Posts Tagged ‘dates’
Most of my family gathered a few weekends ago to say goodbye to my brother before he went back to college. I had been itching to try this recipe and thought a night with family might be a good excuse for chocolate cake…not that chocolate cakes needs an excuse.
I called my mom to chat before we drove over to my parents’ house. I was all, “what are you up to, mom?” And she said, “baking a cake for tonight.” Doh. “Really….what kind?” “Chocolate!” Yep, we both made chocolate cakes on the same day for the same 8 people to eat. I knew right away that I was in trouble. My mom has never been known for healthy cooking, so if she was making a chocolate cake it was gonna be damn good! Who would want to eat my psuedo healthy cake when they could have a slab of hers? Plus, when we got there I noticed she had covered the chocolate cake in a layer of “Little Fudge.” This stuff is legendary in my house. My mom will not tell us how to make it, and we used to beg her for it as kids (and adults). Anything covered in Little Fudge is going to be the bomb!
After dinner we all took a sliver of each cake and dove in to dessert. Imagine my surprise when everyone told me how much they enjoyed my cake. Oh, and my family is not one of those “let’s all be nice” kinda families. We are sarcastic and honest. If the cake wasn’t good, they would have let me know! I couldn’t get over how moist and flavorful the cake was. It did look lonely since it wasn’t topped with little fudge, so I think next time I’ll serve it with whipped cream, but I was impressed with the cake on its own. I will definitely be making this one again.
Chocolate Espresso Spelt Cake
Adapted from Gourment, October 2005
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened, plus additional for pan
3/4 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder plus additional for dusting pan and cake
1 cup boiling-hot water
1 1/2 tablespoons instant-espresso powder
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups Medjool dates (10 to 12), pitted and coarsely chopped
2 cups spelt flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup amber agave nectar
2 large eggs
Place oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Using cooking spray or butter, coat a springform pan, then lightly dust with cocoa powder, knocking out excess.
In a medium bowl, stir together boiling water, espresso powder, vanilla, and baking soda. Add dates and mash lightly with a fork. Steep until liquid cools to room temperature, about 10 minutes.
In a large bowl, whisk together spelt flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and agave nectar together until smooth, 3-5 minutes. Add eggs in one at a time, and continue mixing on medium-speed until just combined. Add in date mixture and reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture and continue mixing until just combined.
Pour batter into greased springform pan and smooth top. Bake for 50 minutes to one hour, or until a wooden pick or skewer inserted into center comes out clean. Cool cake in pan on a rack for 5 minutes, then remove side of pan and cool cake on a rack. Serve cake warm or at room temperature. Cake slices may be topped with whipped cream or a dusting of powdered sugar for a little sweetness. Serves 8-12.
Natalie and I made this awesome date sauce the same night we made about a million cookies for our post last week. We had a lot of dates left over from the cookies so we thought this recipe would be a good use of the extra dates. Next time we make 6 dozen cookies we are totally picking up pizza because we pulled this sucker out of the oven about 10:00 that night. Don’t get me wrong it doesn’t take that long to cook but cookies were totally our priority that night. By the time the pork was ready we were STARVING! For those of you that don’t know us very well you never want one of us to be starving much less both of us. We are totally awesome and perfect all the time unless we are starving. Or hot. Or working out. Or tired… Okay so maybe perfect isn’t the best description but awesome totally is! Our hubbies were more than a bit impatient with us because we wouldn’t let them eat any of the cookies while they were waiting for dinner to be finished. They kept wandering over to the kitchen trying to sweet talk us out into a taste test but we were not buying it. They finally caught us having our own teeny tiny taste test so we had to share.
If you have never tasted dates before this is a really great recipe for your first time cooking with them. They give this sauce a really nice flavor and it isn’t too strong or scary. I’m not a huge fan of just plain old dates but if you stuff them with mascarpone or cram them into meat I will melt with happiness!
1 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup thinly sliced shallots
1 tablespoons light brown sugar
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup red wine
1/2 cup coarsely chopped dates
2 1/2 cups home-made chicken stock (low sodium)
1 tablespoon molasses
½ cup walnuts chopped and toasted
Heat the butter in a large skillet and then brown the shallots. Combine all of the other ingredients and bring the sauce to a rapid boil. Once it is boiling reduce the heat so that the sauce is simmering. Reduce the sauce until it is nice and thick. The thickness is pretty much up to you but I like mine pretty thick so I reduce it down pretty much all the way. I love sticky, carmely sauce! You can top this onto any type of meat. I happened to have a pork loin in the fridge so we used that. I think this would be really great over Tilapia or shrimp with a low bed of brown rice. Drool! Season your meat with just salt and pepper and maybe a little garlic. While you are cooking your meat douse it with the slowly reducing sauce everyone in a while to really infuse the flavor. When your meat is finished top it with the sauce and enjoy!
