I hope that you had a lovely long holiday weekend! Did you grill, go strawberry picking, get an ice cream cone, watch a parade?
The weather here was gorgeous; we enjoyed a lot of great food, as well as a ton of family time. No parades or ice cream cones, but we had some fantastic homemade pizza, cookies, a s’mores cake, burgers and hot dogs on the grill, a mountain of fruit salad, and corn on the cob, the boys got haircuts, we visited my grandpap in the hospital, and we took a drive to my in-laws’ where Joseph ran and giggled in the yard all afternoon, and Dominic crashed on my mom.
(Spoiler alert: Dominic isn’t a fan of grass!)
A peek at our weekend…
(pizza recipe: the best pan pizza)
(recipe coming soon!)
How was your weekend?
If you’ve never tried persimmon bread, you’re in for a treat! Rich with butter and filled with dried fruit, nuts, spices, and brandy, this persimmon quick bread is perfect for the holidays! I’ve added a healthy twist by using whole wheat pastry flour to add some extra flavor and nutrition, but you’d never guess that this is a healthy persimmon bread recipe.
This post from the archives was originally published in November 2010. I’m sharing it again today with updated photos and a printable recipe. Enjoy!
Like most places around the country, autumn in California’s San Joaquin Valley is a beautiful time of year. While we might not have as many vibrant colored leaves as other places, we do have fruit trees. Pomegranates, persimmons, lemons – these are our fall colors. Take a drive through the country or just about any older neighborhood and you’re bound to run across some of these beautiful trees with their red, orange, and yellow fruit.
Persimmon trees are my fall favorite. The trees drop their leaves as the fruit ripens, leaving nothing but the spectacular glowing orange orbs— it’s quite a beautiful sight.
More than just autumn decorations, persimmons are wonderful to bake with. The persimmons I’m talking about today are the larger, acorn-shaped Hachiya variety.
Hachiya persimmons can be very astringent and not suitable for eating raw until they are very, very ripe. But by the time they are ripe enough to eat, the flesh is gooey and gelatinous. Because of this, I find that Hachiya persimmon pulp is better for baking than for eating raw (although some people do like to eat it with a spoon).
The smaller, squat variety of persimmon that has been showing up at more and more grocery stores lately is the Fuyu. These can be eaten raw while they are still firm, and their mild sweet flavor makes them easy to love.
I like to bake cookies when I get my hands on some persimmons, but this year I decided to try something a little different. I saw that David Lebovitz had written about a persimmon bread from James Beard’s book Beard on Bread. I happen to have my mom’s old battered copy of that book (it’s a year older than I am, actually), so I dug it out and looked at the recipe.
James Beard’s Persimmon Bread is a butter-rich quick bread filled with fruit, nuts, and booze. It sounded great to me and seemed like a good way to use up some of the brandy that I bought for the Caramel Apple Pear Cake.
The original recipe makes enough batter for two large loaves, but since I was afraid I would devour an entire large loaf myself, I decided to cut the recipe in half and bake it in three mini loaf pans. That way I could give two away, and eat one small loaf myself.
I had a big bag of mixed dried fruit that I bought for the Panettone I was making for The Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge, so I decided to use that instead of just plain raisins. I also chose to use whole wheat pastry flour in place of all-purpose—I thought it would add a bit of extra flavor and nutrition. The original recipe calls for mace as the main spice, but I used a combination of ground cinnamon and nutmeg.
A new thing I learned from Beard on Bread is that you can use the persimmon skin along with the pulp. I have always peeled the fruit before making the puree, but this time I used the skin, too. It was much easier and I liked the tiny flecks of orange that the skin added to the bread.
You must use very ripe Hachiya persimmons for the puree. To ripen persimmons, just leave them sitting out at room temperature until they are very soft and feel like they are turning to liquid inside the skin. As David Lebovitz says, a completely ripe Hachiya persimmon should feel like a water balloon about to burst. To make the puree, just blend the persimmon pulp (and skin, if you like) until smooth.
I have shared links to other persimmon recipes at the bottom of this post—check them out if you’d like more ideas for cooking with both hachiya and fuyu persimmons.
Kitchen equipment used in this recipe:
(Amazon affiliate links)
Hachiya Persimmon Recipes around the Web:
Fuyu Persimmon Recipes around the Web:
Eggplant lovers, unite! This deliciousness, known as Eggplant Caviar, from the heart of the Caucasus, will leave your wanting more and more of it after first try, because it is one of the best eggplant dishes on Earth, I dare say. It is essentially a spread, made with roasted eggplants, onions, and sometimes with tomatoes and peppers added to it (in some variations, it is just eggplants).
“Caviar from eggplant? Wait, isn’t caviar the roe of sturgeon?,” you may righteously ask. True, the real caviar does come from the sturgeon of the Caspian Sea. But because the delicacy comes with a hefty price that not everyone can afford, eggplant caviar, or “a poor man’s caviar” was born at one point in time in history. Just like with the sturgeon caviar, you would spread the eggplant caviar on a slice of bread and enjoy, plus, eggplant, too, has roe-like seeds, so, these may have contributed to the etymology of the dish, with “caviar” in the name.
When was eggplant caviar born? Unknown. Where? Believed to be somewhere in the Caucasus where eggplants are plentiful and are used in a myriad of dishes. Where exactly in the Caucasus? Undocumented, too, although many sources claim the dish to be of Georgian origin. However, it is just as widely known in the neighboring Azerbaijan, too (which is by the Caspian Sea from where the real caviar comes), so go figure.
