Let the Festivities Begin!
Guess what? Today the blog turns TWO! Part of me feels like this blog has been with me forever while the other part of me can’t believe it’s been two whole years already! I adore writing and photographing for these delicious posts, and I can’t thank you all enough for coming around to indulge my creative fantasies. In honor of this special occasion, I’m launching Rhubarb Fest here on the blog — an outright barrage of recipes for one of my favorite ingredients of all time and a beautiful one to boot!
We’ll start off the pink-infused festivities and the third year of SFTF with this delightful recipe for Candied Rhubarb and Kumquats, which are basically Part II of the Chocolate Pavlova recipe in the last post. Now, while the rhubarb is most definitely a local and very seasonal ingredient, you may be bulking at the idea of kumquats showing up here on SFTF. While this dainty citrus is indeed often an import, I gleaned mine from a lovely group of trees grown indoors where I work. I have also recently acquired a baby kumquat tree of my very own and hope it will put on fruit by next year. These trees, which remain rather small and bear the fruit that reminds me of sour gummy worms, are very easy to grow as glorified houseplants that take their summer vacation out on the patio or deck. I’d encourage you to look into getting one if you like citrus but wish you didn’t have to buy it in from far away.
Back to the star of the show though. This rhubarb is part of a bunch I got at the Headhouse Farmers Market. Stored wrapped in an ever so slightly damp paper towel in a sealed ziplock bag, rhubarb will keep for a week or two, maybe even more, in the fridge. It makes for wonderful warm sauces, jams, compotes, cakes, pies, “fools”, muffins, and even savory toppings for chicken. This candied version is one of my favorite preparations to date.
The combination of the candied rhubarb and kumquats is a match made in heaven. Both retain their penchant for being ever so slightly tart and their bright hues, giving the candied results as complex flavor and some of the most beautiful colors you can find in the food world. Atop the pillowy chocolate meringue and pile of whipped cream of the pavlova, these lovelies made for a sinfully rich dessert that demands your full attention.
If you’re not up to making the pavlova recipe, use the candied rhubarb and kumquats to top just about anything — pound cake, ice cream, waffles — or just grab them without shame out of their jars and lick your sticky fingers with glee. The syrup created when the rhubarb is candied can be used to infuse club soda or ginger ale to make a refreshing summer spritzer. Add a little vanilla vodka and crushed mint and you have a cocktail worthy of any garden party or reception.
Candied Rhubarb and Kumquats
A Straight from the Farm Original
2 C. water
2 C. sugar
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
2 C. kumquats, split in half and de-seeded
2 C. rhubarb, cut into 1 inch lengths
1 t. freshly grated ginger
*You can certainly just make one type of these or combine them both in one saucepan instead of cooking separately. I wanted to do make both just a little differently so I’ve split the preparations for the two.
Begin by bringing a large pot of water to a boil and blanching the kumquats for 2 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove the kumquats from the boiling water and into a bowl of ice water. Allow kumquats to cool for a few minutes in the water before draining off. Set aside.
In a medium heavy saucepan, combine the 2 cups water, 2 cups sugar, and vanilla bean. Bring to a gentle boil for a minute or two to create a simple syrup. Carefully ladle half the syrup into another medium heavy saucepan.
With both saucepans over medium heat, place the blanched kumquats in one and the chopped rhubarb in the other. Add the ginger to the rhubarb pan only. Monitor and regularly stir both pans, cooking at a simmer for 15 minutes or until tender.
Use a slotted spoon to remove kumquats and rhubarb to separate bowls. Keep both pans of syrup on the stove and bring back to a gentle boil, cooking until syrup is noticeably reduced, about 5-7 minutes.
I placed my kumquats in a jar with their reduced syrup and stored in the fridge. The rhubarb syrup I cooled and stored separately in a jar to use over French toast and to make a rhubarb spritzer. The rhubarb pieces I drained very well and let dry on wax paper before rolling them in vanilla sugar and storing them in a sealed tupperware.
(makes about 1 cup of each fruit)