Persimmon Upside down Cake

Lately I’ve been obsessed with persimmons.

It isn’t just their beautiful color or their sweet, tender, flesh that makes me love them, it’s their versatility.

I recently bought 5 pounds of them (oops) so while scrambling to figure out what to do with them, I stumbled on recipes for pork, chicken and some delicious hor d’oeuvres with persimmons, Brie and prosciutto.

I decided to go for baked goods though. Persimmon have such a unique flavor I just knew the desserts would be next level. I’ve also been itching to bake something. Tis the season after all.

There are a few specialty items that give the this cake a complex flavor unlike anything you’ve ever tasted.

The first is Fiori di Sicilia

It translates to Flowers of Sicily and is basically an essence with a mix of citrus, vanilla, and floral notes. You only need a little bit (I used 1/4 tsp) to get a lot of really awesome flavor.

The second is Vietnamese Cinnamon

Without going too much into any of the science stuff Saigon cinnamon has a higher oil content and disperses more evenly into baked goods. It also has a stronger more pungent cinnamon flavor.

The last is a lower protein flour.

If you’re making bread, you’re looking for a dense, or chewy final result. That texture comes from more protein and more gluten. If you’re making a cake or pie crust, however, you’re usually wanting a light, tender, or airy result. This is when it’s best to use a low protein flour.

I got all of these things and more at King Arthur Flour but if you can’t find or don’t have them, they aren’t completely necessary.

Cinnamon Persimmon Upside Down Cake w/ Cranberry Ginger Whipped Cream

For Cake

8 tbsp Unsalted Butter
3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp Cranberry Ginger Syrup*
1/4 cup honey
1 1/2 cup cake, pastry blend, or All Porpose Flour
1 – 2 tsp Vanilla paste or extract
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp: baking soda, salt & vietnamese cinnomon
1/4 tsp: powdered ginger, cloves, nutmeg, & fiori di Sicilla
1 large egg & yolk, room tempeture
2/3 cup buttermilk
2-3 Persimmons, sliced thinly

*You can omit the syrup, use 1 cup honey, or maple syrup and it would still be absolutely delicious.

For Syrup

1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
1, 1 inch piece peeled ginger, or 2-3 tbsp ground ginger
2 cup: honey & water
1/4 tsp: fiori di sicilla, cloves, cardamon, & nutmeg
1-2 tbsp corn starch

For Whipped Cream


1 cup heavy cream
2-3 tbsp honey or cranberry ginger syrup
1/4 tsp vietnamese cinnamon

Make syrup:

Put cranberries, ginger, honey, water, and aromatics into a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat.

Reduce heat to low and simmer for 15-20 minutes until reduced. Add cornstarch to water then add mixture to the syrup. Cook for a few minutes longer until thickened.

Strain and save for later.

Make cream:

Put cold cream and syrup into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment. Beat on medium speed until soft peaks form. Refrigerate until until cake is finished.

Make cake:

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Put 2 Tbsps butter, honey, and Vietnamese cinnamon in a microwave safe bowl and heat until butter is melted.

In a medium bowl whisk flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, cloves nutmeg, and salt.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat 6 Tbsp butter, 3/4 cup cranberry ginger syrup, 1/4 cup honey, vanilla paste, and Fiori di Sicilia, at medium to low speed until combined 1-2 minutes. Scrape the sides of bowl, then add egg and egg yolk, and beat for another minute.

Add half the flour and beat until just combined about 10 seconds. Add buttermilk, beat for another 10 seconds then add the remaining flour. Beat for 10 seconds, scrape sides, and beat for 10 more seconds.

Swirl the butter-cinnamon mixture around the bottom of a silicone pan, making sure the sides and bottom of the pan are thoroughly coated

Slice persimmons (I used a mandolin with 1/16 inch slices selected) and layer them in a circle on the bottom of the pan.

Pour batter over Persimmons and bake on center rack for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean, rotating after 15-20 minuets.

Remove from heat, invert onto cooling rack, and serve with cream, pomegranate arils, and a drizzle of syrup.

I hope you love this recipe as much as I did, let me know if you try it and come back next time for my Persimmon Custard Tart

Shiojake

Shiojake/Shiozake (shio-salt, jake/zake-salmon) is a common Japanese preparation of Salmon. You’ll find it in: a filled onigiri, a bento, rice porridge, and a traditional Japanese breakfast w/ miso, picked veggies (Tsukemono) and warm rice.

Chef Morimoto puts the fillets in a mixture sake and salt before doing anything else. I’m not sure if this removes the fishy taste but if he does it, we probably should too.

What I like about this dish is it’s versatility. It’s almost as if the Salmon is pre seasoned so it works well literally anywhere you would need some extra salt. I originally made it to use in a traditional Japanese breakfast but I later discovered is goes great in soups, omelettes and in Ozuchake (which I’ll be making next.)

