I’m not gonna lie, this recipe is quite a bit of work. If you’ve ever made ravioli before, then you know the amount of effort that’s involved: there’s the making of the filling, the making of the dough, the rolling of the dough, and the filling of the dough. And then you have to boil some water and cook it, while making the sauce as well. But that last bit is the easy part.
With all that being said, this recipe is perhaps the first I’ve ever made that involved quite a lot of jiggering, and, if I may toot my own horn, it’s delicious! It can also be made in parts, so you can steal parcels of time here and there to put it together. So click on through for my oh-so scintillating commentary, the rest of the photos—because I really don’t feel like bombarding the homepage of my blog with tons of process shots (there aren’t that many, but enough to be annoying)—and the recipe.
“If a person has ugly thoughts, it begins to show on the face. And when that person has ugly thoughts every day, every week, every year, the face gets uglier and uglier until you can hardly bear to look at it.
A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts it will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.”
-Roald Dahl, The Twits
I spent a couple years attending an international school in Hong Kong when I was younger, and though the experience didn’t have a huge effect on me (you can hardly call 5, 6, and 7 the formative years), I came away having read a lot of Roald Dahl. The Twits was one of those stories that left me especially wide-eyed. It’s not fantastical really, not like James and the Giant Peach, or The BFG, and yet, I think it branded me with a sort of irrational fear that if I was bad, all sorts of horrible, completely off-the-wall fates would happen to me. Because the Roald Dahl universe is twisted and creepy, the kind of place where people are just as likely to turn into ducks overnight as they are to turn blue and blow up. But ultimately, it’s unexpectedly kind (but only towards good children) and instills a sense of wonder into young, impressionable minds.
That’s kind of how I feel about this quince sorbet. It comes out beautifully, and yet, the fruit to start with is the unlikeliest of heroes. In fact, it’s just plain ODD. First of all, the quince reminds me of a gnome, squat and ancient and completely unreadable. This impression isn’t helped by the fact that it’s covered with a dense fuzz, or that it doesn’t DO anything when it ripens except turn yellow. (Your best bet is to smell it – its scent will intensify into a perfumed cross between a pear and an apple). Cut into it, and you realize how hopelessly unworkable it is, the fruit equivalent of scratching your nails across chalkboard. Dense, like cheap furniture comprised of packed sawdust, its flesh is not amenable to most knives. I had to twist mine in, shimmying back and forth, until it finally relented.
But slip it in a pot of water and let it slowly simmer away, and a transformation occurs. The quince softens, slowly letting the water seep into its parched veins. And in exchange, the water turns pink. That seems like a pretty fair exchange to me, because once you puree the entire contents of the pot and run it through your ice cream machine, you end up with a sorbet that’s a fairy tale pink. The pink of cotton candy, and fairy wings, and giant gumballs.
See what I mean? This quince sorbet would fit perfectly in the wacky world of Dahl.
(By the way, I took the picture above after about an hour of simmering. After three hours, the color was substantially more intense, almost a burgundy-pink. It lightened considerably after being churned in the ice cream machine.)
I started wearing close-toed shoes a couple weeks ago. If that’s not a sign that fall has arrived, I don’t know what is. Unfortunately, I’ve been in something of a denial about the season up until now, mostly revolving around the (very very bitter) fact that I didn’t get my fill of summer produce (seeing that most of the season was spent eating Trader Joe’s-branded cereal). I wanted to be a glutton come summer, you know? Eat way more tomatoes than my stomach could possibly bear, stuff myself with watermelon, incorporate corn and zucchini and eggplant into every single meal. That sort of thing. Because that’s what you’re supposed to do when nature presents you with all this amazing stuff ONCE a year. No, I don’t feel I reached my potential.
What turned me around in the end was these. Did I ever mention how much I love fall fashion? I’m pretty certain everyone loves fall fashion, but in my case, a beautiful pair of boots is enough to get me excited about the chilly days ahead. I’m also deliciously contemplating a new coat, the excuse to whip out leather gloves, and woolly socks! Don’t get me started on how much I love my woolly socks. I also can’t wait to head upstate to see the fall foliage (which was beautiful last year), take brisk walks through Central Park (so quintessentially New York, no?), and sip on cups of hot apple cider while strolling through the farmer’s market.
I’m also finding myself drawn to using my oven once more. It’s funny how something as innocent as the temperature of the air can dictate one’s desires. I couldn’t have imagined anything more unpleasant than turning on the oven just a couple months back—like NO foods were worth it, not even cookies—and yet, here I am, craving oven-baked sweet potato fries.
My head is a jumble of half-thought-out recipes, but before we get to the aspirational ones, let’s focus, for once, on what I actually eat pretty regularly, or rather, started eating pretty regularly (well, until summer hit, ha) after Amy laid out the steps to the best baked sweet potato fries half a year ago.
There is so much discussion on the web about how to achieve that Platonian ideal of the faux-deep-fried sweet potato fry. I’m actually more opposed to the mess caused by deep-frying than anything else. It’s a proven fact that oil spatters rise (or else explain to me why the things I store above the cabinets are perennially covered in a layer of grime), and I try to make it easy for my better half (better because he does the cleanup, you see) so I’ll save deep-frying for things like, I dunno, donuts? Churros? They’re worth the grease-stained stovetop.
Anyway, I got a taste of this raging debate after Googling the topic. Let me tell you, it is clearly the heyday of the sweet potato fry. People have thought of everything! To the mushy fry, space them apart while baking, to the soggy fry, rinse and let them dry before tossing them with oil and seasonings, to the burned fry and the undercooked fry, cut all your fries the same size. And most importantly, coat them! Coat them with a thin layer of corn starch or cornmeal or semolina, which tricks your tastebuds into believing you’re actually eating something really crispy and, therefore, fried, even if you’re not. Honestly, I don’t have much more to add. Just follow Amy’s advice. Although I do love the cornmeal/semolina coating just as much as the corn starch because it creates this texturally pleasing layer that crunches inside your mouth.
Now that I feel I’ve finally made peace with fall, I’ve got some season-appropriate recipes to start planning!
P.S. Yogurt + honey + a pinch of cinnamon makes a damn good dip.