Thursday, January 27, 2011

Consider the kumquat

Kumquats from Florida. Lucy Mercer/A Cook and Her Books

Funny story: yesterday, my daughter's preschool teacher shared another "Lindsey story" that made her laugh. It was "L" week and Miss Katie gathered the class and gave them each a dab of lavender lotion to rub on their hands. Ooh, doesn't it smell good? Oooh, it's so soft! My little Lindsey said, "it smells just like my Mom's kumquat pie!"

I grinned at the story and confessed that we do indeed eat kumquat pie at my house. I'm not so sure that it smells like lavender, but if you're crazy for citrus like we are here, you'll get lightheaded at the sight and smell of intensely citrus-y and creamy kumquat pie.

Before I made the pie, I made Candied Kumquats, inspired by a recipe in David Tanis' "Heart of the Artichoke" (Artisan Books, 2010). He tops lemon bars with candied kumquats and the picture in the book sold me - shortbread crust topped with lemon curd then glorious, glistening sunshine-orange kumquats. The candied kumquats are a cinch to make - in a saucepan, heat 1/2 cup water and pour in 3/4 cup sugar, stir until sugar is dissolved. Halve kumquats and flick the seed out with a knife. Place halved kumquats in sugar syrup and let bubble away for about 15 minutes or so. Keep an eye on them so they don't burn or bubble over. Remove from heat and let cool. Store in an airtight container such as a glass jar in the fridge. Candied kumquats are a lovely garnish for the following pie or can be eaten on their own, straight up.

In the heart of winter, Atlanta supermarket produce aisles are stocked with the best of Florida's citrus - grapefruits, oranges and tangerines, but you have to look carefully for the fruit that you can eat peel and all - the kumquat. The golden yellow gems are sold in cartons, sometimes in the refrigerator case. Tart and sweet kumquats can be eaten raw, but absolutely shine in sweet desserts such as this creamy and refreshing Kumquat Pie. This recipe uses low and non-fat ingredients to keep the fat count down and New Year's resolutions intact.

Kumquat Pie. Lucy Mercer/A Cook and Her Books

Kumquat Pie

Purchase a ready-made graham cracker crust or make this homemade version. Some supermarket crusts are small, you may need to purchase two.

Graham Cracker Crust

9 graham crackers

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons butter, melted

1. Preheat oven to 350. In a food processor, blitz the graham crackers into fine crumbs. Add sugar, salt and melted butter. Press mixture into a 9-inch glass pie pan. Bake for 10 minutes; crust will be dry and firm when done.


1 pint kumquats

1 (14 oz.) can non-fat sweetened condensed milk

1 (8 oz.) container whipped topping such as Cool Whip, thawed

½ cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice

1. Pick over the kumquats and remove any that are mushy or bruised. With each fruit, remove the stem, then slice in half pole to pole and with a knife, flick out the seeds. Place the kumquats in the bowl of a food processor and pulverize to bits.
2. In a bowl, fold the sweetened condensed milk into the Cool Whip. Stir in the lemon juice and the kumquats. Pour into the prepared crust. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours before serving.

Have you ever tried kumquats? Do you eat them raw or cooked?

Text and images copyright 2011, Lucy Mercer.


Beth said...

Ah, the kumquat pie you were telling us about! I've got to make a pie for a party this weekend, and was planning to do something chocolate, but this might have changed my mind.

Looks yummy, and so light and refreshing! If they have kumquats at the grocery store I go to tomorrow, there will be kumquat pie on Saturday :-)

The Teacher Cooks said...

This pie is so versatile. I have used frozen lemonade to make a lemon pie. I now will have to try kumquats!

Cookin' Canuck said...

Love the Lindsey story - so cute! I can see why this pie pops to her mind readily. It is pretty to look at and I bet the taste is to die for.

DessertForTwo said...

I can't wait for my market to get kumquats! :)

Lucy Mercer said...

Christine, thanks for reading! I think the California kumquats are coming in now - I got one box and now I'm needing more!

Lana @ Never Enough Thyme said...

I've loved kumquats since I was a tiny little girl. They always appeared in our home around Christmas and were mostly eaten out of hand like candy. They're sometimes hard to find in my area, but when I do spot them I take them home and make a fantastic kumquat-cherry chutney with them. I've never had them in a pie, but I'm about to :-)