We’re going to turn that page on the calendar and in a few days December will be here. I’m always slightly excited when I reach this last page, I remember when I hung it on the wall, all the expectations and hopes it came with. We’re almost ready to get into Christmas magic air, yet it seems still so far away.
My spiced candles are still in a box, tucked somewhere in the attic along with Christmas baubles and little Santas. Tommaso and I are still trying to decide where to put our Christmas tree, it has to be a place where Noa can’t make much trouble, and it is difficult to find in our tiny apartment. We still don’t know where we will spend the Christmas day, with whom we will celebrate, what the menu will be and, above all, we have not planned our DIY gift list. We’ve been jarring jams and savoury compotes, bottling walnut liqueur and drying herbs for infusions since summer, now the time has come to sort them out.
Winter came, too, and with it came the fogged windows in the kitchen when it’s cold outside, your hands tucked into your pockets to ward off the biting wind and the first tentative plans for the holidays. This is going to be our first Christmas together in our house, making everything slightly more magic.
It will be magical. And it will be intense, from a work perspective. If our strict planning will work – finger crossed -, we’ll succeed to carve out some precious time to live the atmosphere and, more importantly, to decide what we will be cooking for Christmas! I’m already browsing through magazines and books to pick my favourites to share with my mum.
Roast quinces with honey and spices
To introduce you to the Christmas atmosphere that will literally explode next week here on the blog, today I’m sharing with you an idea for the weekend, roast quinces. First peel quinces, then simmer them in water, sugar and spices until tender. When ready move them into a baking pan, drizzle with honey and roast until caramelized. The honey will turn into a thick spiced syrup. Can you smell it?
If there is still no Christmas tree to permeate your house with a festive smell, if you have not yet begun with the large-scale production of cinnamon cookies, then these roast quinces will gently introduce you to the Christmas atmosphere.
Today’s recipe is inspired by an article written for The Guardian by Nigel Slater: I slightly adapted his recipe for roast quinces. Serve the quinces on their own in a nice bowl, draped with their thick syrup, or with a spoonful of custard, eggnog or even with a scoop of ice cream.
- 4 heaped tablespoons of sugar
- 500 ml of water
- 4 cloves
- 2 star anise
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 5 quinces, not too big
- ½ a lemon
- 4 tablespoons of honey
- Put sugar and water in a saucepan, spice the water with cloves, cinnamon and star anise and bring to the boil. Carefully peel the quinces, it will require a good dose of patience, cut them in half lengthwise and rub with half a lemon to prevent them from browning. Be quick, otherwise quinces will be faster than you to darken.
- Lower the quinces into the sugar syrup and simmer over low heat until they are soft. Twenty-five minutes may be enough or it may take a little longer, it all depends on their size and ripeness.
- Meanwhile, heat the oven to 180°C. When quinces are tender to the point of a knife, they are ready. Lift them gently with a slotted spoon and place them on a baking dish. Melt the honey with 150 ml of the cooking syrup, add the species and drizzle over the quince.
- Roast quinces for about 30 minutes until they are soft and caramelized.
- Serve roast quinces draped with their spiced syrup.
Let’s start with the first Christmas gifts…
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