That's why I'm always all about supporting my friends at California Grown, who, as their name suggests, promote everything grown here from produce to wine.
I recently headed up to Santa Barbara with them to dive into how California farmers and ranchers on tour are looking forward to sharing how they are working to make their agricultural efforts sustainable. We were joined by California's Secretary of Agriculture, Karen Ross, who filled us in on all the initiatives at the forefront of local agriculture. Over a few days, we crisscrossed California's Central Coast. We went everywhere from Houwelings, where they're laser-focused on sustainable greenhouse practices, to Frinj Coffee who is pioneering coffee farming in California!
My personal favorite was the enormous greenhouse packed with gerbera daisies at Ocean Breeze Farms. There we learned that a whopping 75% of the flowers and cut greens grown in the U.S. are from California! Speaking of, they shared a great tip: look for California Grown when you shop for flowers to not only support local farms but also have your blooms last longer since they didn't have to travel as far to get to you!
To celebrate it all, we even had a showstopping dinner at the Santa Barbara Four Seasons that was entirely locally sourced and featured over forty specialty crops. And, of course, because we were in the heart of one of the state's most revered wine regions, the entire meal was paired with wines from Santa Barbara County.
Since one of the ways I capture an experience is through food, I'm sharing a recipe inspired by the experience, which is 100% California. When I think of late winter in Central Coast California, citrus immediately comes to mind. And, while there are many varieties and types to choose from (Meyer Lemons! Kishu Mandarins! Blood Oranges! Cara Cara Oranges!), one I have a big love for is kumquats. In my opinion, these sweet-tart fruits are overlooked, so I wanted to put them center stage.
Okay, they're sharing the spotlight with a few other ingredients that come from this part of the state -- almonds and pistachios -- and, if I do say so, these Kumquat Pistachio Brown Butter Tea Cakes are a keeper! This is a simple-to-make dessert recipe for little cakes perfect for tea time -- but with a California twist! Brown butter and almond flour cakelets get mixed with roasted pistachios and candied kumquats for a not-too-sweet and healthy-ish treat!
Want even more California-inspired recipe ideas? Check out this California-inspired brunch that includes one of my favorite twists on sangria!
plus more for coating the muffin pan
plus more for garnish
beaten until smooth
beaten until smooth
Make The Candied Kumquats: Combine the 1 cup sugar, 1/2 cup water, and 6 pieces green cardamom in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Stir in the sliced kumquats, then cook until they're soft (but still holding their shape), and the skin starts to look translucent for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to steep and cool slightly, at least 15 minutes. Meanwhile, start on the tea cakes.
The candied kumquats can be made up to 2 days ahead. Store refrigerated in an airtight container and bring to room temperature before using.
Make The Brown Butter: Meanwhile, make the brown butter. Melt the 1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter in a large frying pan over medium heat. Watching it carefully and often stirring, allow the milk solids to begin to brown and the butter to become fragrant and nutty for about 10 minutes.
Scrape along the bottom to prevent the solids from sticking and burning. When the butter is brown, immediately remove it from heat and place it in a heatproof container.
The brown butter can be made up to 2 days ahead. Store refrigerated in an airtight container and remelted (but don't cook it anymore) before using.
Prepare The Mini Muffin Pan: Heat the oven to 400°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Prepare one (24 well) mini muffin pan by using the extra room temperature butter to coat the inside of each well. Set the pan in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Make The Brown Butter Tea Cake Batter: Meanwhile, place the 1 cup almond flour, 3/4 cup powdered sugar, and 1/2 cup coconut flour in a large mixing bowl and whisk until evenly combined. Add the beaten eggs and whisk until everything is evenly moistened. Stir in the brown butter, whisking as needed to ensure it's well combined (the batter will be on the wetter side but similar to cupcake batter), then mix in the finely chopped pistachios.
Bake The Pistachio Brown Butter Tea Cakes: Place 2 tablespoons (a #30 scoop will do quick work of this!) of the batter in each mini muffin pan well, then arrange 3 slices of kumquats on top. You should end up with 24 tea cakes in total.
Lower the oven temperature to 350°F, then place the tea cakes in the oven and bake until golden brown, rotating halfway through about 15 minutes total. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool briefly. Serve topped with a dusting of powdered sugar.
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