It is winter and Quinces are abundant now in Istanbul. We love our Quince and that is why the biggest producer of Quince in the world is Turkey. And we have not forsaken this precious fruit even though most of the world did. Once the Golden Apple, the fruit of Aphrodite associated with love and fertility, believed wherever she walked quince trees sprang up, the fruit that started the Trojan war, even poems were written, 10th century Arab-Andalusian poet Jafer al Mushafi wrote; 'It has the perfume of a loved woman'
With the quickening pace of life they were increasingly regarded as too much of a hassle to cook and so fell out of favour, oranges,apples and pears were preferred and soon they were forgotten. Such a shame.
Like I said we love and cherish this forgotten gem. Leave a quince on a sunny windowsill it will slowly release its delicate fragrances of vanilla, pineapple, citrus and apple all over your house. We like to eat it raw by gently breaking it into small pieces,( cutting it releases the juices which makes it even harder to eat) sometimes squeezing some lemon on top as a fruit dish on meze tables where our traditional drink Rakı is served. We stuff it with minced meat, or use it in beef or lamb stews. It is a favourite fruit to make jam in fall and winter. And then comes the shiny ruby dessert, a feast to the eyes as well as our tastebuds 'Ayva Tatlısı'. Everything you dreamed of has come together in this heavenly dessert, those fragrances blossoming into a magnificent perfume while magically cooking turns this fruit from a bright yellow tone to all shades of rose.
I wanted to give the most plain recipe so that you can enjoy the flavours of this wonderful fruit, poaching in red wine, using ginger or star anise are all options ...
This dessert is traditionally served with Kaymak (clotted cream) and you will never find any home or restaurant that serves this dessert without it. It is a must. The sweetness of Kaymak combined the flavours of the fruits are a match made in heaven. —Gamze Mutfakta (Piper Nigrum)
Peel and cut quinces in half, core the middle. But do not throw away anything. The seeds and the trimmings will make them pink and the pectin will jellify the juices. Place peeled quinces in a bowl with 1/2 lemon juice added water for discoloration.
Spread the peels of quince as a layer in a heavy pan, wide enough to have 4 quince halves in one layer. Place the quince halves on top, spread the sugar evenly over the halves and add the reserved quince seeds with cloves, cinnamon sticks, pomegranate juice,wine add water if necessary slightly below top. The juices will make it more reddish and plus it will add more fruity flavours.
Simmer over low heat for 45 min- 1 hour. Take the quinces out and let them cool. Sieve the juice.
Core the apples and cut them in half. With a mandoline slice thin wedges. Pour the juice in a pan , add 50 gr sugar , if necessary add more water and blanch the apple slices until soft for about 5-8 minutes.
Take the slices out and let them cool.Pour the syrup on top of the quinces.
Make roses from the apple slices and place them inside each quince. Sizzle some more syrup on top and serve with pistachio flakes, pomegranate seeds and clotted cream. This dessert is traditionally served with clotted cream (kaymak) and you will never find any home or restaurant that serves it without it. It is a must. The sweetness of Turkish Kaymak combined the flavours of the fruits are a match made in heaven.