Sunday, 18 November 2012

Fruity Beauties

Fritelle di Semolina Dolce, Speziate con Cannella & Cachi
Spiced Semolina/Cinnamon Pancakes with Persimmon

This was my second encounter with persimmons this morning- and thankfully a much more pleasant one than the last time I tried eating one! I think the fact that this is the first time in more than 15 years that I have dared to try again, but hint at how nasty an experience it was first time around- compared to the exquisite flavor this time around!

I wasn't aware of it until yesterday, when I had it explained to me at the indoor market, that there are indeed two types of persimmon- this paler, smoother, shiny variety and the darker skinned variety with the kind of coating on the peel that you get on plums, which makes them slightly duller looking. And it is those devils that need to ripen, mature and become soft before eating, otherwise, when they look pristine, they have a totally astringent "flavor! that will strip your palate of any sensation and reduce your tongue to the size and texture of a raisin!

So obviously, these smooth, golden colored examples here tasted fantastic- a flavor which was like a combination of honeydew melon, peach, pear, mango and papaya! Ah! If only this had been my first encounter- not like my shock encounter way back when... I have been missing out all these years!

So... having discovered that I loved the flavor after all- I still had to decide what to do with them! They are in season now and so cheap that I took 5 of them home with me... so the question was, what to do? What to do?!

The answer, as you can see, was a simple compote, which did not alter the flavor of the fruit too much, but made it richer through a little Cointreau and lemon juice and sweeter through a little sugar. But of course, as always, when cooking it is all a matter of timing... so I began with the pancakes, which I will also describe to you first of all- we have to keep our priorities straight!

This huge-looking portion of pancakes here was made using just one egg- can you believe that? Well you had better believe it! It was also plenty for 2 people... sounds impossible, doesn't it? Want to know how? Sure thing!

The simple "trick" I used, was to not use flour to make the pancakes, but semolina powder instead. I stirred 4 tablespoons of semolina together with enough milk to soak it up and turn it to slightly runny batter, added 1 tablespoon of baking powder, whisked it together vigorously and let it sit for 5-6 minutes, before cracking the egg and adding the yolk, I beat the egg-white until it was nice and fluffy and folded it in gently, along with cinnamon, a little nutmeg and a little powdered ginger. I sweetened mine with Stevia and made a point of adding that tiny pinch of sugar! Very important! But that was all it took! Before I knew it, I was ready to start frying my little pancakes! Then again- first things first... it was time to prepare the persimmon before I got going with that!

To prepare the persimmon, I simple peeled it, cut it into quarters and then into relatively fine slices. I put it into small pan with just enough water to cover it, a hint of Stevia (you can use sugar), a squeeze of lemon, a couple of leaves of mint and light sprinkle of cinnamon. Once it had come up to the boil, I stirred the persimmon slices carefully, and kept my eye on them until the water had practically evaporated away... and then I deglazed the pan with a splash of Cointreau- yum! You can miss out this step and replace it with a splash of orange juice if you are preparing it for children or are tea-total... but hey! It was Sunday morning! I topped up the water again with just enough to have the fruit covered and then reduced the heat to a simmer... so that I could get on with the pancakes! Time to bring this all together!

I made the pancakes small- just one small ladle of batter at a time- they were soon done! Spoon in the batter and watch as lots of little air bubbles form as the baking powder does its thing and the dough fluffs up. As soon as the edges begin to turn golden, the pancakes are ready to flip! I do not like to have my pancakes soaking in fat or butter and I made mine on the dry pan- but if you prefer that richness- that is also fine! They will work perfectly well either way!

By the time the pancakes were done- 4-5 minutes, the persimmon was tender and soft and had given off so much natural pectin, that the juices were now thickened and syrupy and perfect for spooning over those spice, fluffy pancakes! A simple but fun breakfast- cheep, cheerful and delicious! What's not to like? ;-)

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