Salt & Pepper Preserved Kumquats

Since salt preserved lemons and oranges do so well in my kitchen, I decided to make salt preserved kumquats with the 5 pounds I had recieved.  I like kumquats as a snack but I can only eat 4 or 5 at a time before I can’t eat anymore and I still had a whole bowl to go.

Since kumquats are so sour, I wanted to mellow them out a bit and make them more savory.  I made about a 1:3 ratio of pepper:kosher salt and used this to salt preserve the kumquats.

First you want to slice off the blossom end of the kumquat and then slice down from the blossom end to the bottom but not all the way through…you want to keep the kumquat intact.  If it’s a big kumquat you want to then make another slice perpendicular to the first slice, all the way but again keeping the kumquat in tact.  Stuff the salt and pepper mixture into the kumquat and place the kumquat in a sterile quart jar.

Make sure you have no cuts on your fingers.  OUCH!
Repeat with each kumquat until you haev filled the quart jar, squishing the kumquats gently down as you go.  Once the kumquats are packed in the jar, place the lid on and let the jar sit for 24 hours.  After 24 hours, fill the quart jar with fresh lemon juice and tuck a bay leaf in the jar.  Let the jar sit for 2 weeks on your counter, flipping the jar every other day or so.  Add more lemon juice to cover the kumquats if it is needed.  After the 2 weeks, place the jar in the fridge.  This will last the same amount of time as preserved lemons and oranges. 

I’m really excited about these little guys.  I think the salt and pepper are going to play really well with the sweetness of the rind and the sourness of the pulp.  I can’t wait to start using them in recipes.
I’m always intrigued by something different!

Preserved Lemon Paste

Have you ever come across an idea so simple, so easy, and so ingenious that you automatically went, “DOH!  WHY DIDN’T I THINK OF THAT?!”  That happened to me.  It was there, right in front of my face the whole time and I didn’t even think to do it!

I use Preserved Lemons in a *lot* of recipes but sometimes I’m just too lazy to chop *another* ingredient…but I still want that lemon flavor.  What’s a girl to do?  Sadly I would forgo the lemon….
…that is until I came across the most brilliant post by Marissa over at Food in Jars.  She got her idea from from Melissa Clark’s Cook This Now.  Melissa Clark suggest plucking the seeds out of your preserved lemons and blending the whole lemon (rind & pulp) up in the blender!  How ingenious is that?! 

So, I did just that.  I pureed about half a lemon’s worth, 4 slices, poured that into a quarter pint jar, topped it with a nice cover of olive oil, and it is sitting nicely on a shelf in my fridge.  Now whenever I feel a dish needs a lemon kick, I just add teaspoon or so of preserved lemon paste.  One can be so creative with this paste! 

Three Citrus Marmalade

I’ve always been on the fence about marmalade.  Some commercial marmamalades are too tart, some are too bitter, and some are too sweet.  There are hardly any that I could find that I really truely liked.  So, when I recieved Eugenia Bone’s book Well-Preserved, it surprised me that I really wanted to try her Three Citrus Marmalade.  It sounded so good on the page.  Yes, the very first jam I ever made was a marmalade (what can I say?  I’m an overachiever!).  It was hell.  I stayed up until 4 am making it…but you know what?  The next day when I tried some of the excess marmalade with toast, it was amazing.  The.  Best.  Marmalade.  Ever.  Having a mix of three different citrus really balances out the individual strong flavors of all the citrus.  I really want you to make this marmalade.  Really.

The name of the marmalade says it all:  Three Citrus.  You can use any three citrus you want just be sure to use oranges and lemons.  You can use ruby red grapefruit, seville oranges, navel oranges, cara-cara oranges, meyer lemons, ponderosa lemons, etc; as long as you stay with the ratio 1 grapefruit:  3 oranges: 2 lemons  For this batch, I used a pomelo, 3 navel oranges, and 2 lemons.  The easiest way to make this marmalade is in two days.  If you break it down into two days, you won’t be up until the wee hours of the morning finishing the marmalade.

On the first day, once you have scrubbed and dried your citrus, you want to peel each citrus in as large of pieces as you can get.  It’s easiest to do this with a paring knife.  A paring knife will allow you to make equal sizes of peel.  You’ll then cut off as much pith from the peel as possible. 
Once you have the citrus peel cleaned.  You will cut the citrus peel into small matchsticks until you have one cup.  I don’t like the taste of grapefruit peel so I leave it out (I find it too bitter) but I alternate between lemon and orange peel so that I have an equal amount of both.  Some people like all orange, some people like all lemon.  It’s really up to you and what you enjoy.

