Tuesday, October 9, 2012
Fall is in the air. For the first time this season I'm wearing a sweatshirt. All the cooking magazines are featuring fall food. Our invitation to Pints for Half Pints said to bring a lawn chair to sit by the fire pits. And, the persimmons are falling from the tree.
When I was a little girl, my grandmother lived in Zionsville, IN. It was and is a quaint little village. My grandfather was one of the ones who organized the building of the brick main street. The library was in a lovely old home. With a persimmon tree in the back yard. Every year, Grammie and I would walk the three blocks to the library and gather our share of persimmons. She'd wash them off, then put me on a stool at the kitchen counter and let me smoosh them through the colander. Finally, all of that lovely pulp would ooze through. She'd make the world's best persimmon pudding.
I still have that colander. And, the recipe for persimmon pudding. I was just missing my own persimmon tree. Over the years I'd buy a pint of pulp and make pudding. But it was never the same. So, a few years ago, Connie and I planted our own persimmon tree. You see the problem used to be that you needed to have two to pollinate and it was difficult to tell male from female and you could easily wind up with just another couple of nice trees. Ours is self-pollinating.
Two years ago we got 13 persimmons. I hoarded them until they'd all fallen. Net result? 1/4c of pulp. Not enough to do much other than persimmon creme brulee. Humph! Last year we got a couple. Needless to say, my hopes were not high for a bumper crop this year. But, I guess the tree has finally reached maturity and is bearing a LOT of fruit. Every evening we've been going out and collecting 2-7 persimmons. I've got a bag of them in the freezer. Probably 50 persimmons. That'll be enough to make a pudding!
So, Friday night when we collected our booty, we decided to try something else. Indy Monthly had published three persimmon recipes. One for a pie. That required just too much pulp. One for a drink that only required three. And, one for a vinaigrette that required 1/2 cup of pulp but that could easily be cut down. Both would go perfectly with the short ribs that were going into the pressure cooker. Those two and Alton Brown's killer garlic mashed potatoes. We'd have a veritable feast!
For those of you who aren't familiar with our persimmons, they're very different from the Fuyu's that you typically get. Those are the Asian persimmons. Our midwestern persimmons are much smaller - about and inch and a half in diameter - and should only be eaten when they're VERY ripe. Ripe enough to fall off the tree, that is. In doing a bit of research, it seems that the trees were much more widely available many years ago. Today, they seem to be a southern Indiana specialty.
What did we think? The Persimmon Smash was amazing. We've got enough persimmon syrup left for another round of drinks. The persimmon vinaigrette was good. The persimmon flavor was a bit overwhelmed by the ginger and orange. I'll make up my own recipe next time. The garlic mashed potatoes? MMMMMMMM. And, the short ribs? My mouth is still watering! So without further ado and gabbing, let's get on to the recipes:
1 oz vodka
1 oz persimmon syrup
1/2 oz lemon juice
1/2 oz orange juice
for the persimmon syrup:
3 persimmons, chopped
1/4 t vanilla extract
1/8 t cinnamon
1/8 t nutmeg
2 c water
3/4 c sugar
Mix the syrup ingredients and simmer vigorously until the mixture is a thin syrup. It will be a pale brown-orange in color. (See the photo at top.)
To make the drink, mix all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Strain to serve. Kiss the one you love and enjoy!
Thanks to the folks at Indy Monthly for publishing this! It was originally created by Zachari Wilks of The Ball and Biscuit.
1/2 c persimmon pulp
1/4 c champagne vinegar
2 T brown sugar
2 shallots, finely chopped
2 T minced fresh ginger
juice and zest of one orange
salt and pepper
1/2 c olive oil
1/2 c canola oil
Mix all ingredients except the oils in the bowl of a blender. Put the lid on the blender and emulsify the mixture. Slowly pour the oils in until they're fully incorporated. I used this on a salad with fresh greens, avocado, pears, crispy leeks, toasted hazelnuts and crumbled blue cheese.
This recipe was courtesy of Indy Monthly and was originally created by Micah Frank.
Chanteclair's Braised Short Ribs
This recipe was published shortly before Chanteclair went out of business. For many years it was THE fine dining option near our airport. Since trying this recipe I've on occasion looked at the other half dozen short rib recipes in my file. But, it's so good I've never been tempted to try another.
4 lbs beef short ribs
salt and pepper
1 T olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 rib celery, diced
1 c red wine
5 c beef stock
1 sprig parsley
1 sprig thyme
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 cloves garlic, minced
Season the short ribs with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil to shimmering in a large skillet. Brown the ribs well on all sides. Remove them fromt he heat and allow them to cool a bit. Refrigerate them overnight. Skim the fat from the ribs. Put the vegetables and about 1 T more of olive oil in a pressure cooker or in a dutch oven. Brown them. Add the other ingredients and cook until the meat is falling off the bones. In a pressure cooker, we do about an hour and a half. In a dutch oven, we do about three hours. These are fabulous served over mashed potatoes. I prefer Alton Brown's garlic mashed - go figure :-)
Alton Brown's Creamy Garlic Mashed Potatoes
3 1/2 lbs russet potatoes
2 T kosher salt
2 c half and half
6 cloves garlic, crushed
6 oz grated parmesan, romano or gruyere
Peel the potatoes. Dice them and put them in a saucepan that's large enough to hold the potatoes and cool water to cover. Add the salt. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat and vigorously simmer the potatoes for about 15 minutes or until they're extremely soft. While the potatoes are cooking, warm the half and half and garlic in a saucepan. Drain the potatoes in a colander. Put them back into the saucepan in which they were cooked and add in the half and half, the garlic and the cheese. Mash until they're the desired consistency.
thanks to Alton Brown and FoodNetwork