Ellen Roggeman Dishes on Persimmons | Contributing Columnist

Ellen: She's smokin'!
Ellen: She's smokin'!

It’s not uncommon to see Ellen Roggeman wearing a party dress with a pair of work boots. Her hands are covered with cuts from her culinary forays and calluses from the farm; both of which testify to her two passions: Growing and cooking seasonal food in community with others.

When she’s not working the gardens at McEvoy Ranch, she’s organizing epic food events through a project called Radical Radish. She grows for the harvest, to cook, and feed others. She’s a little bit glamorous, but never without dirt under her fingernails from the soil. In the following video and article, Ellen dishes on persimmons, her favorite winter fruit.

A barren orchard where once-lush trees are now leafless and resting before next spring. It’s a scene of starkness, cold, and scarcity—-save for a scattering of orange ornaments clinging to otherwise barren branches. Persimmons. Seeing this fruit adorn the winter orchard this year made me appreciate their uniqueness even more.  I’m a fool for the holiday season, and these edible ornaments are definitely my thing.

Fuyu persimmons are one of the few colorful, sweet, ready-to-eat items of the season, qualities that make them a great counterpart to other winter produce.  They allow a break from time-intensive options like quince, yams, and squash.  And their sweetness balances bitter winter-greens like chicory, mustard, and kale.  Plus, persimmons provide another excuse to whip out warming winter spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger, which somehow transport me from my drafty San Francisco apartment and into a romantic cabin complete with a fireplace.

My favorite Fuyu persimmon uses?  I love them fresh, sautéed, and—-even more so—-roasted (350 degrees for 5-10 minutes).  Just make sure you are using the squat tomato-looking Fuyu persimmons, and not the Hachiya heart-shaped variety which is used in its mushy phase as a puree.

For breakfast there is toast with almond butter and sliced persimmons with a sprinkling of thyme and salt.  Lunch or dinner could be sautéed radicchio with persimmons, smoked paprika, and pecans.  And, for dessert, cinnamon-roasted persimmons with bourbon-spiked whipped cream.

Sound gourmet and complicated?  Actually they are all quick and easy, but with that five-star-in-home dining feel. That’s actually what I love the most about fresh, seasonal eating.  I can make something absolutely delicious in 15-20 minutes because the ingredients themselves are delectable.


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