kumquat marmalade + pistachio linzertorte

kumquat marmalade + pistachio linzertorte

We just had an alarm system installed out here in the woods, in the compound that I work at. It’s not what you may think. It’s not to deter burglars, although as it turns out it deters everyone, so, burglars included. The alarm system is set up to detect fires, high levels of hydrogen, low temperatures, and power outages.

This is all part of an elaborate scheme to bring solar power into the woods. It’s a delicate mix of inverters running off the batteries that are fueled by the solar cells, along with two different generators that serve our energy needs during daily peaks and energy-demanding activities such as welding.

Anyway, the system is now sort of functional, and it’s shaping up to be an awesome step forwards for this community in the middle of nowhere. But the most recent item of business, adding in an alarm system as a safeguard, has put everyone on edge since it went live last week. On one peaceful sunny evening last week, I was enjoying the nice weather when suddenly a cop car siren went off at a volume so loud that I jumped a good 2.5 inches out of my shoes. It would be prudent to note here that our compound is located hours away from any paved roads, and no cop cars would ever dream of venturing this far into the woods. To top it off, the noise sounded like it was coming from the lake.

Turns out it was the alarm system siren (pronounced sy-reen all distinguished-like by the electricians). They were choosing a ringtone.

kumquat marmalade + pistachio linzertorte

Since then, things have escalated. Another point of interest to note is that whenever we switch over to the generator, there is a 1-minute delay when we have no power. This happens several times a day, but is nothing out of the ordinary for us. However, the alarm system has been programmed, as I mentioned, to detect power outages. So now every time that we switch to the generators, the sy-reen goes off. I think that the system has developed some sort of evil brain, because weird things have been happening with the generators since the electricians’ visit last week. The power went out at least eight times yesterday. That means the loud-ass sy-reen went off at least eight times yesterday. The sy-reen has also been sounding during the middle of the night. In a measure of good faith, the electricians have limited the sy-reen‘s duration to a few minutes, down from the recommended 15 MINUTES. Thanks guys.

We have some electronic keypads that tell us what sort of alarm is sounding. Like last week, an alarm went off because there was low temperature in a small shed that has no water or power and is uninhabited. Good to know.

And this morning, I’m being told by the keypad that we are currently suffering from…. a fire.

kumquat marmalade

A couple weeks ago, I made this fire-colored kumquat marmalade. Someone sound the sy-reen please.

Did you ever eat those SOUR SOUR SOUR SUPERSOUR sweeeeet Warheads candies? Kumquats are like nature’s equivalent to Warheads, a definite mouth party. How I have never before eaten kumquats is beyond me. Now I’m popping them like a bad addiction, and I’m slipping a few to my loggers – “oh hey, you like citrus? here, try this!” I offer, before quickly taking a few steps back just in case.

The next logical step, aside from slathering my marmalade over every glutenous surface known to man, was to pair it with my perennial favorite nut, pistachios, combining the two into a delightful variation on a linzertorte.

kumquat marmalade + pistachio linzertorte

Kumquat Marmalade + Pistachio Linzertorte

Recipe adapted from Maida Heatter and Smitten Kitchen

Yield: One 9-inch round or 8-inch square torte, sooo…. 8 wedges or 16 bars.

For the Kumquat Marmalade:

I used David Lebovitz’s recipe for Kumquat Marmalade, and the only change I made was to use three Meyer lemons in place of the recommended 2 lemons. I couldn’t write the instructions any better than he did, so follow his. Make sure you start a day ahead of time, since the citrus needs to soak overnight.

For the Linzertorte:

Base and Lattice
2 1/2 c. pistachios
1 1/2 c. flour
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
10 tbsp cold, unsalted butter, cut into chunks
Heaping 3/4 c. sugar
1 egg
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon (I used a Meyer)

Make base: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter 9-inch round layer cake pan or 8-inch square pan. Line the bottom of each with a piece of parchment paper cut to fit, then butter then paper.

In a food processor, process pistachios and 1/4 c. of flour (reserve remaining flour) until the nuts are finely ground but not pasty.

Place remaining 1 1/4 c. flour, cinnamon, and salt in a large mixing bowl. With a pastry blender, add the butter into the flour mixture until it forms crumbs. Mix in the sugar. In a small bowl, beat the egg and lemon zest until combined, then stir into flour mixture until well-mixed. Work the dough inside the bowl until a cohesive ball forms.

Divide dough into halves.

Place half the dough into the bottom of the prepared pan, and press evenly and firmly over the bottoms, flouring fingers if necessary. Press dough up the sides of the pan 1 1/2″.

Bake shell for 10-15 minutes, until it barely begins to color at the edges. Remove shell from oven and let cool slightly. Reduce oven to 325F.

While the shell bakes, roll remaining piece of dough between two pieces of waxed paper or parchment paper, until 1/4″- to 3/8″ in thickness or just a bit larger than the size of the pan. Transfer to freezer on a baking sheet until the dough is well-chilled, about 20 minutes.

3 tbsp panko or fine, dry breadcrumbs
1 heeeeaping c. kumquat marmalade

Make filling: Remove chilled dough from freezer.

