Oven-Dried Quinces in Hibiscus Soup

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This was a dish that I invented after nosing around Charlie Trotter’s preparations for cooking on the show and noticing that he was going to use one of my favorite foodstuffs—ripe quinces. Then I was served a cup of hibiscus tea, and an idea for an unconventional soup sprang into my mind.

There was some sweetened, fresh blackberry puree on hand in Charlie’s kitchen, so I drizzled that around the dish as a final touch.

Ingredients

  • ½ cup dried hibiscus flowers
  • 1 cup simple syrup
  • salt
  • ½ cup superfine sugar
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary, stemmed, leaves finely chopped
  • 1 large pink-yellow rose
  • 4 Oven-Dried Quinces (see Oven-Dried Pears), peeled, halved (into quarters)
  • ½ cup cold Dessert Custard Sauce

Method

Put the hibiscus flowers in the syrup, add a pinch of salt, and heat (but not to a boil) for a few minutes. Remove from the heat and let steep for 30 minutes. Strain and chill the liquid.

Mix the sugar and the rosemary. Cut the rose petals into fine shreds and mix into the rosemary sugar. Let sit for 30 minutes.

Put the pieces of quince in chilled large white soup plates. Then pour or spoon the hibiscus flower soup around them. Drizzle some of the custard over the quince and around the soup. Then lift the rose shreds out of the sugar and garnish the quince with them.

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