Now is the time to make the most of fresh, seasonal artichokes. Food 52 explains why braising is the best way to enjoy the elegant vegetable.
If you've ever macerated berries with balsamic vinegar at the height of summer, you're familiar with the syrupy mess, the sweet-sour puddle, that the fruit collapses into once the mixture has melded for a minute (or hour). The berries just barely retain their shape, their colors intensify, and everything around them swirls into a complexly-flavored bowl for dousing any dessert: ice cream, cake, pudding—really, anything.
The process of macerating fruit—think marinating for the sweet set—is loose and lithe, with very few guidelines. It's one of the most basic Not Recipes there is: Just haphazardly toss some amount of liquid—vinegar, liqueur, lemon juice, or even a simple sugar syrup—with fruit and watch it become something wholly new.
But what to do when it's not summer, when fresh fruit isn't sneakily jumping into your shopping basket at any moment? Turn to citrus, especially during the tricky transition from winter to spring.
While any of you still bundled tight may be gleefully anticipating the arrival of rhubarb or strawberries in early spring, don't wish the blood oranges and Meyer lemons away too quickly—citrus is prime for macerating, and then experimenting, with.
And among all of the beautiful citrus out there, from pomelos to finger limes to tangerines and friends, kumquats are one of the most intriguing. They're also sometimes the furthest from anyone’s mind to use in the kitchen (beyond eating one by one or mixing into marmalades).
So to combat the last of the winter blues, challenge yourself: Make a dessert with macerated kumquats and use the oven (two elements that take advantage of winter) to create this amalgam of Julia Child's butter sponge cake, Alice Medrich's white chocolate whipped cream, and macerated, roasted kumquats.
Photo by Mark Weinberg