Amy Pennington is the wise-cracking, one-woman show behind GoGo Green Garden, the edible gardening business that's got her driving all over town in a Volkswagen whose trunk is overflowing with tarps, seeds, and shovels. Pennington, who grew up on Long Island with a front yard full of goats and a back yard full of vegetables, now builds, plants, and tends edible gardens for her clients in their Seattle backyards, with a special focus on regional and native foods. (Pennington's client list includes Spring Hill chef Mark Fuller, who now grows some of the vegetables featured on the restaurant's menu.) Last March, Pennington launched Urban GardenShare, a garden website that pairs city gardeners to garden space via an online matching site.
Before being on the go in the gardens, Pennington worked for years in Seattle restaurants, including time in the Tom Douglas mini-empire. For five years, she produced Douglas' and Thierry Rautureau's radio show, "In The Kitchen with Tom and Thierry," for KIRO, and currently contributes a weekly segment called The Urban Garden Report. Pennington has just finished writing her first cookbook, Urban Pantry: Tips & Recipes for a Thrifty, Sustainable, Seasonal Kitchen, to be published in April 2010 by SkipStone Press. Among the book's many recipes is Pennington's Apple-Quince Butter, which she shares here.
excerpted from Urban Pantry from Skipstone Publishing
Makes about 5 half-pints
Says Pennington: I can never decide which I like better - apple or quince butter - so I started using equal amounts in my butter recipes and the results were excellent. Seek out heirloom apples when you can. I prefer Winesap but plenty of other varieties work well: Macintosh, Spitzenburg, Rome, Empire. Fruit butters sit on low heat for a very long time before thickening, so make sure to plan a few hours for this one.
2 pounds apples, washed and scrubbed
2 pounds quince
2 cups water
4 cups organic apple cider
2 cups sugar
1 lemon, squeezed of juice, halves reserved
1 teaspoon freshly grated cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground clove
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
In large stock pot, add water and cider. Peel and core quince. Chop into 1-inch pieces and add to stock pot. Peel apples and chop into 1-inch pieces and add to stock pot (Yes, core, seeds and all!). The liquid in the pot should just cover the fruit. If there is not enough liquid, add cider or water to cover. Place over medium to medium high heat and bring to a simmer. Cook until all fruit is soft and you can mash it with the back of a spoon. Working in batches, add fruit to a blender (only half full at a time, as hot liquids expand) and puree. (You may also use a food mill, if you prefer.) When all the fruit is pureed, put it back into the stock pot. Add sugar, lemon and spices and return to medium heat.
Apple butter takes a long while to thicken. Keep your pot over medium to medium low heat, stirring continuously every few minutes, taking care not to let it burn. If fruit butter is too hot and sticking to the bottom of your pot, turn the heat down. Butter is done when a small spoonful is placed on a plate and no liquid separates out, creating a ring around the fruit butter. Cooking time can take anywhere from one to two hours.
Add thick apple butter to jars, and gently tap bottom of jar on counter to release any air bubbles. Seal using proper canning methods, or store in your fridge.
PANTRY NOTE: Apple-Quince butter is great on toast, of course, but can be used in lots of clever ways. Smear a layer of fruit butter on puff pastry, cover with thinly sliced apples, sprinkle with Demerara sugar, and bake for an easy dessert. Apple butter can also be used to line the base of a tart: Spread a thin layer on the bottom of the tart shell, and add the other filling right on top. This works especially well with almond butter (frangipane) tarts.