THE GOLDEN apple of Hesperides, given by Paris to Aphrodite and leading to the downfall of Troy, is generally believed to have been a quince. I have to remind myself of this romantic ancient Greek imagery as I make my way to our solitary quince tree – which flourishes just beyond the chicken plucking shed and next to the public lavatories of the neighbouring cemetery.
However it is a journey well worth making as a little quince goes a long way – whether it is a few quinces filling a room with their sweet heady fragrance or a lone quince in an apple pie, added to give a pink colouring and an interesting flavour. A disadvantage of quince is that all seeds must be removed before cooking as they can cause stomach upsets and the fruit must be well cooked and slow cooking at that to release its aromatic qualities. Try braising pheasants with diced quince, onion, honey and port to create a delicious, sweet and succulently flavoured sauce.
Celeriac, introduced to Britain in the 18th century, is a turnip-rooted sweeter relative of celery and can be eaten raw grated in salads, purŽed or used to make a delicious thick soup, such as the recipe given here. The blue cheese croutons served with the recipe give a delicate savoury richness to this celeriac soup.
Christmas is coming and if you or your children are feeling in a creative and constructive mood then have a go at making this “self-build” gingerbread house. It is not as complicated as it looks and any mistakes and breakages can be covered up with the royal icing.