heat for about an hour with the lid left on, basting occasionally. When ready the fruit should be soft and tender, but not mushy. The pectin in the fruit will turn the poaching liquid into an almost jelly-like consistency. Let cool in the pan.
Transfer the quinces to a serving dish (with or without the seeds), spoon the jelly over and serve with a dollop of kaymak or clotted cream.
The seeds from the quince should turn the fruit and syrup a deep pink; however this didn’t happen (as you can see from the picture). We're not really sure why, but perhaps another type of quince will produce the desired effect. A local supermarket sell ridiculously expensive Turkish quinces that will hopefully do the trick. Watch this space for updates.