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DJ Olsen is the chef at Lou Wine Bar, 724 Vine St, LA (323) 962-6369.  He is shopping for quince, a hard apple-like and fuzzy-skinned fruit that can only be eaten when cooked. Quince are just coming into season now.

Quince Tart with Roasted Grapes, Almonds and Crème Brulée Ice Cream
Serves 6

Quince Tart
1 lb commercial, all butter puff pastry (Dufour’s, available at Surfas, is a 14 oz package.)
All-Purpose flour for rolling out puff pastry
1 small egg and a dash of water to create an egg wash
1 1/2 lb fresh quince
1 quart acidulated water (water with a lemon squeezed into it)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup good quality fresh apple cider
Tiny pinch kosher salt
Roasted grapes (recipe follows)
1/4 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted
Crème brulée ice cream (recipe follows)

1. Preheat oven to 400F
2. Thaw puff pastry (1 sheet) in the refrigerator at least 2 hours before needed. Unfold the thawed sheet and divide it into four equal-sized rectangles. As you’ll only need one of these rectangles for the tart (roughly a 1/4 lb), the other three can be wrapped separately in plastic and refrozen for later use.
3. Generously dust a work surface with All-Purpose flour. Roll the puff pastry to an 8 x 10 rectangle.
4. Using a paring knife, score a 1/2 inch border around the perimeter of the rectangle, being careful not to cut entirely through the pastry.
5. Paint this border with egg wash.
6. Place the puff pastry on a parchment-lined sheet pan and freeze.
7. Meantime, peel the quince, subsequently placing peeled quince in acidulated water to prevent discoloration.
8. Using a very sharp chef’s knife, cut the quince in half, lengthwise; cut the halves into quarters, quarters into eighths.
9. Cut away the core and seeds of each wedge. Cut each wedge into three thin slices, placing cut slices back into acidulated water.
10. Drain quince slices; toss slices in sugar.
11. Melt butter in large saucepan over med. hi heat.
12. Add sugared quince slices, cider, pinch salt; sauté until slices have softened and are sweet.
13. Remove slices from pan; increase heat; reduce juices until they’ve thickened into a syrup. Cool and reserve.
14. Remove puff pastry from freezer; arrange quince slices in overlapping rows, within the egg washed border; dust the quince with sugar.
15.  Bake tart until border has raised and turned golden brown (12-15 minutes). Remove tart from the oven; carefully lift one side to check that the bottom has turned golden brown as well. If not, return to the oven for a few additional minutes of baking.
To serve, cut the tart into six portions, each slice roughly 1-1/4” in width. Garnish one end of each slice with roasted grapes, topping the grapes with toasted almonds, and the other end with a scoop of crème brulée ice cream. Drizzle the reserved, reduced pan juices over the tart and around the plate.

Roasted Grapes

1 lb mixed red and purple, seedless table grapes (Red Flame, Autumn Royal, Black Corinth, etc.)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
Pinch kosher salt

Use a 425F convection oven, or 450F still oven
1. Stem and wash all grapes; drain
2. Toss grapes with sugar and salt
3. Place grapes in a med. sized gratin pan, or flat baking dish large enough to allow the grapes to lay in a single layer.
4. Roast in the oven until grapes begin to collapse and release their juices, and the the sugars have begun to caramelize. Some of the grapes will blacken, some will collapse entirely, some will remain whole. The goal is to cook them until there is a variety of shapes and textures, and a nice caramelization has begun (10-15 min.).
5. Remove grapes from pan with their juices; store at room temperature until needed for tart.

Roasted grapes can be stored, tightly covered , refrigerated for up to four days. After that they begin to ferment. They are excellent in salads, as a layer in a sandwich, as garnish for ice cream, with chocolate, etc. They are especially good with roasted figs and smokey bleu cheese.  

Crème Brulée Ice Cream (recipe doubles well)

2 cups good quality whole milk
2 cups good quality whipping or manufacturing cream
4 large egg yolks
1/2 cup bruléed brown sugar (recipe follows)
1 Tahitian vanilla bean, split and scraped

1. Place milk, cream, scraped vanilla bean and its seeds over med. heat; heat until small bubbles begin to form around the perimeter of the saucepan; remove from heat an allow mixture to steep while preparing other ingredients.
2. Place egg yolks in bowl of a standmixer fitted with a whisk. Whip at med. slo speed just enough to break and slightly mix them; rain in brulée sugar and mix until thoroughly blended.
3. With motor running (medium-slow) add a few tablespoons of hot milk/cream liquid to temper the eggs. Gradually add more and more of the hot liquid until well-blended. This is the custard base.
4. Place the custard base back into the saucepan and cook over med. heat, stirring constantly with a spatula until the mixture has thickened and coats well, the spatula (6-8 minutes)
5. Strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer to remove the vanilla bean pod and any curdled egg bits.
6. Pour the mixture into a shallow metal pan and refrigerate for a minimum of two hours, preferably overnight.
7. Pour chilled mixture into an ice cream maker; proceed as directed by the ice cream maker instructions.
8. Once ice cream has formed, remove to a plastic container and freeze an additional two hours minimum.
Once the ice cream is made and thoroughly frozen, it can seem very hard to scoop. This can be remedied by a quick shot in the microwave, no more than 30 seconds at low power, or left for a few minutes on the counter at room temperature.

Bruléed Sugar
1/2 lb (or more) dark brown sugar

Use a 425F convection, or 450F still oven
1. Spread the sugar in a very thin, even layer atop a parchment lined sheet pan.
2. Bake the sugar until its starts to caramelize, is beginning to melt into a mass; do not allow it to smoke.
3. Remove from the oven; let cool to room temperature.
4. Place in a food processor and pulse until the sugar has reverted to a granular state.
Bruléed sugar keeps six months. It’s an excellent topping for ice cream, custards, or fruits, a wonderful  sweetener for coffee and tea.