In a medium pot, add the slivers of rind and cover with 3 cups of water.  Cook over medium heat for about 25 minutes.  Do not drain.


 You will cut the citrus in half across the equator and pop out any seeds.  Using your food processor, blend up the citrus into a pulp.  At this point you want to measure your pulp.  However much pulp you end up with, you will add that much sugar on day 2.  I had 4 cups of pulp. 

Pour this pulp into the pot with the rinds and water.  You will stir this up, cover, and put in the fridge overnight.

On day two, transfer the pulp mixture into a wide heavy pot.  Add the sugar in accordance with how many cups of pulp you ended up with the night before (I added 3 cups, 4 cups is just too sweet for me) and a teaspoon of butter (the butter will help the marmalade from foaming up).   Cook over medium low heat until your candy thermometer reaches 220 degrees.

You will need to prepare at least 4 half pint jars.  I always have extra with this recipe, however, so I always prepare 5-6 half pints.  I ended up with 5 half pints and an 1/8 of a cup that I poured in a ramekin to put in the fridge.  Process using BWB for 10 minutes



Three Citrus Marmalade
Yield:  4 half pints
1 Grapefruit
3 Oranges
2 Lemons
3 cups of sugar
1 teaspoon of butter
Day 1
  1. Peel citrus in as big of pieces as possible.  Cut most of the white pith off of the rind.  Cut the rind, alternating between citrus peel, into little match stick until you have 1 cup.  Pour rind into a medium pot, cover the rind with 3 cups of water and cook at medium high heat for 25 minutes.  Do  not drain.
  2. Cut the citrus in half across the equator, pop out the seeds, and grind in your food processor until you have a thick consistent pulp.
  3. Measure the pulp and take a mental note of how many cups you had.
  4. Pour the pulp into the pot with the citrus rinds, cover, and put in fridge to rest overnight
Day 2
  1. Prepare 6 half pint jars per “Kitchen Tactics:  Boiling Water Bath Canning”
  2. Pour pulp mixture into large, wide pot.  Add 1 cup of sugar to 1 cup of pulp.
  3. Add 1 teaspoon of butter
  4. Cook over medium low heat until candy thermometer reaches 220.
  5. Pour into prepared half pint jars, leaving 1/4 inch head space.
  6. Process for 10 minutes

Lemony Seafood Pasta

I love seafood like it’s nobody’s business.  I would eat seafood every day if I could.  Moving to Maryland was one of the greatest things I did for my gastronomy because the seafood is so cheap and plentiful out here!  It’s amazing!  I think I ate seafood straight for a month or two when I first moved here (partly because I didn’t realize that it’s here all the time!)  One of my favorite products to buy is the frozen mixed seafood bags.  They are fairly cheap and you get a lot of meat for the price so they are a great deal.

No! No! No! Don’t turn your nose up!
I promise, we have something great planned!

I’ve made several dishes with mixed seafood medley but the one I’m going to share with you is one that I turn to the most.  It’s a quick, nutritous meal and I’ve added whatever is in my fridge to the mixture.  I’ve added spinach, kale, tomatoes, squash, basically anything that looks like it won’t last another day, I’ll throw it in there.  Tonight I just made the basic recipe and that includes only onions and garlic (I’m running low on food since it’s the middle of March.  Spring veggies can’t get here soon enough!). 
I’ve noticed with seafood, many people *think* they don’t like it and I’ve found that it’s because they have never had it cooked correctly.  Seafood is a very fragile meat and most people treat seafood like they would any other meat.  Don’t do that. Overcooking seafood turns it into a rubbery flavorless mess.  Seafood (both fish and other kinds) need to be cooked at high temperatures for a short time.  Because of this, I cook this specific recipe in my wok.  You want a fire-hot pan, warm oil, and cold seafood (DO NOT DEFROST THE SEAFOOD BEFORE YOU COOK IT!).  Since this is going to cook at such a high temperature, you want to get everything prepared before you start the cooking in the wok.  Seriously, this will take you about 10 minutes from start to finish once your ready for the wok part.
The very first thing you want to do is zest a whole lemon into 1/4 cup olive oil.  You want the lemon zest to infuse the olive oil.  Juice the lemon and set the juice aside.  Cook some pasta; I do about two handfuls of quinoa spaghetti.  Reserve about a 1/2 cup of pasta water before you drain the pasta.  Chop an onion and 3 (or 5!) garlic cloves.  Make sure you have sea salt, freshly ground pepper, and red chili flakes available.  That’s it!  Now you’re ready to cook.
Set your wok over high heat.  Once the wok is nice and hot, add about a tablespoon of olive oil and swirl it around.  Throw in your onion and garlic and caramelize.  Once the garlic and onion are caramelized to your liking, add the lemon juice and olive oil with the lemon zest.  Bring this up to a boil.  Once it’s at a boil, pour in the whole 1 pound bag of frozen seafood, stir it up, add salt, pepper, and chili flakes to taste, and cover.  Shake the woke while it’s covered a few times.  Keep stirring until the seafood is just about cooked through but not all the way.  Add your pasta and shake the pasta vigorously with tongs within the sauce.  The starch from the pasta will thicken the sauce.  If you need a little more liquid you can add some of the pasta water.  Cover, cook the seafood through, divvy up into bowls, top with parmesan and dinner is served!

