Life beyond Pizza

Yes, there is! Amazing, eh? Of course, it still includes the pizza oven. Here’s how…


Apparently quinces have a short season. And hardly anyone grows them any more. So I was impressed when both my Mum (who doesn’t grow them, even though she grows everything) and some people I barely knew turned up bearing quinces on the same day. We had friends over for dinner that night, and had neither time nor energy left over to supervise pots of quinces on the stove for hours to make jelly or paste. What we did have was residual heat in the wood oven after cooking tandoori chicken and Andrew’s bread. Hey presto (or should I say larghissimo) – poached quinces. They were piping hot, sweet and ruby red at breakfast time, all ready to serve with fresh porridge, yogurt and honey – mmm, bring on winter!!

  • INGREDIENTS: Quinces, sugar, water, cloves.
  • Wash quinces, rubbing the brownish down off the skin.
  • Cut into quarters or eighths, depending on size, and cut out cores. Try to get all the grainy core bits out. A heavy cleaver and a sharp little pointy knife helped here – I had never realised how hefty a fruit this is, and my apple corer would not have been up to the task.
  • Boil kettle.
  • Pack quinces into a baking dish. Sprinkle generously with sugar and 2/3 fill dish with boiling water. Drop a few cloves into the water.
  • Cover tightly with foil and leave in low oven overnight.
  • Could be bottled in sterilised jars if organised enough when you wake up. They do look gorgeous. Easier to just eat them though 🙂
  • Skin peels off easily after cooking so no need to bother peeling first.

Another happy discovery about wood oven cooking is the value of charcoal. If the oven is closed up with plenty of coals still burning, we are sometimes left with enough charcoal to cook another meal next time we fire up – not enough to reach the heat required for pizza, but sufficient for tonight’s fish, for example.

I adapted Luke Nguyen’s recipe for Chargrilled lemongrass Telopea fish, using a baby barramundi that Mum gave me today, and substituting lemon verbena and lemon thyme for the lemongrass in the stuffing, since our lemongrass is sulking after I divided it and transplanted it all over the place. It worked pretty well wrapped in alfoil and baked on the oven floor, but I would still like to try it as per the original recipe, wrapped in lemongrass and grilled over the hot coals, for a more crisp, salty, smoky skin.

So, Easter projects ahoy! Time to really, truly finish off once and for all those raised garden beds that have been languishing in the backyard for months. Transplant some as-yet-fruitless feijoas into the sunshine on the verge to see whether they might fruit there (or whether they are the ornamental type) – OK in any case as they can still be useful by helping to shelter the baby avocado tree from the wind. And perhaps we’ll cook a bit of pizza to wash down with the homebrew. It’s a hard life.

This entry was posted in breakfast, fruit, herbs, outdoor living, recipes, seasonal living, slow food, wood oven cooking and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Life beyond Pizza

  1. cait says:

    If you want quinces, they grow in absolute abundance wild in a gully in Golden Grove. We picked heaps weeks ago and mum made quince jam. Its good stuff, next year I’ll need to give these poached ones a go!

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