Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Sunny Side of Life

With the holidays here, I'm often found experimenting. I love making food gifts. I have a whole collection of treats and nibbles that I like to make and package to give friends and loved ones. I try and push further than your typical cookies and 10 bean soup mixes. That means researching, making and tasting new finds to add to my collection. Sometimes you have to wait until the star ingredient is in season to test out a new recipe and so it was with Kumquats in Spiced Syrup over at Cooking Light.

Not everyone enjoys kumquats. I don't fall into that camp. I love the fragrant citrus sweetness of the skin and the sour pop of the flesh. It's like a sweet and sour popper in your mouth. It only gets better when you marinate the fruit in a spicy syrup of cinnamon, star anise, cloves and vanilla, topped off with a little brandy. It's a fairly easy recipe with the exception of one caveat...there is a monotonous annoyance factor. The recipe, as written, calls for 2 pounds or about 8 cups of kumquats. Each kumquat has to be pieced several times with a wooden skewer or toothpick. That's a lot of kumquat stabbing. Sounds like a job for...The Kids. (I'm quite sure had my mother known of this recipe when I was a kid, this job would have been all mine). Now the tricky part is if can you trust your kids to complete the massive task and not to stab themselves or their siblings (what?? poke my brother with a wooden skewer?? Never!). Once you get past any potential whining and poking, the rest is a breeze. You're on your own explaining to The Kids that after all their hard work they're still going to have to wait two weeks to taste the fruits of their labor. Just tell them all good things come to those who wait.

16 comments:

froggy said...

We experimented with The Engineer's family tradition - the little pancake balls filled with applesauce. We've been adding fillings over the years and this year we added bacon jam (which we learned about from Top Chef's Kevin). OH WOW! Is now going to be on the must have list of fillings.

Big Shamu said...

Oh geez Froggy, that sounds great. Is there a name for those little pancake balls? You know I'm all over the bacon jam.
Happy Holidays by the way.

Dani said...

They look so beautiful in the jars. Very cheerful.

I'll have to keep my eye out for Kumquat trees when I'm out and about in the neighborhood. Some might need to be liberated.

Big Shamu said...

FREE THE KUMQUATS!!

froggy said...

Aebleskivers - The Engineer's family came from Sweden and Norway. We have ancient pans and buy one for every child that gets married along with a copy of the hand written recipe (color copiers capture the worn condition and stains ;-) My handwritten note on the card is 'burn the first batch' as The Engineer and I had to learn the hard way.
Recipe on info on the interwebz here
http://scandinavianfood.about.com/od/pastryrecipes/r/aebleskiver.htm

Big Shamu said...

Awww thanks froggy. I will definitely try these out. Let's take Baconization into the year 2010!

Making Space said...

Those are beautiful. My children would love a job like that but handling slippery fruit with skewers might have to wait until they're older, or until we move closer to an emergency room...

The first photo made me think it was oranges you were writing about... so - kumquats. They're really gorgeous.

Big Shamu said...

I guess that means the job is up to you MS. Prepare for poking. Or you could just eat them raw. Yummy.

Making Space said...

Either way sounds amazing! I wonder if they have these here at the Farmer's Market...

Buzz Kill said...

I don't think I've ever tried kumquats. They certainly look interesting. In the 2nd pic, they look like speckled eggs. Really nice pictures. How would you eat these after you marinate them in the syrup? As a fruit side, on ice cream?

I can't see the monsters doing the skewering together, maybe separately with one or two trips to the emergency room.

Boxer said...

kumquats are a fruit? bwahahahahah. Beautiful picture as always.

moi said...

I was just gonna say, this looks like a job for Buzz's chillruns. But I guess not.

As usual, your photographs make my mouth water.

LaDivaCucina said...

Funny you wrote about kumquats as I just an episode of Chopped yesterday and thought about their delicious taste and how I'd steal them from the neighbor's trees in Sydney!

So, are they in season now? I'll take a look next time I shop.

LOVE THE PHOTOS SHAM!

Big Shamu said...

You are a better woman than I, cannot get into chopped at all. Sorry Ted.
They are available here right now so I'm guessing there are tons where you are. Time to nibble.

LaDivaCucina said...

I only watch Chopped once in a blue moon (haha, get it?!) Ted is so robotic and very unfunny and those judges take themselves WAAAAAY too seriously!

LaDivaCucina said...

Speaking of food gifts: preserved lemons make great ones!