She lured me in with her perfect “t” shaped limbs, reaching out like angel wings. “Take me home.” she whispered. Not planning to add another fruit tree to my already demanding garden, this one was like an abandoned puppy. You know, the one that finds you. I’d always loved Fuyu persimmons, their sweet versatility making them perfect for eating like an apple, or slicing into a salad for a burst of orange color.
I could not resist. Dreaming of harvesting my own persimmons made me drool with anticipation, so I loaded her into my car. That April, while planting her next to my avocado tree, she told me her name was Francesca. We bonded.
Fall arrived and she dropped her leaves, baring her naked body for what would seem like an eternity. I tended to her every need: water, fertilizer, regular conversations. “Francesca, amore. I believe in you,” I coaxed. But still, she stood frozen in time, seemingly in a time warp. My angel was fading into a ghost.
A year after I planted Francesca, I returned to the nursery where I bought her to show them photos with a final plea for help. Their advice: scrape the bark and if it is green, she is still alive. With hope, my fingernail drew a line in the bark, revealing a bright green interior. Realizing this was a test of my patience, I relaxed and observed. Within two weeks small lime green buds appeared, followed by flowers, then tiny miniature fruit. I was in love again. Our relationship had come full circle.
In October, my reward was a dozen, perfectly shaped, pumpkin orange persimmons. Inspired by Francesca’s endurance, I’ve designed a few recipes to celebrate her beauty and honor her as a treasured member of my garden family.
- I sheet frozen puff pastry dough - I use Trader Joe’s frozen Puff Pastry
- Egg wash - one egg lightly beaten with a pinch of salt.
- 4 ounces cream cheese or honey goat cheese
- ¼ cup mascarpone cheese
- 2 Tablespoons honey
- ½ Teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 medium ripe fuyu persimmons
- Apricot jam to glaze
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- Thaw the sheet of puff pastry for an hour in the refrigerator.
- Cut out a 10” circle. I invert a bowl with a 10” diameter onto the dough to use as a template.
- Chill the round while you cut out the decorations for the edging. I used mini maple leaf cutters but you can use any design or even leave it rimless if you like.
- Freeze the dough and decorations for 10 minutes.
- Mix the cream cheese or goat cheese with the mascarpone cheese, honey and vanilla until smooth.
- Remove the pastry from the freezer and evenly spread the filling on top of the dough leaving an inch border.
- Brush the edges with egg wash to help the borders stick. Layer the persimmon slices on top, starting at the outer edge and working your way inward to form a spiral. Place the maple leaves on the egg washed rim all the way around. You will have a border with a fancy edge!
- Freeze again for 10 minutes.
- Bake for 35 minutes or until the bottom and edges of the tart are deep brown and crispy. About half way through I put foil around the edges to prevent them from getting too dark. Make sure the tart is well-baked. I learned that the French method is to bake their pastries on the darker side. Remove from the oven and brush with strained apricot jam while still warm. Slice and eat immediately.
- 1-2 persimmons, cut into thin wedges
- 1 fennel bulb, cleaned and cut into thin slices
- ¼ cup toasted and coarsely chopped hazelnuts. Don’t hazelnuts just speak “holiday?”
- Sprinkling of fennel pollen if you have it. If not, here is a good source: The Spice House
- 2 Tablespoons dark, thick balsamic vinegar. I love fig balsamic.
- ¼ cup good quality olive oil.
- salt, pepper
- Toss salad ingredients together. Add the nuts at the last minute so they don’t get soggy. Mix the vinegar and olive oil together and salt and pepper to taste. I don’t like to overpower the flavor of the salad ingredients with too many dressing ingredients so keep it simple.
- Drizzle on the dressing and enjoy the fall flavors!
The fruit of your own hard work is the sweetest. Deepika Padukone
Ciao for now,