Lemony Seafood Pasta
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
Zest and juice of one lemon
Red chili Flakes 
  1. Cook pasta, reserve 1/2 cup pasta water, drain, and set aside.
  2. Using a rasp, zest the skin of one lemon into 1/4 cup olive oil
  3. In a very hot wok, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil (about one turn around the pan).  Add onions and garlic and caramelize.
  4. Add lemon juice and olive oil with lemon zest, bring to a boil.  Add frozen seafood, salt, pepper, and chili pepper to taste.  Stir and cover.
  5. Once 3/4 cooked through, add pasta and shake vigorously with tongs to thicken sauce.  Add some reserved pasta water if it needs more liquid.
  6. Cover and cook the seafood through
  7. Serve with parmesan cheese and crusty bread.

Bar Top: Brown Sugar Whiskey Sour

I was never an imbiber of whiskey sours before.  Every time I tried one, they were just…very disappointing.  Maybe it was the premixed sweet and sours that bars use in their drinks.  YUCK!  Once I started really getting into setting up a home bar, however, a whole new range of drinks that I didn’t like before, were suddenly delicious!  Using quality ingredients in your drinks will turn any drink from blah to amazing…you won’t even need the highest top of the line liquor either!  I’ve made this whiskey sour with rye whiskey and bourbon.  Both of them are excellent.

This whiskey sour takes whiskey sour to a whole ‘nother level.  I present to you:  The Brown Sugar Whiskey Sour:

Brown Sugar Whiskey Sour

Adapted from The Vintage Mixer

Yield:  1 cocktail

Juice from half a lemon
1/4 oz Brown Sugar Simple Syrup (recipe follows)
1.5 oz Straight Rye Whiskey

  1. Pour 1/4 oz Brown Sugar Simple Syrup in a rocks glass, add juice from half a lemon, add Whiskey, stir, add ice.  Enjoy.
  2. Add more brown sugar simple syrup or whiskey to suit your taste.

Brown Sugar Simple Syrup

3/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup water

1.  Mix sugar and water in a small pot and simmer until brown sugar dissolves.  Turn off heat, pour into a jar and cool.  Store in the fridge.

Candied Lemons

Remember when I told you to keep the lemon peel from the lemons we juiced for the canned lemonade concentrate?  Well, wait until you try these homemade candies!  Making homemade candies makes my heart sing with joy and candied lemons are fantastic.  There is just so much you can do with them and I plan on posting recipes in the future. 

Take the peel from 10 juiced lemons, remove the pulp of the lemon, and pick out any rough pith.  If the skins are really thick, you may have to cut off some of the pith.


Now, slice the peel into long strips.  Place the peel in a large pot and fill with cold water.  Put on the stove and place on high, bring to a boil, and boil for 20 minutes.  Drain in a colander.  Repeat this process 2 more times for a total of 3 times.  The last time you drain, dry the pot, then put in 6 cups of sugar and 3 cups of water.  Bring this up to a boil and when the sugar just starts to brown add the lemons.  Simmer the lemons in the sugar until the lemon peel turns translucent.

Place silpat or wax paper on two cookie trays and layer the trays with sugar.  Once the candied lemons are ready, using a fork scoop out the peel and layer them on the cookie trays in a single layer and try to make it so they don’t touch.  Sprinkle them with sugar to cover.  Let them dry overnight.

Once they are dry, store in quart jars with the sugar they dried in.

