Back at it

It’s been a solid 9 years since I posted anything here, but here I am, back at it.

This blog was the first expression a culinary impulse I had that eventually became Quince and Apple, the artisan food company Clare and I started in 2009 and still run today. Since then, almost all of my creative energy has been poured into building our business from scratch – creating, perfecting and scaling product recipes, designing an artisan production system that can support hundreds of wholesale customers, conceiving and promoting a brand first locally, then regionally and now nationally, and developing a sales system to sell enough jars to fund the whole operation.

Quince and Apple jar display

Turns out it takes a lot of work to make something like this a reality.

Basically, Clare and I have both been working tirelessly for the past 9 years to turn the nascent ideas I wrote about here into a full-fledged, nationally distributed artisan food company.

Matt sleeping on the shipping table circa 2010

Sleeping on the job in the early days.

Oh, we also had two kids along the way, so let’s just say it’s been busy.

The children

The children

So, why start up the blog again?

While continuing to grow and improve Quince and Apple will certainly continue to take up a lot of my time and energy, things are in a stable enough place now that I have enough time to get back to what I really love doing – creative explorations in the kitchen. It would be great if some of the things I write about here end up on store shelves in a Quince and Apple jar, but that’s not the short-term goal. Instead, the goal is to have a creative outlet that is free of the commercial pressures of developing new products for Q&A, which need to be perfected, scaled for distribution, priced correctly, branded, marketed and sold.

The things I work on and write about here will likely be less profitable, more experimental, less scalable and more likely to fail. But, they’ll be from the heart, which is the whole point.

So, stay tuned in the coming days and weeks for a peek at all the strange ideas I’ve been saving up for the past 9 years. Let’s hope it gets weird. 🙂

Green Tomato Preserves with Ginger and Apples

I came into a lot of green tomatoes this year as the frost approached. There’s no sense leaving them on the plant once a frost is on its way, so Clare and I and the neighbors picked all we had still on the vine and now I have the charge of making them taste good in jars. I’ve got about ten pounds.

Ok.

There are several recipes from Ferber, but they all sounded kinda wierd. 

Green Tomato and Cinnamon?

Green Tomato and Apples and Orange?

Green Tomato and Pumpkin?

Green Tomato and Veal Kidneys?

Ok, I made that last one up, but ew, right?

So, I decided to try Green Tomato and Ginger.

And then, as I was cooking, I was smelling the preserves and I thought to myself, “Hmm.. this smells great, I smells kinda like apple cider.”

Apple cider you say? Well, that was enough to convince me to cut up some Honeycrisp I bought at an orchard last week and toss ’em in the pot.

I like the end result. It’s got a nice smell and flavor and I really like the color. The tomatoes got much darker as they cooked.

Here’s the method.

Wash tomatoes.

Cut tomatoes into wedges and mix with an equal amount of sugar and juice of a lemon.  

Let macerate overnight. Bring to a boil the next day and return to fridge overnight.

The next day (day three by now), add medium dice apples and return to a boil.

Simmer and reduce until you achieve the desired set.

Here’s my end result:

Ok, here’s the next thing. 

I only used half the tomatoes and I’m needing to get going on the second half and I want your input.

So, vote for one of the two options below and I’ll make the winner:

Watermelon Rose Uncovered

Hey folks,

A funny thing happened to me last week.

I was sitting around at home working on some things and listening to a little Tom Waits, as I often do, when he sang something that made me pause.

Now, Tom sings a lot of strange things, but this was different.

Do you remember when I made my Watermelon Rose Jelly that I said it sounded like both a bath gel and a stripper?

Well, watch this (I recommend putting your kids and prudish aunt out of earshot).

The part you’re lookin’ for is at 1:13 if you don’t want to watch the whole thing, which I won’t pretend to understand.

Now, I want you to realized that this was the first Tom Waits song I ever heard. I thought it was the strangest, most wonderful thing I had ever heard and I have a vivid memory of the scene:

I was 15 and it was raining after a rehearsal at school. I was planning on walking home, when Lindsay Buccina offered me a ride home. I was a sophmore and she was a senior. And I had a crush on her.

Naturally, I said yes.

We walked to her powder blue late ’80s Chevy sedan and got inside. She offered me a cigarette and put on this song.

