Hachiya Persimmon Oatcakes

hachiya persimmon

I’m having a bit of a fling with persimmons this winter. First, there was the chutney included in this pretty project. Next came that red leaf and fuyu persimmon salad (I ate it again today). Today, I took very ripe hachiya persimmons and made a batch of hearty, not-too-sweet oatcakes.

persimmon pulp

When I bought this pair of hachiya persimmons, my plan was to make a batch of cookies. I have a recipe from my grandma Bunny’s little file box that I’ve long intended to make (she died when I was 15 and cooking her dishes brings her back a little). But when I pulled the card out to see what I’d need, I realized that I wanted something just a little more virtuous than a cookie made with two sticks of butter and lots of white sugar.

making oat flour

And so, I took the recipe and started rewriting. I cut the butter in half (who needs two sticks when you’ve got all that luscious persimmon pulp to lend moisture?). I used a little coconut palm sugar to sweeten (if your pantry doesn’t run to such things, use sucanat or brown sugar). I added some toasted pecans for protein and crunch. And I used a combination of rolled oats and oat flour for backbone (make your own oat flour in your food processor or blender. Takes 90 seconds and keeps things simple).

coconut palm sugar

Unlike the salad I wrote about last week, this recipe uses the pointy-ended persimmons. This variety is incredibly astringent when firm, but when ripe, becomes super sweet and perfect for baking. I let mine soften on the counter for more than a week, until they felt soft, heavy and a little like a full-to-bursting water balloon. To use them, you simply cut off the stem end and scoop out the flesh with a spoon.

persimmon oatcakes

The finished oatcake is tender and moist, but still manages to hold its shape nicely. I used a 1/4 cup disher to portion the dough into little mounds, but you can also grab a couple soup spoons and scoop the old-fashioned way. These guys are nice toasted for breakfast, tucked into packed lunches or gobbled in front of a computer with a cup of tea as a late afternoon snack.

A couple notes:

  • If you don’t have easy access to persimmons, you could also make these with a cup of mashed banana.
  • If you use gluten-free oats, these oatcakes become gluten-free. A nice feature these days.
  • If pecans are too pricey, use toasted walnuts. Or skip the nuts entirely. Sometimes I substitute toasted millet for nuts in baked goods, when I want some crunch but I know someone in my eating audience is allergic.
  • Because these oatcakes are quite moist, they should be tucked into an airtight container and kept in the fridge or freezer within a day or so of baking.

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Early January Links + Eat Real Food Calendar Winner

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It’s taking me longer to get situated into the new year than it has in the past. Normally, I leap into January with both feet, excited for the clean slate. This time, I feel uncertain and a off-balance (it doesn’t help that I’m currently writing at a wobbly coffeeshop table). While I gather myself and clear out the mental fog, here are some good things that other people have written and published lately.

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One of my hopes for 2013 is to get back into the habit of answering canning questions and writing helpful tutorials (like I’ve done in the past under the heading Canning 101). If you have a question related to canning, preserving or anything jar-related, please send it my way and I’ll do my best to answer. Leave it in the comments on this post, or shoot me an email!

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calendar winner

The winner of the Eat Real Food 2013 Calendar is Alyson (commenter #19) from The Hasty Quilter. If you didn’t win and you’re pining after the calendar, there’s still a handful of them available for purchase at Seedling Design.

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I’m taking the month of January off from giveaways and product-centric posts. They’ll be back after a fashion in February, but I just need a break from the focus on stuff.

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Red Leaf, Goat Cheese and Fuyu Persimmon Salad

red leaf, goat cheese and persimmon salad

Of all the things I love the potlucks (seeing friends, sharing food, only having to make a single dish instead of an entire meal), I think my favorite aspect is the opportunity to try food from other home cooks.

While I like my own cooking, I find it woefully easy to fall into flavor and ingredient ruts. Eating food made by friends and neighbors is can be an opportunity reset weary taste buds and get excited about cooking again (of course, this all depends on the people who are attending your potluck. It can certainly be hit-or-miss).

a quick quarter pint jar salad dressing

Oops. Sorry for the artless blur. I ate lunch late this day and the light was fading.

This salad is an example of inspiration delivered via potluck. A couple winters back, I was at one and towards the end of the evening, someone brought a metal mixing bowl filled with tender lettuce, slivers of onion and wedges of persimmon. Dressed simply and very lightly salted, it knocked my socks off. I went back for thirds and made plans to imitate it immediately. Since that night, this salad goes into steady rotation the moment persimmons arrives.

tossed

My current version consists of a large bowl of red leaf lettuce*, a whole Fuyu persimmon (click here to see a illustrated piece on the different kinds of persimmons) cut into wedges and a couple tablespoons crumbled chevre. Some days, I’ll add shaved red onion and some toasted nuts, too. I put a little olive oil, fruity vinegar, salt and pepper into a quarter pint jar, shake until combined and drizzle over everything. Makes for a delicious lunch!

