Fruity black currant tea is also wonderful with prunes. You may use pitted or unpitted prunes. If kumquats aren't available, fresh orange segments are an equally good counterpoint to the prunes. Serve with a dollop of crème fraîche and some crisp cookies.
1/2 cup sugar, divided
2 bags of Earl Grey tea, tags removed
20 to 25 prunes
1 strip of lemon or orange zest, about 1/2 -inch-wide and 2 to 3 inches long
10 kumquats, sliced and seeded
1. To poach the prunes,
combine one-fourth cup of the sugar with 1 cup of water in a small saucepan, add the tea bags and bring to a gentle simmer, stirring so the sugar dissolves. Add the prunes and continue to gently simmer for about 10 minutes until the prunes are tender. If your prunes are large or quite dry, they make take longer. If necessary, add a bit more water to keep them covered.
2. Once the prunes are tender,
remove from the heat and allow the mixture to cool to room temperature. Remove the tea bags and gently squeeze them to extract additional flavor before discarding them. Set aside the prunes (with their liquid).
3. To glaze the kumquats,
bring 1 cup of water, the remaining one-fourth cup sugar and the kumquats to a boil in a small saucepan.
4. Reduce the heat
to a gentle boil and cook for about 10 minutes, keeping an eye on them during the last few minutes as the liquid reduces and becomes syrupy. Cool to room temperature.
5. Serve the prunes
with a bit of their liquid in deep soup plates, with kumquats strewn over the top.