Saturday, February 14, 2009

Winning Recipes

Navita won 1st place in my Valentine's Recipe Competition. Her recipe is as follows...enjoy!

Persimmon Trifle with Walnut Croquant

"“A fruit is a vegetable with looks and money. Plus, if you let fruit rot, it turns into wine, something Brussels sprouts never do.”

I am a nuts-about-fruit girl ...anything with fruit in it can lure me easily. I am game for all kinds of fruits...the rarer and more exotic it is...the more I crave And if the fruit is in a dessert form...nothing beats it! As you know from these-fruit custard, choco-strawberries in a jiffy, going bananas over banana, jamming with strawberry.... my surrender to desserts with fruits is a common instance. I even start my day, lets continue the sweet-celebration.
The latest two fruits added to the long list of 'fruits I have eaten' are-dragon fruit and persimmon. And as you guys must have guessed I did make desserts out of both. :)
However we will stick to 'persimmons' today. Persimmons are a mysterious, surprising fruit, unknown to many, eaten by few.
When I first saw a persimmon at the fruit stall here, I thought they were tomatoes....just not very ripe ones. I kept wondering why they were selling it with the other fruits and not vegetables, till one day I couldn't stand it any longer and in broken cantonese-cum-english-cum-sign language I managed to understand that they are fruits and not vegetables. Came back home hurriedly and googled for pictures/information on this queer fruit. After much research, I bought the fruit. Let it ripen for two days before I sliced it open....and the fruit was luscious and sweet tastes like a mix between Rhubarb and Toddy Palm fruit/Palmyra (which is also referrred to as Taad or Taad-Gola in India). The fuyu, non-astringent variety of this fruit has got a heady...almost sweet alcoholic taste.
Native to China thousands of years ago and then introduced in Japan, the persimmon has become Japan’s national fruit and one of the traditional foods of the Japanese New Year.
Persimmons are well worth trying not only for their exceptional flavour but also for their beta carotene; they also have some vitamin C and potassium. There are two types of persimmons: astringent and non-astringent. As novice persimmon eaters often belatedly discover, the astringent persimmon has two personalities. When ripe, it possesses a rich, sweet, spicy flavour. The unripened fruit, however, tastes so bitter that biting into it causes the mouth to pucker.

The astringency is due to the presence of tannins, a group of chemicals that occur in tea, red wine, and in a few other fruits, such as peaches and dates, before they ripen, though the quantity in a persimmon is much greater. As the fruit ripens and softens, the tannins become inert and the astringency disappears.

It tasted great as a fruit and immediately I thought of pairing it with chocolate and chantilly...with may be a dash of rum.

Caution: Never eat this fruit on an empty stomach and the fruit should be extremely ripe before it can be eaten.

You can read more about this fruit here and here.

Chocolate Persimmon Trifle
(with Walnut Croquants & Creme Chantilly)

(for two cups of trifle)
1 persimmon fruit, pulp/cubed
1 recipe of your favourite chocolate cake, 1/2 pound (you can keep half the cake in the fridge for later use)
1/2 cup chantilly-(1/2 cup whipping/heavy cream mixed with 4 tbsp of sugar + 1/2 tsp of pure vanilla extract)
4 tbsp of melted dark chocolate
2 tbsp of light rum with 1 tbsp sugar dissolved

For walnut croquants-
a handful of crushed walnuts
5 tbsp brown sugar
5 tbsp water

First warm the cake for half a minute. Use half the cake. Then pour the sugar-rum syrup over it. Break/crush the cake with your fingers. Set aside.

Make the creme' chantilly using the heavy cream, sugar & vanilla extract.

To make the walnut croquants--
Mix the sugar and the water over a medium flame till its sticky but not too viscous. On a foil lined cookie sheet, spread the walnuts and pour the sugar syrup on top. Bake in the oven for a minute or less. Allow to cool to harden a little.

For the assembly--
In a glass, first layer with the cake, then the melted chocolate, followed by persimmon fruit and the walnut croquants. Top this with chantilly.
Repeat these layers once more. Serve chilled with a chocolate cake slice,if desired.

Now for my signature interesting facts-

Persimmon, known to the ancient Greeks as "the fruit of the gods" is the edible fruit of a number of species of trees of the genus Diospyros in the ebony wood family (Ebenaceae). They are high in glucose, with a balanced protein profile, and possess various medicinal and chemical uses. While the persimmon fruit is not considered a "common berry" it is in fact a "true berry" by definition.

The sexuality of persimmons is particularly baffling. Some trees are male, some are female, some have flowers of both sexes, some change their gender in midlife, no doubt for personal reasons. Some are self-fertile, some need a pollinating tree. Some have no seeds. The most important distinction for the cook is that some taste horrid all the way up until the moment they ripen, at which point they become so soft inside they are like little jellied balloons. Others -- the so-called "non-astringent" types -- sweeten while still firm.