I said, “Who is this?”

She said, “You don’t know Tom Waits? You should really listen to Tom Waits. You’d like him a lot.”

I wasn’t about to dissappoint, so I ran out the next day and bought two albums and the rest is history.

It never went anywhere with Lindsay, but I got hooked on Tom Waits that night and even got a tasty jelly recipe out of it as well.

Apparently that name has been kicking around in my head for all this time.

So, friends, my advice to you is to never turn down a ride home in the rain from a cute girl.

Who knows where it could lead?

Seckel Pears with Honey and Ginger

Hey folks, it’s been awhile since I wrote a post, but I’m back.

I’ve been hard at work getting things going to sell this delicious jams. I’m currently looking around for commercial kitchen space to rent. But, once I’m done with that and I get my food processor’s license, I should be in pretty good shape to start selling things.

I might even get things to market before the holidays. We’ll see…

The name for these tasty little treats is going to be quince & apple. Here’s the proposed logo:

But, in the midst of doing all this I have found time to make one jam that I really liked: Seckel Pears with Honey and Ginger.

I’ve always loved Seckels the best of all the pears because of their size, texture and flavor. They’re tiny, so they’re adorable. They’re more firm than Bartletts, but less so than Boscs. And, they have a strong pear flavor which carries some spice notes along for good measure.

So, I thought this recipe would be really good, with the honey and the ginger playing off of the Seckels’ spice overtones.

The method for this recipe is really quite simple.

Peel the pears (this is really annoying, just as a heads up).

Then, you cut ’em up, mix ’em with sugar, honey and grated fresh ginger, bring them to a simmer and put them in the fridge over night in a ceramic bowl with a parchment lid. The next day, you bring them mix to a simmer and add apple jelly for pectin content.

Simmer, reduce and can.

Here’s the final result:

Also, I wanted to thank another blogger at Straight from the Farm who put up a really nice post about my Ground Cherry Chamomile Jam and I wanted to congratulate another reader, Kathryn, who adapted the recipe to win second place in her local CSA recipe contest.

Go team david matthew readers!

Maple Nectarine

The other preserve that I worked on this week is a Maple Nectarine Preserve.

Pretty straightforward stuff here:

Cut up nectarines.

Bring to boil with sugar, maple syrup, and lemon juice (and Bourbon).

Transfer to ceramic bowl and refrigerate overnight.

Bring back to boil, reduce, check set and put into jars.

As you can see, I’m experimenting with different jars to see what shape I want to sell the preserves in. The little one would be part of a sample set of, say, 5 different preserves.

A tasty little treat from the waning days of summer.

Shallot Confit with Cabernet Sauvignon

I wanted to go in a bit of a new direction with my preserves this week, something with an intended savory application.

The grape jelly I made last week had me in the mood for wine and, so, I started there.

I worked at a high-end French restaurant in Madison some years back and we made a wonderful Shallot Confit that we served with our hanger steak and it immediately popped into my head once I sat down to make a plan.

Why not translate that recipe into a preserve? Besides, confit is French for “to preserve.”

The basic plan for the confit is to first julienne the shallots very finely.

Let me just say that I LOVE julienning shallots and onions. Especially with a gorgeous, extremely sharp Japanese chef’s knife.

I am now resisting the very strong urge to go to my kitchen and start cutting things.

I then caramelize the shallots completely.

Then, I deglaze with wine, add sugar, lemon juice, red wine vinegar and sugar-free pectin (important for a preserve with savory applications).

Here’s the result.

I think it would be delicious with steak, terrines and blue cheeses.

The Nuisance of a Name

Hey folks, here’s the deal.

I’m working on jumping through all the legal hoops to get a license to sell my jams and preserves for real money. All that’s fairly easy once you know what you have to do.

The hard part is coming up with a name.

david matthew sounds kinda formal and a bit like a furniture collection (“Oh, I just love your couch.” “Thank you, it’s a david matthew.”)

But I also kinda like it.

I’ve been coming up a lot of good ideas, but nothing great.

That’s where you come in.

I’m looking for a name for my preserves business that would go on every jar and that would capture these adjectives:

high-end
elegant
fun
comfortable
tidy
delicious
artisan
hand crafted
Anyone got any bright ideas?