*I always buy a head and wash it myself. Makes for much fresher tasting salads than the pre-washed and bagged stuff, and it’s cheaper, too. Tear, wash and dry a whole head (I love my salad spinner for this). Bag it up and eat from it for 2-3 days. It’s one of those tasks that is easy to dread, but ends up taking less than ten minutes if you’re quick about it.

Have you discovered a new dish at a potluck that you’ve made your own?

 

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Eat Real Food 2013 Calendar Giveaway

eat real food calendar

When I was growing up, there was always a calendar hanging on the side of refrigerator. Secured by a hooked magnet up top and two clippy ones along the edges, it was the repository for sleepovers, school plays, and the dates when were assigned to bring snacks for choir practice. Our lives were simple enough back then that a month of small boxes held a family’s worth of commitment without strain.

Up until last January, I still used a paper planner (though it was a whole lot more detailed than the old fridge calendar method). But as life expanded, there wasn’t enough space to hold all my to-do lists, deadlines, and reminders. I switched to a Google calendar and have breathed more easily since.

calendar pages

I’ve missed having a paper calendar, though. I like having a physical thing that helps me measure the days and weeks. And at the turn of each month, it’s fun to have a new picture to keep me company.

When Anna Hewitt from Seedling Design emailed, offering to send me a copy of her Eat Real Food calendar, I jumped at the chance to have a physical calendar in my life again. Printed on sturdy card stock, this monthly calendar isn’t bound together. That means you can arrange it in a grid on a cork board, or you can prop a single month on a bookshelf or stick it to the fridge with a magnet.

close-up

Each month features an image of a sewn design (handmade by Anna) that represents some different aspect of food and community. It is quietly charming and such a good reminder that we all need allow ourselves the time to nourish, sustain, and grow in this new year.

Thanks to Anna, I have a second calendar to give away to one of my readers. If you’d like to enter for a chance to win it, here’s what to do.

  1. Leave a comment on this post and share how you track and measure your days. Paper planner? Calendar on the fridge? Online datebook?
  2. Comments will close at 11:59 pm on Saturday, January 5, 2013. Winners will be chosen at random and will be posted to the blog on Sunday.
  3. Giveaway open all.
  4. One comment per person, please. Entries must be left via the comment form on the blog at the bottom of this post.

If you don’t want to wait to see if you win, you can also click over to Seedling Design and pick up a calendar for yourself today (before the new year too far underway). It’s just $20, which isn’t too much for a year’s worth of art and helpful reminders!

Disclosure: Seedling Design sent me two calendars, one to keep and one to give away. They did not pay for inclusion in this post and my opinions are entirely my own. 

Happy New Year + Black-Eyed Pea Salsa

black-eyed pea salsa

I hope everyone had a good holiday season! I spent Christmas out in Portland, Oregon with family and got plenty of quality time with my parents, uncle, sister, brother-in-law, and my newly walking nephew (he’s in that sponge stage, where he’s learning as fast as you can say the words. It’s incredible).

I got back to Philadelphia a few days ago and promptly came down with Emmett‘s cold (13 month olds cough in any direction they’re pointed, including straight into your face). Other than an exploratory mission on Sunday to Costco to use our new membership cards, Scott and I have barely left the apartment in days. Oh, how I’m tired of this tradition of mine to end the year mucus and congestion.

black-eyed pea salsa

 

In the hopes of forging different New Year traditions that have nothing to do with NyQuil, kleenex or throat lozenges, I made a very simple take on a classic “good luck for the New Year” dish. Black-eyed pea salsa.

It’s essentially Texas Caviar, but a version that omits bottled salad dressing and is scaled to fit into a quart jar (because who doesn’t like a salsa that can be made straight into a jar?). It’s good with tortilla chips and even better on top of salad greens and a little crumbled feta (if you’re trying to inject a little bit of healthier eating into your new year).

black-eyed pea salsa above

 

As far as New Year’s hopes and resolutions go, my plan is to keep the year simple. To find a little peace where I am instead of always having my eye on the next thing. To stop tying myself into knots of struggle and let things move in flow and at their own pace. And to remember how incredibly lucky I am to have such a vibrant community of friends and readers out there across the world (thank you all for being part of that!).

And on to the recipe…

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Salted Rye Cookies from Whole Grains for a New Generation

salted rye cookies

My cookie output has been woefully low this holiday season. There was a batch of rugelach for Hanukkah, a celebratory round of pumpkin seed brittle on my first full day in Portland and these salted rye cookies.

Both the rugelach and the brittle are old favorites, the rye cookies were a recipe that had jumped out from the pages of Liana Krisoff’s new book Whole Grains for a New Generation. I spent a few days cooking from it a couple weeks back for a Table Matters piece (publishing soon!) and found everything in it incredibly appealing and inspiring.

salted rye cookie

These cookies did not let me down. They are buttery, sweet (but not obnoxiously so) and pleasantly sandy from the rye flour. A classic slice and bake style cookie, the only garnish they need is a quick roll in chunky sugar and flakey salt.

I left half at home for Scott and brought the balance out to Portland with me in my luggage. They were forced to compete for attention with the brittle and have still managed to disappear first.

If you’re looking for one final cookie to make this year, or simply need something to eat with a mug of tea, this is such a good one.

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