Nancie McDermott: The Super Highway of Food

A photo with Nancie McDermott at IACP Conference 2016

Nancie McDermott takes us on a delicious journey on the super highway of food.  Her travels in Asia and her childhood in the South bring a bountiful harvest of flavors to the table.  Nancie is a dear friend and has helped guide me on my culinary journey.  In fact, I featured her recipe for Avocado Shake on a segment for WSIL.

Nancie McDermott sees sharing recipes and meals as a way to bring everyone from all cultures and cuisines together in our kitchens.Nancie also provides some great ingredients for the varieties of Brunswick Stew.  Her most recent book, Fruit, features twelve types of fruit in the South along with stories and recipes.

Enjoy Nancie McDermott’s tips for preparing Peaches, Pawpaws and Persimmons.

1)How to Peel Fresh Peaches. Blanching peaches and tomatoes makes it easy to peel them without sacrificing any of the deliciousness beneath the peeling.  To blanch peaches, bring a medium saucepan of water to a rolling boil over high heat.  Meanwhile, place a medium bowl filled with cold water next to the stove, along with a large heatproof slotted for transferring the peaches.  When the water is boiling wildly, gently lower two peaches into the water and let them cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute.  Scoops them out and into the cold water  Continue until all the peaches have been briefly cooked in this way.  Using a sharp paring knife, start at the stem end of a peach and gently slice into it just enough to lift up the peel.  Pull it away from the fruit following the curve of the peach and discard the peeling.  Continue until the peach is peeled completely.  Continue with the remaining peaches.

2) How to Prepare Pawpaws for Eating, Cooking, and Storing.  To prepare puree, cut a pawpaw in half lengthwise.  Gently twist the fruit apart as you would an avocado, moving the halves in opposite directions.  Use a large spoon to scoop the pawpaw pulp out into a medium bowl.  Remove the big shiny seeds.  For pure, transfer to a blender or food processor, or mash the fruit with a potato masher.  Use in recipes as you would use pumpkin, applesauce or mashed bananas.  To store or freeze, transfer the soft, seeded pawpaw pulp to a container.  Press plastic or waxed paper on the surface to keep air away from the fruit.  Store in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days, or freeze for up to 6 months.

3) How to Prepare Domestic Persimmons. Two types of persimmons are widely available in supermarkets and often in farmers markets as well as during their late fall through early winter season.  They are Fuyu persimmon which resembles a plump, petite tomato, and the Hachiya persimmon, which has a broad rounded top and pointed tip.  Both belong to the botanical family Diospyros kaki, and are among the more than 200 species of domesticated persimmons.  Fugues are quite firm, even when ripe, making them easy to slice for eating and for inclusion in salads.  To prepare fufu persimmons for use in recipes, use a paring knife to cut out the stem portion, and then peel each fruit using a vegetable peeler or paring knife.  To make wedges, cut lengthwise into quarters or sixths.  To make persimmon puree, hale them crosswise and remove any seeds.  Chop the seeded fruit into large chunks and puree in a blender or food processor.  The larger and more delicate hachiyas soften as they ripen.  Once ripe, their texture is like an overripe mango, too moist to chop or slice.  For these luscious fruits, halve them lengthwise and scoop their pulp into a bowl using a large spoon, extracting and discarding any seeds and discarding them with the hollowed-out peels.  To prepare hachiya persimmons, cute them in half lengthwise and scoop the puree out into a bowl, and then discard the skin.  REmoe any seeds, and then use as needed.  Unlike its cousin the fufu persimmon, it may not need to be pureed.  If you want a very fine smooth texture, press the rip soft persimmon pulp through a fine mesh strainer.  Puree from both fufu and hachiya persimmons puree can be kept covered and refrigerated for 2 to 3 days.  Packed in an airtight container or freezer bag, it freezes well for six months.
Nancie McDermott so graciously shared a special story and recipe from her book Fruit.

Bill Smith’s Persimmon Pound Cake

My friend Bill Smith loves the old-time pleasures of classic recipes but he never gets stuck in the food museum, worshipping the past.  His sense of culinary possibilities delights the regulars at Crook’s Corner in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, from his green Tabasco chicken and cheese pork to chestnut pudding and his springtime inspiration, Honeysuckle Sorbet.  he goes through tons of traditional persimmon pudding doing the fall and winter, but keeps it interesting  by playing with non-traditional ways to enjoy the wild fruit.  I adore his persimmon pound cake, which bakes up with a sweet, toothsome crust and a dense, moist crumb.

Makes 1 pound cake or bundt cake

3 1/4 cups of all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon grated nutmet

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup buttermilk

1 teaspoon pur vanilla extract

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

1 cup granulated sugar

4 large eggs

1 cup persimmon puree

1/2 cup buttermilk

Generously grease a 10-inch tube pan or bundt pan, using butter, shortening, or vegetable oil  Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, baking soda, and salt.  Using a whisk or a fork, stir to mix everything together evenly and well.  Combine the buttermilk and vanilla extract in a small bowl and stir well.  Set these two mixtures aside while you prepare the butter.

Using an electric mixer, beat the softened butter at medium speed until light and fluffy.  Add the granulated sugar and the brown sugar and beat at high speed, stopping often to scrape the bowl and combine the ingredients evenly and well.  Add the eggs, one by one, beating well after each addition. Add the persimmon puree and beat at low speed to incorporate the persimmon puree into the butter mixture.

Add half the flour mixture to the persimmon batter, and use a large spoon or whisk to incorporate the flour.  Stop as soon as most of the flour disappears into the moist batter.  Add half the buttermilk and stir well. Then repeat with the remaining flour and then the remaining buttermilk, stirring and scraping gently, just enough to bring everything together into a smooth, evenly combined, thick autumnal-orange colored battle.  Don’t overmix the batter.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and place it in the 350 degree oven.  Bake until the cake rises, becomes firm and dry, and just begins to pull away from the sides of the pan, 50-60 minutes.  The cake should feel springy to the touch and a knife blade or skewer inserted into the center of th cake should come out clean.

Place the cake on a wire cooking rack or a folded kitchen towel, and let cool to room temperature.  Serve at room temperature, accompanied if you wish by vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

What is your favorite fruit?

Savor the day!



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