Kumquat Confit and Kumquat Pistachio Palmiers

The other day I was in Stanley’s and saw a nice punnet of kumquat’s staring at me. Do you look at some foods and think back to your first taste, which may or may not have been pleasant? That’s how I felt with kumquat’s. I wanted to love the cute miniature citrus fruit , but a distant memory of just eating one raw off someones little tree, as child always held me back. Well I’m a big girl now, 43 years of age, to be exact and it was time to acquaint myself with Kumquats again. Surely if  I cooked them down to a confit , almost candy like, they will go down well? And yes they did. Talk about a burst of sunshine and citrus finished with a hint of bourbon and cinnamon. The kumquats picked me up and tickled my tongue, as I ate it on hot buttered bread and black coffee. Preserved kumquat’s are better than orange marmalade in my opinion.The flavor more pronounced, as it’s really all concentrated in the peel.

Certain Someone is not a big jam , preserve type. He loves his  charcuterie, black coffee , good bread and butter on lazy weekend mornings. So while I made a small batch, I wanted more applications for my confit. I had small sheets of commercial puff pastry in my freezer and nuts in the cupboard.

I took my kitchen shears and cut up a small amount of the candid kumquats  to smaller pieces, as the confit was made from kumquat halves. I spread them over the defrosted puff pastry, added a mixture of pistachios and  raw sugar which had been blended to a coarse crumb, and a sprinkle of cinnamon. I then carefully rolled them up on either end, to meet in the middle.  The rolls were sliced and dipped in more of the pistachio sugar crumb and baked on a parchment lined baking sheet at 375 degrees until golden. Careful not to burn the bottoms as the sugars from the confit and  sugar crumb will caramelize. Remove from oven and let cook. You will have a nice tea or coffee time snack.

Kumquat Confit
Recipe type: condiment, preserves
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Candied preserved Kumquats
  • 1 lb of kumquats, washed, halved, and seeded.
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon of Bourbon
  • * apple core
  1. Halve and seed the kumquats.
  2. Place in a heavy bottomed pot with apple core.
  3. Add sugar.
  4. Slowly bring up the temp and stir and mash the fruit into the sugar until it starts to liquify slight. You don't want to burn the sugar or cook to fast.
  5. Stir in cinnamon.
  6. Cook on med heat until all the ingredients start to liquify and boil.
  7. Reduce heat until the boil is more like a simmer. Stir periodically and cook for several minutes until the fruit becomes more transparent and candied. This may take about 10 minutes more or less.
  8. The longer the cook time, the more candied the fruit. You want to make sure its spreadable and not to thick.
  9. Turn off the heat.
  10. Remove apple core.
  11. Stir in the Bourbon . The confit will sizzle a bit with the addition of the liquor.
  12. Place in clean jars.
  13. Let cool and cover
  14. Keep in the refrigerator for several weeks.
The apple core, loaded with natural pectin aides the thickening.


Salad Nicoise in Belgian Endive Cups

In Chicago these days, it feel as if summer is here. My favorite things in summer are the lake, a chilled rose, gelato ,cold beer,and amazing salads. One of my favorite salads when I lived in Paris was a Salad Nicoise. I remember on sunny days, I would order one with friends at a sidewalk cafe near school and  watch the world go by, as I munched on crisp vegetables and salty briny anchovies, olives, and capers. Lately I’ve been toying with an idea in my head. Making a micro Salad Nicoise as a small plate starter or appetizer. Rather than using lettuce, I made” boats” of Belgian Endive.  The purists would say that’s not Salad Nicoise. Well Salad Nicoise  is open to interpretation. Usually one things of lettuce greens,boiled eggs, tuna, tomato, potatoes, green beans, anchovies, capers,and black olives. There may be onion, garlic, shallots as well. Some people use artichokes, red peppers, and never add cooked vegetables. Some people omit the tuna. It’s really up to taste how you want to compose this rustic country salad based on seasons. I thought the use of endive leaves and small quail eggs would be elegant. A guest can pop these in their mouth with two or more bites, or they can eat it with a knife and fork as a small amuse bouche or starter for summer brunch. It’s all about presentation.

