I have always considered myself quite a nice person. I like food of all shapes, flavours and colours. From every country and continent. I don’t discriminate, I am an equal opportunity eater. It’s only the doctors who say I’m intolerant. And certain foods who refuse to tolerate me. They certainly refuse to recognise and respect my right to eat them without major physical discomfort and distress.

Gluten and lactose are not my friends.

Despite the negative attitudes surrounding me from many of those I love best, (cakes, ice cream, hot toast) I decided to become a chef. Not always easy when you live in a bread and milk filled world. I like to think that this has helped me become a better person as I embrace my differences and refuse to let the gluten get me down. I believe InTolerance. I am the InTolerant Chef.

Food should not be about what you can’t eat, but what you can and what you enjoy eating. This blog is about my journey of cooking and eating and discovery. It’s not a definitive guide to allergy awareness nor do my intolerances make me an expert. Your body is your responsibility, not mine. I only know what works for me.

I can tell you this..... No glutens were harmed in the making of this website.

May 30, 2011

Quinces And A Celebration

When I was a little girl, we had a tree in the garden that produced the most beautiful blossoms I'd ever seen or smelt.

It wasn't the apple tree that grew hard, green specimens that were too tart to eat raw, or the plum tree that had the most amazing deep purple fruit that I've never come across since; but a pretty, low growing tree that in Autumn had great big, stunning, fragrant, furry, golden, knobby fruits hanging off it.

This was the quince tree.

A beautiful old-fashioned fruit that is truly seasonal and not often seen on menus nowadays. Maggie Beer loves it and makes a lovely paste to go with cheese, it's the source of the original marmalade- not oranges, and simply cannot be eaten raw as it is too astringent and not nice at all.
You can also mix quinces nicely in a savoury dish like a tagine- it goes beautifully with lamb and goat, and I believe I mentioned earlier how nicely it matches with cheese.

When quince is cooked, it undergoes a miraculous transformation. The fragrance and flavour reminds me ever so faintly of roses, and when cooked low and slow the colour deepens from creamy to a beautiful, burnished, deep pink.

Mum would usually cut around the horrible gritty parts at the core of the fruit, and stew the quince up on it's own or with apple to make a simple sweet to have with custard. If you cook it quickly, it still tastes nice, but doesn't have a chance to live up to it's true potential.

This is my favourite way to eat quince. Baked in the oven, slowly simmering in sweet sugar syrup. A more grown up and sophisticated version of the stewed fruit from my childhood.

Grab some nice ripe quinces. Most of their furry fuzz should have rubbed off and the fragrance should be discernible if they are nice and mature.

Peel them and drop them quickly into acidulated water to stop them oxidising and turning brown.

Now- this is very important- make sure you core them really well. You know how pears can be a bit gritty? Well quinces are the queen of grittiness! The flesh is lovely and smooth, but around the core there are nasty crunchy gritty bits that can spoil the sublime experience if you miss even the tiniest amount.

Slice them up, or leave them in halves for a more dramatic presentation.

Make a simple sugar syrup with 1 part sugar, 2 parts water, or to taste. Quince have a natural tartness that I find very appealing, and you don't want to overpower them and make them sickly. Sometimes with sweetness less is more. You can however, flavour the syrup with some spices or citrus peel to add a bit more mystique and intrigue.

Pour enough syrup to mostly cover the quinces and then either make a paper cartouche (see previous post) or wrap the pan in alfoil to stop it all evaporating away. If you chose to keep the pieces large like my halves, always place them presentation side down first, and then turn them over after about an hour and a half or so.

Bake the quinces at about 160* for a few hours and until you can slip a knife gently through the flesh with very little resistance.

Serve them warm with some lovely lactose free custard or ice cream, and drizzled with some of the pretty pink juices. No wonder that traditionally the quince is considered to be the 'apple' from the Garden of Eden.

So my dear Readers, can you be tempted with a quince or two?

This month is a Celebratory Month!

Not only did I have a Quite Significant Birthday, but it will also be my First Blogaversary too. Let the good times roll!

To help the party atmosphere I thought I'd have a couple of giveaways in the next few weeks.
On offer this week is a pack of two lovely pink themed Donna Hay Tea towels. So very pretty and really way too nice to wipe dishes with, but whose dishes don't deserve the best?

All you need to do to enter, is to leave a comment at the end of this post, that's it, easy huh? Oh- but you have to make sure I can contact you if you win, so no anonymous comments, OK.

I have really enjoyed this blogging adventure- despite recent Blogger issues like missing posts, grrrrr, and have met some lovely people along the way- like Celia, Anna,Kath, and have such a lovely core group of followers and readers who always make sure to comment. You have no idea how I appreciate you all Lovelies!

I also want to say a special thank you to Lorraine of Notquitenigella, who has commented on every single post from day one. Food blogs as a whole were really new to me, but hers was one I really enjoy and look forward to every morning, so I was so excited to check my poor little tentative first post and discover that Lorraine had condescended to comment on mine! I was so encouraged and haven't looked back since.

