Magazine article Sunset

Western Harvest Treasures

Magazine article Sunset

Western Harvest Treasures

Article excerpt

Treasures of fall harvest are presented here as celebrations of the season. Above, you see the showiest offerings (left to right): pointed, soft-ripening Hachiya-type persimmon; flat-bottomed, crisp Fuyu-type persimmon; knobby quince; ruby pomegranate; glossy chestnuts; and miniature pumpkins. We feature each in dishes that complement a festive holiday meal-and that are simple enough to make more than once while the ingredients are available.

The steamed pumpkins and Fuyu persimmon salad are quick and easy to make. Peeling boiled fresh chestnuts for the handsome casserole is time-consuming, but this step can be done ahead. And if you are so inclined, the Hachiya persimmon puddings, quince chutney, and pomegranate sorbet can also be made ahead.

Petite Pumpkins with Herb Cheese

4 miniature pumpkins (7 to 8 oz. each), such as Jack Be Little or Munchkin

1 package (4 oz.) herb- and garlic-flavor soft cheese

1 small package (3 oz.) cream cheese

1 large egg

4 to 8 fresh sage leaves (optional)

Rinse pumpkins and set on a rack over 1 inch boiling water in a 5- to 6-quart pan or wok. Cover and steam over medium-high heat until pumpkins are tender when pierced, about 20 minutes.

Lift pumpkins from rack and let stand until cool. Slice off top quarter of each pumpkin. With a small spoon, gently scoop out seeds, taking care not to break shell. If done ahead, cover and chill up until next day.

In a food processor or with a mixer, beat herb cheese, cream cheese, and egg until smooth. Spoon mixture equally into each squash. Lay I or 2 sage leaves on filling. Set pumpkins on rack over boiling water in the 5- to 6-quart pan. Cover and steam until filling puffs slightly and looks set, about 10 minutes. After 5 minutes, fit squash lids on rack (not on squash) to heat. To serve, return lid to each pumpkin and put on a plate. Makes 4 servings.

Per serving: 219 cal.; 7.5 g protein; 17 g fat; 12 g carbo.; 187 mg sodium; 105 mg chol.

Fuyu Persimmon Salad

3/4 cup tangerine or orange juice

1/2 teaspoon grated tangerine or orange peel

2 teaspoons cornstarch

1/4 cup orange-flavor liqueur (or tangerine or orange juice)

1 tablespoon lemon juice

4 to 6 firm-ripe Fuyu-type persimmons (5 to 6 oz. each)

3 to 4 tablespoons pomegranate seeds

In a 1- to 1 1/2-quart pan, blend tangerine juice and peel with cornstarch. Bring to a boil, stirring, on high heat. Remove from heat and add orange liqueur and lemon juice. Use warm or cool; if made ahead, cover and chill up until next day. Stir before serving.

Rinse persimmons. The peel is tender to eat, but you can peel persimmons into "petals" if fruit is at just the right stage of ripeness for the skin to pull free rather easily. To test, cut a small slash under stem end and pull gently. If skin tears, immerse fruit in boiling water for 15 seconds and let stand until cool. Then test fruit again.

Set fruit, stem end down, on individual salad plates. Cut almost but not quite through each persimmon, dividing it into 6 to 8 wedges. Then, if you want to create a petal effect, slip the tip of a short sharp knife under the skin at the apex of 1 of the wedge cuts. Gently pull or cut peel free from top of fruit, then let it fall backward around fruit. Repeat for remaining wedges to complete the petal pattern. Spoon the tangerine sauce equally onto persimmons and sprinkle with the pomegranate seeds. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Per serving: 144 cal.; 0.8 g protein; 0.4 g fat; 34 g carbo.; 1.8 mg sodium; 0 mg chol.

Chestnuts with Sausage and Grapes

1 1/2 pounds (about 1 qt.) chestnuts in the shell

1/4 pound mild Italian sausage

1 cup minced onions

3/4 cup regular-strength chicken broth

1/2 cup port

1/2 cup whipping cream

1 tablespoon butter or margarine

2 cups seedless green grapes

Salt

Cut an X into flat side of chestnuts. …

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