Kumquat Jam

KumquatsWe’ve had a kumquat tree in our yard for the past 15 years. I think I tasted one the day we moved in, thought they were so super sour that I never went near that tree again. But I came home this year determined to take advantage of fresh food and make something out of it. So, I went out there and picked a million of them and got to slicing. (Look how pretty they are!)

Kumquats

Did you know that those tiny little buggers have a million seeds?

kumquat seedsIt’s a pain, but once you get the hang of it, it’s not so bad. As I sliced, I just poked them out with the tip of the knife. So, I think I used about two pounds of kumquats and by the time I finished slicing them all, the citrus smell was already overtaking the kitchen.

kumquat jam

To that, I added three cups of water and brought it up to a simmer. Once it was simmering, I added two cups of sugar and let it simmer for about an hour an a half, giving it a stir every 10-15 minutes. If you want it to be sweeter, you could add more sugar, because the final product is quite tangy. I like that, but if you don’t, add more and keep tasting it until you do!

After about half an hour, it looked like this:

kumquat jamAnd after about an hour, it looked like this:

kumquat jamAt this point the whole house smells like kumquats! So, when the texture becomes syrup-like, it’s ready. I checked it periodically by cooling a bit on a spoon to see how thick it was. You can choose it make it more or less dense depending on your preference. The final product:

kumquat jamLook how yummy that looks! It’s really tangy and the peels are super soft. So this morning, I spread some of it on a piece of sourdough toast…and breakfast!

kumquat jam

I got quite a bit of jam out of those two pounds of kumquats, so I’ll be gifting them along my trip up north today. 
kumquat jam

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Whole Wheat Cinnamon Sugar Swirl Bread

Now that warm weather is finally on the horizon (It has rained here the whole month of April, and I am not exaggerating. Also, I’m fairly certain that every person I have contact with regularly is aware of how much I hate rain), it’s time to think about Operation Bikini, as it’s not so fondly referred to as here. I’m trying to do more exercise, eat more fruits, veggies and trying to incorporate whole grains where I can. Sadly, my morning oatmeal with chopped up fruit doesn’t really make for good blogging material… However, I came across a recipe for cinnamon swirl bread on a blog and that made me remember how much I’ve always loved that cinnamon raisin bread toasted with a little butter. So, to The Pioneer Woman, I give credit where credit is due.

Though I have never made bread, I can’t leave any recipe alone and I made some changes to it so that it fits in with my attempts to be healthy. First, I started by using whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose. Also, I reduced the amount of sugar and butter. Oh, and I used brown sugar in the swirl. Anyway, it turned out so well I did a little happy dance. Bread conquered!! Now my mind is already wandering to savory combinations I can make next time.

Start by warming one cup of low-fat milk with 4 tablespoons of butter in a bowl in the microwave. You want the butter to melt and mix in with the milk, but not get too hot. You shouldn’t get burned if you stick your finger in it. Add 2 1/2 teaspoons of active dry yeast. Stir to combine and let it sit for about 10 minutes while you take care of the next steps.

In a large mixing bowl add 1/3 cup of sugar and 2 eggs and beat well. Then add the yeast mixture to it.

Then mix in 1/2 of the flour (total 3 1/2 cups) and 1 teaspoon of salt.

Then add the remaining half of the flour and mix. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. It will be sticky, so you will have to keep adding flour to the work surface until it’s not sticky anymore (about a 1/4 cup more).

Knead this by pushing into it and forward with the palm of your hand and continuously folding it over itself until you start to feel it get really elastic. It takes about 10 minutes.

See the difference?

Now this goes into a lightly oiled bowl. Flip it over a couple times so that the dough is coated with the oil. Cover it with plastic wrap and leave it to rise in a warm place in the kitchen.

Then I went out for a run and an hour and a half later, this is what I found…

Yeah, I’d say that’s the “doubling” we are looking for.

This gets flopped out onto a lightly floured work surface and stretched out into a long rectangle about 1/2 inch (1 cm) thick. I got to use my new rolling pin finally!! I got this rolling pin as a Christmas gift from my boyfriend’s sister after I invited her to Thanksgiving and she saw that I was rolling out my pie crusts with and empty wine bottle…

Use your bread mold as a guide for how wide the rectangle should be so that it fits when you roll it up.

Mix together 1/4 cup brown sugar and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon and sprinkle it evenly over the whole rectangle. (Here I omitted additional butter and reduced the amount of sugar from 1/3 cup to 1/4 cup. Not huge changes, but everything counts!)

Now, roll it up.

And place it into the bread mold.

I don’t know if these silicone molds are popular in the rest of the world, but a lot of cooking stores here in Spain are selling them. I mentioned them in my last post about Banana Bread Cupcakes, and now I have a brand new silicone bread mold. They are pretty cool because they don’t stick, so you don’t have to grease/butter them and they are super easy to clean afterward.

