I'll be talking about dates this week on my regular local ABC slot.... not, that I'm on an expert on dates - because I'm not... but I do have quite a few dates in my fridge and I'd like to cook with them, rather than snack on them continuously.. And besides, they're a locally grown product.
Dates are one of the rare foods we have in abundance in Alice Springs. They sell for around $20/kg depending on the variety. The best looking ones are the Medjool but not always the best tasting. My favourites are the the Deglet Noor (or bread) dates which I haven't seen in shops at the moment. The don't look great. They're hard and caramel like, and quite addictive. Recently I have purchased the Kadrawi variety, and they're good, but not as good as the Deglet Noor. There are many other varieties, for further info check out the Aridgold farm website at:
I have been told - anecdotally - that the beautiful plump dates in supermarkets have actually been steamed to look better and of course weigh more. However, beauty is not always the best when it comes to dates, at least not cooking with dates.
Now you don't need to cook with dates. They're such a sweet treat by themselves, not to mention eaten with almonds and/or ricotta. But this is a cooking blog, so cook with dates we must.
I've been asking around for 'date recipes' amongst friends, acquaintances and work colleagues... . The first recipe that everyone talks about is traditional date or date and walnut loaf. Doesn't have much appeal to me. And then there's the ubiquitous sticky date pudding - which has now become so popular that you can buy it as a prepackaged dessert in supermarkets. What I am searching for is a middle-eastern meat and rice dish with dates. Comments and recipes, please!
However, instead my friend Barb gave me her steamed date recipe, as follows:
Boil up fresh orange juice, lemon juice and seeded, chopped dates. Cook until a paste is formed. Let cool and put in a jar.
Great on toast.