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Stuffed Persimon® with Persimon® Black Pepper Gastrique

This post is sponsored by Persimon® 
It's November and that means it's Persimmon season which also means it's time for Persimon® 
persimmons (Rojo Brillante) all the way from Ribera del Xúquer in Spain. These particular fruit, known for their firm flesh and mild flavour, are ripe and ready to eat by the time they hit the grocery store, unlike other varieties like the Hachiya which have to soften and ripen before they can be consumed. By getting these, you are taking the guess work out of it. You will be able to find these in the store from now until February or until they run out of stock, so hurry up and grab a case or two while you can.

Last year, I made a Tarte Tartin with my haul so this year, Persimon® invited me to take part in their black box challenge, which is kind of like Chopped but I get to participate in my pjs in the comfort of my own kitchen. They send a bunch of bloggers a mystery box full of Spanish ingredients and each one, in turn, must come up with a recipe that shows off the fruit.

My box contained a case of Persimon® , Spanish wine, arroz, Spanish Chorizo, piquillo peppers, smoked paprika, Manchego Cheese, Spanish olive oil and white balsamic vinegar.

As soon as I thought "Spanish" I wanted a  stuffed fig and couldn't get the idea of stuffing the Persimon® out of my head. They stand up really well to roasting so I cooked the arroz with chorizo, piquillo peppers, red wine, smoked paprika and manchego and in my pressure cooker (you can make it on the stove top too but the pressure cooker makes it a breeze) and topped it all off with a Black Pepper Persimon®  Gastrique. 

Don't be intimidated by the gastrique - it's just a sweet/sour sauce made from equal parts of sugar and vinegar and reduced until it turns into a sticky sauce that looks kind of like syrup and is a perfect vehicle for persimmon and that hit of black pepper gives it some needed bite.

All three components can be made ahead of time so that you can just assemble, stuff and roast on the day, reheating the gastrique at the last minute. This is a total show stopper of a first course for your next dinner party and I plan to serve these over the holiday season to some lucky guests.

Stuffed Persimon® with Persimon® Black Pepper Gastrique

6-8 Persimon™ Persimmons
2 tbls olive oil
1/2 tsp smoked paprika

*Spanish Rice- recipe to follow
**Persimmon Black Pepper Gastrique - recipe to follow

Chopped parsley for garnish

Preheat the oven to 375F

cut the top off of each persimmon and cut a small slice off the bottom so that they will stand up. Use a small melon baller and scoop out at least half of the flesh and put them in a baking dish. Drizzle a bit of olive oil and sprinkle a bit of smoked paprika inside each one.
Roast them in the oven for 40 minutes.

When the time is up , take them out of the oven, fill each one with paella and top with a few slices of manchego, cover the dish with foil and return to the oven for another 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, take off the foil and bake, uncovered for 20 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let sit a few minutes while you reheat the gastrique. Put one in the centre of a small plate and pour a tablespoon or two of gastrique over the top, letting it drip onto the plate and finish with a good sized pinch of chopped parsley.

*Spanish Rice in a Pressure Cooker

2 tbls Spanish Olive Oil
100g of Spanish Chorizo, chopped
2 shallots, sliced thinly
1 clove garlic, sliced thinly
1 cup of Spanish rice
1/3 cup of Spanish red wine
2 3/4 cups of chicken stock
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
150 g Piquillo Peppers
100g Manchego Cheese - 80g finely grated and remaining 20, sliced in rough pieces

On your pressure cooker, hit "saute" and when it's hot, add the olive oil and the Chorizo. Cook the sausage until it starts to get a bit crispy and has released much of it's orange coloured fat. Add in the shallot and cook for a minute before adding the garlic and give it about 45 seconds before throwing in the rice. Stir the rice well to make sure it's completely coated in the orange fat from the Chorizo and continue to stir, toasting the rice for about 3 minutes.

Pour in the wine and continue to stir until it's mostly absorbed (2-3 minutes) and then add in the chicken stock and the smoked paprika, stir well, lock the lid on and program the cooker for 5 minutes at High Pressure.

