I've grown more than a little addicted to the phyllo flat bread concept through these Forth gatherings. It is relatively easy to prepare, lovely to look at, and always such a delight to the palate. The phyllo, with its delicate flake, is the perfect canvas to showcase the seasons best and brightest. It's hard to think of preparing a savory menu without this staple inclusion.
When planning the menus for our seasonal salons, we are always inspired to play with flavor pairings, but without overlapping ingredients or reusing themes from previous seasons. So creating a flatbread for the winter festivities was a bit of a challenge. Root vegetables are the obvious choice, but carrots were taken, we'd already done a tart with beets, and potatoes seem too provincial for a holiday cocktail party. There was an option for savory fruits, but pumpkin was a feature at the autumn salon, and other menu items had their dibs on pear. What's a girl to do?
Why, the mighty persimmon comes to mind!
On that note, did you know there are two very different types of persimmons? The fuyu, rounded and bright orange when ripe, is a delight in all forms--eat it out of hand just like a pear, when the flesh is a touch softer than firm. Roasted it's a lovely addition to a pilaf or canapé. Bake it into cakes and breads for a subtly sweet flavor. With the fuyu's delicate flavor, you can't go wrong.
The hachiya persimmon, however, well that is a different animal. The hachiya, elongated and deep orange to red, is nearly inedible from its bitterness until it has been allowed to ripen to a nearly liquified pulp. It is very rarely eaten raw, and is best for adding to baked good. I've read that you can remove the bitterness by freezing the fruit for 24 hours, but that attempting to roast the fruit will only enhance the intensity. Duly noted.
Let me just say that 11pm on the night before the fruit is meant to be served is not the ideal time to realize this difference. Knowing what you're getting before heading into this recipe will save you much time, money and lost sleep.
PHYLLO FLAT BREAD TOPPED WITH ROASTED FUYU PERSIMMON, CRISPY SAGE, AND POMEGRANITE
- 1 package thick (country style) phyllo dough
- 5 ripe fuyu persimmons, cored, and sliced into quarter-rounds (no peeling necessary)
- large handful of sage leaves, washed & stems trimmed
- 1 pomegranate, seeds reserved
- 2 Tbs. high quality butter (Plugra or the like)
- 3 Tbs. olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- salt & pepper to taste
- 1 small log of soft goat cheese
- 8 oz ricotta
- 1 egg
- generous handful of parsley, chopped fine
Melt butter over medium heat in heavy skillet until fragrant & beginning to brown. Add olive oil to prevent butter from burning. Add sage leaves and cook until crispy, 2 - 3 minutes. remove sage leaves to a paper towel with slotted spoon, and cool.
Preheat oven to 350º. Mix together ricotta, parsley, and egg in a small bowl. Line a large baking tray with parchment, and unroll the phyllo dough onto a flat surface. Carefully place one sheet of phyllo on the parchment and brush with olive oil, repeat with a second layer. Top phyllo with a layer of ricotta & parsley. Repeat with 2 layers of phyllo & one layer of cheese until all phyllo is used. Keep a damp towel over the unused phyllo stack to prevent tearing.
Brush the top layer of phyllo with olive oil & top with the persimmon wedges and sage leaves. Season with salt & pepper to taste. Drizzle with olive oil, and bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes, or until phyllo is golden brown and the persimmon is soft. Crumble goat cheese atop the flat bread & sprinkle with pomegranate seeds. Remove the parchment & flat bread to a cutting board & cut diagonally into diamond pieces. Can be served warm, or at room temperature.