So Share the Love I say, and don't forget to comment to win!


  1. I love quinces! We had a tree in our backyard when I was little too. I loved it smelled divine and loved the taste. I have made quince cheese like the french, drying it ----- so divine to cooking it similar to you. Over here there seems to be a couple of varieties. Smooth over furry, I prefer the furry as it gets the deep red colour when you cook it, people here also eat the smooth kind to eat raw like apples. When I gave birth a couple of years ago the midwife told me and all the new mothers to boil the quince seeds until it gels and use that as a wonderful natural cream for sore nixxles.

  2. Happy Blogaversary!!! And quinces?? I have never cooked with them - must change that asap!

  3. Congrats on your blog anniversary! And I'm so happy I've met you, too! :D (I just assume I'm the Kath you've mentioned above, ha.)

    Quinces are nice! I got some from my neighbor's garden last year in fall (that is, northern hemisphere fall, so have a year ago :D), and made jam from them. I remember that they were INCREDIBLY HARD to peel and cut, and turned brown very quickly. My hands were completely brown as well afterwards. :) But they're so yummy! :D

  4. i have never eaten quince, my mum always said it was not nice and turned me off. But if i see them at the markets i'm going to buy them and bake them as you say! and congrats on the blogaversary :) I feel the same, its been an amazing experience joining the blogging world.

  5. Never tried quince before though I have heard (read) about it in other food blogs. Sounds like an interesting fruit that looks like pear but does not taste like one.

  6. They become such a gorgeous colour don't they! And I had no idea that they were the fruit used in the original marmalade!

  7. A beautiful winter dessert too if I may add. Congrats on your blog anniversary!

  8. Happy significant birthday to you recently :) & Happy blogiversary!! What a fabulous month. How intriguing quince must have been to a little you - I can imagine! They're rather curious. Good work putting up a poaching step by step! I adore eating them this way too.
    Heidi xo

  9. When my husband and I first moved into our new home there was a quince tree in the corner of our garden. Not knowing what the tree was and having never seen the fruits before we asked everyone and were surprise that nobody could identify the tree.

    So without a second thought we hacked the tree and removed it. It was not until we discovered quince (cooked) a few years back we researched the tree and realised it was the very same tree that was in our garden.

    What a shame..

  10. Happy birthday, happy Blogaversary! Never tried quince, but you really make it look appetising :)

  11. It seems like quince is getting popular again. I haven't tried it yet, but I'll keep an eye out for it in autumn/late summer.

  12. Happy First Blog Anniversary!
    I never had quince, and would love to try it. It sure sounds and looks yummie. Hope you are having a great week :-)

  13. Happy Anniversary my darling friend! Your blog is a treat, and I'm so happy to have found you! I keep learning things from your posts, and today was no exception - next time I make quince paste, I'm going to take extra care to cut out the core - sifting the damn grit out last time cost me a good sieve! :) Thanks... xxx

  14. Happy Blogoversary!!so exciting. Congratulations on all the hard work you have put in to get to this point. This quince post has definitely reminded me of something I have been meaning to do for a while- make some quince marmalade.

  15. Thankyou Everyone for all your well wishes! I hope that you will keep enjoying The InTolerant Chef adventure for a long while to come. I have enjoyed this trip immensely, and hope you have too.

    Don't forget to check my next post for the winner of the giveaway as well. Goodluck!

    Simcha- did you know that Turkey produces the most quinces in the world- about 1/4 of the whole lot, no wonder you've seen a couple of different types!

    Lisa- Thanks! Better look for them quickly before they go out of season.

    Kath- Of course I meant you! Maybe your quinces weren't quite ripe if they were that hard maybe?

    Muppy- Once you taste them, you'll have to go about convincing your mum how fantastic they are!It certainly has been an adventure too.

    Tigerfish- These old fashioned fruits are coming back it seems

    Lorraine- Aren't they pretty, it's definitely
    another bit of culinary alchemy!

    Chopinandmysaucepan- Thanks and thanks!

    Heidi- Thanks, in May there is my birthday, Mothers Day and littlej's bday too. It can get expensive!

    Naz- nice to meet you! Oh no, what a pity about the tree!

    Aarthi- Thanks, I'll check it out

    JasmyneTea- You really should, it's sooo yummy

    Indietea- Yes, all the old fashioned fruits and veggies seem to becoming the vogue don't they?

    Juliana- Thanks, same to you!

    Celia- Thanks Sweetie! Straight back at you! I can just imagine you forcing that paste through the sieve bit by bit, how frustrating!

    GastronomyGal- Thanks, it has felt like hard work sometimes too! Yumm, marmalade....

    Have a lovley week everyone!

  16. I love quinces...particularly after they have been slow cooked. I use a Maggie Beer recipe sometimes for pot roasted quinces. Basically whole quinces cooked in a sugar syrup with a stick of cinnamon. In a heavy pot, on a low heat for about 5 hours. They go ruby red and if you are lucky slightly burnt (caramelised) on the bottom. Yum. Might have to go put some on the stove right now that I think of it. I bought some at the markets the other day.