Saturday, 19 December 2015

Quince and Rosemary Jelly

Only a week to go before Christmas and the weather is still warm (14 degrees today!) and sunny. I have spend most of the day outside doing gardening work and the birds (and I!) think it is more springlike than winter! Whilst I am loving the warm weather I know there will be some form of payback to come be it an icy cold January or February or a deluge of giant slugs come summertime! Still for the moment the only thing identifying the pending winter solstice is the short dark evenings and so I am soon drawn back into my cosy kitchen to make some quince jelly! 

Quince is not so easy to find in northern climes although in Brittany it now grows well enough as in parts of Ireland and the UK. The fruit is not sweet when raw and the skin is thick so it is not an immediate endearing fruit to harvest. The trick is knowing how to deal with it because it has the most amazing taste - the Romans and ancient civilisations of the Orient were aware of this delicate perfumed fruit and it was acknowledged as the fruit of the Gods.  It is also exceedingly healthy (if you don't overdo the sugar content) being high in Vitamins C and B2 as well as phosphorus, potassium and potash. Even Shakespeare referred to Quince as the "stomach's comforter"!


900g of quinces cut into small pieces
1 litre water
1 Tbs lemon juice
4 large sprigs of fresh rosemary
650g sugar


Put the chopped quinces in a pan with the lemon juice. Add the rosemary (keeping a sprig aside for later). Bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer gently until soft.

Remove the rosemary sprigs and pour the pulp and juices into a sterilised straining bag suspended over  a glass bowl overnight. In the morning weigh the jelly juice and adding 450g sugar to every 600ml of juice. Heat the mixture stirring to dissolve the sugar. Allow to boil gently for ten minutes or until the jelly reaches setting point.

 Remove from pan, place in sterilised jars and  and allow to cool. Once cool, store in a cool place.

You can serve quince jelly with almost anything where the contrast is required but I find it goes exceedingly well with cheese, quail, and venison.

Saturday, 12 December 2015

BBQ with a hint of turf

It always surprises me that the exquisite aroma of traditional turf (dried peat) whilst well known in Scottish refineries is completely unknown in the international culinary world. However at French Dining School we are slowly spreading the word from our own kitchen. Here one can see, feel and taste the extraordinary results of using just a little turf on beef but the results are just as good on fish, seafood and vegetables.

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Gravadlax and Christmas Punch

It's not everyday you are invited to present a food tasting at the Royal College of Surgeons in London but then the Kensington & Chelsea Ladies Association only pick the most interesting  venues for their members. We thought carefully about what to offer and soon realised gravadlax with our very own sauce served on toast would go down a treat. This was especially so with our very  unique Christmas mulled wine served piping hot with raisins and almonds. What a lovely morning we all had!