Writing about art, food and changes

Theresa Rice

Theresa Rice
North Georgia Mountains, Georgia, United States
August 24
I write. I paint. I teach. I grow things. I cook. I eat. Louisiana-born and Southern bred, I love people wise enough to be optimistic and generous enough to bring their gifts to the table.


Theresa Rice's Links

My Links
No links in this category.
FEBRUARY 14, 2011 9:58AM

On Stealing Kumquats, Marmalade and Angel Biscuits

Rate: 25 Flag

  IMG_1912 resize


 CDC_kumquat3 editKumquats bring me back to when I was little and neighborhood bounty was fair game to any kid, anywhere, anytime. One neighbor’s pomegranate tree hung over the sidewalk, alluring but only occasionally productive since they were hard to reach. Sometimes we were pressed into service to pick the tiny bitter cherries my grandmother, Miss Alice, used to make her cherry cordial, also known as Cherry Bounce. But they were more fun to throw at each other than to eat—no matter how often you tasted them they were undeniably nasty.

Juicy fresh dates that hung low in great golden bunches on date palms were more satisfying. They grew in an undisclosed (read forbidden) location but that didn't stop us from enjoying them by the handful whenever we could grab them. My grandpa's figs were also a great snack but the leaves gave you a hot rash. It was always better to wait until he picked them and then zero in on the goodies, unless Miss Alice was around and made you stop and peel them.

Old_woman_lateran_museumKumquats, bless them, were much easier to gather, although not without death-defying risk. The Kumquat Keeper was an old, old maiden lady who later became my scary seventh grade teacher—I'll call her "Miz Gootch." She lived upstairs in a house on a corner, right on the way to school and spoke only in the key of screech. Her voice could worm a dog at fifty feet. Even the teenage boys were afraid of her. Very afraid.

Her backyard was small and pretty and bordered on the sidewalk. The fence was very low, concrete pillars with short iron rails. The branches of her little kumquat tree dangled their fruit temptingly through the openings. 

scared kidResistance was futile. Sweet miniature fruit twinkled brightly through glossy green leaves at perfect kid level. A little girl far braver taught me the strategy—sneak up with great guile and cunning, swiftly and efficiently stuff the front of your shirt. Then run like crazy.

I still shiver to think about it. Swiping fruit from a lady who could probably turn you into a toad AND was going to be your teacher someday—brrrr! What horrible chances we take as children.

 I live in a cooler climate as an adult so they aren’t tempting me from anyone’s garden these days, but kumquats do show up in the supermarkets. 350px-NIEdot319I bought a carton on impulse the other day, the first in ages. Kumquats are best when all traces of green have disappeared.  You can pop a whole one in your mouth, pips and all, which made them perfect in kid world and still makes me happy as a grownup.

If you've never had them, though, watch out. They will take you by surprise This tiniest of citrus fruit’s flavor profile is sort of like an inside-out orange. The skin is aromatic and sweet while the juicy inside is sour with a tang of salt. Biting into one delivers an intricate palate-filling jolt, fun as a child, but inspiring as an adult. Fresh kumquats are as great now as they were when I was swiping from Miss Gooch, but nowadays I have more ways to enjoy them:
  • They’re a natural for marmalade, an easy preparation when you employ your microwave. Yes, it’s great on toast, but you can use it between cake layers and mix it into cream cheese icing.  Or add a tot of rum and spoon it on top your of your next cheesecake to up the wow factor.
  •  Add ginger, soy, scallions and garlic to your marmalade for a wonderful glaze for pork tenderloin or grilled chicken.  Roasted quail, duck or goose take well to this treatment as would skewered shrimp or sea bass filets
  •  Make a kumquat salsa fresca. Add 1/4 cup very finely minced red onions, 1 finely minced scallion, 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro, 1/2 teaspoon cumin and finely chopped jalapeno to taste to about 12  kumquats. Finish with the juice of half a lemon and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste. Use chunky alongside roasted chicken or chop fine and serve with spicy-hot blue corn chips.
  • Thinly slice kumquats onto baby greens for a salad and whir a couple into your favorite vinaigrette along with a few drops of dark sesame oil and a teaspoon or so of shallot. Top with toasted almond slivers, scallions and toasted sesame seeds.
  • Kumquats are making a strong showing in the trendiest bars and clubs, finding their way into margaritas, martinis and mojitos, daiquiris, champagne cocktails and coolers. Mascerate kumquats in vodka for a "Kumquatini." Try adding a fresh basil leaf or two to a kumquat skewered onto a rosemary spear to replace olives on toothpicks. Tres chic.

