Wednesday 27 May 2009

persimmon & bourbon bread

I’ve been very inspired by Autumn this year. It seems to have captured my imagination.

Chestnuts, brussel sprouts and pears have all featured on my menu lately.

Last weekend I cooked up a feast, preparing roast pork loin w cider and pistachios, pickled sausages, quince jam and this delectable persimmon bread.

Persimmons have baffled me because I never knew what to do with them. They always seemed tasteless with a clammy texture, but I realised I just wasn’t using them correctly.

Fuyu persimmons, squat and round, should be eaten fairly firm. You peel the skin and either eat whole or in slices. Paired with a top quality vanilla yoghurt they are simply divine.

Hayicha persimmons are the ones you want to cook with. They are more elongated that Fuyu and when ripe the interior becomes a jelly mush that's perfect for purée, jam and cakes.

Persimmon & Bourbon Bread (w Pecans & Apricots)
Anna’s adaptation of
David Lebovitz’s version of James Beard’s recipe. Makes one 9-inch loaf.
1¾ cups sifted flour
1¼ cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup persimmon purée (approx. 2 overly ripe Hachiya persimmons)
½ cup melted unsalted butter
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 cup bourbon
1 cup pecans, toasted and chopped
1 cup diced dried apricots


1. Preheat oven to 180’C/350’F degrees.

2. Grease a 9 inch loaf pan. Line the bottom with a piece of baking paper or dust with flour and tap out excess.

3. Sift the first 5 dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.

4. Make a well in the centre then stir in the butter, eggs, bourbon, persimmon puree then the pecans and apricots.

5. Bake for 1 hour or until toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.

David says it will keep for about a week at room temperature, if well-wrapped, and can be frozen too. But mine didn't last that long!

I have a fan forced oven and my bread took about 1 hr and 20 minutes until it was cooked. That really surprised me because usually everything cooks much faster in my oven.
I also used Wild Turkey Honey liqueur as my bourbon.

Persimmons are from the genus Diospyros in the Ebenaceae family along with ebony wood.

They were known to the ancient Greeks as Diospyros, which translates to "the food of the gods". In English they were called Date-Plum, a direct translation from the Persian word “khormaloo”, but these days we call them persimmons, derived from putchamin, pasiminan, or pessamin, (meaning "dry fruit") from Powhatan, a Native American language of the eastern United States.

The Japanese Diospyros kaki is the most widely cultivated species, explaining why the two most known persimmons both have Japanese names.

There are two main types of persimmon: astringent and non-astringent.

Hachiya is the most common astringent persimmon with high levels of soluble tannins which makes the immature fruit bitter. It needs to be fully ripe before consumption.

The fuyu variety is the most common non-astringent persimmon, which can be eaten when firm and not overly ripe.

There is also a little-known third variety, sold only in farmers markets in Japan and prized for its brown flesh.

You can eat persimmons fresh, dried or cooked. To quicken the ripening process, simply store persimmons with apples or bananas and the ethylene emitted from these fruit will speed along the persimmon.

In Asia, sun-dried persimmons are prized and the Japanese version, brought to the US West Coast by Japanese migrants and known as hoshigaki, are growing popular.

The world’s top ten producers, in order of most to least, are China, Korea, Japan, Brazil, Italy, Israel, New Zealand, Iran, Australia and Mexico.

Fresh persimmons are supposedly good for constipation and haemorrhoids, although too many can cause diarrhoea. But no problem, because cooked persimmons are supposedly good for treatig diarrhoea!

Wikipedia explains the “contradictory effect of the raw and cooked fruit is due to its osmotic effect in the raw fruit sugar (causing diarrhea), and the high tannin content of the cooked fruit helping with diarrhea”.

But persimmons do have a dark side. One of the tannins contained in raw persimmons can coagulate in the stomach and form an obstructive mass or bezoar. In fact, 85% of phytobezoars (those of plant origin) are caused by persimmons and more than 90% of persimmon bezoars have to be surgically removed! Gross! There are known epidemics in persimmon growing regions where people consume a lot and it's recommended never to eat persimmons on an empty stomach or, strangely, with crab meat.

This is my contribution to Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Susan from The Well-Seasoned Cook. Be sure to see what spring/autumn fare is being cooked up around the world.

Other persimmon recipes:Persimmon Blondies - Vanilla Garlic
Persimmon Chutney - Ambrosia & Nectar
Persimmon Cookies - Pinch My Salt
Persimmon Flan - Christine Cooks
Persimmon Madeleines - Cook & Eat
Persimmon Muffins - From Our (Brazilian) Home to Yours
Persimmon Pavlova Cupcakes - Cupcake Bake Shop
Persimmon Pickles - Rookie Cookery
Persimmon Pomegranate Fruit Salad - Simply Recipes
Persimmon Rice Pudding - Christine Cooks
Persimmon Smoothie w Mint & Lime - Lucullian Delights
Persimmon Spice Cake - What's for Lunch, Honey?
Persimmon Tart - The Kitchn
Persimmon Vinegar - Rookie Cookery
Persimmon, Parsley & Olive Salad - Herbivoracious
Poached Persimmons - White on Rice Couple
Sujeonggwa (Korean persimmon punch) - The Kitchn

Morsels from the Archives:
2006 - Rosewater Cupcakes
2007 - Kingfish Sashimi w Lime / Salmon Sashimi w Ginger Soy
2008 - Grilled Eggplant w Tahini-Yoghurt Dressing


Sunday 24 May 2009

feta, sumac & herb salad

I’m back.

