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Easy Entertaining: Quince Paste

I recently read about quince paste (or membrillo as it is called in Spain where it is originally from) and was very curious to try some for myself. Turns out- while very time consuming, it is quite easy to make! The hardest part is tracking down quince- they are only available for a short window of time. So this past weekend when I had a few hours, and I was able to find some knobbly green quince at whole foods, I decided to give it a shot.

Most of the recipes I share on this blog are called “easy entertaining” because they are so quick and easy to make. But sometimes, it is also just as easy to have a pantry full of ingredients that you can plate and serve up at the drop of a hat. (frozen cookie dough in the freezer, an emergency container of hummus, an arsenal of crackers, etc) At the holidays, it is especially important to have a few of these back up snacks because you never know who is going to drop by or when you will be stopping by someone else’s (can’t show up empty handed!!) Quince paste is another great pantry item that you can make in bulk and is good in the fridge forever. Serve it up with a little manchego cheese, a few crackers, glass of wine and you have yourself quite the Spanish themed evening!

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Quince Paste (Membrillo)

What you need:

  • Quince
  • Sugar
  • Lemon- peel and juice separated
  • Whole Vanilla Bean

Start by peeling, coring and cutting the quince into 3 inch (ish) cubes. Put in your biggest pot on the stove and cover the fruit completely with water. Split the vanilla bean and add it with the lemon peel to the water. Bring to a boil and keep heat up until the quince is cooked completely through. You should be able to start cutting it easily with a fork. Drain all of the water and remove the vanilla and lemon.

Next, return quince to the pot over low heat and add the lemon juice. Begin pureeing with an immersion blender (my favorite kitchen gadget!!). It will become the most incredibly smooth texture. Now, judging by a rough guess, add an amount of sugar about equal in weight to the amount of puree you have. This is a LOT of sugar. Yes, you really do need that much- quince are not sweet at all. It is helpful to think about how many pounds quince you bought at the grocery store- I added about 2/3 of that in sugar.

Now is the fun part. For the next hour and a half you must continually stir your quince over low heat so it does not burn, and watch it magically transformed from a very loose yellowish liquid to a dark rosy thick paste. Its hard to say when it is “done”. For me, this was when I could barely stir anymore and the consistency was similar to the thickest brownie batter you can imagine- it started to pull away from the sides of the pan and I could almost ball it up- but it was still pourable and spreadable.

Line an airtight container with buttered parchment paper and pour in the quince paste to about a 1-2″ thickness. Use a spatula smooth the surface and let rest until cool. That is it! Cover and put in the fridge- it will keep forever but I cannot promise how long it will last ­čśë


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A Modern Thanksgiving Table

My favorite holiday is almost here! I am very excited for Thanksgiving this year because I will be spending all of next week home with my family. I don’t think I’ve had the luxury of a full week there since college!! I am already dreaming about our feast: new recipes to try, new drinks to mix up and OF COURSE a fresh new way to style the table. While last year my ideas were all about different color combinations- this year I am thinking more simple. Black, white, brown, gold. I want it to feel textural and rustic yet still edgy and modern. Of course I took to pinterest for some inspiration:

Feathers and Sage Place Setting

Black white Gold Brown

feather centerpiece

owls

turkey pinecone placecard

White Pumpkins

This is how I am envisioning pulling it all together:

Thanksgiving Table

How will you be setting the table?


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Easy Entertaining: An Outdoor Fall Gathering

On the theme of Wednesday’s post, I thought I would extend the idea of an intimate outdoor gathering to today’s “Easy Entertaining”. Invite over a few friends, set the scene with a fire and a few decorations, and add a few tasty nibbles to the mix. Oh, and don’t forget the perfect bottle of wine!

outdoor fall party

1.┬á The folks at Kinfolk recently released this cookbook promoting their mantra of putting emphasis on the relationships that surround eating rather than a long complex menu. It sounds like a delightful idea- keep things easy and focus on spending time with good company!! I”m very curious to see what recipes are included in the book. Stay tuned for a full report!

2. In love with these delicate yet rustic tin votives

3. Campfire Popcorn!!!! Make sure to add a little salt and sugar just after popping!

4. I’ve had my eye on a chalkboard cheeseboard for sometime now. Great look, and also saves you the effort of explaining cheeses all night to guests.

5. The Prisoner is one of my favorite red wines, blending Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Petite Syrah and Grenache. It features flavors of cherry, espresso and roasted fig which I think sounds perfect for a fall setting.

6. If you are going to make your friends sit outside all night, it’s essential that you have a good stack of blankets on hand to keep everyone warm!

7. See #6. The fire is also key.


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Easy Entertaining: Roasted Radicchio and Carrots

It always makes me so happy when someone tries one of the recipes I share here. While the recipes themselves are easy, I put a lot of effort into coming up with the ideas, testing, arranging the plate, photographing, and of course, writing about it. Which is why I was so pleased to find out that the #1 pinned photo from this blog is one of my favorite “easy entertaining” recipes for Baked Green Beans.

This week I decided to experiment with the recipe, swapping out summery green beans for radicchio and carrots. The results were a little different than I expected. Neither vegetable crisped up the way I would have hoped, so it would be difficult to serve them as an appetizer. HOWEVER, they were still delicious and would make for a perfect side dish! The colors are perfect for any fall dinner party.

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Roasted Radicchio and Carrots

What you need:

  • 1 package small carrots
  • 2 medium heads of radicchio
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Grated Parmesan Cheese

Set the oven to 425. Cut the carrots and radicchio in quarters. Next, line a baking sheet with tinfoil and lightly coat the entire surface with olive oil (you can also use a mister or cooking spray). Arrange the vegetables by side and sprinkle with salt and pepper and the grated Parmesan. Put the sheet in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Times may vary, but take them out when they are just starting to crisp. (note: the carrots probably need longer than the radicchio) Sprinkle with extra sea salt while they are still warm and serve.

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Given that this recipe is EXACTLY the same as it was for the Green Beans, I think I’ve proven to myself how versatile it is and I’m guessing I could probably repeat for even more vegetables! Which ones will you try????


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Easy Entertaining: Catalan Tomato Bread

One of the amazing things we did on our trip to Spain was take a cooking class. We made a full authentic menu including Romesco Sauce, Paella, and Catalan Crema- but by far the easiest thing we learned to make was Tomato Bread. This bread was served in EVERY restaurant around Barcelona- from the most casual tapas bar to the famed Tickets. Our chef told us that this tomato bread is served with dinner, but is often a causal meal all on its own (paired with a bottle of wine of course). Its pretty difficult to mess up, the only variable here would be over toasting your bread (which as you can see, I did- keep an eye on the toast!)

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Catalan Tomato Bread

What you need:

  • 4 thick slices of good quality rustic bread
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 Medium sized Tomato
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt

Toast your bread to your liking. While it is toasting, slice the tomatoes in quarters and the garlic cloves in half. When the toast is ready, immediately take the garlic clove and rub it into the slice of bread. Don’t go crazy, you are just infusing some flavor. Next rub the tomato pulp all over one side of the bread- discard the tomato skin. Finally, drizzle the bread with a little olive oil and salt.

EASY!

Its not the most beautiful to photograph- but trust me. It tastes AMAZING.