You know those foods that leave a lasting impression? The ones where you remember your first introduction... the exact place and time you had your first bite and exactly how it tasted and smelled? Well, I had this with kumquats. Yes... kumquats. It was at the office of a documentary production company I had just started interning with (and would later work for) and one of my fellow interns was always bringing in foods I'd never heard of. One day she brought in a bag of kumquats and I was amused by their shape. What are those? What do they taste like? She was quick to offer me one, explaining to slowly sink my teeth into the peel before continuing into the flesh. I did as instructed. Oh, it's sweet. Oh, it's tart! Oh, I want another!
This may or may not come as a surprise, but the inspiration for this sauce stemmed from a cocktail recipe I started working on a few weeks ago. My mother in law, a cranberry sauce lover (she makes it all year long... not just around the holidays), left a container of her's at our apartment and, after tasting a spoon, I thought it'd be fun to incorporate it into a drink. I wanted to keep it refreshing, so I went with gin, a bit of Aperol, some lemon juice and a little simple syrup to sweeten it up (despite what many cranberry sauce recipes say, the less sugar you add the better. Tart is the way to go).
I made this sauce for our Friendsgiving dinner last weekend and it was a huge hit... not as a side dish, but in the drink we served with appetizers. Either way, folks will be pleased. I mean, how can you go wrong with booze?
Cranberry and Kumquat Sauce
Yield Approx. 1.5 cups
Ingredients 16 oz kumquats, seeds removed and quartered. 12 oz cranberries 1/2 cup fresh orange juice 1/4 cup sugar 1 teaspoon cinnamon 1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise
1. In a saucepan, place the the kumquats, cranberries, orange juice, cinnamon and sugar and set over medium heat. Stir and bring to a boil. Once it comes to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and let cook until the cranberries burst.
2. Add the vanilla bean. Stir sauce. Once it thickens a bit, turn off the burner and let cool.
Cranberry and Kumquat Libation
Ingredients 1 tablespoon cranberry-kumquat sauce (see recipe above) 2 oz gin 1 oz lemon juice 1/2 oz Aperol 1/4 oz simple syrup 1/2 oz lemon-lime seltzer
1. With the exception of the seltzer, place all of the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with three ice cubes. Shake for 10-15 seconds to chill the drink. Pour all contents, including ice, into a rocks glass.
2. Add another ice cube if preferred.
3. Add with lemon-lime seltzer and give the drink a stir with a spoon.