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What I’m Cooking…Lucy Corry

Lucy Corry’s edible garden was practically destroyed by Wellington’s dismal summer. But a surprise autumn arrival has given her new hope.

It has not been a successful start to the year in my garden. The garlic crop failed, the lettuces went to seed and the late-planted tomatoes were either blown out of the ground or bore waterlogged fruit.

The red currant bush was downed in a southerly and the Chilean guavas gave up the ghost. I’d all but given up on the quince tree, which hadn’t borne a single fruit after five years, when I spotted a glowing orb hanging from its branches two weeks ago. I was racing down the steps to catch the bus and made a mental note to check it when I got home, but by the time I got back it was too cold and dark.

Days later, I thought it must have been a mirage – the branches were bare and there was no sign of it anywhere. Then I found it on the ground, a precious parting gift from Cyclone Cook. I carried it inside proudly and it sat on the sideboard with half a dozen of its kin from the shops.

I have a bit of a quince habit at this time of year, but it’s mostly confined to buying some and letting them scent the kitchen (aside from making syrup for DIY quince martinis). But now we have a productive tree in our midst, I’m going to have to make more of an effort. Here’s a recent experiment.

Mulled quinces

Serves 4-6

Preparation time: 10 minutes / Cooking time: 45-60 minutes

  • 1½ cups red wine
  • ¾ cup hot water
  • ¾ cup lightly packed brown sugar
  • pinch of ground cloves (or 3-4 whole cloves)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 star anise
  • 4 medium quinces, halved and cored

To serve:

  • Greek yoghurt
  • ½ cup toasted almonds, roughly chopped

Put the wine, water, sugar, and spices in a medium saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer. Add the quinces, then cover and simmer very gently for 45-60 minutes, until the quinces are soft when pierced with a fork.

Remove the quinces to a serving dish, and bring the syrup to a boil for five minutes. To serve, plate up each quince half with a dollop of Greek yoghurt or whipped cream. Scatter over some toasted almonds and pour over a generous drizzle of hot syrup.