Citrus and Cheese: Baked Feta with Thyme-Infused Candied Kumquats
We first discovered kumquats a few years ago, and were amazed that you could just pop the tiny, elliptical bright orange fruits into your mouth, rind and all. The unconventional citrus fruits have a tart pulp on the interior and sweet pith on the exterior. The contrasting flavors tantalize your taste buds in every bite. While often a rarity in grocery stores, we recommend you keep an eye out for them around the winter months and enjoy them whole, or as a standout in any tart, sweet syrup or puree.
For a quick and stunning hors d’oeuvre, we recommend thinly slicing the kumquats, and candying them over the stove with a touch of thyme. We then spoon the vibrant compote atop a block of baked feta cheese. The creamy, pungent, salty feta melts slightly in the oven and pairs perfectly with the super sweet kumquat topping. We spread the decorative melted cheese atop toasted sliced bread with a sprinkling of pleasantly spicy pink peppercorns.
Baked Feta with Thyme-Infused Candied Kumquats
1 c water
1/4 c granulated sugar
4 sprigs fresh thyme, chopped
12 kumquats, thinly sliced
8 oz block of feta cheese
1 T EVOO
1 t cracked pink peppercorns
Toasted artisan bread, thinly sliced
Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Place feta in a small ovenproof dish. Drizzle with EVOO and bake for 15 to 20 minutes until warmed through and slightly softened.
In a small saucepan over medium heat, pour the water and sugar. With a wooden spoon, stir until the sugar is dissolved, about 2-3 minutes. Add the thyme and kumquats and increase heat to medium high. Let boil for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally until a thick syrup forms. Remove from heat.
Remove the warm feta from the oven and spoon over the the thyme-infused candied kumquats, Add a sprinkling of cracked pink peppercorns on top. Serve with toasted sliced bread. Serves 4-6.
Since kumquats are often difficult to find, you could easily swap in clementines, tangerines, or any other sweet citrus fruit!