Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Spiced Quince Tartlet

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I'm often guilty of making complicated recipes that take too much time and/or have many hard to find ingredients. In my defense, I like to challenge the limits of the human body (mine) on 5 hours of sleep. That's probably why this blog is so incoherent.

Anyway. I want to say, yes, I can too take short cuts and make easy recipes out of simple ingredients. I'm making the crust of this spiced quince tartlet from simple white bread. No pastry, pie crust or dough necessary. No stand mixer, hand mixer, food processor or blender. Just rolled out some plain ol' white bread. That's it!

(Did I mention that quince needs to be poached for at least an hour?)

In case you're wondering, I'm not the genius behind the white bread crust idea. I got the idea from none other than... Melissa d'Arabian. I'm not in her demographics (i.e., moms short on time), so I've never seen her show. But I just happened to catch about 10 minutes of it one Sunday morning and I thought, this is such a brilliant idea!

For these spiced quince tartlet, you'll need:
  • 8 slices of white bread, preferably fresh
  • 8 ounces of cream cheese
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 4 tablespoons of sugar
  • 1 portion of poached quince, below
  • pomegranate seeds for garnish
For poached quince, you'll need:
  • 1 quince
  • 3 allspice berries
  • 2 star anise pods
  • 8 whole cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 7 cups of water
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1/2 cup of honey
  • 1/2 lemon
To a medium pot, add water, sugar, honey, lemon, cinnamon stick, allspice berries, cloves and star anise pods. Bring mixture to boil. In the meantime, peel, core and slice quince into 8 equal slices. I believe quince is Latin for "stubborn pear" (not really) so use a sharp paring knife and watch your fingers. Once the poaching liquid reaches boil, reduce to simmer and add quince. Poach for at least one hour or until quince turns pink and is fork tender. Refrigerate overnight.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Remove the crust of sliced white bread. Ideally, you want really fresh bread so it's pliable and easy to work with. But let's get real here. If you have stale white bread that's been sitting in the fridge, this recipe will work for you too. You need to wrap bread in damp paper towels and microwave on high for 15 seconds. Then roll out the bread flat with a rolling pin while it is still wrapped in damp paper towels. Mold the white bread slices to a greased muffin tin. Bake for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, whip together lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar and cream cheese to creamy consistency. Once the tartlets are baked, remove from the oven. Fill each tartlet with cream cheese mixture and pop back into the oven for 5 minutes. Remove tarlets from tin and top each with a slice of poached quince and some pomegranate seeds and serve.

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