Saturday, December 08, 2007

Persimmon Date Medley Creation

There are a couple persimmon trees around my campus. In early fall there's a downpour of these squishy orange fruits that floods the ground and tempts any sweet-toothed passerby. By halloween there's enough of this nature candy lying around to satisfy any (health-conscious) tricker-treater. I've discovered several things to do with the fruit. Here's one creation that makes for a richly-flavored dessert. If you don't have persimmons, you might try using mango instead.

Persimmon Date Medley Creation:

1 cup of persimmons, washed and skinned
1/2 cup dates, pitted
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
Juice and zest of 1 lime
1 Tablespoon Maple syrup
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Mix everything together, and that's it!


Jewish holidays, distinctly food-centered by nature,  can present a culinary challenge for vegans. Thankfully, most staple holiday treats, if they're not already vegan, lend themselves well to "veganization." Latkes, the greasy potato pancakes of Hanukkah, traditionally stuck together by eggs, are no exception. In the past I have used brand name egg replacer, the stuff you'll find in powder form which is usually a mix of potato and tapioca starch. I have found these to yield inconsistent results; besides, something about adding potato starch to potatoes seems oddly redundant. 

But this year I tried something new: quick oats. My initial skepticism eased when I saw the batter and was all but wiped away when I tasted the final results. The greasy creations were well-liked, comments ranged from that they tasted the exact same as regular latkes to that the vegan ones were actually better; some noted a "wholer, healthier taste." I would say that if there's any difference, and there really isn't much, the quick-oat ones are slightly denser. 

I look forward to the day when vegan latke recipes are printed on the box of Quaker Oats. Until then, I'll share the recipe I used, slightly modified from Nava Atlas's original.  The recipe calls for grating all the potatoes, but if you have a food processor you can puree them instead. For an ideal balance though, you might try grating half and pureeing the rest. 

Latkes (makes about 3 dozen)

2/3 cup quick oats
6 large potatoes, peeled & finely grated 
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup flour (or mazo meal, or bread crumbs)
salt & pepper to taste
vegetable oil

In a heatproof bowl, combine the oats with 1 1/3 cup boiling water. Stir and set aside. In a separate bowl, combine the grated potato, onion, and flour. Stir in the oats (which by now should be a thick, gooey oatmeal) and add desired salt and pepper.

Heat just enough oil to coat the bottom of a large, nonstick skillet or griddle. Drop enough batter to form 3 inch pancakes. Fry on both sides over medium heat until golden brown and crisp. Drain on paper towel. 

Serve with applesauce