My kumquat trees are full of fruit. Well, let me clarify. Two trees have fruit; one lazy producer has one lonely kumquat. I devote most of my tree-growing dirt in my tiny yard to this vibrant fruit because I love the alluring attitude that they lend to dishes.
Eating them raw out of hand doesn’t have the appeal that they offer as a frisky accent. A kumquat is like an inside-out orange; the inside is tart and the peel is sweet. They are generally in season from January to June.
This tangy marmalade combines the sliced fruit with sugar, rosemary and a smidgen of pepper.
One way to serve it is on an open-faced sandwich spread atop goat cheese slathered on toasted rustic bread. When slicing kumquats, thinly cut both ends making 2 or 3 slices, leaving the center section intact. That center section is where the seeds repose. Pluck them out with the point of a knife, or gently squeeze them out. Easy.
Kumquat Rosemary Marmalade
Yield: about 1 1/2 cups
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
12 ounces (about 28-30) kumquats, rinsed, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch rounds, seeds removed
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground or crushed black peppercorns
1 sprig fresh rosemary, plus 1/4 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
4 slices rustic whole-grain bread, toasted
About 6 to 8 tablespoons soft goat cheese
1. In large saucepan, combine water and sugar; cook on medium heat until sugar dissolves. Add sliced kumquats, pepper and rosemary sprig. Stir and bring to a simmer on medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until kumquats become translucent and liquid has reduced to a syrup, 10 to 15 minutes.
2. Turn off heat and remove rosemary sprig using tongs. Stir in chopped rosemary. Cool.
3. To make open-faced sandwiches, spread goat cheese on top of each toasted bread slice. Top with marmalade and serve. Source: adapted from “’Wichcraft” by Tom Colicchio (Random House, $27)