Food and Flowers: Early Fall Virginia Persimmons and First Frost Flowers from the Garden
A MONTHLY FEATURE SHOWCASING SEASONAL FLOWERS AND PRODUCE AS WE FIND THEM (TOTALLY IMPROMPTU) GROWING AT HOPE FLOWER FARM AND AT FARMERS MARKETS IN VIRGINIA. FOOD IN FLOWERS AND EDIBLE FLOWERS IN FOOD WITH FORAL DESIGNER HOLLY CHAPPLE AND... US!
If all this glorious fall orange doesn't get you ready for November, I'm not sure what will! For our food and flowers content at the tail end of October we rushed over to Holly's to raid her persimmon tree and see her make something beautiful with the last of the garden flowers before Virginia's first frost. We also thought you might be feeling a bit in a tizzy with your fall schedule, so this persimmon part one base, but two ways for toppings: dessert or side dish appetizer savory.
I think it's interesting that as a culture we've seemed to rush the start of holidays more and more. The day after New Years it's Valentine's Day. The day after Halloween it's Christmas. I kid you not, the week of Halloween I saw several Christmas ads. In the words of SNL's Mr. Senior... "too soon!". But why the rush? Why pine for a season that will get here when it gets here? Why do you need the Starbucks PSL in August when you could be savoring peak peaches and tomatoes and corn and going to the pool? Doing the things you simply can't do in October? For me, I hate to miss the best of the season. I'd rather be in the here and now which is easier said than done.
When Holly and I were on the phone thinking about what her farm was producing for this month, we knew we had to use the robust production of persimmons she had happening on her tree. We also thought maybe we'd take the styling a bit darker and moodier for fall. But you know what? Nature still had beautiful light dahlias and zinnias and it's a damn shame not to appreciate them. So we let Virginia's weather do her thing and were thankful for what the garden produced. It's not like we had any reason to worry. Holly gathered and harvested from the farm and the color palate came together perfectly. And when I saw harvested, I mean we were 100% stopped on the side of the road grabbing bittersweet (the red berried vine) while other cars passed us.
As persnickety as the weather is here we knew for certain it was the evening of the first frost (and when we woke up to 33 degrees that morning and the yard looking like it was brushed with a slight desaturation in photo editing). But the frost kind of got us thinking...we should make frost parties a thing. A frost fête? Where everyone comes over to help harvest the last bits of the garden and make something amazing with what you've got to work with. Like a nature potluck.
For the persimmon tart I will be forthright and tell you two things. First, this pie crust has a lot of wait time but it is worth it. The end result is the flakiest layers and perfect taste (seriously I hate pie crust and usually leave it on my plate, but I sought it out here). ChefSteps, where the recipe is from, knows what's happening here. So give yourself time. Prep the dough in advance. The second thing is that you absolutely do not have to slice your persimmons like I did. This takes a lot of time, but I find it weirdly meditative and enjoyable if I'm not rushing myself. So you do you. If you want to maybe cut rounds, that's absolutely fine.
One Persimmon Tart Two Ways: Dessert and Savory Main Dish
- 7-9 fuyu persimmons ( do NOT use Hachiya persimmons) , sliced into 1/6 ish inch thick half moons
- 1/3 cup apricot preserves, heated
- 4 T sugar, 2 teaspoon lemon zest
Crust (via Chef Steps):
Access recipe for pie crust here. Make the morning of or night before.
Prepare pie crust. Roll into rectangle and place on a baking mat. Brush on apricot preserves, leaving a 1/2 inch of crust exposed on all sides. Toss persimmons in lemon zest and sugar. Place in rows on tart. Fold tart crust up and in corners. Bake at 450 F in the middle rack of the oven for 20 minutes. Turn down to 375 and bake for an additional 15 minutes until pie crust is browned.
To make sweet and savory versions, with toppings, see below:
- oatmeal ice cream (get our recipe here)
- freshly grated ginger
- chopped hazelnuts
- cubed avocado
- goat cheese balls with lemon zest and black pepper
- minced serrano pepper
- arugula, frisee or watercress
- lemon juice (squeezed over top)
- chopped pork (not shown)
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