Last week, I told you about my quince fiasco. I am not one to go back to the store and ask for a refund, but I couldn’t let this one pass, mostly because I really wanted the produce manager to know what had happened. I went back the following day and noticed they still had some of the same batch of quince on their shelf. I spoke to the manager and told him what had happened. I asked him if he could cut one open for me and so he did. It was instantly obvious these were really old and had to be removed from the shelves. Embarrassed, he quickly apologized and promised he would have some fresh ones waiting for me at the store the following day, free of charge, of course. And so he did and they were triple the price they had been just a day prior, but this time, perfect.
Membrillo or quince paste is a very traditional component served to accompany cheeses in Spain. It is a thick confiture made simply with quince and sugar that resembles more pate de fruit than a jam or a jelly. This time, I made little baked crackers made with some Idiazabal cheese I brought back from my trip.
One of my earliest memories as a child is of me trying to ingest a crusty baguette with cheese and membrillo inside while I had a sore throat. I loved this bocadillo so much that I was willing to put myself through such misery!
4 large quinces
Juice of 1 lemon
Sugar (same amount as pureed quince)
Peel, core and quarter the quince. Cut the quarters in half. Place the cut quince in a bowl with lemon juice to stop it from oxidizing.
Place the quince in a large pot and cover them with cold water. bring this water to a boil and cook the quince until fork tender for about 20 minutes.
Drain the water out and puree the soft quince. Scale the puree. You will need the same amount of sugar as puree. In my case it was about 1100 grams.
Place the puree and sugar in a large pot and start cooking it in medium heat. When the sugar melts and it starts to get hot, it will bubble up and might burn so be very, very careful when stirring. wear gloves if necessary. Turn the heat down a bit but make sure there are still small bubbles forming. Cook this mixture for about an hour or an hour and a half. We want the sugar to caramelize. The color will start to turn into a deep orange.
Transfer the membrillo, which will be a thick paste, into a quarter sheetpan lined with parchment and let it cool. Store at room temperature covered with plastic wrap.
Idiazabal Cheese Crackers
Cut thin slices of the cheese and cut these into squares. Place the cheese on a sheetpan lined with a silicon mat and bake at 350F for about 12 minutes until lightly golden.