Friday, November 26, 2010


Hi from Gillian. My housemates have been worried about what they consider "a persimmon problem" for several weeks now. Let me assure you: there is no persimmon problem. Never has been. Sure, Alyssa and Dan had to install a large new persimmon-storage shelf in our kitchen--but that is just an indication of how little of a persimmon problem we have. We've got tons of them! I was lucky enough to be invited to pick a whole small tree's worth of persimmons this year (about 200 small ones), and have been happily eating them ever since. I usually just peel them, cut out the pithy part in the middle (it's astringent and doesn't taste good), and eat the rest, like a peach. I think they taste like pumpkin and dried apricot. They're good a little crisp, and also when they're a little soft, with that slippery, juicy succulence. Also great in a salad, maybe with a few nuts and pomegranate seeds--this is my standard Thanksgiving salad. Totally soft and I usually give them to my friend Kimber, who makes a mean persimmon bread around holiday time.

OK, I lied. We did have a slight persimmon problem. The problem was, Jenn made several persimmon-mobiles 9visible in this Thanksgiving photo), and hung some of them outside, and then it froze, and so did the persimmons. So I had to use a lot of them right away, and I'd already given Kimber all he wanted...and then Theresa said she needed a treat to give to someone...and I finally tried my hand at cooking with persimmons.

The bread I made came out better than expected. The crunchy pecans on top are delicious, and there are lots of sweet surprises in the batter--chocolate, candied ginger, pecans, raisins, and cubes of persimmon. It's like a fruitcake in all the good ways. Here's my recipe! I started here but made so many changes that I think my recipe is now original.

Persimmon Bread (makes 2 standard sized loaves)

2 cups unbleached white flour
1 cup white whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cardamom

4 eggs
2 1/4 cups pureed persimmon pulp
3/4 cup vegetable oil (I used canola)
2 cups sugar

1 large handful raisins
1 large handful chocolate chips
1 large handful chopped pecans, plus another 1/2 cup or so for the tops
1 small handful chopped candied ginger
1 more firm-ripe persimmon, diced

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit. Whisk together dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside.

Whisk together eggs, persimmon pulp, oil, and sugar. Add dry ingredients to this mixture. Stir just enough to combine wet and dry ingredients, then fold in the raisins, chocolate chips, 1 handful pecans, candied ginger, and diced persimmon.

Oil and flour two loaf pans (I used metal). Divide batter between the two pans and sprinkle the top of each pan of batter with about 1/4 cup chopped pecans. Put the pans in the oven for about 1 hour at 350 degrees (start checking for doneness after 45-50 minutes). When a knife comes out clean, take the loaves out of the oven and cool them completely (I did this on a wire rack). Your house will smell like holidays and this bread tastes at least as good as banana bread...I hope you like it!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

you want a piece of me?

Two pies -- chocolate bourbon pecan and pear frangipane tart -- will grace our table this Thanksgiving.   That photo taken by Alyssa -- pies made by me.  I'm trying to look a little intimidating in it because we originally took the photo to send to her dad -- who is a big pie chef himself.  He had sent her a photo of him holding his pies with a 'don't mess with me' face. 

Not just those pies, actually.  In addition Crabapple Cottage will have:

* Another pecan pie (one is not enough, and Gillian always likes to have leftover ramekins of pie to eat for breakfast the next morning)
* Pumpkin-cardamom custard (made by Jenn)
* Maple-mustard glazed sweet potatoes, carrots and parsnips (made by me -- a staple of our Thanksgiving table over the last few years)
* Green salad with persimmons (Gillian)
* Mashed potatoes with homemade veggie gravy (Alyssa)

Plus, lots of guests and their dishes.  And tons of homemade whipped cream, of course.

Maybe we'll post recipes for some of these later.  The chocolate bourbon pecan pie really should be immortalized... I was first introduced to it at my friend Megan's 'good-pie' party when she moved away to Massachusetts several years ago.   I've been using her exact recipe ever since.  I've made some improvements to it over the years though, the most important maybe being that I stopped using corn syrup and went for the agave nectar route (still a high fructose syrup, albeit less highly processed), which changed the texture of the pie for the better -- more fudgy, less liquidy -- and gave it a more balanced, less sickeningly-sweet flavor.

Oh, what the hell -- here's the recipe...

Megan's Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie (with edits by Theresa)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

1 cup sugar
1 cup agave nectar (I like to use half light/half dark, you can do either or both)
1/2 cup butter
4 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup bourbon
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted
(plus a generous handful of whole pecans to decorate the top)
 Your favorite pie crust recipe (I recommend Mark Bittman's flaky pie crust from How to Cook Everything, a cookbook every American should really own).

In a saucepan, combine butter, sugar, agave.  Stir over medium heat until melted.  Turn off heat and add chocolate chips -- stir until chips melt.  Cool slightly. 

In large bowl, combine eggs, bourbon, vanilla and salt; mix well.  Slowly pour sugar mixture into egg mixture, whisking constantly.  Stir in toasted chopped pecans.  Pour into prebaked pie shell. 

Bake for 50-55 minutes, until center is set and pie crust is golden.  If you prebake, you might want to cover the edges of your pie crust with foil about halfway through the baking so they don't burn.

You will not be sorry you made this pie.