Thursday, December 10, 2009

Tis the Season for Persimmons

Fall Compote with Pears, Persimmons, and Figs
Persimmons, Fruit of the Gods


This recipe comes from Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. I served it on a bed of Arugula. I thought arugula was a devine compliment to the fruit. Arugula is a little skunky and bitter. You may prefer baby spinach or romaine. But look at it. It's so beautiful, the world falls away for a minute and you are in the Mediterranean. Take the first bite and, well, it's a party of flavors and textures.

The recipe:
2 Fuyu Persimmons
The Fuyu Persimmon is on the left. She's squat and firm. When you bite into a Fuyu your teeth break through a tough skin and fall suddenly into the soft interior. It's a surprise. Not like any other fruit. It's sweet.
The Persimmon on the right is the beautiful Hachiya Persimmon and the one you are most likely familiar with. Hachiya is tricky. You have to wait and wait and wait and wait for it to be soft, almost mushy, before you can eat it. If you don't wait, and bite into it too soon, you may never want to look at a persimmon again. It's astrigent and will numb your lips and tongue. I've seen grown men spit it out.

4-6 Pouched Pears in Vanilla Syrup
I like the Bosc Pears. They're sweet and firm.
Peel them. Cut them in half.

Remove the cores and ends - I found the Melon Baller to be the perfect tool for this job.

Put a quart of water on to boil, with 1 1/2 cups sugar, 1/2 vanilla bean (mine had been soaking in brandy for a couple of months, the seeds scraped out easily and that is what you see in the picture - those black dots are not pepper), and several 2 inch pieces of lemon zest. Cook gently 20-40 minutes until they begin to look translucent around the edges.

Remove the pears with a slotted spoon and cool.
Into the simple syrup, add 1/4 cup of golden raisins, (I didn't have golden raisins so I used the more common brown raisin), with the zest of one lemon and cook until raisins are plump.
Pour the raisin syrup over the pears and cool in the refrigerator for about an hour.

Now all you need to do is assemble the salad.
For 6 people, you need 6 figs, 1/2 pint of raspberries and 24 muscat grapes and a little lemon zest.

the layers:
a bed of lettuce
a half pear, sliced and fanned out
(the recipe says 2 halves per serving, It's a bit much, save the other half for breakfast)
thinly sliced Fuyu Persimmon
a fig
a few raspberries
a few grapes
Spoon the raisins and lemon zest syrup over the whole thing.
then I added a little fresh lemon zest

This is a beautiful salad. Fit for any fall or winter festive meal. But why wait for a holiday? We had ours with a simple vegan meal. Boiled potatoes, black beans and snow peas. We felt like royalty.

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