Salad Nicoise as a Small Appetizer
Recipe type: salad
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: approx 24
A small plate version of Salad Nicoise
  • 1 small potato, peeled and boiled
  • 2 tablespoons Sherry Vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Olive Oil
  • Sea Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian Seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons shallots minced
  • 6 quail eggs boiled
  • ½ cup green beans blanched
  • grape or cherry tomatoes
  • 1 can of oil packed tuna of good quality
  • 1 small jar anchovy fillets
  • 7 oil cured olives pitted and sliced into small quarters
  • salt packed capers
  • 2-3 heads Belgian Endive
  • For the dressing...
  • ½ cup Olive Oil
  • 3 tablespoons Sherry Vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon Mustard
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Peel and Boil a small potato. Remove from hot water and carefully slice and cube.
  2. Add to a small bowl with the minced shallots, Italian Seasoning, Sherry Vinegar, and Olive Oil,salt and pepper. Set aside and chill.
  3. Boil Quails Eggs for approx 5 minutes and remove from heat. Peel and set aside and chill.
  4. Prep green beans by cutting trimming ends and cutting in half, then slicing lengthwise.
  5. Place green beans in rapidly boiling salted water for 1 minute . Drain and run cold water over them. Set aside and chill.
  6. Quarter the small cherry or grape tomatoes in bite size pieces. Set aside and chill.
  7. Pit and prep your olives.
  8. Wash the Belgian Endive. Cut off the flat ends. Gently pull each leave from top , and out to break away from the head. 2 heads makes approx 15 nice size "boats"
  9. Arrange your Mise en place with all the components ( potato shallot mixture, boiled quail eggs,tomatoes, olives, tuna, anchovies, capers)
  10. Make a vinaigrette emulsion with the olive oil, sherry vinegar, Dijon mustard, garlic powder, salt and pepper. (Use a whisk or immersion blender).
  11. Carefully take a endive leaf.
  12. Add a small spoon full of the potato shallot mixture in oil. Spread evenly
  13. Add a few flakes of tuna.
  14. Carefully slice a quail egg and place a few slices on top
  15. Arrange 2 tomato quarters.
  16. Add 2 pieces of green bean.
  17. Cut an anchovy fillet in half and place a piece on top.
  18. Add a few slices of olive,
  19. Finish with a few capers.
  20. Drizzle with a bit of the dressing and serve cold.
All the components can be prepped ahead and chilled.



Pickled Fresh Green Almonds


“I said to the almond tree , friend speak to me of God, and the almond tree blossomed.”

Nikos Kazantzakis


The weather around the globe has been indecisive, but one can tell spring has truly arrived by what’s available in the markets. If you see green almonds in your culinary shopping pursuits, then spring  has arrived. But it’s so fleeting and you must catch it while you can, during the months of April , May and June. I found fresh green almonds at Arax, a Middle Eastern grocery in Niles. I had heard of them but never have seen them before. My co-worker told me of eating them when young in Iraq, and not liking the taste sour taste and gel like inside, so spitting them out.  I did more inquiry and found in some countries like Iran, Turkey and Lebanon, they are dipped in salt water and eaten perhaps with an apertif . I wanted more from the beautiful green fuzzy fruits, and saw a post where in Greece they pickled them and they call them Tsagala. I love a good pickle, and that’s what I decided to do to preserve them  before they get to hard. The pickle is perfect as you eat the green almond whole before they get hard and mature to resemble what most people traditionally think of as almonds. If unpicked the green husk of fresh almonds splits to reveal a more mature nut with a hardened shell . You can read more about green almonds here.

I brought some into work today to show my co-worker who remembered them with distaste from childhood. Ironically at a lunch a week back she was offered some green almonds by another,dipped in salt water and loved it. So naturally she was curious to have my pickled version.  She loved them and the mild heat from the Serrano Pepper infusion. She offered some to a Russian coworker who went nuts for them , no pun intended. I have to bring the rest of stash to them to share some more. The Russian, who wasn’t feeling well said it was just what she needed. Trust me she’s not easily impressed. Almonds are magical and blessed.  Perhaps there is a reason they mentioned in the Bible on numerous  occasions.  I was inspired to pickle the almonds from this post, but naturally made it my own. The flavor gets better in the brine over time, but they are delicious even a few days later. Eat them alone, or add to salad ( green, tuna, or chicken) for a crunchy treat with a bite.

Pickled Fresh Green Almonds
Recipe type: appetizer
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Pickled green almonds
  • 1 lb of green fresh almonds ( available April, May, and June)
  • 3-4 cups white vinegar
  • ¾ cups Kosher Salt
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 5-7 Serrano Peppers, halved with seeds
  1. Wash green almonds and pick away leaves or any debris.
  2. Dry.
  3. In a pot combine vinegar , salt and peppercorns.
  4. Bring to a boil and make sure salt is dissolved.
  5. Pack your almonds into the either two small clean jars or one larger one with garlic cloves and Serrano peppers.
  6. Pour the hot vinegar salt liquid over the almonds and make sure they are covered with brine.
  7. Seal the bottle and let cool.
  8. Store in the refrigerator . Flavor develops more after one or more weeks.
  9. Almonds can keep in the brine for several months under refrigeration.