IMG_1877 crop edit resizeSalsa or mojitos? Salad or cheesecake? I have not decided what I’d like to do with my kumquats yet, but the level in the little plastic clamshell holding them is dropping at a dizzying rate while I make up my mind. I COULD simplify my options and munch them out of hand until they’re gone. Hmmm.




IMG_1897 resize

It's got to be the marmalade, the recipe beloved by my larcenous little inner kid. My kumquats come in an eight-ounce clear pack, so I only make small batches of this appealing marmalade. If you can, choose fruit that is firm and ripe with no green areas. For a quicker preparation, quarter kumquats and pulse in food processor until all is uniformly chopped to desired texture. Since I am first, last and always a Southern girl, my marmalade goes on biscuits, y'all, dripping with butter. And not just any biscuits, but that epitome of the biscuit maker's art, angel biscuits. 




  • 8 ounces kumquats
  • 3/4 cup orange juice
  • 1 cup sugar
  • Juice of one lemon, about 2 tablespoons



IMG_1881 resizeWash and dry kumquats, removing stems ends if needed and trimming any green areas. Slice into thin rings. Discard any seeds if you like but it is not necessary; they contain pectin and help gelling.

Place fruit in a small saucepan and just cover with orange juice. Add sugar and salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat. 


IMG_1890 resizeLower heat and  simmer until the marmalade thickens, about 20 minutes. Watch carefully and stir frequently to avoid sticking or burning. Skim off foam from time to time. 

Remove from heat and stir in the lemon juice and stir. let cool, then put in a pretty covered bowl or jar and refrigerate. Serve with buttered Angel Biscuits. Recipe follows.



 IMG_1911 resize

Yeast-risen biscuits are so light and tender it’s no wonder they are called named after the Heavenly Host. They are easy to make if you have just  a few extra minutes. They will make a spectacular impression on all biscuit eaters, believe it. Make sure all your ingredients are quite cold before you start. I think these are best dainty-sized so I use a 2-inch glass to cut them out. The dull edge of the glass gives the dome shape I like for these biscuits. If you'd like, make them 3 inches and adjust cooking time. 


  • 1 rounded teaspoon dry active yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water (105° to 115°)
  • 2-1/4 level cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for the bench
  • 1 tablespoon  baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1/3 to 1/2  cup low-fat buttermilk or as needed
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted

IMG_1899 resizeDirections:

Dissolve yeast in warm water in a small bowl and let stand 5 minutes.

Sift together 2 cups flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a large bowl. Cut in shortening mixture resembles coarse meal. Add yeast mixture and buttermilk. Stir lightly, just until blended.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

IMG_1905 resizeDust baking sheet with cooking spray and have nearby. Turn dough out onto a heavily floured surface and knead lightly five times. Roll or pat dough to a 1/2-inch thickness and cut with a 2-inch biscuit cutter.

Alternately, pinch and form biscuits by hand. Place biscuits onto prepared baking pan and cover with a clean cloth. Set aside for to rest 30 minutes.

Brush the tops with melted butter. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until done to a golden turn. Makes 1-1/2 dozen small biscuits.


IMG_1913 resize



800px-Kumquat-0245 edit
True confession: I DID eat all the kumquats and had to get more before I could make this recipe. Yes, Miz Gootch did cross my mind and yes, I ate 'em anyway.    


My eccentric food humor and love of classical music got the better of me. Enjoy "KUMQUAT    OR: How I learned to stop worrying and love the Smoothie," which introduces yet another way to enjoy kumquats. Enjoyment for the kumquat, maybe not so much.




