A cooking date with dates

I recently received this press release from Frieda’s, which supplies produce to local Schnucks stores. I thought I’d pass along this information and recipes about dates:

A staple in Middle Eastern cuisine for thousands of years, dates are now gaining more attention in the U.S. for their deliciously sweet, satisfying taste. Grown on special date palms, the fruits grow in clusters and are harvested from late summer to fall in California. Look for the premium Medjool date variety, valued for its large size, soft, plump, moist texture and naturally sweet flavor.

A member of the drupe family of fruit, dates have a single large seed or pit inside. The soft flesh becomes slightly sticky and very tender after it is ripened and sun-dried. Dates are a popular fruit during the Islamic month of Ramadan, where they are often the first food eaten to break the daily fast at sunset each day.

Naturally fat-free, dates are packed with nutrients and provide an excellent source of quick energy and potassium. They are also high in fiber, supplying 24 percent of your daily recommended fiber in just one serving (about 6 dates).

Dates are delicious for baking in muffins, cakes and cookies, but "nature’s candy" can be used in more than just sweet dessert-type preparations. Middle Easterners often enjoy dates in an omelet for breakfast, or prepared in a sauce for veal or lamb. Larger dates like the Medjool variety are excellent for stuffing with cheeses, nuts or even peanut butter. Dates are also a great addition to salads or mixed with other fruits for chutneys and stuffings.

Store dates in a tightly sealed container in your refrigerator for up to 6 months. Over time, natural sugar crystals may form on the surface of the fruit, which can be easily dissolved under low heat.

Medjool Date Nut Loaf

3/4 cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons soft shortening

1 egg

1 1/2 cups milk

3 cups sifted all-purpose flour

3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cups chopped nuts

1 cup chopped Medjool dates

Mix sugar, shortening and egg thoroughly. Add milk and stir. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt and add to milk mixture. Stir in nuts and Medjool dates. Pour into well-greased 9x5x3" baking pan. Let stand for 20 minutes before baking. Bake in a moderate 350 degree oven for 50-70 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.

Jellied Waldorf Salad

1 (3 ounce) package lemon-flavored gelatin

1 cup boiling water

3/4 cup apple juice or cider

3 tablespoon lemon juice

1/3 cups diced unpeeled red apples

1/3 cups chopped nuts

1/3 cups chopped celery

1/2 cups Medjool dates

Dissolve gelatin in boiling water. Add apple juice and lemon juice. Chill until slightly thickened. Fold in remaining ingredients. Spoon into individual molds or into a 1-quart mold. Serve with balls of cream cheese rolled in very finely chopped Medjool dates. Serves six.

 

Big Party Chicken Salad

8 cups (2 quarts) cubed cooked chicken

2 cups water chestnuts, Sliced

3 cups pineapple chunks

2 cups seedless grapes

2 cups diced celery

2 cups diced Medjool dates

2 cups sliced nuts

Dressing:

2 1/2 cups mayonnaise

1/2 cups chicken broth

1 teaspoon curry powder (or more to taste)

2 teaspoon soy sauce

Combine chilled ingredients, with enough dressing to moisten. Serve in crisp lettuce cups.

 

Medjool Date Oatmeal Cookies

This recipe will make seven or eight dozen cookies.

1 cup butter or margarine

1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed

1 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 eggs

1 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

3 cups rolled oats

1 cup chopped Medjool dates

 Cream butter or margarine and sugars until fluffy. Stir in vanilla. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir flour, salt, soda and spices together. Add to the mixture and mix well. Stir in oatmeal and Medjool dates. Drop by teaspoonful about two inches apart on well-greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees 10 to 15 minutes. Let cool a few minutes before removing from the baking sheet.

 

Recipes provided by Bard Valley Medjool Date Growers Association. Photo from Frieda's.

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algon wrote on August 17, 2010 at 11:08 am

Mmmmmmmmmm that Waldorf salad looks date-d.