Packing and Pressure Canning Tuna

One of my kindred spirits in the food blogging community is Heather of Voodoo and Sauce. She is an inspiration. I remember reading a post last year in which she packed her own Albacore tuna. As you know I like to challenge myself and I was determined to do this on my own . I love  canned tuna, especially the more expensive ones found in specialty stores with better grades of olive oil and spices as flavor. Once you make your own , all else pales in comparison. It’s great to have on hand to toss into salads and  other dishes. Pressure canning tuna may intimidate some, but its easier than you think. You just need a pressure canner as opposed to the water bath method to ensure all the harmful micro organisms are killed as it’s a low acidic food. I won’t say this experiment was flawless. For the first time ever I had two jars explode while canning and that is why my house smelled of fragrant tuna. The odds were it was bound to happen and could be attributed to a few reasons . Nevertheless I still had some great jars left that survived intact and have been enjoying them. I used Blue Fin tuna as I couldn’t find Albacore. I varied my flavors with dried lemongrass ,  fresh rosemary or fresh dill. You can use water or olive oil. I prefer oil, but be prepared for more mess when canning.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Packing and Pressure Canning Tuna
Recipe type: entree
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Canning fresh tuna
  • Bluefin or Albacore Tuna
  • Kosher Salt
  • Fresh or dried herbs like dill, rosemary, peppercorns, lemongrass
  • Peppercorns
  • Olive Oil or water
  • ½ pint jars
  • Pressure Canner
  1. Sterilize your jars and lids according to manufactures instructions.
  2. Cut your fresh raw tuna into medallions or pieces that will fit into the jar when packed.
  3. Pour olive oil or water carefully into the jar. Fill just to cover but leave ample head space below the ring ( approx ½ inch to ¾ of an inch) as the fish will make its own juices. If its overfilled , the lid wont seal.
  4. Pack you choice of herbs and spices.
  5. Top each jar with ½ teaspoon of Kosher salt.
  6. Wipe rims and carefully seal.
  7. Take a Pressure canner with a rack and and fill with 1.5 inches- 2 inches of water. The rack is essential so the jars wont break form the heat and rattling pressure. Make sure there is enough water , but it doesn't reach the ring of the jar. Unlike water batch canning , the jars don't have to be submerged in water. Pressure canning builds up humidity but you don't want the canner to run dry as its dangerous to open under pressure.
  8. Follow Pressure Canner instructions and use the weight pressure of 11.
  9. Pressure Can for at least 90 minutes. Watch carefully and reduce heat if necessary according the canners instructions on maintaining proper pressure.
  10. After the time has elapsed , let canner cool down and remove when cool.
  11. Place jars on a rack or towel and wait for the ping sound to signify if the jars are properly sealed. This will happen over the course of the next few hours. When you press down on the center there should be no resistance. ( See you jar manufacturers instructions).
  12. If not sealed refrigerate and consume immediately over the next few days.
  13. There may be some grease residue on outside of jar after canning and that can be cleaned and removed with vinegar and water.
  14. Can be kept in a dry cool place for 6 months to max of 1 year.
Please read and follow your jars and Pressure canning instructions.


Pickled Pepquinos with Daikon and Carrots

What is Pepquino, you may ask? That’s what I thought as saw these tiny vegetables looking like micro watermelons. Freaks of nature or genetically engineered? Pepquinos are a native and ancient species  from South America and marketed and brought to world by the Dutch company Koppert Kress.

Looking like watermelon on the outside, they are green on in the inside and have a sour like cucumber taste. You can pop them in your mouth raw , or pickle them, as I did.I can even imagine a fantastic cucumber like martini.Use your foodie imagination. I wanted to play with sweet and sour with some acidity. Pepquinos Availability is from April to November .

I cant go throughout summer without canning or pickling something and I quickly went to work on the Pequinos. I had some Daikon Radish and rainbow hued carrots , which once in the hot brine gave the liquid a pinkish hue. I love my relish and have been eating it with sandwiches, cheeses, pates, etc. You can process the batch or just refrigerate immediately if you plan to serve and consume within the next few weeks. The Pepquinos will definitely be a conversation starter with your guests.

Pickled Pepquinos with Daikon and Carrots
Recipe type: Appetiser
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
A pickled relish with the micro fruit Pepquinos.
  • 8 oz Pepquinos
  • 4 rainbow hues carrots , peeled and sliced into rounds
  • 1 yellow onion sliced into rings
  • ½ of a large Daikon Radish, peeled and cut into strips
  • ⅓ cup Kosher Salt
  • Brine solution of 1 part sugar to 2 parts vinegar
  • 2 dried chili peppers per canning jar
  • 1 tablespoon mustard seeds
  1. Prep your vegetables .
  2. Wash your Pepquinos.
  3. Peel and slice your carrots, onions and Daikon radish.
  4. In a bowl add your Pepquinos,onions, carrots, Daikon . Add Kosher salt and cover with cold water.Chill overnight or for at least 4 hours.
  5. Drain vegetables.
  6. In a sauce pan heat vinegar and sugar with mustard seeds and dried chilies.Heat until a boiling.
  7. Prep and sanitize your jars (in hot boiling water).
  8. Pack your vegetables in to the jars and put the hot brine over the vegetables. Slide the dried chilies into the jar and add the lids.
  9. From this point you can refrigerate to eat immediatlety or process in a water batch for about 7-10 minutes. Don't over-process as you want the vegetables to remain crisp.
You can either process in a hot water batch to put up or refrigerated to consume immediately.Lasts a few weeks refrigerated.