Makes four 4 fillets

4 skin on, center cut, salmon (You want a less fatty fish so I used Coho Salmon. You could also use King Salmon) fillets totaling about 1.5 lbs

4 Tbsp + 1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup sake

Mix sake and 1/2 tsp salt until the salt dissolves. Add the fillets one by one to the mixture and let each soak for 5-10 minutes. Remove and pat dry

Salt both sides of Salmon paying extra attention to the skin and and wrap in a few layers of cheesecloth before placing in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Let rest in the refrigerator for at least three hours and up to three days. The longer you let it rest the saltier it’ll be.

I experimented and took them out after 5, 12, and 15 hours. 12 seems to be the sweet spot, at 5 they were salty but not as good as I’ve had at restaurants. 15 hours was way too salty. I literally had to drink a gallon of water after eating them. It all depends on the cut of your fish (how fatty it is) and the type of salt you’re using. I used Maldon sea salt but you can use anything you have on hand.

You can either wrap the fillets individually in plastic wrap & a freezer bag and freeze for 1-2 months or bake, pan fry, or broil.

I cooked with ghee in a cast iron pan and served with Japanese picked vegetables, my classic miso soup and short grain white rice. I also added a bit of White Shoyu (soy sauce) on the side for added seasoning. It’s not traditional and totally optional.

Join me next time when I make Ochazuke/Chazuke, dish made with rice and warm dashi or tea. What’s your favorite cold weather food?

Chicken Udon Miso

My dad is one of my favorite people but he isn’t a very adventurous eater. It’s pretty hard to believe he has a daughter who is always using him as a guinea pig for her crazy recipes.

This Miso was perfect for him. It’s hearty (he’s always complaining about small portions) and though it’s decidedly Japanese it doesn’t stray too far from what’s he’s familiar with. It sure to make anyone in your family happy.

What makes this completely different from any soup you’ve had is the mix of the Shiitake & Iriko Dashi. The fishy Iriko Dashi adds depth of flavor and the Shiitake Dashi adds a subtle and unique umami.

Chicken & Udon Miso

Serves 4.

3 cups Shiitake Dashi

3 cups Iriko Dashi

1.5 Tbsp Red Miso

2.5 Tbsp White or Yellow Miso

2 packages (16oz) Frozen Udon Noodles

1 lb chicken (thighs or breasts), cut into 1/2-inch slices

1/2 large white onion, thinly sliced

1 lb Broccoli florets

8 Shiitake dried Mushrooms; rehydrated and sliced

4 oz (~1 package) Enoki Mushrooms

2 scallions; thinly sliced

1. Season chicken (I used ground perilla, ginger juice, black sesame seeds, and S&P) and sautée in ghee (or butter, oil) until cooked completely through.

2. Slice onions, shiitake mushrooms and scallions. If necessary cut broccoli into bite sized pieces.

3. Add dashi, chicken, onion, broccoli, and shiitake mushrooms to a pot and bring to a boil over low heat. 15-20 mins

4. Remove from heat add Enoki mushrooms and Miso to soup.

5. Put Udon (don’t defrost) into boiling water for about a minute until al dente. Remove from heat and divide into bowls evenly.

6. Spoon soup over noodles and garnish with scallions

⠀⠀

That’s it for my Miso Soups. Did you have a favorite? I’d love to hear about it. The next thing I’m going to tackle is (O)Chazuke

Cockle Miso Soup

So here’s my secret: I’m not a clam person. Their briny flavor has always turned me off, and don’t even get me started on raw oysters, or as I like to call them snot with rocks.

Enter cockles

Small, unobtrusive, and tender. They bring a delicate flavor with them wherever they go.

The next Miso is my version of an Asari Miso Soup. It typically calls for Manila Clams (Asari) but since I couldn’t find them, I used cockles.

Cockles and Clams look pretty similar. If you know anything about biological (scientific) classification then I can tell you they have the same class and phylum but a different order.

If you don’t let’s just say they’re cousins and move on.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BaG8EVJFVt8/

Here’s what I used to make this amazing soup which I ate all of alone in my room watching My Hero Academia

Wild Cockle Miso Soup

Serves 4⠀⠀

1lb cockles

4cups +1/2 cup cold water

Kosher Salt

1 4 inch (20g) Kombu

2 Tbsp: White Miso, Red Miso

  1. Put kombu, purged clams, and 4 cups cold water into pot and over medium heat bring to a gentle simmer. When the water begins to boil remove kombu and continue simmering until all the cockles are open. Make sure to remove the cockles as they open to keep them from over cooking.
  2. When all the cockles are cooked pass renaming liquid through a fine mesh sieve add miso.
  3. Divide Cockles evenly between four bowls and pour miso soup over them.

I served it with short grain rice & Rosè Sake but it works by itself or even served at a breakfast with an omelette.

Next time will be my last Miso. I’ll be adding chicken, veggies, and udon noodles. What’s your favorite noodle?

