Wednesday, December 31, 2008

personally persimmons

When you get something right, you just know. This season I couldn't get enough persimmons. Didn't matter whether it was fuju or hachiya. Fuju are the round ones shaped like a tiny orange pumpkin. You buy these while they are firm to the touch. As you can see I even used them in a Persimmon Upside-Down Cake. Peel them, slice them and use them in salads too. I love the sweet crunch. Hachiya couldn't be more opposite. They're more elongated with kind of a point at the bottom. If you eat them when they are still firm and crunchy, you'll die! Well not really but it won't be the best sensation. You buy these when they're really ripe and feel like jelly. Then they are sweet and best used in a persimmon pudding. But I feel awful telling you this because both the hachiya and the fuju are almost out of season. Before they are going, going, gone, you HAVE to make this salad. Easy as pie and totally delicious.

Green Bean, Persimmon and Hazelnut Salad

1 pound green beans
1 Fuju persimmon, peeled and thinly sliced
½ cup hazelnuts, toasted and peeled
1 ½ tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 to 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add the green beans and cook until tender yet crisp, 4 to 7 minutes. Drain and run under cold water. Add the persimmons and hazelnuts.

In another small bowl, whisk together the vinegar and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.

Pour the vinaigrette over the green beans and persimmons and toss together carefully.

Serves 4 to 6

Monday, December 1, 2008

persimmon this

I love my job.... What's not to love? I can go out to dinner every night and justify it, it's my job! I can drink wine every night and justify it, it my job!
Did I mention that my new favorite place to eat is Ad Hoc in downtown Yountville. It's kind of like eating at Chez Panisse Downstairs (which is where I am eating tonight... I am so excited!) You don't really have choices and the food is so fresh, flavorful and simple. Totally my kind of dinner. Probably the only difference between Chez and Ad is that Ad Hoc dinner is pretty much served family style. You have to like that kind of thing.
I ate there Friday night. One word... Delicious! The first course was a soup of creamy chickpeas and black cabbage. This is the same cabbage grown in Tuscany and used to make ribollita. They call it cavolo nero.
The meatiest short ribs followed. They were served with the creamiest puree of roasted butternut squash and potatoes. On the top were crispy shallot rings without a trace of oil. And then dessert was not-too-sweet upside-down Fuju persimmon cakes topped with homemade vanilla ice cream.
It made me think about the delicious recipe I have for upside-down cake and I thought, why not persimmons.


16 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 pound fresh Fuju persimmons, peeled, halved and pitted
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups granulated white sugar
3 eggs
1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup whole milk
Pinch of cream of tartar
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar

Butter a 9-inch cake pan. Place the pan over medium heat and melt 4 tablespoons of the butter and brown sugar in the bottom of the pan. Overlap the persimmon slices on top of the melted butter and brown sugar.

Preheat the oven to 350°f . For the cake, sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together. Cream the remaining 12 tablespoons butter and granulated white sugar together in a bowl until light. Separate the eggs and add the yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add 1 teaspoon of the vanilla and mix well. Add the milk and the dry ingredients alternately to the batter, folding well after each addition. Beat the egg whites to form soft peaks. Add the cream of tartar and continue to beat until stiff peaks form. Fold the whites into the cake batter. Spread the batter over the persimmons and bake until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, 60 to 75 minutes.

Cool the cake for 10 to 15 minutes and run a knife around the edges of the pan to loosen it. Turn the cake over onto a serving platter and let it sit another 5 minutes. Remove the pan.

To serve, whip the heavy cream until soft peaks are formed. Sift the confectioners’ sugar on top of the cream, add the remaining 1/4 teaspoon vanilla, and fold together. Serve with the cake.

Serves 8 to 10