Hachiya Persimmons and Yogurt

yogurt topped with persimmonTry this simple dish of plain yogurt mixed with sweet jelly-like Hachiya persimmon pulp for a tasty and healthy breakfast or dessert.

???????????????????????????????Hachiya persimmons are oval shaped, and should be so soft they are practically weeping. Scoop out the flesh and mix with a cup of plain yogurt. If desired, sprinkle a few raspberries and pistachios on top.

persimmon mixed with yogurt

Sweet Potato-Pecan Maple Pie

Sweet Potato-Pecan Maple Pie

pie slice

This has got to be the best sweet potato pie I have ever tasted. It combines a pecan pie topping on a creamy, spicy sweet potato filling. It’s lower in fat than most sweet potato pies and not overly sweet. This was inspired by a recipe from San Francisco’s Devil’s Teeth Baking Co in Sunset magazine, http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/sweet-potato-pecan-pie. I halved the sugar in the filling and added a few spoonfuls of pure maple syrup, and also doubled the amount of cinnamon and nutmeg. I swapped maple syrup for their sugar and corn syrup in the topping.

sweet potato pecan pie
FILLING
3 medium orange-fleshed sweet potatoes, such as Garnet (sometimes called “yams”)
3 large eggs
½ cup packed brown sugar
2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
3 Tablespoons heavy whipping cream
3 Tablespoons melted unsalted butter
2 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
½ teaspoon nutmeg
PECAN TOPPING
2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 Tablespoon melted butter
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup coarsely chopped raw pecans
Make a single pie crust in a standard 9-inch pie pan.
roast sweet potatoes

Roast pierced sweet potatoes on a rack over a foil-lined cookie sheet at 375° for about 1 ½ hours until very tender when pierced. Let cool. You can do this part a day before. Purée the flesh in a food processor until smooth. Measure 2 cups.

Set oven to 350°. Beat eggs in a mixerl until frothy. Beat in remaining filling ingredients until well blended. The filling will be thick. Pour into a hot pre-baked 9″ pie crust and spread level. Use a pie crust protector or wrap pie rim with 4 strips of foil  to prevent it from burning, and bake pie for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir together topping ingredients except pecans until smooth. Stir in pecans.
5. Take the pie out of the oven and remove foil from pie crust. Evenly drop small spoonfuls of pecan mixture in a border around edge of pie. Continue to bake until center jiggles only slightly when shaken gently, 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool on a rack at least 2 hours.
Enjoy topped with maple-syrup sweetened whipped cream.

Autumn Salad with Pomegranate, Fuji Persimmon, Strawberries and Nuts

early autumn salad

I make this salad in early Autumn, when Pomegranates and Fuji Persimmons are appearing and there are a few decent strawberries left. As the season progresses, you may not find the strawberries, but the sweetness and fall colors of the persimmons and Pomegranate seeds still brighten this salad. I added a handful of raw shelled pistachios and sliced raw almonds for delicious flavor, texture and protein. Throw them together with mesclun (mixed lettuce greens) or baby spinach. It’s fine undressed or with a bit of blue cheese dressing.

Agua fresca del melón -Fresh Melon Drink

agua de melon                                  agua de melon honeydew

This refreshing natural beverage is a perfect compliment to spicy Mexican food. I add no sugar or sweeteners to mine, using a ripe sweet melon and water only. This is wonderful with any kind of firm melon, such as cantaloupe or honeydew. This is similar to agua de sandia.

melon

I large melon

4 cups water, or 3 cups water, 1 cup ice

If you make this the night before your party, you only need to add water and refrigerate. Stir before serving, as the beverage will separate.

Wash melon well.Cut melon in half and scoop out seeds. Scoop out melon fruit and fill the blender, then add 2 cups of water for each blender quart. Blend on high until fruit is liquified. I think it’s sweet enough with just the ripe fruit, but you can add a bit of sweetener if you like.