Olive oil can be a wonderful ingredient to bake with and I’ve used it in great success with a wide variety of cakes. You might not expect to see it turn up in a batch of chocolate chip cookies, however. These Olive Oil Chocolate Chip Cookies use only olive oil – not butter or other vegetable oils – to create a subtly sophisticated twist on a classic.
The key to success with this recipe is picking out good quality olive oil that you like the flavor of. I’ve had some high quality olive oils that simply weren’t my favorites, so I would not want those flavors in my cookies. I used a California olive oil that has a bright acidity and a buttery, nutty flavor that worked well here. The bottom line is that you need to like your olive oil, so taste it before it goes into your cookie dough! The dough mixes up very easily, since no creaming is necessary. It is fairly stiff and, because it uses oil and not butter, it can be a bit difficult to stir in the chips. You might have to tuck in a chip here or there as you shape the dough into balls to bake them. That said, there are plenty of chocolate chips, so don’t worry if you lose a few.
The cookies are large and are baked at a relatively low temperature that allows for a thick, bakery-style cookie. They won’t brown as much as cookies made with butter, so you can’t rely on color alone to check for doneness. The cookies should be just set around the edge (you can touch them with your fingertip) and should not look wet in the center. If the cookies are firm in the center, they’re probably overdone. The cookies will continue to set up as they cool, finishing with a dense, chewy center and a crisp edge. You’ll be able to detect a brightness from the olive oil that pairs well with the chocolate chips. You can opt for darker chocolate chips in this recipe (though it isn’t overly sweet because of the olive oil), if you prefer them to semisweet. The cookies will keep well for a couple of days after baking if stored in an airtight container. .
Olive Oil Chocolate Chip Cookies
2 1/8 cups all purpose flour (2 cups + 2 tbsp)
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 325F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt.
In a large bowl, whisk together olive oil, sugars, egg, egg yolk and vanilla until smooth and well-combined. Stir in the flour mixture, along with the chocolate chips. Shape the dough into 2-inch balls and arrange on prepared baking sheet, leaving about 2-inches between the cookies to allow for spread (they don’t spread as much as some cookies do).
Bake for 16-18 minutes, until the cookies are set on the edges and do not look wet in the center. Allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Makes about 24 large cookies.
Do you know a chef who is making a difference? The Basque Culinary World Prize is a competition not based on the typical achievements of the kitchen and dining room, but on a ‘transformative project’ in gastronomy that has had a positive impact on society. This could be through culinary innovation, a commitment to social responsibility, sustainability or the economic development of their community. Nominees for the prize must have a background as a professional chef though they don’t currently need to be a chef and they can be from anywhere in the world.
|Credit: Cassie Borreson|
Back in March I attended an event with Dominique Crenn and Joxe Mari Aizega, the Head of the Basque Culinary Center, the host of the competition, to kick off the nominations in the US. They both emphasized the importance of setting a positive example and how crucial it is for chefs to have a public voice. This is the second year of the competition and they are looking for as many nominations as possible.
Do you know a chef who is making a difference? Please take a moment to nominate them. Nominations are being accepted though May 19th and then between June 12-14 the Prize Committee will decide which nominations meet the judging criteria and finalize a list of the 10 strongest candidates to forward to the Prize Jury.
|Credit: Cassie Borreson|
The Prize Jury will be chaired by Joan Roca of Spain and will include some of the most well-known chefs in the world — Ferran Adrià of Spain, Michel Bras of France, Massimo Bottura of Italy, Dominique Crenn of the US, Yoshihiro Narisawa of Japan and Enrique Olvera of Mexio. Leaders from related disciplines will join the prize jury as well including celebrated Mexican novelist Laura Esquivel (author of Like Water for Chocolate); Kirmen Uribe, renowned Basque novelist, poet and playwright; and Cristina Francini, an expert on International Law and Human Rights.
Learn about the incredible work of the past winner, Maria Fernanda Di Giacobbe.
With a simple twist of the Cob Corn Stripper by Chef’n you can strip kernels off of corn cobs, making your next summer salad or salsa fast and easy. The stainless steel blades work hard to strip an entire cob in seconds. Just put stripper on top of cob and in one twisting/pushing motion you’ll have fresh corn to add to any meal. Top rack dishwasher safe. Choose smart, easy-to-use kitchen utensils that are built on tasteful design, new technologies, and the trusted reputation of Chef’n.
Lose weight and love it with 150+ amazingly tasty recipes and smart tips to stay on track. Cooking that Counts delivers sustainable 1,200-1,500 calorie-controlled meal plans packed with tasty food in an easy-to-use format. Unlike other weight-loss plans that rely on processed meals and preportioned snacks, the Cooking Light solution emphasizes delicious meals prepared with whole, natural foods and teaches proper portion sizes to ensure you lose weight and keep it off, for life.With more than 150 recipes, readers will enjoy menu variety (hopefully picking up some new favorite recipes along the way!) as well as some flexibility to enjoy desserts and alcohol while still losing weight. More than just a cookbook, the Cooking Light editors offer suggestions throughout to create full meals that meet daily calorie goals, as well as providing simple serving suggestions for sides to help readers stay on track without feeling deprived. Readers will find information about fresh, convenient options for when time is tight, including suggestions for healthy readymade foods, shopping guidance, and make-ahead tips.
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