Pulse panko or coarse dry breadcrumb in a food processor until a fine powder. Sprinkle panko or breadcrumbs over par-baked shell. If jam is not soft, stir it until it is, then spread over breadcrumbs.

Cut dough into 1/2″- 3/4″ strips, cutting through the bottom of the waxed paper at the same time if you want to make dough transfer simple (I didn’t do this). Lift each strip over the jam and reverse it onto the jam before peeling off the waxed paper. Arrange strips 1/2″ to 3/4″ apart, crisscrossing them (if desired, I didn’t do this either) on an angle to make a lattice top with diamond-shaped openings. Use leftover pieces to fill in any gaps between lattice-strips and tall sides of shells. Excess lengths can be added to the tall sides and gently pressed into place.

1 egg yolk
1 tsp water
Powdered sugar, for serving

Mix egg yolks and water. Brush it all over lattice top and border. Bake torte for 45 to 60 minutes, until crust is well-browned.

Remove from oven and place on cooling rack. Cool for ten to fifteen minutes in the pan, before loosening and removing. Allow to fully cool on a cooling rack. When cool, serve immediately, or let the linzertorte stand overnight (covered in foil) before serving for full flavor development. Decorate with powdered sugar before serving if desired.


We caught Beata snoozing at a perfect 90 degree angle. Such a little right triangle. Be still my beating heart oh gosh.

She knows not the joys of marmalade and linzertorte, but she doesn’t need to, because she has fur and whiskers and ears and those darling legs.


pear, apple, pecan tarte tatin

tarte tatin

Tarte tatin. It’s one of those desserts that quickens my heart rate just at the thought of it. Oozy caramel, sweet juicy fruit, a delicate layer of crust that may or may not be sort of smooshed because you didn’t give it enough time to chill because you wanted to eat your lunch and it never pays to rush plus you only had a can of salt for a rolling pin but who can tell because it’s underneath all of that other good stuff.

Two pears, one apple, a generous smattering of cardamom and a heck of a lot of butter contribute to this tarte. One of our health resolutions for this year was choosing to cook with olive oil rather than butter, so I’ve been building up my butter quota in anticipation of something decadent like this.

Our other health resolution was to only eat bacon twice a month, and I’m coping somewhat stoically with that one (and waiting for February for my next fix). Because even though we’ll be eating bacon tomorrow night, it will be stuffed inside of a freshly-caught brook trout, and that therefore does not count in the greater scheme of things. Woods logic, y’all.

tarte tatin

Use whatever kind of pears you want for this. I’m not picky. I’m just thankful that my grocery store has multiple types of pears for me to choose from. Cut your pears into quarters; any smaller, and they will become difficult to handle. Cut the apple into smaller pieces, to nestle in amongst the pears.

I chose to leave those pears face up for the baking stage, with the hope that they would remove themselves without much fuss from the pan. Sure enough, no pear experienced any difficulties in the making of this tarte. But, I dare say the tarte would be equally pretty if the cut sides were baked face-down.

I adapted this from a similar tarte tatin I made two years ago. I recommend that one as well, it was quite delicious.


3/4 c flour
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp cardamom
6 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp ice-cold water

2/3 c. pecans
2 pears, in the happy place between firm and soft
1 apple
6 tbsp salted butter
Heaping 1/2 c sugar
1 tsp cardamom


Making the Crust

In a food processor, combine flour, salt, sugar, and cardamom. Add small pieces of frozen unsalted butter and pulse until thoroughly mixed. Add in cold water slowly until mixture makes a ball or near-ball in the food processor.

Roll out on a lightly-floured surface until disc of dough is the size necessary to fit into the pan you will cook your apples in. Chill in fridge on a sheet pan.

Note: I didn’t follow my own instructions at all, and my crust fell apart somewhat sadly. Use cold butter, and a food processor, or at least a pastry blender – I had none of these things, hence the mishap.

Making the Tarte

Heat oven to 375 F.

Break pecans into small pieces, and toast in a saute pan until fragrant. Set aside.

Get out your heaviest pan โ€“ for me, this is a 10″ cast-iron skillet. This recipe makes a small tarte tatin, so the smaller the pan the better. However, if the pan isnโ€™t heavy enough, the caramel will burn quickly, this I promise you.

Core pears, and cut into quarters. Leave skins on for a rustic approach and no nutritional compromising. Core apple, and cut into eighths. Halve several of these eighths if needed.

Remove crust from fridge, set aside.

Melt the salted butter in the heavy pan of your choosing, then add sugar. Spread butter mixture evenly over the panโ€™s bottom surface. Arrange the pears and apples as desired, I started by arranging mine face side-down. Sprinkle cardamom over the apples, and top with pecans.

Return to heat, which should now be turned on medium-high, depending on the strength of your stove. For most stoves, high shouldn’t be a problem. Cook for around 10 minutes, or until a medium caramel color appears. Flip each piece of fruit. Cook three to five minutes more.

Take crust and place over fruit, tucking dough around the sides of the pears and apples if possible. Place in preheated oven and cook for around 25 minutes until crust turns a light golden brown.

