I have 250 feet of fence line at the back of my yard. Along that fence there are about 15 Persimmon trees. They are what lots of folks would describe as “junk trees.” That is, not stunners and fairly messy. They also attract loads of nightlife: racoons, possums and the like hang out to gobble the ripe fruit every fall.
If you haven’t ever worked with persimmons, they are small orange (when ripe) fruits that are similar in flavor to an apricot, but subtle. The skins of are VERY tannic. It isn’t ever a good idea to pop one in your mouth unless you are into an incredibly bitter bite. They also contain several “pits.” You might wonder why one would even bother with such a fruit?
Here’s the deal. The trees are prolific and it is easy to collect the fallen fruit from the ground. Once you run them through a food mill, you are left with a sticky sweet pulp. I’m not gonna lie, preparing the fruit takes some effort but in my case, with so many trees, I can’t justify buying the pulp already processed. If you don’t have trees pick up a container or two at Lily Orchard (Indy). Lots of places sell it, but Lily has always been my go-to and they usually have it. With the pulp and a few other ingredients, you’ll have yourself a lovely, traditional Hoosier dessert. It is rich and sweet, with a texture falling somewhere between cake and brownies. Perfect for a chilly fall evening and certainly Thanksgiving dinner.
1 cup of persimmon pulp
¾ cup sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon molasses
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon cardamom
1 cup milk
¼ pound melted butter (unsalted)
-Combine persimmon pulp, sugar and molasses.
-Beat in eggs, milk and butter.
-In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, nutmeg, cinnamon and cardamom.
-Mix the dry ingredients into the persimmon mixture.
-Grease a 9-inch square pan very well (or line with parchment paper) and pour batter into prepared pan.
-Bake at 325 for about an hour. (A knife or toothpick will come out clean when ready).
-Cool, cut into squares and serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
Pro Tip: My sweet friend Jill Cline makes Persimmon Pudding every year during the holidays. She ALWAYS forgets to buy persimmon pulp in advance and it often sells out. Then she scrambles to find it. Don’t be like Jill, buy it now and freeze it!
Give Persimmon Pudding a try and see if it can become a tradition for your family.
#persimmonpudding #HoosierHospitality @1Malibu
Don't know about y'all but I'm sort of over coming up with creative ways to use my tomatoes. The summer's winding down, but the tomatoes just keep coming. I've made spaghetti sauce, two kinds of salsa, ketchup and loads of tomato bisque.
This fun and very simple recipe turns those last sweet fruits into an enviable dish. It's worthy of dinner with some crusty baguette or by itself as a side dish. See what you think.
Pro Tip: Omit the bacon and add crumbled feta and its vegetarian-friendly.
1/3 cup chopped parsley
1/3 cup chopped basil
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder (NOT garlic salt)
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
2 teaspoons fresh thyme (stem removed)
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup red wine vinegar
1 1/2 cups light olive oil or vegetable oil
1 red onion, chopped
1/2 cup cooked bacon, finely chopped
12 tomatoes, cored and cut into wedges
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Whisk together everything except the tomatoes in a bowl. Add the tomatoes and gently toss to coat. Allow the mixture to sit, covered at room temperature for 2-3 hours. Serve.
Dang. I was bringing in eggplant and basil today when I began thinking about the gorgeous flavors and food that is Italian cuisine. I realized that I SPACED writing about my trip to Rome a few months ago. In the spirit of "better late than never," here goes!
Seemingly everywhere we went, Rome offered delicious food.
From rich Gelato to soft, warm mozzarella, fine Salumi and piles of fresh pasta. Even during our private tour of the Vatican (where we were blocked from St. Peter's because Pope Francis himself was using it- kind of cool) there were amazing cured meat sandwiches. Crusty fresh bread with Prosciutto, Salami or Capocollo. Nothing else and they were perfect. Italy takes enormous pride in their food. Not necessarily complex, but thoughtfully and perfectly prepared. There's a definite emphasis on quality.
I thought I'd share some pics from my favorite meal in a small, family-owned trattoria in the Campo Marzio. Of course, I photographed the dishes and wine that we enjoyed for your viewing pleasure. There were crisp salads and a little antipasti to start: a roasted sweet pepper and eggplant with a warm, fresh ball of Mozzarella and basil. So simple and really, really excellent. My youngest son ordered the Lobster Diavola, the elder chose pizza (always), Mom the Osso Buco and I had Cacio de Pepe.
Cacio e Pepe is a traditional Roman Pasta dish-and was very honestly my favorite meal in Italy. It is very simple but incredibly satisfying. You should add this one to the recipes you commit to memory. Check out the video from @SeriousEats for a fool-proof guide. (Although, if you have access to fresh pasta, definitely use that in lieu of dried.)