When the time is up, release the pressure and when you open the pot up, it will look quite soupy. Hit cancel and then press the saute button again and let it come to a simmer. At this point, keep stirring it for another 3-5 minutes, until it has absorbed much of the liquid and is now just creamy.

Remove the pot from the machine and stir in the grated cheese and put aside until it's time to fill the persimmons. You will probably have a bit leftover but you can either save it to eat later on it's own or heat it up in a small dish along side your stuffed persimmons.


oven cooked rice 

2 tbls Spanish Olive Oil
100g of Spanish Chorizo, chopped
2 shallots, sliced thinly
1 clove garlic, sliced thinly
1 cup of Spanish rice
1/3 cup of Spanish red wine
2 1/4 cups of chicken stock
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
150 g Piquillo Peppers

Heat oven to 375F

In either an oven proof dutch oven or a deep pan, heat the olive oil and fry the chorizo  until it starts to look crispy and releases much of it's orange coloured fat. Add in the shallot and cook for a minute before adding the garlic. Cook the garlic for about 45 seconds before throwing in the rice, stir the rice and make sure it's completely coated in the fat and then pour in the wine and stir for 2-3 minutes, until most of the wine has been absorbed. Add in the chicken stock and smoked paprika and bring to a boil. If using an oven proof casserole or dutch oven, cover tightly and pop in the oven.

If using a pan, transfer the rice and all of the drippings etc from the pan into a casserole dish and cover with a tight fitting lid or foil.

Bake for about 25 minutes, remove from the oven and stir in the chopped peppers and grated cheese and set aside until ready to use.

If you have made the rice ahead of time, take it out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature before filling the persimmons.

** Persimon® Black Pepper Gastrique

1/2 cup sugar
2 tbls water
1/2 cup Spanish White Balsamic
1 tbls red wine
15 grinds of black pepper
1 cup chopped Persimon® (from the insides of the fruit that you hollowed out earlier)

Put the sugar and 2 tbls of water in a heavy pan over med high heat until the sugar has dissolved and continue to cook, swirling the pot, until it reaches an nice, dark golden colour - about 5-7 minutes. Swirl the pan as opposed to stirring it to prevent the sugar from crystallizing and to ensure it cooks evenly.

When it's a nice, dark amber add the vinegar in all at once and continue to swirl the pot until the sauce turns to liquid again which will take about 3 minutes. Add in the red wine, cook down for another 2 or 3 minutes before adding in the chopped fruit and the black pepper. Continue to cook for a few more minutes so that the fruit can soften and the finished sauce will be the consistency of maple syrup. 
Put aside, off the heat until needed and then you can just warm it up again.

Pressure Cooker Lahmajoun Beef Stew

First of all, I want to make it clear that this is NOT a magic, super fast pressure cooker stew recipe but it is still easier and quicker than doing it on the stove and the flavour is more intense so the extra steps are worth it.

One the issues faced with making beef or pork stews in my Instant Pot is the disparity in cooking time for the meat vs the vegetables. I find that most stews leave me with vegetables that are about to disintegrate by the time the meat is cooked to perfection. To avoid this, many recipes will tell you to keep the vegetables almost whole to avoid this but I also don't want a bowl of stew with giant chunks of carrot and potato either.

 When it doubt, I turn to Serious Eats to see how they deal with the dilemma. I like to call it WWKD (what would Kenji do?)

I adapted his method to my recipe and it works beautifully but if you really insist on making it even easier,  you don't have to brown the cut up vegetables. You can always just throw in the bowl of chopped parsnip, carrot, potato, sweet potato and pearl onion completely raw after the initial cooking period. Browning them first just adds another layer of flavour but it will still only be a tiny bit less delicious if you skip that step.

So, as I always assure you, I only share products with you that I either already use myself or that I try out and love.  I am not here to shill stuff I wouldn't use in my own kitchen and I have already been using Saha Jerk Marinade for the last year. I am very picky about what pre made pastes and marinades that I use and I look for products with little or no chemicals or preservatives as well as great flavour. If that product is also made locally, I am over the moon and Saha is a Toronto company so it's a win, for me, on all levels. When they offered up the chance to try some new products along with different wines to pair each one with and get my thoughts, I gave an enthusiastic YES. They want to encourage the pairing of New World wines with their international, "street food" flavours, which I always find intriguing.

