Persimmon Season

January 10, 2010

It is the end of persimmon season in Oakland.  My neighbor’s persimmon forest, at least six thickly leaved  trees with branches hanging low to the ground with fruit, so thick that you couldn’t see their houses through the forest, my neighbors persimmon forest is bare now.  I can wave to them when they sit on the back porch, and I saw for the first time an old school desk sitting in the clover that they let spread in the rainy season and is growing over an orange crate under one of the trees.

Persimmon season is not yet over in other parts of  Northern California.  They come to the farmers market and to the little grocer on Lakeshore from Sacramento and other valley farm lands in the East Bay food shed.

Two weeks ago I was roped into buying 5 pounds of fuyu’s, wrapped up in a plastic grocery bag, for $3.  Who could say no to that?  Well, my husband could have, but I didn’t give him a chance.

The firm ones went in the fruit basked, he ate them like apples.  A line of them sat perched in the kitchen window to let soften, and at least two pounds lived in a paperbag that was shuffled around the kitchen floor with groans from Mr. Oakland Kitchen.

There was persimmon bread (like zucchini bread), persimmon pie (like pumpkin pie), persimmon flan (no crust, more eggs), persimmon bars (like lemon bars), and my favorite and final persimmon discovery, persimmon sauce.

Persimmon sauce simmering on the stove

This morning, I cooked the last of the mushy persimmons into a second batch of persimmon sauce.  The first, served over bread pudding on a whim one evening, was so popular that it was deemed worthy of the last persimmons.  It’s simple and delicious, primarily because, as I discovered, a generous serving of  nutmeg and a bit of meyer lemon is the best way to season persimmon anything!

Here’s the recipe, adapted from http://www.persimmonpudding.com
1 Cup persimmon pulp, pureed
zest and juice of 1/2 of a fresh lemon (Meyer lemon courtesy a neighbor)
1 Tablespoon butter or margarine, melted
Generous dash ground nutmeg
Sugar or honey to taste

In sauce pan, combine pulp and remaining ingredients.  Sweeten to taste. Simmer on low heat until the sauce is reduced by about half. If sauce is too thick, add a little orange juice.  I’m sure there is a way to get it nice and smooth, but the texture of my attempts is similar to apple sauce.

We served it over walnut pancakes this morning.  (Walnuts are available at the farmers market year round, today we saw them in the shell at Jack London Square FM, as is honey.)

Fellow Funk Town Farmer, Jess, has also developed some very popular persimmon baked goods for our weekly Funk Town Fundraiser in the local church cafe.  Here are links to her amazing-and-slightly-tipsy persimmon bread and gone-in-a-flash-at-any-price persimmon cookies.

Jess’s Persimmon Bread.  A recipe by David Lebovitz adapted from James Beard’s Book of Bread.

Jess’s Persimmon Cookies.  From the Mennonite Cookbook “Simply in Season.”


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Elegance with Eggs

August 13, 2009

Caught up in the buzz of Slow Food and the new move Julie and Julia (which I have not seen) I let my inner grandmother get the better of me. I spent an hour in my kitchen with Julia Child in black and white on my lap top. No wonder she makes it look so easy, did you see how many eggs she can hold in those bigger-than-life hands?!

Here’s my humble attempt at l’oeuf en cocotte:

les oeuvesI cracked four eggs in a baking dish that had about a table spoon of melted butter in it. (Not quite so cocotte, I know, but don’t have any ramekins, like Julia, so I had to use the smallest baking dish I own). I also don’t have a fancy electric stove, like Julia, so for stove-top-to-oven cooking with gas I use a cast iron skillet.

I put the baking container with the eggs in the skillet, which held about an inch of simmering water on the burner. It took my four eggs about 2 minutes to “set.” I wanted to-MAH-toe SAUCE eggs, like one of Julia’s displays, since I had some lovely home made to-MAH-toe SAUCE from the night before. So, I spooned up some of the sauce on the eggs and watched in horror as the thick sauce fell straight through the eggs! Wait, wait! Julia’s stayed on top like a glaze, not a filling! Ahh!

Well, can’t fix that. I stopped at the first spoon full and resigned to return when the eggs had firmed up again. Julia said “cook in the oven for 6 minutes at 375.” I set the timer at four minutes so I could come back to add the sauce, and added the skillet-water-baking dish-egg combo to an oven that at least said it was at 375.

beep, beep, beep, beep!!! Four minutes. Open the oven, pull out the tray, egg soup. Push the tray back, close the oven, set the timer for four more minutes.

Repeat.

Yep, still egg soup. However, after the 3rd visit, and 12 minutes, they were firm enough to add my sauce. Given how the time proportions were shaping up, I figured I’d better add another 4 minutes before removing it.

In the mean time, I sauteed some diced mushrooms in butter with a little diced scallion for a topping. After four minutes, I pulled out the concoction. My baking dish, as you can see, is a deep bowl…so I loosened the edges of the eggs from the side of the dish and sort of leaned the dish over and slid the eggs, which had a layer tomato sauce and thin clear layer of butter on top, into a plate. It broke a bit and I ended up with more or less three little tomato egg mounds.

I spooned the mushrooms over the mounds and added a side of black beans that had been cooking on the stove. Julia Child a la Julieta Nina, all I really needed was a tortilla! The eggs were fabulous! The yolk was soft, but not runny, the whites were like firm heavy cream. The sauce had plenty of flavor, but I think I could have had the eggs plain! Below is a video of the French Chef so you can see how it’s really done. But don’t be afraid to pull together what you have and try this very inexpensive dinner.

As Julia says, bon appetit!

JULIA CHILD, THE FRENCH CHEF, ELEGANCE WITH EGGS (1964):

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Les oeufs au champignon Local Tally:l'oeuf au champignon

les oeufs – Wholefoods Oakland, eggs from Petaluma, CA
les champignons – The mushroom man at Grand Lake Farmers Market
beurreClover Butter, purchased from Farmer Joes, a CA Dairy
toMAHto Sauce – Home made, see yesterday’s post
frijoles – dried black beans from Farmer Joes.  Not sure of their origin.  Shame on me.