Remove pan from oven, quickly run a knife or spatula around the edge/bottom of the tarte, and flip onto a serving plate.

Serve warm. I imagine this would go great with a cardamom vanilla whipped cream (1 c. heavy cream, 1 tbsp powdered sugar, 1/4 tsp vanilla, 1/4 tsp cardamom), though I haven’t had the pleasure.

tarte tatin

I froze my face off riding on a snowmobile this weekend. It seems unnecessary that certain activities require specific gear, so I’m usually content to make do with what I have, at least until my face falls off. Just like in that top-notch Nic Cage movie.

And then, faceless, I may begrudgingly purchase accessories to help keep me alive. Or put my face back on.

For the first time since I started my job, we spent the weekend at my work cabin. Ice fishing in ridiculously windy conditions, snow sledding in those same windy conditions, and eating like royalty all throughout the day because ridiculous wind makes you mad hungry.

We topped off the weekend with an after-dark snowmobile ride where we found a moose antler. We’d been halfheartedly searching for two days, so our find felt justified. I forgot to mention that our weekend started off with Fast & Furious 6, so our action adventure saga came full-circle. Though neither of us flew through the air from one vehicle to another, we still had an epic couple of days. As Vin Diesel’s sagacious character Dom construed, “Some things you just have to take on faith.”

I have faith in the woods.

snowmobiling north maine woods

Oh, and hey, if you’ve got a few minutes, give it up for this gem, which has been stuck in my head for three days now. 2 Chainz, wut up dawg.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but some things…. you just have to take on faith.

apple tarte tatin with cardamom and pistachios

Last week, in between bouts of bronchial nasty, I strove to finish my ode to B.T. McElrath and Black Dinah Chocolatiers. In fact, the last few paragraphs were typed as I lay sprawled across a small rug near a heating vent, nearly unable to lift my head to peruse the scenery out of doors. I was illin’, and I spent the next four days doing very little but chewing down Echinacea pills like they were going out of style, gulping orange juice as fast as I could pour it (which was slow), and reading three and a half books from Stephen King’s Dark Tower series.

But there was a twinkle in my sickly eye. Remember those Black Dinah truffles with a smooth rose-cardamom caramel softly enveloping a whole pistachio? I most definitely remember them. And, although I was sick, I fiercely wanted to recreate those taste sensations in some kind of baked good.

This week, all semi-healed up and ready to bake, that twinkle begat a glimmer, which begat a candle, which begat a beacon, and that beacon hath emblazoned upon me the desire to make anย Apple Tarte Tatin, with Cardamon and Pistachios thrown in for good measure.

It’s a simple concept. Sweet meets salty, with a nice helping of butter in between.

The cardamom goes mostly undetected, but adds depth to the apples. The salty pistachios take center stage underneath their so-sweet topping, and add extra oomph to a salty pie crust that I previously thought could not be made more delicious.

This is the perfect tarte to eat, perhaps with a cup of tea, as you let your thoughts drift to sowing vegetable seeds and planting perennials come spring, all the while staring out your window, musing at the foot – or more – of snow that fell over the weekend.

ย ย ย 

Apple Tarte Tatin with Cardamon and Pistachios


3/4 c flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp sugar
6 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp ice-cold water
1 tbsp ground salted pistachios

3 apples (I used Braeburns)
6 tbsp salted butter
1/2 c + 2 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp cardamom


Making the Crust

In a food processor, combine flour, salt, and sugar. Add small pieces of frozen unsalted butter and pulse until thoroughly mixed. Add in cold water slowly until mixture makes a ball or near-ball in the food processor. Add pistachios, and pulse until mixed. Note: I added my pistachios last so that they would remain in larger pieces. Add them with the flour if you wish them to be well-incorporated.

Roll out on a lightly-floured surface until disc of dough is the size necessary to fit into the pan you will cook your apples in. Chill in fridge on a sheet pan.

Making the Tarte

Heat oven to 375 F.

Get out your heaviest pan – for me, this is a cast-iron skillet. This recipe makes a small tarte tatin, so the smaller the pan the better. However, if the pan isn’t heavy enough, the caramel will burn quickly [this I learned the difficult way].

Peel and core the apples. Lovely rustic tartes often leave the apples in quarters, but I chose to cut mine up into smaller pieces. Do as you wish.

Melt the salted butter in the heavy pan your choosing, and then add sugar. Remove pan from heat and spread butter mixture evenly over the pan’s bottom surface. Arrange the apples in an artful manner, reserving a few (if desired) for later. Sprinkle half of the cardamom over the apples.

Return to heat, which should now be turned on high. Yes, high. Cook for around 10 minutes, or until a medium caramel color appears. Remove from heat, and flip apples. If there are gaps due to apple shrinkage, add additional slices where needed. Sprinkle remaining cardamom over apples. Return to heat and cook five minutes more.

Take crust from fridge and place over apples, tucking dough around the sides of the apples if possible. Place in preheated oven and cook for around 25 minutes until crust turns a light golden brown.

Remove pan from oven, quickly run a knife or spatula around the edge/bottom of the tarte, and flip onto a serving plate.

Serve warm, and enjoy.