Two kumquats Image courtesy of Wikimedia
Citrus chart and kumquat cluster images courtesy of Wikipedia
Old woman sculpture in the public domain
Kid clipart courtesy of Microsoft 
 Video Courtesy of YouTube

All other images and text © 2011 Theresa Rice






Your tags:


Enter the amount, and click "Tip" to submit!
Recipient's email address:
Personal message (optional):

Your email address:


Type your comment below:
Love the story and the recipes. Thank you. -R-
Steve is sick today and i have not made breakfast as he is still in bed.
I think I stared at this for 5 minutes and remembered Dundee marmalade as a child.
IT was nothing like this.:)
Your yogurt entry was magnificent, but if I may say so, this one beats it. In fact eac one is better than the one before. I would've rated for the angel biscuits alone, butthe kumquat marmalade ? That takes you right over the top. Great work, Theresa !
Okay Theresa,
Ode to Kumquat... you've elevated the little fruit to heroic measures in food and drink, and particularly on biscuits. Beautiful pix and a good, full-hearted story, as always.
(How do you ever manage -- just under the wire at two minutes to post-time on Monday mornings? Am in awe!
This is beautiful, Theresa. I'm forwarding this to my niece, the pastry chef. She's always looking for different flavors to try. Oh, and the biscuits. Yum. Loved your childhood story. Why was there always some scary old lady?
What a great story! It resonates - I wonder how many of us had a Miz Gootch in our lives. I am not a marmalade fan, but I do love kumquats, so thanks for all the ideas. And I will have to try making biscuits with yeast - they do sound heavenly.

Here's another recipe for kumquats that I tried last year and have in mind to make again this week. I found it deliciously different!
Epicurious for Kumquats, Marmalade and Angel Biscuits...
Fresh kumquats are definitely worth the wrath of a cranky old Gootch. What a fun story. I now have two dwarf kumquat trees, and when the fruit is ripe I will have to try making this marmalade.
She lived upstairs in a house on a corner, right on the way to school and spoke only in the key of screech. Her voice could worm a dog at fifty feet. Even the teenage boys were afraid of her. Very afraid.

I love that. =o) The image of her voice worming a dog tells me all I need to know about her.

And darn it, now I want some kumquat marmalade!
Spectacular post, Theresa! Funny, delicious and way too pretty to look at without running out for a kilo of kumquats. Can't wait to make the biscuits and the marmalade. R
Great story, Theresa. Oh, to have grown up in a place where kumquat and date trees dot backyards!
These recipes look divine; will have to see if my local green grocer can get his hands on kumquats for me; nowhere to steal them in Paris...
I'm new to the kumquat bandwagon and I love 'em, too! I wish I had one of those warm biscuits with kumquat marmalade right now!
mmmm, biscuits. it's breakfast time and i wish you lived next-door so i could come borrow one. and some marmalade. we had a miz gooch, too, and drove her to distraction. great stuff, theresa.
Theresa, your blog is a work of art, as always. I have never tasted kumquats before but I am going to be on the lookout for them so I can try your marmalade recipe along with some homemade biscuits. Thank you for the inspiration!
Great post, as usual. I loved the video. I rarely have the chance to include kumquats in any recipe. They always disappear before I can use them. Any citrus that has edible peel gets my approval. Rated.
Terrific story and recipes! I've always loved the taste of fresh kumquats, especially the rind, which sometimes is sweet enough to seem pre-candied. But I could never think of anything interesting to do with them in the kitchen. You've given me a lot to think about--thanks!
Congrats on the honorable mention. I have to confess that I still consider kumquats an alien life form scares and confuses me, but I'll try them again, especially if you give us a salsa recipe one day.
I don't like kumquats, but your blog makes me want to like them.
My father kept two special things growing in 'his' part of the garden - hot peppers and kumquats. He liked explosive flavors, right? I would never have thought to do something this simple with kumquats Theresa - this is marvelous. Dad just popped them off the branch and into his mouth. I don't recall seeing them make it as far as the kitchen. I'm inspired!
Loved the story. I don't think I've ever eaten a kumquat. Will have to try them. Would be wonderful growing up in a place with fruit on the trees like that. I think we are lucky to have apple trees R.
Oh my thıs ıs the most delıcıous post I have seen ın awhıle. It ıs golden and mouth waterıng. I love the Kumquat and these recepıes make me ınspıred. Here ın Turkey I have been havıng fresh lemons from the tree and they are totally dıfferent from the sour puss ones we get ın noth amerıca. Thanks for sharıng.
This is lovely. Those angel biscuits look...heavenly.
I have noticed kumquats showing up in more and more recipes. They deserve their time in the limelight! I've been wanting to try other recipes that use them and that marmalade looks like just the thing