We were recently approached by Oh! Nuts to try out some of their products and feature them in recipes on our blog.* After looking at their website, we couldn’t pass up an opportunity to try some of their great products. Emily and I both love the bulk food aisle at the grocery store, but sometimes the dried fruits and nuts have sat in the bins a little long. It can be a difficult task to cook up fruit that is beyond a little dry! Well, what a nice surprise it was to open up the Oh! Nuts packages and have our nostrils fill with fresh dried fruit and nutty scents. Yum. Thanks Oh! Nuts!!
We received ground hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, and medjool dates from Oh! Nuts. We decided right away that we would make three different kinds of cookies incorporating these great flavors. Emily and I love cooking together and have an amazing flow when we’re in the kitchen. We might make a huge mess, but we always have a great time laughing and tasting our creations. Although I’m sure our husbands would like a little less giggling and little more dinner-making. We didn’t feed them until 9:30 p.m. the night we baked up all these cookies. I guess we’re sort of over-acheivers trying to prepare dinner AND dessert on a work night! Next time we’ll stick to ordering a pizza when we bake.
Hazelnut Meringue Cookies
Adapted from Oregon Hazelnuts
4 eggs whites
2 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups toasted ground hazelnuts
food coloring (whatever color you want!)
Beat the egg whites until white peaks form. The stiffer the peaks are the more fluffy your cookies will be. I recommend using a stand mixer or hand mixer for this or your arm will want to fall off by the time you get those peaks! Very slowly add in the sugar with the mixer still running until all of the sugar has been added. Add in a little bit of food coloring until you achieve the color you are looking for. Fold in the ground hazelnuts until the mixture is even. These cookies will flatten into a puffy circle very easily so don’t worry about getting all fancy with the batter and the pan. Just scoop the batter on to the pan keeping each cookie about 2” apart. They really don’t spread very much so you can put them pretty close together. Bake at 300 degrees for about 20-25 minutes. This recipe make 25-30 cookies.
Macadamia Nut Shortbread
Adapted from Kauai Menu
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups plus 1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cake flour
1 cups macadamia nuts, finely chopped
1/8 cup raw sugar
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl, cream the butter, sugar, vanilla, and salt together until light and fluffy. Add both flours, and beat until smooth. In a shallow dish, stir together macadamia nuts and raw sugar. Using a 1-inch scoop, form dough into balls and roll in macadamia nut mixture. Place 2 inches apart on parchment-lined baking sheets, and flatten slightly with the back of a spatula. Bake for 14 minutes or until golden brown. Makes about 30 cookies.
Coconut Date Cookies
Adapted from Carrots ‘N Cake
This batter is very sticky. It will be too difficult to flatten the cookies before baking, so allow them to cool and then lightly press down to flatten a bit. The inside may be slightly gooey, but they will be delicious all the same.
2 cups pitted dates, roughly chopped
1/2 cup oats
1 cup shredded or flaked coconut (unsweetened)
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 cup milk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until there are no large pieces. Scoop 1-inch balls of dough and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 12-14 minutes. Allow to cool for a few minutes and then using your hands or the back of a spatula press down lightly on cookie to flatten. Makes 2 dozen.
*Full disclosure: we received these products free from Oh! Nuts
If you missed the post about the Sex and the City party and décor, click here.
One of the great things about co-hosting a party is splitting up the work! Emily and I were able to provide a nice variety of appetizers at this party without killing ourselves in the kitchen. And the best part is that most of the food was prepared a day in advance, so on the evening of the party we could focus on plating the dishes and getting ourselves fabulous for the event!
I apologize for not having pictures for each of the recipes, but it was very hard to hold a camera and a cocktail at the same time. One item kept getting sacrificed, and after a while I got tired of putting my drink down. It WAS a party after all!!
I am a huge sucker for tzatziki, but I was always afraid to make it at home because I just knew it would never be restaurant quality. Well, I found this recipe (and the roasted chickpeas recipe) at Kaylyn’s Kitchen and after reading through the method I knew I had found a winner. It was so good that Craig and I practically fought over who would get to lick the spatula when I was finished. I’m pretty sure we can all guess who won that battle!
2 medium cucumbers, peeled and seeded
1 tablespoon sea salt
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh dill, roughly chopped
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3 cups plain Greek yogurt
Slice your peeled and seeded cucumbers, place in a colander, and sprinkle on the salt. Let stand for at least 30 minutes to allow the water to drain from the cucumbers. Pour drained cucumber on a thick paper towel and pat off any extra water.
