Sunday, January 1, 2012

gorgeous persimmons for the season, to ring in the new year! fuyu and hachiya what to do with them?

growing up in a lebanese-american family in los angeles, persimmons, known in arabic and some other languages as kaki, (from their latin botanical name: Diospyros kaki) were a luscious winter treat with unique flavor and texture. my parents brought home the hachiya variety which must be very soft before they're eaten, otherwise, we learned the hard way—the mouth suffers.

the flatter fuyu variety, which i came to know while living in the bay area some years ago became a winter favorite as they can be eaten like an apple when firm, sliced into slivers to add color and sweetness to a winter salad in lieu of out of season tomatoes, or dried, and have a fabulous fragrance.

what to do with them? we lebanese just eat them fresh and raw. they're super sweet. the fuyus make excellent dried fruit, known to be eaten by the chinese at new year's. 
here, i've made a rather unlikely combination by pairing fuyus with a habanero chili goat cheese dip i made for a party. other than the cheese being goat cheese chevre, this is not lebanese, but it was such a pleasure to photograph these sumptious succulent fruits. and my dip was raved about at the holiday dinner party with a mexican theme.
the sweetness of the persimmons plays off the spicy flavors of the dip and saltiness of the the corn tortilla chips. the colors served in blue glass and ceramic bowls are an artist's dream of complementary colors. 
on top the garnish is a sweet yellow chili pepper which i also added to the habanero chevre mixture in the food processor, along with a bit of lemon juice.
my home grown habanero chiles were roasted over the flames of my gas stove top and then cooled, peeled, and blended with the chevre. in the photo is a tiny habanero that shriveled up.

the hachiya can be only eaten when ripe
the firm slices of fuyu on the left, and the soft, succulent ripe hachiya on the right after i've taken my taste of it.
my friend andrea has a most gorgeous fuyu persimmon tree in her portland garden, pruned like an umbrella. standing under it full of leaves with the fruit still green was a marvelous experience that felt like an abundant blessing. 

the fruit ripens after the leaves have fallen. here's andrea's photo of her tree with her chicken coop beyond that inspired me to plant my own fuyu persimmon tree which i did just in time for the new year. may it be a blessing to us all! thanks to andrea's inspiration and heavenly garden.
enjoy and many blessings and peace in the new year! happy new year and happy cooking!

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