A Date with deliciousness!

18 Sep

So, first of all, if you read my last post, you may be wondering what happened at the Tough Guy and Gal event that BFG and I were participating in. I am pleased to say that I got my time down by another FOUR MINUTES! And the BFG? Well, he blew his time out of the water! TEN MINUTES faster than last year, and getting quite close to the times of some of the people who got placings. He came 21st overall, out of 901 finishers. Watch this space for next year’s times!

And now, some if you may recall the strange affair of the Phantom of the Opera… Or my strange affair with dates. No? Oh, well, that’s probably because I haven’t told you about it yet. I never used to like dates, but then I never used to like vegetables either. My parents were really worried when I declared that I was going to be a vegetarian, because they weren’t sure what was left for me to eat. Funny how tastes change. I now LOVE vegetables. In fact, I will eat pretty much anything, except for peanuts and, obviously, meat. But, I used to be very fussy. Not a fan of vegetables, didn’t like nuts, thought Ribena was the devil’s juice. Couldn’t even stand raspberry jam because of all those annoying little seeds. I still sometimes have issues with food texture. My poor parents recall an incident where I was being “forced” to eat – horror of horrors – raspberry jam, on brown bread (!), and drink… Wait for it … Ribena!! I proceeded to bawl and complain and, during this traumatic episode, someone knocked on the door and one of my parents had to answer it while their eldest child sounded like she was being subjected to torture in the background.

But, fortunately, tastes do change. I’ve read that new foods may need to be offered to preschool-aged children five to ten times before acceptance occurs. This continues as we get older. We need repeated exposure to foods and drinks before our taste buds will accept them: hence the expression “it’s an acquired taste”.

So, I never used to like dates and, all of a sudden I do. I guess my taste buds have grown up. I have realised though that there are dates and there are dates. I compared some lovely Persian ones from Iraq with some budget brand ones, as I’ve done this test before with budget versus branded foods and by and large I’ve found that the budget items are just as good, if not better, than the branded ones. However, this is not the case for dates. The budget brand had next to no taste, whereas the dates from Iraq were delicious.  And there was only 40 cents difference in price between the two packets. So, I’ll be buying the “fancy” ones from now on.

The Persian dates were not just delicious; they were caramelly, soft, sweet: nature’s goodness in a wrinkly little package. In short, I have discovered that I am NUTTY about dates!! And so, I decided to try them in a few different recipes.

Before we get to that, though, I wanted to find out more about these tasty little parcels of awesome. According to the Organic Facts web site, dates are a good source of energy, sugar and fibre and contain essential minerals such as calcium, iron, phosphorus, sodium, potassium, magnesium and zinc.  They also contain vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, vitamin A and vitamin K. Wow! All of that in that shrivelled, ugly, DELICIOUS, little thing!

Dates pack a health punch!

Dates pack a health punch!

Dates have been used for thousands of years, in the Middle East and the Indus Valley and fossil records show that the date palm has been around for 50 million years! At least, that’s what Wikipedia says.

So, onto the recipes!

Raw fudge slice

This turned out to be a bit crumbly and sloppy, but delicious all the same! The recipe is from, you guessed it, Chocolate Covered Katie and can be found here. You may remember me mentioning this one in my last post.

Sticky date pudding in a bread maker

I wanted to use our bread maker, firstly, because we hadn’t really used it all that much since we were given it (anybody else got one of these awesome machines that is a wonderful novelty at first, and then gathers dust on your bench or in your cupboard?), and secondly, because I was curious to see how desserts in a bread maker would taste. It was … ok. I would probably make it manually next time. The main problem was that the dates were all steamed away to nothing. It was hard to tell that there were even any dates in there. The pudding itself tasted nice, but was probably a bit overcooked. I used the recipe that came with the breadmaker, but it wasn’t good enough to share here. Probably the most interesting thing about this pudding was that it came out looking like a little loaf of bread. Mmmm, date bread … that could be one to try next time…

Chocolate date truffles

These are my absolute favourite! They contain no processed sugars: only dates, oats, cocoa and a little water. I rolled mine in coconut and they were sweet and chocolatey without being crammed full of white sugar and butter. I have made them several times over the last few weeks, including when I needed to take goods into work for a fundraising bake sale. They were a hit! The recipe can be found here and has a few variations for you to try.

Chocolate date tart

This was a Not Quite Nigella recipe. If you haven’t heard of her, check her out. I follow her on Facebook and she’s recently published a book as well. The base was chocolatey and crumbly, with that melt in the mouth sensation and the dates sat comfortably in a not-too-sweet custard. I think the only thing I would change would be to add more dates and maybe chop them up more to spread them through the custard more consistently.

Classic date scones

Just using the recipe from the Edmonds Cookbook, I whipped up a few batches of these over the last few weeks and they’ve always gone down well. The scones are light and fluffy and the dates (if you use good ones) are sweet and tender: all of this is topped off with a bit of sugar and cinnamon. Nom nom!

The next post will contain a new kind of culinary challenge. Stay tuned…

 

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One Response to “A Date with deliciousness!”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Joining the baggy pants club again | Ambrosia Baby - April 21, 2015

    […] also found a recipe for Moroccan Chicken Couscous with dates … and you know how much I love dates! I substituted the chicken with Quorn pieces since I’m a vege and it was […]

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