Monday, March 8, 2010
There was a kumquat tree in my front yard when I was young. Unfortunately, it met the chopping block when my parents re-landscaped the front yard. I’d like to think the gardeners lovingly transplanted the tree elsewhere, but this was the eighties and sustainability wasn’t exactly “in” at the time. Sadly, I didn’t enjoy kumquats when I had an abundance of them at my fingertips. My young taste buds couldn’t appreciate the tartness of the tiny citrus fruit and something about eating the whole thing, rind and all, was off-putting to a six-year-old.
I’m certain I have eaten a kumquat at some point between the time the tree was removed and now, but the moment escapes me. So, this weekend when there were bags upon bags of kumquats available at the farmers’ market, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to try them again.
It turns out that my adult taste buds very much appreciate the balance of sweet and tart along with the convenience of eating the entire fruit, rind and all. In fact, I started popping the little suckers like candy. I knew I needed to make something with them before I worked my way through the whole bag.
I was already working on a tart crust made primarily of quinoa flour and almond meal for my first experiment in gluten-free cooking. I don’t have any problem digesting gluten, but I have girlfriends who do and to be honest, I was more curious than anything. I still needed something to fill the tart and the kumquats, with their bright orange color, promised to at least make the tart look appetizing if nothing else.
Appetizing indeed. I candied the kumquats which turned out to not only be delicious, but the process actually intensified their orange color. The crust was a partial success. It was tasty and imparted a peanut butter flavor to the tart, but it was a bit crumbly and could have held together better. This may have been my fault for rolling the dough out too thinly in an attempt to stretch it between two tarts. Either way, it was good enough to try again. Will I be giving up my all purpose flour and butter and lard-laden crusts? Absolutely not. But this will be a nice alternate to have on hand, especially when my gluten-free friends are coming over for dinner.
Candied Kumquat Tart
Crust adapted from a Whole Foods recipe
Filling adapted from Epicurious
1 cup quinoa flour
1/2 cup almond meal
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 t xanthan gum
1/4 t salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 egg yolk
1 lb fresh kumquats
1 cup water
2 cups plus
2 T sugar
1 t fennel pollen
2/3 cup ricotta
1/3 cup sour cream
Place the quinoa flour, almond meal, sugar, xanthan gum and salt in a food processor and pulse to combine. Cut the butter into small cubes and add to the food processor. Pulse until the mixture looks like wet sand, but the butter is not fully incorporated. Form the dough into one disc for a round tart or two oblong discs for two smaller rectangular tarts and chill for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400*
Remove the dough from the refrigerator and roll out to the shape of your tart pan. In order to keep the dough gluten-free, use quinoa flour to dust the dough while rolling it out. Transfer the dough to your tart pan and use a fork to prick the crust all over. Bake the crust for 15 – 20 minutes until golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack.
Thinly slice the kumquats and remove any seeds. Bring the water and 2 cups of sugar to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the kumquats and simmer for 10 minutes. Drain the kumquats through a strainer set over a bowl to catch the syrup. Reserve the syrup for another purpose (I’m mixing mine with mineral water for drinks).
Combine the remaining sugar and fennel pollen with the ricotta and the sour cream. Spread the ricotta mixture evenly over the cooled tart shell. Place the kumquat slices in rows over the filling until the tart is fully covered. The crust is very delicate so slice carefully when serving.