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.

Filling
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.

Topping
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.

beata

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.

deep dish pistachio + plum jam thumbprint cookies

deepdish thumbprint cookies

And like that, it was Christmas.

This saddens me, because it means that pretty soon it will stop being acceptable to listen to my NKOTB and Hanson Christmas CD’s day every day all day. And it means that I won’t be able to talk about them on this space for roughly 315 days. Phew, man, I just gotta be strong. I got this.

You know what else I’ve got? New skis. A gorgeous new winter coat. Loads of not-new stuff. Chipped nails. Constantly-splitting ends. A truck with snow through-the-grill from plowing myself through 15″ of fresh snow. Cat affection. Cat reflection. Cat detection. Cat protection. Cat selection. Cat complexion. Cat infection. jk.

I also have these Deep Dish Pistachio + Plum Jam Thumbprint Cookies, and tell you what, they are infectiously good. Speaking of infections, after making Seasons 1 and 2 of The Walking Dead last for months, we found a little contagion of our own and watched 10 FLIPPING EPISODES in a one-day time span over the weekend. Disgusting. Disgustingly good. And yet also, disgustingly bad. Poor actors who get all emotional, pick a point somewhere off yonder and stare pointedly, I’m looking at you. While Eli comforted my conscience by quoting the recent and surely scientific study of Netflix users, wherein 73% felt awesome after binge-watching the program of their choice, I can’t help but feel a bit rueful about time lost.

mirabelle plum jam

I used Mirabelle plum preserves for these thumbprint cookies, because it is gorgeously golden in color, decadently sweet in taste, and delightfully refreshing as far as jams go. I also added in a few splashes of red currant jelly, for festive flare and extra yumminess.  Spell check recommended I change yumminess to crumminess, but I don’t believe it for a minute. I’ll mention now that when I say deep dish, I mean huge monstrous dish – – so if you are jam-averse in the slightest, this is not a cookie for you. These cookies have jam for days.

And pistachios, darling gems of the plant world. I had a sudden onset of confusion while at the grocery store the other day, realizing that I didn’t know what a pistachio…. tree?bush?shrub? looks like. Sure enough, it is a small tree native to the Middle East and Central Asia. Surprise factoid of the day: pistachio trees actually contain urushiol, the same toxin found in poison ivy (as well as mango, cashew, and sumac trees). How about that. No urushiol here, though, because good golly am I allergic.

If you make these, make sure to let them cool fully, or else you’ll have jam running every which way like I did. One cookie makes an excellent treat split between two people, but then you’ll just want to eat twice as many. An interesting conundrum with an easy solution. Deep dish holidays are here to stay, I think.

Deep Dish Pistachio + Plum Jam Thumbprint Cookies

Makes 12 deep dish cookies

++Ingredients:++

1/2 c. roasted + salted pistachios, shelled and chopped fine
2 sticks (1 c.) unsalted butter, softened
Heaping 1/2 c. granulated sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
2 egg yolks
2 c. flour

7 oz. Mirabelle plum preserves (or other plum jam)
1-2 oz. red currant jelly

++Directions:++

In a large bowl, beat softened butter two to three minutes until floofy and light-colored. Add in sugar and salt, and cream together. Beat in vanilla and egg yolks, one at a time.

Add flour, and mix until just combined. The dough will look pebbly and crumbly. Cover, and chill in the fridge for at least an hour.

Butter and flour one 12-cup muffin tin; set aside. Heat oven to 350 F. When dough is chilled, remove from fridge and divide into twelve equal portions. Roll each dough ball in the crushed pistachios, then set into the prepared muffin wells. Push down in the center and up around the sides, to create a bowl or cup shape out of the dough. As you can see in the above picture, I brought the dough up nearly evenly with the edge of the pan.

Place one heaping tablespoon of Mirabelle plum preserves in the center of each cookie. Add 1/2 tsp of red currant jelly on top of each for extra color and tasty taste. Sprinkle with any remaining pistachios.

Bake for 22-26 minutes, until edges are light golden brown. Remove from oven, and allow to cool in the pan for at least 20 minutes – they are fragile and jammy until the cool significantly. Run a thin knife around the edge of each cookie, until you can pop each one out of the tin. Set on a cooling rack to cool further, before storing in an air-proof container, preferably in the fridge.

++Options:++ Switch up the jams or the nuts if this combination isn’t to your liking. Also, feel free to add a dollop of your favorite brown sugar-based streusel on top, prior to baking. The computer wants to auto correct streusel to stressful, but streusel is only stressful when you’re out of brown sugar like I was, hence the lack of streusel here. These are very pretty as is, though. Like giant cheery Christmas eyes, watching you…. always watching.

deepdish thumbprint cookies

I’m really quite jazzed for Christmas. I spent weeks eying various fir trees alongside the roads I drive every day, only to end up cutting the tree next to the tree I had chosen, upon discovering that aforementioned chosen one was a reeeeeeally wide load. I cut it down in a freezing rain downpour, and once it had thawed out at home, we lit it up with our five strings of lights and various homemade ornaments. I create a wood-burned ornament for the tree each year, and this year, it was an homage to my thousand times gorgeous teal Yeti mountain bike.

