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Greek Quince Paste
makes about 2 1/2 dozen

3 quinces, about 14 oz each
1 lb pears
4 cups sugar, plus extra for storing
4 Tb lemon juice
1/3 cup shelled almonds, blanched & lightly toasted
about 2 Tb Cognac or Poire William eau-de-vie

1 Tb lime flowers (ti'lio)
1 Tb lemon balm or lemon verbena (lui'sa), about 16 leaves
6-8 lemon geranium leaves (arbaro'riza)

A day ahead, make a strong infusion of lime flowers, lemon balm,
and scented geranium leaves by putting them in a glass jar with 1
1/2 cups of water and standing it in the sun all day. Alternatively,
simmer them together for 15 mins.

Peel, core, and chop the quinces into chunks. Puree in a food
processor. Peel, core, and chop the pears and puree them too. In
a large heavy-bottomed pot, mix the sugar with the infusion and
the lemon juice.

Bring slowly to a boil to dissolve the sugar, then boil for 10
mins. Stir in the fruit pulp and bring back to a boil. Turn down
the heat as low as possible - ideally, slip a heat diffuser under
the pan. Stir, cover, and simmer for 2-3 hrs, until the fruit
turns amber-to-dark pink. Stir occasionally, to be sure the bottom
is not sticking. The syrup should reduce to the consistency of a
thick porridge. If this is not happening, remove the lid and continue
cooking until a spoon run through the fruit leaves a trench. Be
careful not to burn the bottom. (**If you stop cooking the syrup
at a thinner stage you will have marmalade**)

Pour the fruit pulp into a 12 inch square baking pan, to a depth
of 3/4-> 1 inch. Press the toasted almonds in at regular intervals.
Cover tightly with clean cheesecloth and leave in the sun for 1
week. Or lacking Greek sun, put in an oven at its lowest heat to
dry. Brush the dried paste with Cognac, sprinkle with sugar, and
cut into pieces. To store, put in an airtight box with bay leaves
and waxed paper between the layers and eat within 6 months.


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