So, this is the first pairing - Lahmajoun with Fleur Du Cap Cabernet Sauvignon from New Zealand.
If I am going to pair the wine with a stew, I am going to throw some IN the stew as well and we were all quite pleased with the results. I am not sure I would have thought to pair a Cabernet with lahmajoun  sauce but it works. The marinade gave my regular stew a nice, new boost with a slightly acidic flavour that I really liked.

Lahmajoun is a Turkish flatbread that's prepared with a highly seasoned tomato sauce, minced meat, some vegetables and baked - kind of like a Turkish pizza. I would normally drink a cold beer with these flavours but the wine was great, much to my surprise.

I have three more bottles of wine and three more sauces that I am going to try out over the next month or so and will report back as I go.

I was not paid for this post but I did receive a gift box of product to try out and, if I liked it, to share with my readers. My opinions are very much my own

Lahmajoun Beef Stew

serves 3-4

2-3 tbls olive oil
600g stewing beef
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup Saha Lahmajoun Marinade
2 parsnips ( 1 left whole, one chopped into large, bite sized chunks)
2 carrots ( 1 left whole, one chopped into large, bite sized chunks)
2 celery stalks ( 1 left whole, the other chopped roughly)
1 onion, peeled and cut in half
approx 125g of pearl onions, peeled and left whole
1 yukon gold potato, cut in large bite sized pieces
1 small sweet potato, peeled and cut in large bite sized pieces
1 clove garlic
1/2 cup red wine (Fleur Du Cap Cabernet Sauvignon 2014)
1.5 cups chicken stock
1 bay leaf
3 or 4 sprigs of fresh thyme

*optional: mix 1 tbls of flour into 2 or 3 tbls of water or chicken stock to make a slurry that you will add after it's done cooking to thicken the stew up if desired.

Hit the "saute" button on your pressure cooker and when it says "hot" add the oil. Hit the beef with a good size pinch of kosher salt and a few grinds of black pepper and start to brown the meat, in batches, removing each batch to a bowl until it's all done. Don't crowd the pot or the meat steams instead of browns.

When all of the meat is seared, toss it with 1/4 cup of Lahmajoun Marinade and set aside.

Add another tbls of oil to the pot and saute the chopped carrot, parsnip, celery and pearl onion until they start to take on a bit of colour, season with a pinch of kosher salt and then remove to a bowl.

Pour the red wine into the pot and scrape up all the fond on the bottom and then let it simmer until it reduces by about a third, about 3 or 4 minutes. Now add in the chicken stock, the whole carrot, parsnip, celery, garlic and the two onion halves, the reserved stewing beef with any juices and the second 1/4 cup of Lahmajoun, lock in the lid and program for 20 minutes at HP or just hit the stew button if you like.

When the time is up, release the pressure, open the lid, remove the whole veg, thyme and bay leaves with tongs and discard. Add in the reserved, chopped vegetables, the potato and sweet potato, lock the lid on and program another 10 minutes at HP.

Give it about 5 minutes NPR, release the rest of the pressure.

*If you want it to be a bit thicker, add in the flour slurry, stir well, put the lid back on and let it sit for another 5 minutes before serving

Pressure Cooker Chicken Congee (Gai Jook) - Winter is Coming

So, what is congee, you might ask? It sounds exotic but it's really just a nice, soupy, savoury rice porridge that is the perfect remedy for frigid winter mornings. Even though we go for dim sum regularly, we don't usually order this because it's really filling and it cuts down on the amount of dumplings I can scarf so it's something I save for home, but, pre , I didn't make this as often as I would have liked. Since my wizard pot truly lets me set it and forget it, I plan to make a batch of this every weekend over the winter. I am NOT a sweet breakfast girl but any porridge that lets me garnish it with crispy pork, chilis and other savoury treats is the food of my cold, dark heart.

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