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Blue Cheese Eclairs

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What a weekend for thermomixing – I made three things this weekend for a little gathering we had yesterday afternoon.  I had made the quince paste on Saturday to use in the first recipe I had wanted to make – the Blue Cheese Eclairs. I actually ended up making two batches, as I didn’t like the size of the first lot I made, made a second lot, and then decided that I liked the larger ones I made.

Dani is right – this is a great recipe to improve your piping skills.  I didn’t even use a proper piping bag – I used the cheats way and put the mixture in a zip lock bag and snipped off the corner.  Works every time, and there’s no mess oozing out of the top. My eclairs were on the large side – I got about 15 out of the recipe, so in theory they were twice the size of the ones in the recipe.  I do need some more piping practice though, so I might hunt down some disposable piping bags and see if they make a difference.

I made the first batch on Saturday for a party on Sunday.  I like my eclairs to be a little crunchy, so to make sure they didn’t go soggy, I cut them in half and put them in the oven at about 150 c for about 10 minutes about an hour before I wanted to start constructing them.  I was able to assemble them an hour or so before our guests arrived and they were perfect – and so easy to prepare – some prosciutto, a bit of rocket, and some cubed quince paste.

I have made choux pastry countless times and have always been lucky with making eclairs.  Doing the choux pastry in the thermomix was a first for me – and it worked really well. This was also the first time I have used baking paper to line the tray, and I don’t think the eclairs were as puffy as the ones I have made before – but I always used to grease the tray well, and then put some water on the tray – the theory goes that the steam helps the eclairs rise. They were still pretty good though!

I’m not overly fond of blue cheese, but the flavour isn’t overpowering, and the prosciutto and quince cut through nicely.  In my first batch I used some King Island Roaring 40’s and for my second lot I used a gorgonzola.  For mine, the gorgonzola was a much nicer flavour.

These eclairs would be great for finger food for a party, which is what we used them as yesterday.

 
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Posted by on May 6, 2012 in Bites and snacks

 

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Quince Paste

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Believe it or not, I’ve only ever eaten quinces twice in my life – and both times were over 10 years ago.  They are such a beautiful colour once they are cooked, whoever would have guessed they are such an ugly looking fruit!!

I’ve also never prepared them before – just eaten the end product.  I noticed they were in season the other day at the greengrocers, and as one of the recipes I have planned for this weekend needs quince paste, I thought I’d do Maggie Beer out of a job and make my own.

The quinces were $3.50 a kilo at my greengrocer, so this is cheap to make.  I’m planning to give away what I don’t need myself to neighbours and family tomorrow.  Next year, if I’ve still got some time on my hands, I’ll make some for the kindergarten fair. One thing to note though, this is a noisy recipe to make, not all of it – but the 50 minutes cooking at the end at speed 5 can start to do your head in a bit…have an iPod ready!

This recipe is based on Jeff Brady’s recipe.  Check his blog at thermomix-er.blogspot.com

If you’d like the recipe, look at my recipe tab on the home page.

Jeff recommends putting your thermomix on a silicon mat when you’re making quince past as apparently the machine can bounce around a bit when you’re making this recipe – I didn’t have an issue with this, but better to be safe than sorry – I can only imagine what a nightmare cleaning up litres of sticky quince paste would be!

If you haven’t cooked with quince before – don’t expect the quince to turn ruby red until the last stages of the cooking.  I’m not sure if it’s a coincidence or not, but my thermomix quietened down considerably once the quince paste had reached the beautiful rich claret colour.

You need to wash the quinces thoroughly before you peel them.  They are a little bit furry, so I tried to get as much of the fur off as I could.  I peeled as best I could, and noticed there were quite a few ‘eyes’ in the quinces, so I had to cut some of them out.  I really need to invest in a corer, as the quince flesh is pretty dense and it was a bit of a nightmare coring these bad boys.

Anyway, in this recipe you blitz the skin and the cores up, cook them, and then strain them, so hopefully any bits I’ve missed will come out in the straining. And, of course, you use the actual flesh of the quinces as well.

The quinces are quite a chore to peel and core manually, and this probably took me longer than it should have – that’s where my kitchen inexperience shows.  But I did it, slowly – so slowly that the quinces were already browning before I got to put them in the varoma tray.  Initially, I had all the quinces in one level, but even when the thermomix had reached varoma temperature, I couldn’t see the tell-tale little droplets on the cover, so I quickly stopped it, split the chopped quince between the two layers, and within a couple of minutes I had the condensation droplets on the top, so I was happy.

When it came to the straining, I didn’t use the thermomix basket, as was suggested.  I know quince paste can be a little gritty sometimes, so I wanted to make sure than none of the nasty bits got into my mix.  I used a regular strainer, lined with some wet paper towel and it worked well – except that it took a while, and in the end I got frustrated with waiting that long, so I poured it through the regular strainer, and strained a few times to get rid of all the nasty stuff.

Dani’s recipe suggested 1.5 kilos of quince, which is what I used.  Not sure if I was overly scungy with the getting rid of dodgy bits, but I ended up with 1.38 kilos of useable quince.  Because I hate maths, I used a calculator to work out what amount of sugar I needed to make the paste.  I know I could have done it in my head, but I wanted to be sure – and I didn’t want to have to cut up quinces again. I actually thought that all the quince and the sugar wasn’t going to fit in the bowl, but it did after I used the spatula to push it down a little.

Once the mixture has finished cooking, you leave it in the bowl for 5 minutes to cool down a little.  I took a peek and took the lid off once the timer had gone, and it was like watching Vesuvius – quince lava bubbling away.  I’ve elected to pour it into a tray lined with cling wrap as I don’t want to oil the tray and risk interfering with the taste of the quince.  Definitely do not leave the mix longer than 5 minutes to cool down before you pour it in to the tray or containers you are using – it sets pretty quickly!  Even just on 5 minutes I had to use the spatula to induce some of it out. It’s quite thick, so you have to use the spatula to spread it out, and for good measure I’ve banged it on the kitchen bench a few times to get any bubbles out.  Be careful though, the mixture is very, very hot.

Once you’ve tipped the mix out into the container you are using, get the thermomix bowl and fill it with water to start washing it – it’s much easier to clean when the paste is still warm.

Can’t wait to use this tomorrow for the Blue Cheese Eclairs!

 
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Posted by on May 5, 2012 in Recipes, Sweet Things

 

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