Satsuma mandarins...the perfect winter snack, gift, everything!

Satsuma mandarins...the perfect winter snack, gift, everything!
peel, eat, repeat

Monday, October 13, 2014

persimmons with a chance of rain

As autumn begins to fully engulf the Diablo Valley, it becomes obvious that the sexy fruits of summer are on the wane departing almost as quickly as the seasonal farmers markets close until spring. Tastes must adjust to winter fruits and vegetables and for this writer that is an easy task to accomplish. Apples are everywhere in every shape, size and flavor palette from tart to sweet pleasing all involved. Grapes are massive in their bulk at year round farmers markets and also come in just as many varieties. Thomcord is a really interesting mix of a Thompson seedless, for the sweet no seed person while it is crossed with the Concord grape reminiscent of childhood snatches off the old lady across the streets grape arbor and jam on your P B and J. Seed less, purple and super sweet, brings complete joy with every bite.
Persimmons have gained enormous popularity in the past several years mostly due to the availability of Fuyu varieties. Persimmons are plentiful the world over being grown in over 30 countries for business as well as pleasure. The Unites States doesn't even measure on the export scale coming in even under Iran. Divided into astringent and non astringent varieties both have equal beauty and magnificent taste value. Fuyu persimmons, flat sort of smashed and squat looking translucent orange orbs calyx intact at stem end, are the non astringent kind eaten crunchy as you would an apple. Many different kinds of non astringent persimmons exist out there but most common ones easily found at farmers markets are Fuyu, Chocolate Fuyu and Jiro. Being a little newer to the party than bosom buddy Hachiya, Fuyu’s and friends can be confusing as the massively astringent ones, mainly Hachiya, need to be eaten when totally soft. Not so there but they are still good when they are super ripe and soft to use for baking in cookies and bars….Cut firm Fuyu’s into crunchy romaine and crisp spinach greens along with creamy chevre, toasted almonds and orange segments for a fabulous holiday salad……Any holiday party is enlivened by a bowl of Fuyu’s on the table to be eaten at will.
Elongated heart shaped Hachiya, astringent variety, is sometimes referred to a God’s Pear or Jove’s Apple going back into history when drought or freezes would brutally conquer an area in Asia where they originated, but these trees would be standing with fruit waiting to be picked. Persimmons are extremely generous with healthy agents for our bodies and have staved off hunger over the millennium. Fiber, vitamins C, K, A and iron are present and willing in every one you eat. Hachiya are full of tannins and will cause brutal pucker up if eaten totally unripe. Leave on a counter or if you are in a hurry, place in your freezer till solid and defrost for instant gratification and yummy cookies. Persimmon pudding is a seasonal treat not to be missed. Days of yore had you steam it in a coffee can on top of the stove but I just bake it in the oven for a heartwarming and tummy tingling treat. In Southeast Asian countries after harvesting, 'Hachiya' persimmons are prepared using traditional hand-drying techniques leaving a mysterious white film on the incredibly sugar sweet slices. In some countries fruits of astringent varieties are sealed in jars filled with limewater to get rid of bitterness. Persimmon trees drop their leathery green leaves around October leaving all the bright orange orbs undressed but gorgeously ready for the autumn party.
Until the rains commence, trails on local ridges are astounding in stark beauty. Spider webs caught glistening in the sun, drops of dew trapped by thirsty silk, coyotes frolicking mere yards from you, hawks actively, noisily, musically seeking love and refreshment, owls topping trees of all kinds including us in their secret language among each other, we live in wonderland. Get out and feel it.
Persimmon Cookies
Makes 50 cookies
1 cup butter or coconut oil
¾ cup molasses sugar (from Trader Joes) or turbinado or brown sugar
¾ cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
11/4 cup persimmon pulp (about 2 large or 3 small persimmons)
21/2 cups wheat flour
2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons fresh ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
1 cup chopped and toasted walnuts
1 cup raisins (the dried Thompson Seedless grapes from the Farmers’ Market are awesome)

Preheat oven to 350* and spray cookie sheets with canola oil or line with parchment paper.
Mix flour, salt, soda and spices together and set aside.
Combine butter and sugars and beat until smooth.
Add the egg and persimmon pulp and beat well.
Add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix until incorporated.
Add the raisins and nuts and mix until incorporated.
Drop by spoonfuls onto the cookie sheets and bake for 10 to 12 minutes.
These cookies are cake like and will seem too soft but pull them out anyway as they will be nice and moist.

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