THE FEARLESS TASTER by Bob Cramer
Celebrity chef John Ash of Santa Rosa and the Fetzer wine company was talking on the radio the other day about a new collection of recipes featuring persimmons. He has included one of my recipes which I am sharing here.
I sometimes enter an annual cooking contest in which Ash is a judge, and one year I was one of five finalists when the challenge was persimmons. I wish I’d heard exactly what book Ash was talking about, but I had just tuned in when I heard my name. Anyway, you now have a persimmon idea.
Last night Judy and I hosted her sister and brother in law, and our “graduate” long term foster son and his girlfriend, for a jack-o-lantern carving party. I heard Erik telling his friend about a treat I used to make, which he liked; so may you. Fuyu persimmons, the flat kind that can be eaten out of hand like apples (not the other type, which are pointed at the bottom and cannot be eaten until they get squishy), are sliced (skins on) about 3/16 of an inch thick and topped with a generous splat of peanut butter (crunchy is good) and three or four raisins. They disappear from a finger-food table really fast.
We were re-enacting, last night, on a much smaller scale, the punkin-carving parties we used to attend when Erik still lived with us. 30 or 40 people carved their own jack-o-lanterns on big tables on the lawn. Then everyone dug into steaming bowls of a dozen or more kinds of soup (provided by the guests of course) and a wide range of salads. The host provided lots of freshly-baked bread and we all brought lots of wine. Wowee! Too bad kids grow up. We don’t get the invitations now.
So last night I prepared a rich chowder of chopped clams and baby shrimp, using lots of half and half and full cream, with onions and red peppers chopped and sauteed in bacon grease. Major seasonings were lots of ground coriander, 3 level tablespoons of dried garlic powder, and a few tablespoons of basil pesto. Good, good, good!
My second soup was a quick-and-dirty minestrone; I can’t even remember all the ingredients today! It was based on a can of lentil and carrot soup and a bottle of ale; as a final stage it got a cup of amontillado sherry and some water — the cook’s palate knows when it’s right.
Oh, and I kept the water in the cans of vegetables I used — a can of mixed veggies, a can of sliced roma tomatoes, a can of green lima beans and a can of whole-kernel yellow corn. I tossed in a whole 1.8-ounce packet of Knorr leek soup mix powder. The crowning glory was a whole large coil of smoked low-fat turkey sausage, sliced 3/8 inch thick and then each slice halved, browned with peanut oil over high heat in an iron skillet, and stirred into the soup just before a half hour of low-heat simmering.
Now here’s the salad and dressing recipe:
Persimmon Delight Salad and Dressing (Quick and Fat-Free)
2 overripe persimmons (not squishy, though)
1/2 lemon, juice only
1 Tablespoon ground coriander
1/2 caraway seeds (ground in coffee grinder)
1 1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 Tablespoon non-fat sour cream
1 lemon, zest only (reserve a bit for garnish)
Remove stems from persimmons and puree in blender, skins included. Add other ingredients and flash blend; fold in lemon zest.
Toss enough mixed greens for 4 servings with some thinly sliced or grated sweet anise root. Divide onto serving plates and top with a healthy squirt of lemon juice. Alternate thin red and green slices of 1/2 persimmon and 1/2 kiwi (skinned) on each portion. The kiwi provides a zesty light strawberry complement to the persimmon. Serve with dressing on the side, or spooned onto half of the sliced fruit. Garnish with lemon zest and fresh grated nutmeg.