It is said that you can predict the winter by taking the seeds out of some persimmons and then slicing the seeds. The shape that shows up the most inside each seed will tell you what kind of winter to expect. The three shapes resemble three eating utensils.
A Knife shape means there will be a cold icy winter (as in the wind will slice through you like a knife).A Spoon shape means there will be plenty of snow for you to shovel.A Fork shape means there will be a mild winter

Culinarily, persimmons have fared less well. Many people remember their first taste as a form of persecution: an unripe sample offered by a teasing grandfather, a wicked older sister or the neighborhood bully. Had they persevered and tried one ripe, they might have grown up prizing them as much as the native tribes prized their Diospyros virginiana or the Japanese their Diospyros kaki.

If ever you get a chance try this fruit...its worth it! I am in love with this exotic fruit and you will see more concoctions here...soon."

Runner up is 5 Star Foodie, for her Truffled Langoustine Ravioli and Frizzled Leeks

"One of the highlights of my dining experience at Joel Robuchon at the Mansion was Les Crustacés, which included truffled langoustine ravioli with chopped cabbage, sea urchin with coffee-infused potato puree, and a coral and ginger perfumed tea with a shrimp and caviar "ball".

Since the langoustine ravioli in particular was my personal favorite, I wanted to re-create this dish at home. In my version, I serve the langoustine ravioli on top of frizzled leeks. This langoustine ravioli would be perfect as part of a romantic Valentine's Day dinner, and I am submitting this recipe for The Alchemist Chef's Valentine's Day Recipe Competition.


2 stick butter, room temperature
2 ounce truffles
Pinch of fleur de sel

Homemade pasta dough
1 cup flour plus additional flour as needed
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup water

2 cups chicken stock
1 carrot
1 green onion
1/2 cup leeks
2 leafs mint
Salt to taste
2 langoustines, heads and shells removed

1/4 cup white wine
1/4 cup cream
2 tablespoons black truffle oil
2 tablespoons of truffle butter

2 cups leeks, chopped
Vegetable oil


Place butter and a pinch of fleur de sel in a small bowl. Grate the truffle and mix gently into the butter. Form into a ball or a log, wrap, and refrigerate for at least a few hours. Note: You can also make the truffle butter by combining truffle oil and butter or purchase prepared truffle butter such as D'Artagnan and use it instead. Do ahead :The butter can be made up to three days in advance and refrigerated.

Prepare your homemade pasta dough. For these ravioli, I used my old-fashioned recipe without the pasta maker; however, any homemade pasta dough recipe can be used. If you would like to use my recipe, follow these directions: In a large bowl, mix flour, egg, salt, and water until a soft dough forms. On a floured surface knead the dough adding flour if necessary until the dough is smooth and elastic. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Do ahead :The dough can be made a day ahead and refrigerated.

To a pot, add 2 cups of chicken stock, carrot, green onion, leeks, and mint. Bring to boil. Season with salt and simmer for 20-30 minutes. Strain and discard the vegetables. Do ahead : The stock can be made up to three days in advance and refrigerated.

Reserve 1/2 cup of stock liquid. Bring the rest of the stock back to boil, then place langoustines in the liquid and poach for 1-2 minutes. Take the langoustines out of the liquid, cool, and slice into small chunks.

Roll out the dough with a rolling pin or pasta maker until very thin. Cut out small round shapes using a round cookie cutter or a wine glass. On each round, place a tiny dollop of truffle butter and a chunk of langoustine. Fold in half and seal. The filling will be enough to make 16 ravioli. Do ahead : Arrange ravioli on a baking rack and cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

In a separate small pot, combine 1/2 cup of reserved stock and white wine and boil until reduced by half. Add cream, 2 tablespoons truffle oil, and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Fold in truffle butter. Do ahead : The sauce can be made about two hours ahead and kept in a warming drawer.

In a skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat, add leeks and fry, stirring occasionally for about 8-10 minutes.

Fill a large pot with water and bring to boil. Season with salt and cook ravioli for 2-3 minutes for al dente.

On a plate, arrange ravioli on top of leeks, pour the truffle cream sauce and top with a dollop of truffle butter."

CONGRATULATIONS again to both winners!

Now I am off to prepare my Valentine's Dinner for my boyfriend, Carlos. A few weeks ago, Carlos bought me a present. I think you will all appreciate my gift....a 1/2 lb of Manchego. Now that's romance! ; )


  1. Your cool to have had this contest! I did think it was suppose to be valentine related, so that is why I made hearts, but I guess you meant things worthy of a valentines meal?

  2. I just love to create new dishes for Valentine's Day-and I think cooking for someone you love means much more than going out. So, it can be a romantic, traditional dish, or something created with the love of its chef : )

    Okay-back to cooking my meal!



  3. some of the above look more like magic than alchemy ..cheers !!


Tried my recipe? Please let me know how it turned out for you! Be honest (and kind!)