Anyway, let that rise for another 1-2 hours.

I think my bread mold is a tad small…

This goes into the oven at 350 degrees F (175 C) for 40 minutes on a lower rack. Once it’s done, let it cool for an hour or two (if you can!) before slicing into it. You’ll see a pretty little swirl.

Serving suggestion: toast and spread a little butter.

Now, I won’t lie to you. This doesn’t taste like that sweet cinnamon roll bread that I remember. It’s still whole wheat bread, which means it’s a bit denser. But this turned out beautifully. It’s light with this yummy brown sugar cinnamon sweetness. Perfect breakfast!

Ingredient list:

  • 1 cup low-fat milk
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons dry active yeast
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

*The original recipe (link)

Strawberry and Chocolate Chip Scones

Last summer I ate the best scone ever. At Arzimendi Bakery in Emeryville. They have the best pizza and some of the best baked goods. Anyway, this scone attracted me because it was a strawberry and chocolate chip scone. Sounds amazing, right? It was. So for Sunday brunch-day, I decided to pay homage and attempt to replicate.

Using a basic blueberry scone recipe from foodnetwork.com, I substituted blueberries for chopped fresh strawberries (which oddly, I found even though it’s 20 degrees out and definitely not strawberry season) and chocolate chips. The only small problem I ran into is that strawberries release a lot of liquid, so my dough was quite wet and hard to handle, but the outcome was still incredible and moist. They just don’t look as perfect and pretty as scones usually do.

So, since I can’t leave any recipe alone, I made another substitution other than the choice of filling – I also substituted cream for 1/2 plain yogurt and 1/2 milk. This makes something similar to buttermilk, and while not necessary, a little healthier while still guaranteeing moist baked goods.

This recipe is pretty straight forward, the only trick is to cut cold butter into the dry ingredients so that the flour is full of little butter pieces (just like you’d do when making a pie crust). This is important so that when it bakes, the butter melts and forms air pockets which add moisture. That could be the difference between a light flaky scone and a dense pasty one.

Here it is uncooked. As I said, it’s a bit sticky because of the strawberries, but as long as you don’t over work the dough, it’s not a problem – they stay whole and don’t dye all the dough pink.

I had a bit of coconut milk left over from that delicious soup in the last post, so I brushed the tops of the unbaked scones with that, rather than cream, and then sprinkled a little sugar on top.

Just look at that deliciousness. They are still warm and the chocolate is melted…

Here’s how to make it:

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 5 tbsp unsalted butter, cold, cut into chunks
  • 1 cup fresh strawberries, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup plain, unsweetened yogurt
  • 1/2 cup milk

Mix dry ingredients and cut in butter using a fork until it looks like coarse crumbs. Fold in strawberries and chocolate chips carefully so as not to mash the fruit (the color will bleed and make the dough pink). Mix yogurt and milk in a bowl. Make a well in the center and add in yogurt and milk mixture. Gently combine to incorporate, don’t overwork the dough.

On a lightly floured surface, press the dough into a rectangle about 12 in x 3 in x 1.5 in. Cut the rectangle in half and then each half in half again. Cut each quarter diagonally making 2 triangles. Makes 8 scones.

Place on an ungreased baking sheet and brush the tops with coconut milk (or plain milk/cream) and sprinkle white sugar over top. Bake at 400 degrees for 15-17 minutes, until lightly browned around the edges.

Enjoy!

*Recipe adapted from Tyler Florence on foodnetwork.com (link)

French Toast with Cinnamon Apples

So, since I’ve started this blog I’ve been craving making all kinds of things. I’m not a big breakfast eater, so we’ve instituted a new tradition: Sunday Brunch. I’ve been telling my boyfriend for months that we’ve got to make french toast and I finally got to it. The best french toast I’ve ever had was at a little cafe in Davis, California where I went to college. They made it with thick slices of rustic bread and it was delicious.

First, I prepared the fruit topping. Peel and slice up two Granny Smith apples into thin slices, sprinkle them with sugar and cinnamon. Melt butter in a pan over medium heat and add the apples and cook them until they are tender. Meanwhile, whisk eggs, milk and cinnamon together and slice the bread into 1 inch thick slices. I just used a standard french toast recipe from cookinglight.com, so if you have one you prefer, you can use that one.

Let the slices soak in the mixture for about five minutes while heating butter in a large pan.

Once the butter is hot, place the slices and cook each side until golden brown.

Plate them and spoon apple mixture on top. Top with maple syrup and powdered sugar.

Here’s the complete recipe:

Apples:

  • 2 Granny Smith apples peeled, cored and sliced thinly
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp. butter

French Toast:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • powdered sugar

This is a really easy, delicious recipe that you can top with whatever fruit you want. Since it’s winter, there aren’t that many fruits in season, so apples and pears are the best bet, but I can’t wait for summer to do this with fresh strawberries and blueberries!