Yams on the barbie

grilling yams

My friend Randi introduced me to grilled yams and they were delicious! I tossed mine with butter and cinnamon for a sweet fragrant richness and and they were a hit! Easy to make and a healthy side dish for your next barbecue party.

For each large red garnet yam, use 1 Tb melted butter and several shakes of cinnamon.

Select oval red garnet yams. Slice them about 1/2 inch crosswise (discard ends) and place in a bowl large enough to toss with the butter. Melt the butter and pour over yams. Sprinkle in cinnamon and toss until each yam is coated with butter and cinnamon.

Roast over a medium flame until soft. grill marks will show. Serve warm. I kept them in my oven in a metal bowl under low heat until the rest of the barbecue dishes were ready. They filled the kitchen with a delicious fragrance.

serving yams

 

Mac and Cheese with Cauliflower and Broccoli

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This version of the classic comfort food gets heat from cayenne, white pepper and dry mustard, and sharp flavor from extra sharp cheddar and Parmesan, and a kick from the Chardonnay. I add cauliflower which is good on its own with the cheese sauce, and if you like, broccoli for extra color.
Preheat oven to 375◦

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Serves 10

½ large onion or 1 small onion, chopped
1 large head cauliflower
1 head broccoli
2 Tb butter
Melt butter in heavy frying pan. Chop onion and stir into butter over medium-low heat until soft. While the onions are cooking, slice cauliflower and broccoli and cut into flowerets. Stir into onion mixture and cook for 20 minutes until vegetables are tender. Alternatively, you can roast the cauliflower in the oven and add to the onions and broccoli. I use a food processor with a grater attachment to grate the cheese.
1 lb elbow macaroni
1 tsp salt
Boil a large pot full of water. Stir in salt and macaroni and cook for 10 minutes over medium heat. Drain. Pour back into the pot. Stir the cauliflower and broccoli into the macaroni.

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roux:
¼ cup butter
¼ cup all purpose flour
a few shakes cayenne to taste
¼ tsp dry mustard
1 bay leaf
¼ tsp white pepper
½ tsp salt
1 ¾ cups milk (I use 1%)
¼ cup dry white wine such as chardonnay
1 ½ cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Melt butter in a heavy medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour until it makes a thick, smooth paste. Cook the roux for 5 minutes, whisking constantly. Slowly whisk in one cup milk until smooth. Whisk in the rest of the milk. Stir in cayenne, mustard, bay leaf, salt and white pepper. Cook this béchamel sauce for 15 minutes, whisking constantly. Turn off heat. Remove bay leaf. Whisk in grated cheese until fully incorporated in sauce. Stir in ¼ cup wine. Adjust salt if desired.
Pour cheese sauce over macaroni and vegetables and stir until it is well combined. Spray a large casserole with non-stick spray. Pour mixture into casserole.

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Bake at 375◦ for 30 minutes, until the top is nicely browned.

Champagne-Shallot Vinaigrette

saladThis light vinaigrette is perfect to toss into salad greens and arugula. I sprinkle a few strawberries, blueberries, feta cheese and sliced almonds over the coated greens.

Champagne vinegar is a light golden, mild vinegar made from Chardonnay grapes aged in oak barrels. It can be expensive, but the Berkeley Bowl brand is a good deal. I’ve generally avoided salad vinegars because of their strong acidity. But  just ½ tsp honey is needed to balance the acidity of the champagne vinegar in this dressing. Since I don’t like the sharpness of fresh raw garlic, I prefer to get the garlic flavor from garlic olive oil. I used a shallot, which is milder than an onion.

Makes ¾ cup, which is enough to sprinkle on about 6 large or 10 small salads. Refrigerate leftovers and use within a week.

vinaigrette ingredientsIngredients:
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 Tb minced shallot
3 Tb champagne vinegar
½ tsp honey
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp sea salt (to taste)
a few grinds of black pepper
1 Tb garlic oil
½ cup extra virgin olive oil

champagne vinaigretteIn a small bowl or blender, whisk together all ingredients except oils. While blending or whisking, slowly add the olive oil in a stream until the vinaigrette is emulsified.