Classic Miso Soup

Miso soup happens to be my dog Lola’s favorite food on earth. Not only does she love Bonito flakes but she has loved seaweed (wakame) for as long as I’ve had her

If you take out the scallions she’ll happily lap up Miso until she dies. I think I probably would too.

The first and most common way to use dashi is in Miso Soup.

I personally love this soup. It tastes delicious for breakfast with salmon & tea or for dinner with warm seasoned rice & sake. It’s pretty much a staple in Japanese households.

Miso paste is basically soy beans, rice, or barley fermented with salt, water and fungus. It sounds pretty gross but we all known fermented foods are actually really good for your tummy.

There are three different types of miso: white, yellow, and red. Red Miso has been fermented longer giving it a stronger and more salty flavor. It’s great in sauces and marinades. I’m going to be using it to make the sauce for Tofu Dengaku in the next few weeks.

White and yellow have a more mild taste so they work well in dressings and more subtle tasting dishes.

I use a mix of red and white Miso (Alton Brown says) but it’s honestly best to taste and mix of few different types and brands of Miso pastes to pick a combination that works for you.

Here’s what you’ll need for a classic Miso Soup you’d get at a restaurant alongside a steaming bowl of rice.

Classic Miso Soup

Serves 4

2.5 Tbsp Wakeme
4 cups Awase Dashi
14 oz firm silken tofu, cut into 1/2-inch cubes.
2 Tbsp Red Miso
2 Tbsp White or Yellow Miso
2 scallions; thinly sliced

1. Remove moisture from tofu: wrap in paper towels or cheesecloth and press under a heavy object (a plate or pan) for 20 minutes.

2. Rehydrate Wakame: Combine wakame and 2 Tbsp water and let sit until softened, 25–30 minutes.

3. Bring dashi to a simmer. Add tofu, wakame, and scallions. Simmer gently.

4. Add Miso to Soup: Remove Dashi from heat. I use two ways to add Miso to the soup. I either put miso in a ladle and slowly add Dashi until a loose paste forms then add to soup, or I submerge a fine mesh sieve full of Miso paste into the soup.

Never boil your Miso! It has a very delicate and easily ruined flavor.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BZ8veqEleJn/

I hope you enjoy it as much as Lola (and I) do.

Come back next time when I make a Miso Soup with Cockles. How do you like your Miso Soup?

Dashi; or using food to stay sane and keep the wanderlust at bay

I’ve seriously been infected by wanderlust.

For me there’s nothing sweeter than the exhaustion and excitement of air travel. Anyone else get freaked out by border agents every time? Unfortunately, my next trip isn’t until February. To keep sane, and the wanderlust at bay I decided to try my hand at some international recipes.

The first place I want to explore is Japan!

The thing I love most about Japanese cuisine is the delicate balance between simple and complex. Before we get to any of the recipes let’s talk about one of the most important ingredient in Japanese cuisine:

Dashi.

Dashi is a stock used as base for a ton of recipes. It’s really what gives food from Japan it’s distinct flavor.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BZxAzu-lAGX/

Awase Dashi

This is the multi-purpose everyday Dashi most people use for soups and adding umami to dishes. It gets it’s flavor from a combination of Kombu (dried kelp) and Katsuobushi (Bonito Flakes).

This dashi I think has a more complex and balanced flavor. I found some shredded Kombu on the market at Food52 which made the process much easier. The key to making good stock is to slowly draw out the flavor of the kelp. I let it soak in cold water overnight before making the Dashi but you can get away with soaking a few hours.

Making that Dashi is super simple. You simply bring the 20 grams Kombu with four cups cold water to a gentle simmer and cook for 10-15 minutes. After the taking the kombu out you add the Bonito flakes and bring to a boil. After straining through a fine mesh sieve, you’re ready to make Miso, or Tofu, Curry or anything else that calls for Dashi.

Kombu Dashi

If I’m making a dish with more subtle flavors, for vegetarian/vegans, or one that features seafood (I’ll be making a Cockle Miso Soup soon) I make a stock out of Kombu alone. You can either use the soaking liquid (after a day in the fridge) or you can soak and gently simmer the Kombu and cold water for about 20 mins being careful not to boil the kombu.

Iriko or Niboshi Dashi

This dashi is made from dried baby anchovies or sardines. You basically remove the head and innards of the dried fish soak overnight and then boil. Fun fact: when I make a Korean food I use a mix of kombu and anchovies (and sometimes dried shiitake). You could also use it to add depth of flavor to miso soup (which I’ll be making next!)

Shiitake Dashi

This is actually just the liquid leftover from rehydrating dried Shiitake mushrooms. I hope you haven’t been throwing it away! This dashi is a bit too strong to use on its own but combined with the other stocks it adds an unique and earthy flavor to any dish.

Next time I’ll use my dashi to make three very different but equally delicious Miso Soups. Do you know any awesome uses for Dashi? I’d love to hear them.