Writing this blog, I sometimes feels like an air traffic controller: clearing some recipes I like for a safe landing, putting others in a holding pattern while I tinker with them, and turning away others altogether. I sift through magazines, cookbooks, food blogs and the hundreds of recipes that are emailed to me in hopes to bring you something good. Sometimes I can’t tell by reading it if it’s going to work, and the only thing to do is to give it a shot. I can report that celery root and vanilla soup tastes as peculiar as it sounds, so I’ll spare you that one.
I try to keep my recipes seasonal, meaning sometimes I’ll have to flag recipes and remember them months later. That’s what happened with this recipe for spiced kumquats, which I came across in November when I reviewed The New Complete International Jewish Cookbook for JewishBoston.com. The recipe I tested at the time, a butternut squash soup with lime and ginger, was very good, but I had to, had to, bookmark a recipe that described the unpeeled fruit as becoming “translucent and tender. The flavour is superb.”
This particular cookbook is 632 pages long, and I read every word of it. This was the only time the author described a dish as “superb.” So I bookmarked the recipe for December, when kumquats would be everywhere, and made the recipe then, and stuck the jar in the back of my fridge and let the spicing begin.
Turns out Ms. Rose was correct; the flavour is indeed superb. In this instance, I navigated and translated this British recipe. Since most American spice cabinets don’t have mace, I learned that nutmeg is grown on the same tree as mace, and have substituted a few scrapes of it instead.
Spiced Kumquats from The New Complete International Jewish Cookbook by Evelyn Rose
This recipe halves beautifully.
You need to make this at least 3 weeks before serving, and they keep in the fridge for at least 3 months.
2 lb. fresh kumquats
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 stick cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
2 cardamom pods
1 cup cider vinegar
Place the kumquats in a saucepan, barely cover with water and simmer covered for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, dissolve the sugar with the spices in the vinegar. Bring to boil and cook for 5 minutes.
Drain the kumquats and reserve the cooking liquid. Place them in the spiced syrup and, if necessary, add some of the reserved liquid so that the fruit is barely covered. Simmer, covered, for 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave uncovered for 24 hours, turning in the syrup once or twice.
The next day bring it back to a boil, drain the fruit and pack in jars prepped for jamming. Bring the syrup back to boil and boil it hard to thicken slightly. Pour over the kumquats with the spices. Cover and refrigerate.