Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Word Of The Week

ratafia

Thanks to Chez Loulou and her work on Like to Cook for this great idea (follow the links for the recipe) !

When Loulou said she made liqueur de coings (quince liqueur) every year it got me thinking. Our neighbor has a big old cognassier (quince tree) and most of the fruit rots every year. You can only do so much with quince.

One year, Ken made so much quince jelly that I don't think we'll ever need any more. So I got the liqueur recipe, pilfered about six quince from the neighbor's tree, and went to work.

My ratafia de coings bofore going into the cellar to macerate. I tripled the recipe (!) and divided it into one-liter canning jars.

The original recipe that Loulou quoted used the word ratafia to refer to this cordial. I've been served ratafia in French homes, and I think we've even bought some in a bottle once. So now I was wondering, what the heck is ratafia, anyway ?

The Larousse Gastronomique defines ratafia as a homemade cordial that's prepared by macerating (almost any) fruit in an eau-de-vie (distilled alcohol) with sugar. This as opposed to distilling the juice of the fruit directly. In Loulou's recipe, the quince are grated and macerated in vodka and sugar.

The macerating process will take a couple months, and our ratafia should be ready for this coming holiday season.

12 comments:

  1. What's with the "worms in the jar"??? I thought you might have more liquid in there, or will it seep out of the future in the following weeks?? I love quince. Vida x x x

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  2. looks fantastic!
    I hope you're happy with the results. We'll have to compare notes.

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  3. looks like orange peel.....did u grate or chop.....what's the proportion of eau de vie/sugar/fruit? The lady I lived with in Paris (1969) used to serve us something she called "le mystere" and it tasted like strong alcohol with orange....I'll bet it was something like this.....would love to recreate

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  4. funny about quince. My family tradition has it that quince jelly is just great when people have diarrhea! I wonder it that is true or not ;)
    And if the cordial would have a similar effect...
    Sorry for the scatological note!

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  5. I'll bet that stuff will take the top of your head off. In a good way, of course!

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  6. Ratafia is a common apéritif here in Aveyron too. I'm sorry, but I just can't take it. Give me a good glass of wine...or champagne...or two...I hope yours turns out well, though!

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  7. I tried something similar one winter a few years ago: soaked dried apricots in vodka with a bit of sugar. Chris is right: it takes the top of one's head off in the nicest possible way.

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  8. For those who want Loulou's recipe, click on either link in the body of the post.

    vida - I just followed the recipe. I think there needs to be maximum contact between the fruit and the liquid. Worms ! hahahaha !

    loulou - definitely.

    melinda - I wonder what that was, but it sounds good.

    claude - I'll be sure to let you know.

    chris and susan - small sips...

    betty - I'm not a big cordial drinker although I'm nuts about digestifs like cognac, armagnac, calvados, poire, etc. Again, small doses, after meals.

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  9. I think that this would be a great gift for a few friends around the holidays. I am starting to want to make something other than preserves and jellies.

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  10. Oh yes, "digestifs" are a different story altogether!

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  11. mpabner - I think that's a great idea.

    betty, oh good. You had me worried there...

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  12. i love quince -- i wonder if you could make at home membrillo, quince paste/pate. and then there's all those moroccan tagines of meat and quince. mmmm.
    i've mentioned jane grigson's Good Things (cheap in paperback from amazon uk) in this neighborhood before, but she's wonderful on old fashioned country french recipes -- and has a whole chapter on quince, from quince and mulberry pie, to quince paste!, tagine, ratafia, ice cream, fool, etc.
    i bet the ratafia would be outrageous on fruitcakes or to flambee figgy pudding and stuff. let us know how it turns out.

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