Quince is one of the Britain's forgotten fruits, whose almost disappearance I struggle to understand, as this generous winter fruit was equally used in cooking and baking, and in sweet and sour dishes. And unfortunately it is not alone in the affair of fruits and vegetables receding from today's orchards and markets: medlars and mulberries are right in there with quince, equally difficult, if not harder to find nowadays.
When we moved to this part of London 15 years ago, I was hardly able to find any continental food, not even well established and known European brands, that I was used to while living on the Old Continent. "Milka" chocolates, for instance, appeared in Tesco supermarkets only a few years ago and is now mainly available in cheap "Poundland" stores, but with varieties available; a similar situation happened with Dr Oetker, that could be found in the mainstream supermarket with extremely limited product range, and many more European food industry giants.
With a growing number of migrants from countries further East (and by that I mean mainly Polish and ex Russian republics) coming to the UK in the recent years who eventually reached this area traditionally occupied by mid class English families, to my delight came the ethnic and European shops; all of a sudden we were spoiled for choice. In the proximity of few miles we have five major supermarket stores, one Chinese/Oriental superstore and then Turkish, Polish, Russian, and Mediterranean shop, an Italian butcher and French boulangerie- patisserie. I am never moving out of here!
And yes, obviously it was the Turks who brought the quince (and few more things, like yellow French beans, pickled cabbage, Ajvar, and would you believe it the dried mulberry) back onto my table and into my jars. It was a whole new playing field for me. I bought enormous amount of quince and made tons of jam and just before I was about to run out of my stock I remembered my mum's old recipe for quince cheese that she used to make a long, long time ago, like last century long ago.. It came out of fashion. But luckily, like with every other fashion, items are always reborn, restyled and back on stage in style.
So is my mother's quince cheese. I found it in her recipe book under "Quince cheese salami" as she used to shape it into a nice roll usually decorated with sliced blanched almonds. It was the time to roll up the sleeves and do a little bit of a revamping.
If you're a frequent visitor of my blog, you've probably realised that I am a bit mould crazy, I like pretty shapes and that can not be helped. That is why the salami took shapes of bite size bows, flowers and squares, thanks to my little chocolate tins.
Quince cheese salami
1kg ripe quince
700 gr sugar
2 tbsp rum (optional)
Peel the quince, clean, slice them and cover with water in a wide pan. Cook until soft and tender, take out from the water and put through a sieve, or food processor. Put back on a low to medium heat and add the sugar. Stir occasionally; when done, you will get a "purée" of a very thick consistency. Take a mould, or few smaller ones, wet them with a bit of cold water and pour the cheese. Leave it to air dry for couple of days. Coat them in caster sugar when unmoulded, Serve with flat bread, (grissini, cracker) walnuts and cheese.