I love you...

like a [phat] kid loves [cheese]cake

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Lazy Sundays

It was a rainy Sunday morning. My motivation to work, go to the gym, or clean the apartment was zero. All I felt like doing was listen to Jack Johnson’s ‘Banana Pancakes, bury myself under the covers, blast the heater, and watch a chick flick.

So that’s what I did.

But I did make some slight modifications:

  1. I did not watch a chick flick, as I had invited the bf to come over to bask in epic laziness with me. The movie of choice became ‘Casino Royale,’ which is actually a great rainy day film.
  2. I did end up doing some work, vis-à-vis baking. Remember those kumquats I told you about? Well, you are about to see what I did with the rest of them.

To fully become immersed in my state of quiescence, I wanted to make something that was warm and comforting but at the same not too heavy, or I would be killing myself at the gym the next day. Oatmeal fit all those criteria, but it requires no actual oven time, so instead I utilised it to make these: apple-cinnamon oat shortbreads.

Since it was only the two of us in the apartment, I created individual portions in small ramekins that I could easily turn out onto a plate. As soon as I did that, I remembered the jar of candied kumquats that were tucked away in the fridge. A brainwave later, a simple comfort dessert became a beautiful presentation of food and flavour that was just what I was searching for to satisfy me. Sliced almonds were the final touch, and my lazy Sunday afternoon was complete.

A small note: The batter for these shortbreads will be thick due to the oats and the apples, so use an offset spatula to flatten everything out. I baked them in ramekins, but if you don’t own any, you can always bake these in muffin tins or a regular 8x8 pan, but be prepared for a longer cooking time. As it is, the lower oven temperature will mandate some more time in the oven.

Lazy Sunday Shortbreads

1/2 C flour
1/4 C oatmeal
1/4 t salt
3 T brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3 oz (3/4 sticks) cold butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 t vanilla
1/2 cup diced apples
Cardamom-Candied Kumquats
Sliced almonds [garnish, optional]

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Lightly grease 4 small ramekins.

Combine the flour, oatmeal, salt, cinnamon, and brown sugar in a large bowl. Add the pieces of cold butter and vanilla and process until the mixture comes together in clumps around the bowl. Stir in apple pieces.

Gently press the mixture into the ramekins, making sure it is evenly spread. Bake the shortbread for 20 minutes or until shortbreads pull away from the side of the ramekins. Cool for 10 minutes.

Flip the shortbreads from the ramekins onto a small plate. Pile candied kumquats on top and sprinkle with sliced almonds. Serve warm.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Kumquat Cornucopia

Before I head down to Coachella this weekend and pretty much give myself a Spring Break Part 2, I need to update this. After all, who knows how alive I will even be upon my return on Monday? Three days, scores of music artists, and raver friends; it doesn’t get much better than that.

Neither does this recipe for candied kumquats. While on spring break, there happened to be a kumquat tree in the vicinity. Rather than stealing them myself and seeming super lurky, I assigned someone else to do it for me. Thus, I found myself with a bag full of the small, citrusy fruits and needed to figure out what to do with them.

For those of you unfamiliar with kumquats, I assure you that if you like oranges, you will like them. In appearance, they are tiny, about an inch long and oval-shaped. Their orange exteriors can be bitter, so it is always a good idea to blanch them in some boiling water for a 30 seconds or so to remove some of that off-taste. When ripe, they are juicy and full of flavour [I had actually snuck a few off of the tree and popped them directly into my mouth. You know, just to test them out]. Just be careful of the seeds if you eat them raw; be sure to remove them before you use them for any sort of pastry.

Putting him hard to work

I have always enjoyed candied fruit, especially citrus ones, so I figured that candying these would be a good way to start using them up. But when reading recipes online, I found that everyone seems to candy differently. Some blanch their fruit three times, while others don’t even bother; and the sugar to water ratios varied widely.

I combined ideas from the slew of recipes I read and came up with the one below. For an added kick, I threw in some cardamom pods [those who know me know that cardamom seems to find its way into nearly every dessert I make].

The best thing about candying anything is that the final product lasts for a long time when jarred correctly. Mason jars work best to keep things airtight. After that, you can use them at your discretion, from pancake toppings to cake fillings. I’ll be posting a recipe shortly about what I ended up doing with my batch, so keep reading!

Cardamom-Candied Kumquats

2 cups sliced kumquats, seeds removed and discarded
5 cardamom pods, crushed
1/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup water

Bring a pot of water to a boil over high heat. Drop in the kumquat slices and blanch for about thirty seconds. Scoop out and set aside.
In a large pot, combine 2/3 cup water, sugar, and cardamom pods. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer for 5 minutes or so.
Add blanched kumquats and let simmer over medium-low heat for 25-30 minutes until syrup is thick and kumquats are translucent and soft, stirring occasionally. Make sure that the kumquats are not too soft to the point that they start falling apart; you want them to retain their shape, as it adds body to the final product.
Remove from heat and let cool completely at room temperature. Pour into an airtight container and store in refrigerator. Warm them up over the stove when using for garnishes.