You can eat them like this, wrap them in cellophane and give them as gifts, or my favorite:  dip one side in dark chocolate.  Mmmmmmmmmmmmmm…

Candied Lemons

Yield:  2 Quarts

Peel from 10 lemons
6 cups sugar
3 cups water

  1. Remove the skin of the lemon and remove as much pith as possible.  Cut the peel into strips.
  2. Put lemon peel in a large saucepan with cold water to cover, bring to a boil over high heat then drain in a colander.  Repeat this process 2 more times for a total of 3 times.  Drain lemons in a colander
  3. Whisk the sugar with water.  Bring to a simmer and cook for 8 to 9 minutes (if you took the temperature of the sugar with a candy thermometer it would be at the soft thread stage, 230-234).
  4. Add the peels and simmer gently, reducing heat to retain a simmer.
  5. Cook until the peels get translucent, about 45 minutes.   Resist the urge to stir the peels as it will introduce crystals into the syrup.  If necessary, swirl the pan around to move the peels around.
  6. Remove peels with a fork and place on a sugar covered cookie sheet lined with a silpat or wax paper.  Sprinkle the lemons with sugar.  Let them dry overnight.
  7. Store them in their sugar.

A Few of My Favorite Things: Pearson Ranch California Oranges

I adore lemons probably more than any other food, especially of the citrus group.  I grew up in Arizona and always took lemons, well citrus in general, for granted.  They were everywhere and always for free.  Someone somewhere, either at work or in your neighborhood, had a lemon tree that just grew too many lemons.

No more scurvy for me!  Yar!

Then I moved to Maryland and the the lemon party was over.  WHAT?!  How do these people live without lemons?!  I didn’t even know it was possible.  Lemons are worth their weight in gold here.  The sad thing is, citrus in Maryland are generally in a sad state.  By the time they are picked by the corporate Florida farms, then boxed, shipped to a distribution corporation, trucked to Maryland, distributed to the grocery store, wait in the grocery store cold room, make it to the shelves, to *finally* get picked by a customer, the citrus are dried and shriveled.  It’s really quite sad.  That should not be the life of a citrus fruit.  The citrus you can find from the Farmer’s Markets are not much better, considering that they still have to get trucked to the farmers – and some of the farmers that sell year round do deal with distribution companies.  After my upteenth dried out orange/lime/lemon, I have, for the most part, stayed away from citrus since I’ve been here.
Then I got depressed and homesick around February.  It was another cold day.  I needed a pick me up. 

I needed lemons.

I did a search online and did a little research.  A few of my requirements were direct delivery, no distribution centers, and a locally/family owned farm.

I came across Pearson Ranch California Oranges.  Ok, ok, I know that California is not local to Maryland -BUT- it is family owned and not a huge corporate farm conglomerate.  They are a conventional citrus farm, they specialize in direct delivery to their customers, and they have a lot of East Coast customers.  They have a monthly lemon and orange club that you can join, they have combo citrus packs, and they also have a plethora of different citrus to choose from; from Pomelos to Meyer Lemons to Keffir Limes and Blood Oranges.  If there is a citrus you want, they more than likely have it.  However, they do go by seasons so do keep that in mind.

Farmer Tony is the owner and he is very acessible through email and Facebook.  All of their employees are quick to respond and are very helpful – and – the most important thing, their citrus are delicious!

Canned Lemonade Concentrate

Folks, I pulled out the big gun:

The dehydrator holds all the citrus peel!

The love of my life, my Kitchen Aide Stand Mixer and her attachment, the citrus juicer.  I love lemonade and last year I made a limited number of canned lemonade concentrate.  I did not make enough and I ran out halfway through the year.  Booooooo.  This year, I was determined to make enough lemonade concentrate to last the whole year.

So, we had the 15 zested lemons from the limoncello and the 15 zested lemons from the dried peel, cut those lemons in half and juice them.  Then cut in half and juice more lemons to equal 9 cups of lemon juice (DO NOT THROW AWAY THE PEEL!  WE ARE GOING TO MAKE SOMETHING WITH THEM!).

Mmmmmm, Lemonade…

Canned Lemonade Concentrate

Yield:  8 pints

9 cups of fresh Lemon Juice
5 cups of water
4 cups of sugar

  1. Prepare jars, lids/rings, and canning equipment per “Kitchen Tactics: Boiling Water Bath Canning”
  2. Place lemon juice in a large stock pot.  Add 5 cups of water and 4 cups of sugar.  Bring to a low boil then turn down the heat and simmer.
  3. Ladle the hot concentrate into 8 hot pints leaving 1/4″ headspace.
  4. Process via BWB for 15 minutes.
  5. To make lemonade, dilute one pint of lemonade concentrate with however many pints of water to suit your taste.

