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Thousand Oaks

Now You’re Cooking: Yummy Recipes for the Holidays

If you’ve never had a persimmon before, you’re in for a treat! Their texture is somewhere between a peach and an apple, and the flavor might be described as honey-sweet. Persimmons are native to Asia and in-season in the U.S. from October through February. Look for the tomato-shaped Fuyu variety, which can be eaten while still firm or just soft to the touch.

This colorful salad combines all the best produce that fall and winter have to offer. Spicy baby arugula and kale, sweet persimmons and pear, Honeycrisp apple, juicy pomegranate, creamy goat cheese and spiced nuts, all dressed up in a fresh orange vinaigrette. It’s an effortless, light wintertime dish that strikes a perfect balance of creamy, crunchy, citrusy and savory.

I’ve included a recipe for spiced nuts (that don’t get sticky!), as they are the perfect addition to this salad. They will also make a great accompaniment to your holiday charcuterie board and can be packaged as gifts.

Persimmon Salad with Spiced Nuts

(Makes about 8 side-dish servings)

5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons champagne or apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot

Finely grated zest and juice from one medium orange (about 1 teaspoon zest and 1/3 cup juice)

1 tablespoon raw honey or pure maple syrup

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

¼ teaspoon each kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Pinch cayenne pepper or crushed red pepper

1 pound (about 3 medium) firm-ripe Fuyu persimmons

1 large ripe D’Anjou, Asian or Bosc pear

1 Honeycrisp apple

8 to 10 cups mixed greens (such as wild organic arugula and baby kale), washed well and dried

½  to ¾ cup spiced nuts (recipe below)

½ cup pomegranate arils

½ cup crumbled goat cheese

Combine olive oil, vinegar, shallot, orange zest, orange juice, honey, Dijon mustard, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper in a mason jar; seal the lid and shake well until emulsified.

Trim persimmon tops and ends. Peel if desired. Halve and cut persimmons into ¼-inch slices. Place in a large serving bowl. Slice the pears and apples into wedges; add to the bowl with persimmons. Add greens and vinaigrette and toss gently to coat. Top with spiced nuts, pomegranate arils and goat cheese. Serve immediately.

For Spiced Nuts (this recipe makes more than the salad needs): Beat 1 large egg white with 1 tablespoon of water in a large bowl. Add 1 pound of walnuts, pecans or nut of choice, and stir to coat. Add 1/3 cup granulated sugar, 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon and ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper and stir to coat nuts. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet arranged in a single layer. Bake at 300 degrees Fahrenheit for 40 to 45 minutes or until dried out. Cool completely. Break into pieces. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.

Tart cranberries and sweet orange – oh, what a marriage of favors! The bright orange flavor pairs perfectly with fresh cranberries to make a festive dessert that looks stunning with very little effort.

Bundt cakes are so elegant and deceptively easy to make. You mix simple ingredients together and throw them in a fluted pan, and the delicious result far exceeds what you could expect for the amount of effort required. This moist, tangy orange cranberry cake with a sweet buttermilk orange glaze is no exception. Perfect for holiday entertaining, a casual morning get-together or an elegant brunch!

Tip: Don’t skip the “optional” Sugared Cranberries. In fact, I’d recommend doubling or tripling the recipe. They are a welcome addition to holiday charcuterie boards and can also be packaged up as gifts, just like the spiced nuts.

Cranberry Orange Bundt Cake

(Makes 12 to 14 servings)

CAKE

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon fine sea salt

½ teaspoon baking soda

2 cups granulated sugar

1 to 2 tablespoons finely grated orange zest plus ¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice

1 cup (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter

3 large eggs plus one large egg yolk

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 cup buttermilk at room temperature

1 ½ cups fresh cranberries, coarsely chopped

SUGARED CRANBERRIES (optional)

2 tablespoons water

6 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided use

½ cup fresh cranberries

BUTTERMILK ORANGE GLAZE

1 cup powdered sugar

½ teaspoon finely grated orange zest

Pinch of fine sea salt

1 ½ to 2 tablespoons buttermilk, whipping cream or milk

FOR CAKE: Place the oven rack in the lower-third position of the oven. Preheat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray a 10- to 12-cup Bundt pan generously with nonstick cooking spray.

Combine flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda in a medium bowl; stir well. Set aside 1 tablespoon of this mixture to mix with the cranberries.

Place sugar and orange peel in a large mixer bowl and beat at medium speed for a couple of minutes to infuse the sugar. Add butter and beat for 3 to 5 minutes or until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Beat in eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in egg yolk and vanilla extract.

Combine orange juice with buttermilk. Turn mixer to low and beat in flour mixture in three additions, alternating with buttermilk mixture (beginning and ending with flour mixture) just until combined.

Combine the reserved flour mixture with the cranberries; fold into batter. Spoon batter into the prepared Bundt pan. Shake the pan or tap it firmly on the counter several times to release any air bubbles and help the batter settle.

Bake for 50 to 55 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the cake comes out clean. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Carefully invert onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

FOR SUGARED CRANBERRIES: Place a wire rack over a parchment-lined baking sheet. Combine water and 2 tablespoons sugar in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring or swirling the pan until sugar is dissolved. Once to a gentle boil, add cranberries and stir or swirl the pan to coat. Remove from heat. Transfer to the wire rack using a slotted spoon. Allow to dry for 1 hour, then roll in the remaining 4 tablespoons of granulated sugar. Transfer to a clean baking sheet (discarding excess sugar) and dry for an additional hour before using as garnish.

FOR GLAZE: Sift the powdered sugar into a medium bowl. Add orange zest and salt. Whisk in buttermilk to make a soft glaze. Place the cake on a serving plate; drizzle with the glaze. Top with sugared cranberries. Store leftover cake in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Wishing you a very happy and delicious holiday season with your loved ones!

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