So the thing about carrot soufflé is that it can pretend to be a healthy side dish (it isn't) but it really tastes like dessert. It is beautiful, unique and addicting. It was originally served to me in 2000 by my then-husband's aunt (a great cook, herself). When coming up with the first restaurant menu for my wine bar, we remembered how tasty it was and decided to add it. The rest is history. It became a signature item and was on the menu for 18 years. I can't claim to have created this, nor can Aunt Barb. She found it in the Indianapolis Star as a featured recipe many moons ago. It's been tweaked a bit over the years, but below is the version you've come to love. I hope you enjoy it. A great dish and a great memory.
Sweet Carrot Soufflé
4 pounds carrots
1 pound unsalted butter
2 cups sugar
1 cup flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Peel the carrots, trim off ends and cook in salted water until fork tender. (Time will vary depending on the size of your carrots.) Drain the carrots.
Melt butter and pour into a blender along with eggs, butter, sugar, flour, baking powder and blend well. Add cooked carrots and blend again, until no lumps remain. It will look like an orange milkshake.
Grease a 9 by 13 baking dish and pour mixture in. Batter will be very near the top. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 2-2.5 hours, OR until a toothpick comes out clean.
Watch it carefully. It shouldn't brown but will begin to pull away from the sides of the pan as it nears completion.
Cut the soufflé into squares or triangles to serve.
Pro Tip: This can be made, cooled and refrigerated until needed- up to three days in advance. Re-heats very well.
I mentioned a few weeks ago that I'd spend some time exploring food and wine with you. Because I've been making so much Spaghetti sauce in the past few weeks, I thought that would be an appropriate starting point. Plus, who doesn't like Spaghetti?
Red wine in tomato sauce does a couple of important things. First, it adds a whole other level of flavor and depth to your sauce and second, it acts as the acid if you are canning. Many years ago, tomatoes had plenty of acid. As time has marched on and breeders have worked to create new varietals for traits like color and sweetness, some of that acid has been bred out of the fruit. To make your canning safe, adding some additional acid in the way of wine or vinegar is a great choice. Wine definitely wins for taste.
Here's how I roll: I harvest the freshest and most ripe tomatoes I've got. Any given day it's about 2 gallons after they are cored. I grab a large onion and a few bell peppers, whatever is fresh and ripe. Oh, and a couple of cloves of garlic. I heat a stock pot and add a few tablespoons of olive oil. In go the roughly chopped onion and peppers to sauté. I literally core the tomatoes, chop them in four big chunks and toss them into the pot as I go. Cherry tomatoes go in whole after the little stem is pulled off and will split open as they heat up. After all the tomatoes are in, I add salt, pepper, the garlic cloves and wine (usually at least 1/2 a bottle). I add oregano and basil to my liking (totally personal preference here) then let the whole pot bubble over medium until the tomatoes become visibly softened.
At this point, I grab my immersion blender. If you don't have one, i suggest you consider the purchase. They can be had at Big Lots for under $20 and will become your new favorite kitchen tool. I blend the slowly boiling sauce by pulsing, until the sauce is smooth. Then the heat is reduced to low and the whole thing simmers for a few hours. How long you simmer really depends on how thick a sauce you prefer. The longer it cooks, the more it will reduce and thicken. When I'm satisfied with the consistency, I sneak a little taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.
I ladle the hot sauce into sterilized ball jars, leaving about two inches of space (also know as "head-room" at the top). I wipe any drips off the lip of the jar with a warm, damp kitchen towel so that it can form a strong bond to the lid. A lid (I always use #BallJars) goes on each jar and a metal ring is screwed on to hold the lid in place. I've usually started water heating in the hot water canner and can load the jars into the rack that fits inside. The rack full of jars is lowered into the hot water and the lid goes on the canner for about 35 minutes.
The timer goes off and the jars are lifted out and placed on a kitchen towel to catch any hot water and cool off. My favorite part of canning is hanging out in my kitchen during the cooling process and listening for the distinct "pop" of each lid pressurizing. This noise signals a successful seal. After the jars have completely cooled, I make sure to label them with the contents of the jar and the date.
The proportions I gave above yield about (8) quart jars of spaghetti sauce. You can truly reduce or multiply this recipe with excellent results. Like it hot? Add some hot pepper flakes or chilis before the puree step and voila! You've made diablo sauce.
One final word on wine-don't pick something that's crappy. Seriously. You want to taste the delicious flavors so cook with something that you'd drink. NEVER use the "cooking wine" sold at the grocery store. It's gross. In the batch pictured, I used a lovely bottle of 2007 #Raymond Merlot. It had a little age on it and the tart cherry and spicy black pepper nuances were perfect with the robust tomatoes. So perfect, that no-one would judge if you enjoyed a glass as you worked. Cheers!