Dried Citrus Zest Strips

I was in the grocery store today as there was meat on sale and because I can never go to the grocery store for only one thing, I ran into this in the spice aisle:

SIX DOLLARS AND 50 CENTS?!  SIX DOLLARS AND 50 CENTS for 1.5oz of “California Lemon Peel”?!  Are you kidding me?!  Is this stuff powdered gold?!  And, knowing how corporations like to cut corners, you know that this is not made from Meyer Lemons. 

But wait, it gets better!

FIVE DOLLAR AND 50 CENTS!  FIVE DOLLARS AND 50 CENTS for 1.5oz of “Valencia Orange Peel”  If Lemon Peel is powdered gold then Orange Peel must be powdered copper!

Being from Arizona, my first reaction was to laugh out loud hysterically in the aisle of the grocery store, then I started taking pictures.  I think the Marylanders in the grocery store must of thought I was insane for making such a big deal about dried citrus peel.  I wanted to walk up to random people in the grocery store and yell at them about how they are being ripped off!  haha.

Lets look at the ingredients lists:

To be fair, this is a pretty good ingredients list with only two ingredients but the second ingredient is Sodium Sulfate.  Sodium sulfate is a salt that is mainly used in the manufacture of detergents and paper pulp.

Folks, I’ve got a real easy method for you and you don’t have to break the bank to do it either.  Grab your vegetable peeler, grab the citrus of your choice, and peel the zest right off those citrus (much like the way we did for the limoncello ).  Make sure you limit the amount of pith on the zest as the pith is bitter.  The zest hold all the apparent powdered gold – or powdered copper for that matter.

Lay those peels in a single layer in your dehydrator and check them every 4 hours or so.  Most of my peels dried overnight.  Once they are done drying put them on a plate to cool off.  Once they are completely cooled, place them in a pint jar.  OR, you can lay them on a single layer on a plate or cookie sheet and let them dry at their own pace.

BAM!  Ingredients:  Citrus Peel

You can pulverize them into a powder, place a couple of peels in a grinder with peppercorn and sea salt to use as a spice on chicken or fish, or grab a strip and drop it in your water!

Real Deal Limoncello, First Phase

Do yourselves a favor and start this Limoncello with me.  This method for Limoncello will create the best damn Limoncello you’ve ever had.  It’s amazing and it takes about 9 months to completely mature, so start it now.   It will be ready to bottle by Christmas.  You can bottle it and keep it for yourself or give it as gifts to people who really deserve it. 

First, you will need a 750ml bottle of vodka, not necessarily high end but one that’s good enough that you would serve to other people (I like using Skyy), and a 750ml bottle of Everclear.   Next, you’ll need 15 lemons who’s skins are just about perfect.  You don’t want many bruises because we need the zest.  Finally, you need a good vegetable peeler and a 2 gallon glass jar.

Using your vegetable peeler, peel only the zest of the lemons into long strips.
Make sure you only get the zest.  You don’t want any of the pith or it will make your limoncello bitter and bitter limoncello will get you thrown out of any self respecting Italian’s house!  The zest is where all the sweetness and flavor of the lemon is. 
Place these strips in the 2 gallon glass jar. It’s best that you use glass because of the acid from the lemons. Once you have all the lemon zest in the jar, pour the bottle of vodka and Everclear in.
Shake this like a Polaroid picture and put it in a dark place.  Every once in awhile, or – if you’re like me – every time you remember, shake the lemon zest and alcohol mixture.  In 3 months, take out a slice of zest and bend it.  If it breaks, you’re ready to add the sugar syrup mixture; if it doesn’t keep the jar in the dark place.  The goal is to leach all the lemon essential oils out of the zest and into the alcohol.  We’ll check in on the liqueuer in about 3 months.
We are going to juice the actual lemon for a canned lemonade concentrate recipe that will follow this post.
Real Deal Limoncello

One Bottle (750 ml) Everclear (95% alcohol 190 Proof)

One Bottle (750 ml) good but not necessarily premium vodka (40% alcohol 80 Proof)
15 large thick skinned bright yellow lemons (without scars or flaws in the skin if possible.)

Day 1
1.  Make sure the lemons are cleaned to remove all pesticides, dirt, and fertilizer chemicals.  Dry the lemons.  use a potato peeler to peel just the yellow part of the skin off the lemons.
2.  Place lemon zest into a 2 gallon glass jar.
3.  Pour the bottle of Everclear and the bottle of vodka into the jar.
4.  Shake the jar and put away in a cool dark place.
5.  Shake jar every other week…or whenever you remember.
6.  We will revisit our liqueur in about 90 days