Oddly enough back in November 2013 we described the lovely sheepy cheese that is Wigmore Ewes Cheese and, completely coincidentally (really!) this months cheese is not only another sheep’s cheese, but from the same stable, or should that be field as Wigmore.
Spenwood Sheep’s Cheese is a semi-hard cheese from Anne and Andy Wigmore from Berkshire. In taste it has a lovely nuttiness offset by a sweetness that has just a hint of pear.
The smell on the nose is wheaty – in a very nice way.
The inspiration for the cheese came from a visit to Sardinia and tasting of young pecorino. Here in the UK we tend to just shove pecorino on pasta or pizza but it is a truly lovely cheese when semi hard.
I think a glass of dry white wine or sherry would just set this cheese off as a little appetizer. If you wanted to serve as niblets at a party or pre-dinner then a lovely partner would be a small square of Membrillo or Quince Paste, or a thin sliver of firm ripe pear.
I hesitate to offer a recipe to cook with. It is such a lovely cheese that it would never get to within a sniff of a pan in our house. IF you do have some left, for heaven’s sake, don’t chuck it. Use it in place of Pecorino or Parmesan on your pasta or risotto. If the lump is too small then pop it in your batch of tomato pasta sauce and it will add a beautiful umami backnote.
Quinces are ripe now so here is a recipe for your very own Membrillo. (probably best to do this over a couple of rainy days – which at the moment is any day of the week).
Rub any soft down off the quinces then carefully slice or chunk them small. I say carefully because quinces are rock hard before cooking and knives can slide off. Pop them in a deep pan.
Add the zest of the lemon then barely cover with water. Bring to the boil then set the hob to a low temperature and simmer the quince until soft and a deep lovely pink colour. This will take about three hours and your kitchen will smell divine. You will need to check on the water amount and make sure the quince is just submerged.
Pour the lot into a jelly bag and either hang up over a saucepan or set in a colander over the pan and allow to drain overnight.
KEEP THE PULP!!!
This is your main ingredient. You can either mush the quince down into pulp or whack it through a blender. Either way, once pulped and sieved, weigh the pulp then put it in a pan with the juice of half a lemon. Weigh your caster sugar and either go for 50g less than the weight of the pulp for a less sweet paste, or equal to the pulp weight for something sweeter.
Again, over a very low heat bring the pulp and sugar to a simmer and let it murble for about 2 – 3 hours, stirring occasionally. The paste will darken in colour and become much stiffer. When ready you can either pot the paste into small jam jars (as you would jam) or spread it over a shallow baking tin and when set, cut into squares then put in layers in box with greaseproof paper. For the best taste, allow to mature for 4 – 6 weeks.
Added bonus – The Quince Juice can be used for making Quince Jelly.