It’s citrus season and our cumquat tree has been prolific. And unlike last year when I picked the fruit but ran out of time use them, I was determined to not to let this years crop to go to waste.
A good thing then, that the long weekend had arrived and rain had washed out children’s sport; the cumquat kitchenfest was on!
The 6 kilo harvest was probably a little more than I could reasonably manage however I was determined to give it my best shot, encouraged vigorously by Miss 11.
We started with marmalade. I have good success with Stephanie Alexander’s recipe from her Cook’s Companion. Nice and simple. Miss 11 did all the weighing, washing and some of the chopping before she got bored and
went to annoy her brother found something more interesting to do. And, with cumquats prepped and soaking, the next task was cordial.
I had a school friend with an enormous cumquat at her front door. Her mother bottled litres of cumquat cordial which I still remember fondly; cold, tart, sweet deliciousness in a glass.
My Good Housekeeping Complete Book of Home Preserving was a great op shop find in my University days. And it’s been my go-to for ‘squash’ or as we know, it cordial, ever since. Cumquats are so small and squishy, cutting them in half and giving them a quick squeeze is as complicated as this recipe gets.
And finally, when I had almost run out of cumquat steam, a search into the depths of my freezer revealed enough almond meal to whip up a Middle Eastern cumquat cake in the style of Claudia Roden. I’m not going to give you the recipe here because you will find more posts than cakes you can bake using Google. Simply swap oranges for cumquats (I used around 400g) and reduce the cooking time of the fruit. The result is scrumptious.
The remaining two kilos of cumquats are in the fridge patiently waiting further inspiration…
I love a seasonal culinary challenge when I have the time. What creative ways do you managed seasonal produce?
Makes around 3L
Recipe from Stephanie Alexander’s Cook’s Companion
- 2kg cumquats, washed
Quarter cumquats, removing seeds* and set aside.
Tie seeds into muslin or a clean handkerchief.
Put fruit and seeds into a bowl and just cover with water (around 1.5-1.7L) and leave to soak overnight.
Next day, measure out fruit and soaking water into large saucepan noting the number of cups (I had 11 cups).
Add to the pan an equal volume of sugar** and bring to the boil.
Boil briskly until it reaches setting point. This can take anywhere from 30-45 minutes or more depending upon your fruit.
Allow to cool slightly before discarding seeds and bottling into hot sterilised jars.
*My cumquats were absolutely full of seeds so rather than seeding first, I seeded them throughout the cooking process using a slotted spoon to catch them as they floated to the surface. The cooking softens the fruit so seeds still caught in the fruit are easily squashed out with the back of a spoon. It was still time consuming, but less so than removing them first up.
**My marmalade was quite bitter on tasting so I added another cup of sugar. This improved the flavour (though it still had a nice bitter kick, just less so) and made it much more likely that my children would also enjoy the marmalade – which they did.
Makes about 900ml
Recipe from Good Housekeeping Complete Book of Home Preserving
- 400g cumquats washed
- 750g sugar
- 450ml water
- ¼ tsp citric acid
Halve cumquats and squeeze out enough juice to make 300ml.
Ainely slice the rind of three or four juiced cumquat halves after scraping away the flesh.
Place cumquat rind, sugar and water into a pan and slowly bring to the boil.
Allow to cool slightly then add strained juice and citric acid.
Strain into sterilised bottles, cap and allow to cool.
Store in the fridge for up to 3 months (if it lasts that long) and dilute one part cordial to 2-3 parts water or soda or as to taste.
This recipe features the hottest green vegetables on the block, the shining star of the brassica family, kale and it’s supporting star broccolini.
Unlike cabbage (also from the brassica family along with cauliflower and broccoli), kale doesn’t form a head and so may look a little like spinach in this respect.
In Australia, kale lovers are spoilt for choice with varieties that include curly, ornamental, Cavallo Nero and Tuscan kale.
The nutrition low down on kale is that it’s a great source of a bunch of important nutrients including fibre, potassium, folate, vitamin B6, A, C and K, calcium, magnesium, manganese, and copper.
Brocolini is a newer kid on the brassica block. Developed in Japan in the early nineties, it’s a cross between broccoli and Chinese kale. It’s been available here in Australia since 1999 and is widely grown around the country.
Broccolini is similar to broccoli in the nutrients it provides and you’ll get a good dose of fibre, potassium, folate, vitamin C and K in every serve.
White bean & brassica soup with gremolata
- 1tbsp olive oil
- 1 leek, finely sliced
- 3 cloves garlic coarsely diced
- 1 bay leaf
- 1L homemade or premium liquid chicken or vegetable stock
- 2 x 400g can cannellini beans, washed and drained
- 1 bunch of broccolini, stalks diced, heads left intact
- ½ bunch Tuscan cabbage/cavalo nero, centre veins removed and finely sliced
- 4 slices dark rye bread toasted and sliced to serve
- 2tbsp finely chopped flat leafed parsley
- 1tsp lemon zest
- 2bsp grated parmesan
- ½ clove garlic, crushed/minced
- ½ small red chili finely chopped (optional)
Heat oil in a heavy based sauce pan over a medium heat, add leek, garlic and bay leaf and sauté gently till soft but not coloured. Add stock and 1 cup water and bring to the boil.
Reduce heat add beans, broccolini and cavalo nero and simmer gently for 3 minutes or until greens are wilted and stalks tender – avoid overcooking.
Meanwhile, combine parsley, parmesan, lemon juice, chilli if using and garlic together in a small bowl by rubbing gently together with the tips of your fingers (this ensures the chilli, garlic and zest oils infuse the mixture).
Serve soup immediately with rye toast and a generous sprinkle of gremolata
- You can mix and match any of the brassica group in this soup. Try substituting the broccolini for broccoli or cauliflower and the cavalo nero with savoy cabbage, gai larn or Brussels sprouts
- This soup is best served immediately as while the flavours remain you will lose the lovely bright colours when you cook and reheat to serve later.
- Canned beans are so convenient and if you give them a good wash you reduce their salt content considerably. If you want to use dried beans for this recipe start with around 1 cup and soak and cook them as directed on pack.
If you’d like to know more about the amazing benefits of star veggies like kale and broccollini, take a stroll over to Veggycation and soak up all their great facts and stats. You may even make yourself some new veggie friends.
It’s so easy to fall into autopilot with cooking. Especially when you’re busy juggling multiple commitments for yourself and your family. Looking back through the diary that holds my week together, it seems we’ve been eating from the same five or six recipes for months…
The redemption of a long overdue cooking class gift voucher was just the remedy I needed to re-invigorate my interest in cooking.
Shared with a couple of girlfriends and a glass of wine (only once we’d finished cooking of course…) the Middle Eastern Banquet with Nourishing Nosh was a fun night, full of great take home tips. My favourites being how to beat the seeds from a pomegranate, char an eggplant over the gas burner without completely trashing your cooker, and source Australian grown quinoa [I honestly thought it all came from South America].
I love to cook and am by no means a novice in the kitchen, but no matter how much you know, I think you’ll agree, there is always something new to learn when you visit someone else’s kitchen.
The lovely Louise has generously allowed me to share the recipe for her gluten free Quinoa Tabouli. So enjoy the food porn from the night and jump over to the recipe if you’re keen to have a go at this modern take on traditional tabouli.