I took a bit of time off from blogging. I just wasn’t motivated enough.

I was still cooking up a storm in the kitchen, but I didn’t have the enthusiasm and drive to sit down and write about it.

I sinc received a few concerned emails, and this inspired me that people really are out there reading and I should keep on keeping on.

And so I’m back, with a salad that could equally suit the weather in the cooling southern hemisphere and the warming northern one.

The salad has a slightly Middle Eastern feeling to it and is great even for breakfast with a boiled egg, some freshly sliced tomato and a little hummus and labneh.

Feta, Sumac & Herb Salad
Anna’s very own recipe. Serves 4 as side.

200g feta, crumbled coarsely
¼ cup finely chopped parsley
4 tablespoons finely chopped coriander
2 tablespoons finely sliced white scallions
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon sumac
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Olive oil, to drizzle


1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix.
2. Drizzle with a little olive oil and serve immediately.

Although I use the term “scallions” on my blog, in my daily life I call those immature onion stalks “shallots”.

I can imagine a few puzzled faces from my blogging friends around the world, wondering if scallions are shallots, then what are shallots?

Yes, yet another confusing mix-up in the English language.

In Australia, there are shallots (increasingly called scallions), there are eschallots (increasing called shallots) and there are spring onions (sometimes called green onions).

Confused yet? I am!

But today I am focusing on scallions, as part of Weekend Herb Blogging.

I love scallions. You can use the whole onion from the white, fiery bulbs to the fresh, green tips. They work well in European, Asian and Middle Eastern cooking and are mild enough to eat raw.

Scallions can come from a wide variety of the Allium genus, wherever there is an under-developed bulb.

The most common species of scallions is Allium fistulosum, often called the Welsh onion.

Shallot and scallion both evolved from the Ancient Greek word “askolonion” which seemed to refer the Philistine town of Ascalon, now Israel’s Ashkelon. This was probably where the Greek’s sourced their scallions, although they were traded from further east.

According to Wikipedia, scallions have many names around the world, many translating into common threads: green, spring, new, small, leafy and young.

Our Weekend Herb Blogging host this week is Cinzia from Cindystar, who currently sports a gorgeous recipe for sciroppo di sambuco (elderflower cordial) on her blog. For those that don’t speak Italian, it’s worth trawling through the silly attempts of Babelfish for the results.

Other interesting scallion recipes include:Claypot Flounder w Ginger & Scallions - No Recipes
Corn, Scallion & Potato Frittata - Serious Eats
Ginger Scallion Chicken - Rasa Malaysia
Honey Scallion Sliders - Not Eating Out in New York
Kale & Olive Oil Mashed Potatoes w Scallions - 101 Cookbooks
Pajeon (Korean scallion pancake) - David Lebovitz
Savoury Cheese & Scallion Scones - Farmgirl Fare
Scallion Bread - Habeas Brûlée
Scallion Mushroom Soup - hey, that tastes good!
Scallion Spread - Beyond Salmon
Sesame Scallion Dumplings - Hugging the Coast
Sweet Potato, Scallion & Sage Risotto - The Lunchbox Bunch
Sweet Scallion Tofu - Book of Yum

Morsels from the Archive:
2008 - Soop Naw Mai (Thai bamboo shoot salad)
2007 - the food of Frankfurt
2006 - Htapodi Stifado (Greek octopus in red wine)

References & onion photo sources

Sunday 3 May 2009

italian white bean soup

Served with good crusty bread, this soup makes a quick and simple lunch or a light starter at dinner.

Although I prefer it hot during the autumn and winter, you can easily chill it and serve at a summer barbecue.

Zuppa di Fagioli Cannellini (Italian White Bean Soup)
Anna’s very own recipe. Serves 4 as starter.


500ml vegetable stock
600g canned cannellini beans
1 white onion, chopped finely
4 garlic cloves, crushed
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
¼ cup finely grated parmesan
Pinch of chilli powder
Salt and pepper, to taste
Olive oil, for frying


1. Heat olive oil in a large pot.

2. Sauté onion and garlic until soft.

3. Add beans, stock, chilli powder and plenty of freshly ground salt and pepper.

4. Bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes, uncovered.

5. In a blender, add lemon juice then puree soup to smooth consistency. Taste for seasoning.

6. Eat hot or cold with crusty bread and garnished with olive oil, parsley and parmesan.

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