Cook vs. Persimmon

Two-Tone Persimmon Pudding

2009 is breathing its icy breath down our necks. It was a mighty chilly Christmas holiday with either ice or slush to line your path. Again, the cook runs to the kitchen with all haste to conjure up warm and comforting food. We are taking a two week break from the weekly CSA delivery (like at Thanksgiving, even farmers get a little break) but we were sent off with an extra heavy bag to tide us over until the first week of January.

I have put the onions and remaining carrots to good use in various soups. I'm rather behind on the potatoes but the time for roasted potatoes will come soon. Our remaining greens have been a precious jewel in a vegetable bin rapidly being over taken by dull colored vegetables. I continue to seek a happy home for the daikon radishes but the little red ones have added color to a series of winter salads. The butternut squash we received were so curvaceous I'm loath to eat them when they make such beautiful art. We've been nibbling on the whole winesap apples and the applesauce went on top of some fine latkes at a friend's house. I know the grapefruit (ruby sweet from our friends in Texas) are all mine since I love all citrus and have the taste buds for the sour of grapefruit. Am I the only one who loves grapefruit because it becomes a honey delivery system when I prepare it?

The piece de resistance of the week had to be Christmas Day dinner if I may pat myself on the back for a job well done. Having just cooked a turkey about two weeks before the day and not having the culinary chops to deal with a duck or goose, we had Beef in Barolo with a side of soft polenta and greens. Just to really gild the lily, we finished up this marvelous meal with steamed persimmon pudding with a side of vanilla ice cream. Oh, a roasted beast makes a girl feel almost Dickensian if he had been willing to mess with a pot roast for a couple of hours and extravagant enough to pour a bottle of wine over it. I used the Cooks Illustrated recipe for Beef in Barolo which is an automatic guarantee that the whole process will take an hour longer than expected. We used several of our farm box vegetables to build flavors in the braising liquid. The gravy making seemed the most labor intensive part--gravy and lifting the incredibly heavy dutch oven out of the oven five or six times to poke at the roast. I used the polenta recipe from the side of the Bob's Red Mill package and yes, it really does take a half hour of molten hot, sticky polenta burbling on your stove top to get a good side dish. The chard and farm box arugula were just sauteed in a little olive oil until reduced to one-tenth their original size--typical greens cooking experience.

The persimmon pudding was a scientific wonder courtesy of Harold McGee in the New York Times. With the clever manipulation of baking powder and baking soda, you end up with a moist, steamed duo-tone pudding. I was ridiculously impressed when we got it out of the tin. At this moment, I'd like to thank my mother for dragging her pudding mold in her travel bag and evading the watchful eyes of TSA to make this dessert possible. The first batch of persimmons from the box went into this pudding and then a batch of persimmons cookies from Marion Cunningham's The Fanny Farmer Baking Book. I have a medium sized plate sitting on the counter with another batch of persimmons looking lovely and flower-like..and slowly getting mushy. The hunt continues for persimmon recipes and I'm exploring the flavor of these beautiful and very sweet fruits. I have moved pomegranates from the decor to food category, persimmons, you are next!

For your cooking pleasure:

Beef in Barolo (subscription only)

Two-Tone Persimmon Pudding