Wanna Date?

 

I adore fresh dates and figs. It’s not often you find them in the stores, but they are out during the Holiday season and I take full advantage of them. I am giving you two date recipes that combine a little salt with a little sweet which I think you will agree, go fantastic together. Dates are hard to work with at times, especially when all you can find are the dried dates. This is quickly remedied by soaking them in hot water or apple juice for 30 minutes, draining well and slicing them open for this recipe or when you need to get in and pit them yourself. I urge you to utilize this method, for dried dates are very hard and the chance of your knife slipping and….well, you now.

Smoky Sweet Stuffed Dates with Sugared Cranberries

12 large dates*
6 strips pepper bacon
4 ounces Andouille(or your preference) sausage, cooked
Vermont Sugared Cranberries, recipe below

Slice one side of the dates to open them up, but don’t cut them clear in half, you want one side to remain intact. Slice the sausage thinly and then julienne. Stuff a bit of the sausage into each date. Wrap the date with 1/2 strip of bacon and secure each date with a toothpick.
Heat a skillet over medium heat. Pan fry the dates on each side until the bacon turns slightly blackened, 5-6 minutes total. Make sure you prop each date on all sides to evenly cook. Drain the dates on paper towels before plating with Vermont Sugared Cranberries.

Vermont Sugared Cranberries
The Sugared Cranberries are best prepared the night before or in the morning.
1 cup fresh cranberries
3/4 cup real(if you can get it)maple syrup
1/2 cup sugar
Scant 1/4 teaspoon salt

Place cranberries in a bowl with the maple syrup, stir gently but well. Cover and let sit in refrigerator for 4 hours or overnight. Drain the cranberries very well in a colander. Place the sugar and salt in another bowl and add cranberries, 1/2 cup at a time, and roll until each cranberry is evenly covered. Place on a baking sheet for 1 hour.

* Many times, dates are not pitted. When you cut them open, make sure that the pits are removed or remove them yourself, they pop right out

Citrus Dates with Smoked Ham
This is one of my favorite recipes during the Holidays. The different levels of taste are “curtsying” each other (who remembers the curtsy?) with an even blend of acid, tart and just plain good taste.

12 large dates*
6  slices smoked ham or prosciutto
3 ounces Brie cheese, softened
1 teaspoons grated orange zest
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
Pinch of salt

Using a paring knife, slit each date lengthwise on one side only and remove the pit. Cut the ham slices to fit around dates. Combine the Brie cheese, orange and lemon zest and salt in a small bowl. Spoon about 1 teaspoon of the cream cheese mixture into the center of each date and close gently. Wrap each date with a strip of prosciutto, arrange on a serving platter and allow to come to room temperature before serving.

* Many times, dates are not pitted. When you cut them open, make sure that the pits are removed or remove them yourself, they pop right out