PRO TIP: Want to learn more about food and wine? My favorite resource ever is a book by Andrew Dornenburg & Karen Page. It may hold a record for the world's longest book title: What to Drink with What You Eat: The Definitive Guide to Pairing Food with Wine, Beer, Spirits, Coffee, Tea - Even Water - Based on Expert Advice from America's Best Sommeliers
We’ve had a few rainy days in a row. After such a dry spell, my garden seems to have exploded overnight. Almost 30 pounds of veggies this morning! I’m thinking a big load of salsa might be in order. What’s your favorite kind? Traditional, spicy, fruity? I tend to always make a middle-of-the-road sort because I can large amounts of it. I’m going to shake it up this year!
I received a cool gift today in the mail. A new book, written by Sandro Bottega (president of Distilleria Bottega) and Peter Dowling (Author and Publisher). This book is about the relationship between Grappa and food. Can’t wait to read more about it.
While Grappa is made from grapes, it is in fact a distillate and not wine. Ehh- close enough for inspiration and a good jumping-off point for me to talk about my former life. I owned a Restaurant/Wine Bar for close to two decades. I prepared menus, designed wine lists, flight programs and an annual tasting series. I was pretty good at it, actually. While my first love is growing and cooking food, wine is probably next.
I’ll be writing about food and wine a bit more. The relationship between the two is so symbiotic that I thought ya’ll might like a few tips about how to cook with it and serve it successfully.
Stay tuned and many thanks to @DistilleriaBottega for thinking of me.
I've kept chickens for many years. They technically belong to my eldest son, Franky but we all love these silly, squawky ladies. Until recently, the "Girls" had free reign of the yard and only the garden was protected from their ravenous appetites. As a master gardener, it has bummed me out that I didn't have the gorgeous collection of plants and lovely patio of my green-thumbed peers. The chickens ate everything and left, ahem, "reminders" of their presence all over the place. Great for the grass but not the patio. This spring, I set out to change that and have been renovating like a crazy person.
The last parts of my patio makeover are nearing completion and the end is definitely in sight.
I love entertaining casually in the summer. Easy and delicious nosh is a must. Here are three unusual, but equally delicious dips for you to try. Many of the ingredients can use up extra garden goodies, too!
Pineapple Fruit Salsa
From my friend, Julie Olovich. She served this years ago at a neighborhood gals dinner.
Serve with tortilla chips
One pineapple, peeled, cored and diced
1 mango, peeled and chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 jalapeño, seeded and minced (be sure to wear gloves working with hot peppers)
½ red onion, peeled and diced
1 fresh orange, seeded, segmented and chopped
1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
1 tablespoon honey
Juice of one lime
1 teaspoon salt
Combine all ingredients in a non-reactive (not metal) bowl. Allow to chill at least an hour before serving.
Spicy Peanut Dip
Serve with raw veggies or pita chips
2/3 cup creamy peanut butter
1 tablespoon brown sugar
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
2/3 cup spicy hot salsa
½ teaspoon ground cumin
Salt to taste
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
A few dashes of Tabasco (to taste)
Combine ingredients in a non-reactive bowl and serve.
Tomato-Pesto Cream Cheese Dip
Serve with crackers or toasted baguette
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 small (10.5 oz) package of fresh goat cheese, softened
1 teaspoon oregano (fresh, if possible)
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
½ cup sun dried tomatoes
Small jar of basil pesto (6.3 oz) or your own!
Mix together the cream cheese, goat cheese, oregano, salt and pepper. Spread 1/3 this mixture into the bottom of a small, square dish lined with plastic wrap. Sprinkle the sun-dried tomatoes on top. Spread another 1/3 of the cream cheese mixture on top of the tomatoes. Spread the basil pesto on top and then spread the final layer of cream cheese mixture atop that.
Chill for at least an hour. To serve, turn the dish upside-down on a serving platter and gently pull off the plastic wrap. This makes a very eye-catching appetizer.
If you’re interested in serving drinks with each of these, here’s what I’d offer:
Pineapple & Mango Fruit Salsa- Mexican beer like Dos Equis or Sol
Spicy Peanut Dip- Sparkling white wine like Prosecco
Tomato-Pesto Cream Cheese Dip- Pinot Grigio if you like white wine and an easy-drinking Chianti if you like red
Cheers to Summer!
Thinking about what to do with all these pretties. I’m considering a fresh tomato salad. Has your harvest started? #tomatos #gardenfresh #lunchfromthebackyard