Sunday was a snow day. We took to the streets on our new skis, and had the greatest time bombing down mini hills and plowing through the foot or so of snow that we had accumulated at that point. We brunched at our local organic cafe, The Whole Potato, where I discovered this frightful puppet looming above me, working to finagle some of my sweet potato hash. Stay back, haunting little person.

The snow days continue out here in the woods. Only a few more days to be spent plowing through the snow in my truck, before launching into fully-fledged Christmas cookie consumption and cat adoration/infection. Happy holidays to each and every one of you – may whatever you celebrate be celebrated with peace, joy, and love.

frightful puppetpistachio kittytruck plow

pistachio pudding shortbread + rosewater caramel slice

pistachio custard shortbread + rosewater caramel slice

Well, we’ve moved again. I feel like I’m always moving. This is partly because I actually am in constant transit, living out of a cabin during the week, traveling frequently on the weekends, and only seeing my ‘home’ a handful of days each month. On those brief occasions when I have time to zen out in my kitchen, I hope for the best. And this past weekend, right before the spectacle that we call moving house commenced, I zenned myself this delicious four-sticks-of-butter dessert.

This was an idea that sparked into existence after reading about Mary’s pretty Nanaimo Bars last week. She had me thinking about pudding. Thinking about pudding begat a shimmery remembrance of the perennially-delicious Custard Shortbread made with Bird’s Custard Powder. Thinking about a product I no longer have easy access to led me to see what was available to me in the baking aisle. Hence, realization dawned upon me that I could make delicious shortbread with any kind of pudding known to man.

So, duh, I chose to light up my soggy moving weekend with an electric green Pistachio Pudding Shortbread.

pistachio custard shortbread + rosewater caramel slice

But this slice, already off to a roaring neon start, was destined for additional greatness. As I peered into a fridge filled with things to be used up or thrown out, this recipe with only two sticks of butter in it seemed somehow unfinished.

A caramel sauce, made to harden in the fridge, and yet soften nicely when brought to room temperature, was flavored with rosewater – the perfect and classic pistachio pairing.

Could it get any tastier? I believe not, because lordy, I am smitten. Smitten with this incredible treat, which is as versatile as it is pretty. A quick dessert, a workday snack, an easily portioned-out eye-catching party dish. This shortbread touches all the bases.

Pistachio Pudding Shortbread + Rosewater Caramel Slice {recipe by myself}

Makes one 8″ x 8″ pan (16 large, 20 medium slices)

For the shortbread:

16 tbsp (two sticks) unsalted butter, melted
1 package pistachio pudding powder
1/4 c. powdered sugar
1/4 c. sugar
2 c. flour
3/4 tsp salt

Combine butter and pudding powder in a large bowl and mix well. Add in sugars and salt, mix to combine.

Sift flour into mixture in two batches, mixing well. Press into an 8 x 8″ cake pan. No need to score shortbread ahead of time, but prick all over with a fork or chopstick.

Bake at 350 F for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown around the edges and set in the middle. Cool in tin ten minutes before pouring caramel on top.

For the caramel:

1 cup butter (2 sticks)
1/3 c. sugar
1 1/3 c. packed brown sugar
2/3 c. corn syrup
1 tsp salt
1/3 c. heavy cream
2+ tsp rosewater

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine all ingredients except rosewater. Cook over high heat (stirring is not necessary) until caramel reaches the hard ball candy stage, or 250 F. Remove from heat, and allow to cool five to ten minutes. Mix in rosewater to taste – if you add the rosewater when the mixture is still very hot, the flavor of rosewater will disappear.

Pour slightly cooled mixture onto shortbread. Place in the refrigerator (with a hot pad underneath initially) and chill at least two hours. Cover the slice with plastic wrap if desired.

To serve, remove from refrigerator 20-30 minutes prior to serving, or microwave for ten to fifteen seconds. So delicious.

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Speaking of delicious, we made some French toast out of croissants sliced in half during a few minutes of moving downtime on Memorial Day. And by we, I mean my boyfriend made them while I laid on the floor and squeezed in some serious cat time. She’s so cute!

20130601-094545.jpg
Let me know if this post looks funky. Suffice it to say (and I’m an excellent sufficer), it’s been an insane week. I’m finishing this post up on my phone from the NY LaGuardia airport. Hence, I have no clue what it will really look like.

Vacay, here we come!