Red Wine Poached Quince and Goat’s Cheese Filo Tart
Portion/Yield:Serves 6 as a starter or light lunch
This recipe is dedicated to our local community: regular customers and staff who bring quinces to the British Larder every season without fail. Since we first arrived in Suffolk, we have been overwhelmed by the ‘quince brigade’. Volunteers come in their droves and we welcome them with open arms. The first year, a slight panic set in as we worried about what we would do with all the quinces, but Mr. P set to work turfing the junk out of one of our sheds and this became their store. Mr. P carefully manages the quinces’ ripening process, turning them, then checking which ones are ready to be used and which ones need to go in the compost bin. The quince project has been a great community experience and a labour of love.
Savoury and sweet, from chutneys and purées to crumbles, curds and jellies, quinces feature in anything and everything on our menu. We even managed to create a seasonal cocktail we called a ‘Quince Collins’, which is a quince vanilla purée mixed with gin and topped with soda water and plenty of ice. This recipe has become one of my favourites.
Ingredients & Method
For the red wine-poached quinces
- 600ml red wine
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 star anise
- 2 cloves
- 2 black peppercorns
- 10 coriander seeds
- 2 tablespoons caster sugar
- 5 fresh ripe quinces (750–850g total weight)
For the spiced filo sheets
- 1 star anise
- 3 sheets of chilled fresh or frozen (defrosted) filo pastry (each sheet about 40 x 30cm)
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
For the salted caramel walnuts
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 200g walnuts
- 50g caster sugar
- 25g sea salt
For the whipped goat’s cheese
- 250g strong soft goat's cheese, plus 80g extra to serve
- 75g mascarpone
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 50ml double cream
- sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
For the red wine-poached quinces, first prepare the poaching liquid before peeling the quinces as they discolour quickly. Place the wine, cinnamon, star anise, cloves, peppercorns, coriander seeds and sugar in a saucepan. Bring to the boil over a medium heat, then lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes or until the mixture reduces and becomes syrupy.
Peel and core the quinces, then cut the flesh into 2cm dice. Add the quince flesh to the poaching liquid, then place a cartouche (a circle of greaseproof paper) on the surface of the liquid and cover the pan with a lid. Reduce the heat to low and poach the quince for 15–18 minutes or until it is soft but still retains its shape. Once the quince is cooked, remove from the heat and set aside to cool for 1 hour.
Drain half of the poached quince through a fine sieve, reserving the other half and all the poaching liquid separately. Put the drained quince and a splash of the poaching liquid into a blender and blend to form a smooth purée. Transfer the purée to a bowl, then cover and refrigerate overnight. Transfer the reserved (un-blended) quince and poaching liquid to a covered container and refrigerate overnight. Just before serving, drain the poached quince pieces and reserve (discard the poaching liquid).
Meanwhile, prepare the spiced filo sheets. Preheat the oven to 200°C/Gas Mark 6 and lightly grease a baking tray. Put the star anise into a spice grinder or use a pestle and mortar and grind it to a fine powder. Cut each sheet of filo pastry in half widthways to make 6 smaller sheets. Lightly brush 1 smaller sheet of filo pastry with melted butter and sprinkle with a pinch or two of ground star anise.
Place another sheet of filo on top, brush with melted butter and sprinkle with ground star anise, and then continue in the same way until all 6 smaller sheets of filo pastry are stacked on top of each other, but leave the top sheet free of star anise. Use a sharp knife to cut the filo stack into six 5 x 20cm strips. Place the filo stack strips on the prepared baking tray and bake in the oven for 5–8 minutes or until crisp and golden. Remove from the oven, transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool, then store in an airtight container until needed (see Cook’s Notes).
Next, prepare the salted caramel walnuts. Melt the butter in a non-stick frying pan and once it starts to foam, add the walnuts, sugar and salt and sauté over a medium heat for 6–8 minutes or until the nuts are golden brown and caramelised. Remove from the heat, transfer the walnuts to a baking tray lined with non-stick baking paper and leave to cool completely, then store in an airtight container until needed (see Cook’s Notes). Before serving, gently break the walnuts into pieces.
For the whipped goat’s cheese, put the 250g goat’s cheese, the mascarpone, cinnamon and salt and pepper into a bowl and use a balloon whisk to whisk together until creamy. Add the cream and whisk together until the mixture thickens – when you lift the whisk it should leave a visible trail on the surface. Transfer the whipped cheese to a covered container and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
To serve, spread (or swipe) some of the puréed quince on each serving plate, crumble the remaining goat’s cheese and scatter half of it over the purée, then place the spiced filo stack strips on top. Arrange the poached quince pieces around the goat’s cheese and then place a quenelle (or spoonful) of whipped goat’s cheese on to each filo stack strip. Garnish with the remaining crumbled goat’s cheese, the salted caramel walnuts and mixed cress. Serve immediately.
The filo stack strips can be made up to 3 days in advance. Store them in an airtight container in a cool, dry cupboard.
The salted caramel walnuts can also be made up to 3 days in advance. Store them in an airtight container in a cool, dry cupboard.
You can substitute the quinces with pears and the goat’s cheese with a creamy blue cheese, if you like.