Here are a couple of really terrific recipes from Midwestern restaurants that are perfect eating this time of year--no matter where you are.
The first is a pudding made with persimmons from Topolobampo, Rick and Deann Bayless' new restaurant, adjoining their informal Frontera Grill in Chicago.
Though these restaurants are celebrated for their regional and contemporary Mexican cooking, many of Rick's desserts derive inspiration from the South. This one is an old-fashioned creamy persimmon pudding; at Topolobampo, the pudding is served with persimmon ice cream, but it is wonderful served with cinnamon whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
The second recipe is from Tim Anderson, executive chef of Goodfellow's Restaurant in Minneapolis. Word has it that when he served lunch to Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and his wife, Raisa, they cleaned their plates. The menu was pecan-breaded walleye with artichokes; smoked tomatoes and local garden greens; veal medallions with Minnesota morel sauce; for dessert, minted sweet biscuits with berries, cream and caramel. This Wild Rice-Corn Compote was served with the veal.
TOPOLOBAMPO'S PERSIMMON PUDDING
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup persimmon pulp
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/3 cup milk
1/2 cup chopped pecans
Whipped cream, slightly sweetened and flavored with cinnamon or vanilla ice cream
Have ready shallow baking pan large enough to hold 4 souffle dishes. Bring kettle of water to boil.
Combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, salt, baking soda and baking powder in bowl. Stir well.
Combine persimmon pulp, egg, egg yolks, whipping cream and milk in 1-quart bowl. Whisk until smooth and flowing. Stir in dry ingredients until smooth.
Divide mixture into 4 greased (6-ounce) souffle dishes. Top with pecans, dividing evenly. Place souffle dishes in large shallow baking pan. Place pan oven rack in center of oven. Place pan near edge of oven rack and pour boiling water into pan to reach halfway up sides of dishes. Bake at 275 degrees until pudding has risen and wood pick inserted in center comes out moist but not wet, about 40 minutes (surface will be slightly cracked).
Remove dishes from water bath and cool on rack. Serve just barely warm with cinnamon-flavored whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. Makes 4 servings.
Note: Pudding can be made day ahead and slightly reheated in 275-degree oven 8 minutes or in 650-watt microwave oven at medium (50% power) 2 minutes.
GOODFELLOW'S WILD RICE-CORN COMPOTE
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups cooked wild rice (1/2 cup uncooked)
1/4 cup diced hickory smoked ham
1/4 cup hulled sugar snap peas
1 large ear corn, roasted on barbecue in husk, corn cut off cob (or 1/3 cup cooked corn)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
Freshly ground pepper
Heat butter in large skillet. Add wild rice, ham, snap peas and corn. Cook over medium-high heat until hot, about 2 minutes. Add soy sauce and season to taste with pepper. Stir well. Serve hot. Makes about 3 cups, or 3 to 4 servings.