One of our neighbors liberated some persimmons (and a rogue pomegranate) from a vacant yard in our neighborhood. So when life gives you persimmons, you make persimmon jam, dough and eventually persimmon hand pies. Persimmons are pretty easy to work with. You peel them with a peeler, cut them in half and remove the leafy top, then chop them up.
I blended the chopped up pieces of about 6 persimmons, 8oz of orange juice, ginger, the juice of ½ a lemon and ½ cup of sugar into a puree. I boiled the puree in a covered, heavy bottomed pot for about 15 minutes. I mixed ¼ cup of orange juice with 2 TBS of cornstarch until all the lumps were dissolved. I poured the slurry into the boiling persimmon puree and stirred until the mixture came back to the boil and let boil for about 1 minute. This will assure that the jam comes to its full thickness. Remove the mixture from the heat and let cool down to room temperature. You can then jar in sterilized jar and store in the refrigerator. Since the jars have not been vacuum sealed the jam needs to be consumed within a couple of weeks.
2 ½ cups sifted all purpose flour
½ cup sugar
¼ tsp salt
1 cup iced water
1 ¾ sticks chilled and cubed butter
the zest of 1 lemon
¼ cup chilled and cubed vegetable shorting vegetable shortening
Combine the flour, salt, butter, sugar, lemon zest and shortening in a food processor with the chopping attachment. Pulse until the mixture looks like fine sand. Slowly add the ice water 1 tablespoon at a time and pulse keep adding water until the dough starts to form pea sized balls. Test the dough by trying to form a ball, if the ball holds together, pour the mixture out on to the work services and knead together into a disk. Wrap the disk in wax paper and a zip top bag and store in the fridge for about an hour to chill. Roll the dough out onto a floured surface to about ¼ inch thick. Cut out into whatever shape you like. The dough recipe should be enough to make 8 3″ hand pies.
Persimmon and Orange Hand Pies
½ cup orange marmalade
½ cup persimmon jam
Preheat oven to 350°
Roll out dough and cut into desired shape
Place 1 teaspoon each of marmalade and persimmon jam in the center of the dough. Repeat for all 8 pies.
Brush the edges of the filled dough pieces with water and then cover with a piece of dough. I’ve docked the top with a #8 piping tip to allow steam to escape. You can poke the dough with a fork a couple of times or make slits with a knife.
Crimp the edges and trim the edges. You can use a fork and a knife if you don’t have a scalloped pastry cutter.
Sprinkle the tops with sugar and bake at 350° for 25 to 30 minutes.
A couple of nights ago, I received a text from my wife that she was craving Orange Beef. We haven’t really found any good Asian restaurants around that have General Tsao’s chicken or Orange Beef (we hunted after watching the documentary The Search for General Tsao a few months back.) A quick stop by the grocery store on the way home from work and I was ready with all the essential ingredients to satisfy my wife’s Orange Beef craving.
WARNING. This is a little time consuming and has quite a few steps. As with all cooking though, the ingredient list and steps can be easily managed if you prep everything at the beginning and stay organized.
Egg Noodles, Garlic, Ginger, Lemon Peel, Star Anise, Red Peppers, Orange Marmalade, and Scallions
Scallions chopped with the greens and whites separated
3 cloves minced garlic
3 nickel sized pieces of peeled ginger crushed
peel of 1 lemon
3 TBS of orange marmalade
½ cup broth
3 star anise
a dozen or so whole dried thai bird chilis or similar dried small red chili
8 oz Asian style fresh lo mein, egg noodles or fresh ramen (available in the refrigerator section in Asian markets and some grocery stores)
¼ cup soy sauce plus 1 TBS
1 TBS sesame oil
1/4 cup vegetable oil
¼ cup corn starch for breading
salt and pepper
6 oz thinly sliced pieces of pork, beef or chicken dried with a paper towel then seasoned with salt and pepper.
Over high heat, start to boil 1 large stock pot of heavily salted water. While the water is heating, mix the meat with 1 TBS of soy sauce in a bowl and set aside. Place the corn starch into a plastic zip top bag or a paper lunch bag. Drain the the meat and place in to the bag with the corn starch. Shake vigorously until the meat is coated corn starch. Using a deep sided skillet, wok or dutch oven on high heat, bring the ¼ cup of vegetable oil to 375°. If you don’t have a thermometer you can test by placing a wood chopstick or the handle of a wooden spoon into the oil, if it bubbles it is hot enough, but should not be smoking. Fry the meat in batches until golden brown and set aside to drain on paper towel. Once the meat is done, discard the oil and wipe out the pan.
Add the noodles to the boiling water and cook according to the package directions. Over medium high heat, heat the sesame oil and the remaining vegetable oil until it is shimmering, but not smoking. Add the whites of the scallions, garlic, ginger, peppers and anise to the oil. Make sure to keep the mixture moving so the garlic does not burn cook for about 2 minutes so the oil is flavored and the garlic and ginger is tender. Add the stock, marmalade and soy sauce. Reduce the heat to low and stir until the marmalade is dissolved and starts to thicken. Add the meat back into the sauce along with the lemon zest and toss together until the meat is heated through. Serve over the drained noodles or rice and garnish with the green scallion tops.