Quince is an interesting fruit, no really that’s not just a trope. It is native to south-west Asia, Turkey and Iran to be more specific and is found in many middle eastern recipes both sweet and savory. It does grow in the United States, but isn’t a well know fruit and I have found many people who have looked at me quizzically when I’ve mentioned it. Unless they’re die hard cheese lovers, then they are familiar with the sticky red cube that often accompanies a cheese plate.

Recently a friend got involved in helping to steward an old orchard near where we both live and to my surprise the orchard includes several quince trees. When it came time to harvest the fruit she thoughtfully emailed me and asked would I like some? Of course I talked to Chef Traci about it and we decided to buy fifty pounds of fruit to cook into marmalade and can for the holidays. What I got was a serious education in quince, which is right up my alley.

The fruit itself is covered in a sticky fuzz, it is how you know the fruit is ready to pick. When the fuzz rubs off easily, it’s ready! Nature is so amazing in it’s simplicity sometimes.  Once it’s picked you wash off the fuzz, peel the fruit, and clean out the inside with a melon baller and a sharp knife. Quince is surprisingly hard so be careful when you cut it, a very sharp knife is important. The flesh is very pale, but it oxidizes quickly. You can put the fruit in acidulated water (1 quart of cold water mixed with the juice of on lemon should do it). It won’t keep it completely from turning brown on the outside, but it slows it down. In my experience I found it actually didn’t matter that much if the fruit oxidized, the end result was the same beautiful color.

Once your fruit is ready you cook it in simple syrup (a dilute syrup, roughly a 3:1 ratio in the recipe we used) until it turns that signature red. We grated ours to make marmalade, but you can poach the halves, similar to a pear and serve in syrup. Honey & Co. cooks them in large slices with meatballs. I read a recipe where they were used in a candied bacon recipe. There are myriad possibilities with this fruit. The season is over for this year in our area, but I’m already looking forward to the 2017 harvest.

Quince Marmalade


3/4 c sugar

3 c water

1 c grated quince (peeled and cored)

Optional aromatics: vanilla bean, cardamom pods, juniper berries, use your imagination


1) Bring sugar and water to a boil in a saucepan

2)Add quince and optional aromatics (taste after 1 hour, you may opt to remove aromatics at this point)

3) Stir occasionally for up to 2 hours (possibly longer) or until most of the liquid has evaporated and quince is very soft

4) Remove aromatics, if you haven’t already done so

5) Cool, place in a clean jar and store in the refrigerator for up to a month

Note: Serve with toast (challah is an amazing match), with cheese, or just eat it straight out of the jar. I recommend you share it with someone you love

Ah, you can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world...

Ah, you can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world...

Summer fruit, I love you. If it were possible, I'd marry you, so we could live together always.

I love simple recipes. They have a way of showcasing the pure, unadulterated natural flavors. My obsession this week: Peaches.

From the fuzzy skin, to the juicy flesh, a ripe peach is Mother Nature's way of showing off. This easy summer recipe I learned while at cooking school in Italy. Four ingredients, very little prep time.


6 ripe peaches

750ml rose wine or cava wine

100g sugar

½ vanilla pod

Optional Garnish:

50g blanched almonds

Sprigs of fresh mint



1.       Dip the peaches for a few seconds in boiling water, refresh in cold water.

2.       Peel off the skin and cut into slices.

3.       Place into a serving bowl.

4.       In a saucepan bring the wine, sugar and vanilla pod (split lengthwise) to a boil. Let it simmer for 10 minutes.

5.       Cool a little and pour over the peaches.

6.       Cool completely before placing int the fridge to marinate for a few hours.

7.       Decorate with sprigs of mint, blanched almonds.


Fiery Harissa Adorned Chicken Thighs

Fiery Harissa Adorned Chicken Thighs

When I was preparing my recipe list for the Mediterranean cooking class at Pike Place Market, I knew I wanted to include a North African dish. Tagine would take too much of the one hour class, so I started researching other popular dishes from the often overlooked region on the Mediterranean Sea.

Harissa is a condiment, so fiery and spicy, that my Mexican roots were delighted after the first taste. It's delish-ness is unique, and versatile. For the class, I taught the guests how simple it was to put together, and I tossed it with roasted sweet potatoes for a side dish to our Mediterranean feast..

The following week, I made a fresh batch. This one a tad more spicy. I blended it with a full-fat Greek yogurt and served it with fresh pita for a catering event.

My love affair with harissa continued and I made another batch the following week. Again I added Greek yogurt and marinated chicken thighs in the sauce for my personal chef clients. Tons of flavor and protein. I served it over stewed red lentils spiced with caraway seeds.

Note: Make the Harissa a day ahead so the onions have time to hang out in the turmeric and salt. (I confess, the first time I made it I only let them sit for 6 hours, and it was delish.)

Harissa Sauce:


1 sweet Walla Walla, onion, (may substitute Maui Sweet or Vidalia Onion), thinly sliced

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt

10-15 dried arbol chiles, stemmed and seeded

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon whole caraway seeds

1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 - 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 cups Greek Yogurt (do not use low-fat)

10 chicken thighs, boneless, skinless

Fresh mint, fresh cilantro (if desired for garnish)


1.  In a shallow bowl, toss the onion slices with the turmeric and salt. Cover the onion with plastic wrap and let stand overnight in the refrigerator.

2. After your onions have soaked overnight, heat a heavy pan over medium high heat. Add the arbol peppers and toast, turning frequently to prevent burning. The peppers will become fragrant. Transfer the chilies to a bowl, let them cool completely. Break off the stems and tear them into small pieces, allowing the seeds to catch in the bowl. Add the chilies to a food processor.

3. Drain the onion slices in a strainer, pressing hard to extract as much liquid as possible.

4. Transfer the onions to the food processor, along with the chilies, coriander, caraway seeds, pepper and cinnamon and process to a paste. With the machine on, gradually add the olive oil and puree until fairly smooth. Empty into a large bowl and stir in 2 cups of Greek Yogurt.

5. Remove 1 cup of mixture and set aside. With remaining Harissa-Yogurt blend in a bowl, toss chicken thighs and cover completely. Refrigerate for 4 hours up to overnight.

6. In a hot skillet, add a tablespoon of canola oil. Add chicken thighs, charring on each side. Reduce heat and cover for 12-15 minutes, until cooked through. 

Garnish with mint or cilantro if desired.

Serve with reserved harissa atop red lentils or couscous.