In a food processor, add the cucumber, garlic, dill, lemon juice, and black pepper. Pulse until ingredients are well chopped and blended. Pour yogurt and cucumber mixture into a medium bowl and stir with a spatula until well combined. Place in the refrigerator for two hours for the flavors to blend. Before serving, drain any extra water that has pooled at the surface and stir well.
Red Pepper & Bulgur Wheat Salad
I’ve become a little obsessed with bulgur wheat lately. It’s so easy to make and tastes wonderful mixed with all types of veggies. This recipe is very similar to how I normally make it; a little citrus dressing and nice cool cucumber. Although this is the first time I’ve added feta cheese to the salad and now I’m a little afraid because I could eat this every day. Hmm…that’s probably a really good idea because it’s way healthier than the other foods I manage to consume.
1 red pepper
1 cup bulgur wheat
4 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons lemon juice (or juice from one large lemon)
2 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped
3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup green onions, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced
4-5 ounces feta cheese
salt & pepper
On a grill pan or griddle, cook the red pepper on medium-high heat, slowly rotating, until charred on all sides. Let cool slightly on a cutting board, paper towel or in a paper bag. Remove and discard the skin and seeds. Dice remaining pepper. In a medium pot, bring two cups of water to boil. Add bulgur to boiling water and immediately remove from heat. Cover pot with a lid and allow bulgur to absorb remaining water, approximately 15 minutes.
In a mixing bowl or measuring cup, whisk together oil, lemon juice, and a few dashes of salt and pepper. Pour dressing over the bulgur, add the mint and cilantro, and mix well. Add in the red pepper, onion, garlic, cucumber, and feta, and stir until combined. Cover dish and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Like kale chips, roasted chickpeas are becoming a popular healthy snack. And if you soak your own beans this is a really inexpensive treat. On my first bite I felt the taste was sort of just okay, but then I found myself grabbing a few more and then a few more out of the bowl. The crunchy spiciness kept calling me back. Yes, roasted chickpeas are one of those addicting little snacks. Oh, and if you store them in a plastic bag and find that they have gone a little soft by the next day, just pop them back in the oven for a few minutes to crisp up.
2-3 cups cooked or canned chickpeas
1 tablespoon olive oil
1-2 tablespoons spice mix
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Heat oven to 350 degrees. If using canned chickpeas, make sure to rinse thoroughly in water, allow to drain, and pat dry with a paper towel.
Mix all spices together in a small bowl. In a medium bowl, toss chickpeas with olive oil. Add spices and stir to fully coat. Reserve remaining spices in a glass jar to use again. Arrange chickpeas in a single layer on a baking sheet, give them a light salting, and roast for 40-50 minutes. The chickpeas will be browned and crispy. Happy snacking!
I always feel it’s important to serve a little protein at a party. Your guests are enjoying nice strong cocktails and probably need a little something substantial in their bellies. These meatballs definitely did the trick for us. The red chili pepper gave them a great kick and once dipped in the tzatziki, the cool cumber added a another layer to the flavors.
1 pound ground lamb
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 red chili pepper, deseeded & finely chopped (or jalapeño)
1 teaspoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon fresh mint, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped
Add all ingredients together in a large bowl, and using your hands, mix until fully incorporated. Using a cookie scoop or spoon, scoop out and roll mixture into balls. Place each meatball on a baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees for about 15 minutes.
Mascarpone Stuffed Dates
Food & Wine, August 2008
Okay, we all love cupcakes. I can’t deny it. I could eat them every day. BUT, Em and I felt like we needed something different for dessert. You just can’t serve cupcakes at a Middle Eastern inspired party. McDonald’s maybe (that’s for you Greg), but not cupcakes! I was actually a little leery of serving these at the party. You never know who is going to try new foods and who is going to turn up their nose. Well, no one was afraid of this dessert! Every time I looked back at the table another one had disappeared. I’m sorry I didn’t get pictures of the dates because they turned out very pretty…well, once we dusted on the cocoa. If you’ve never deliberately eaten dates or mascarpone, don’t be afraid. Give this recipe a try and you will not be disappointed. Cross my heart.
16 Medjool dates
1/2 mascarpone cheese
2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
Make a lengthwise slit in each date and carefully remove the pit. In a small mixing bowl, stir together the mascarpone cheese and sugar until creamy. Spoon the mascarpone into the dates, place them on a plate or serving dish, and dust with cocoa powder.
Stay tuned for tomorrow because Emily is going to post her fabulous recipes from the party!!