Here I Am With My Dates...Again... - december 31, 2010

In order to clear out some room in my life for writing, I’ve fallen back on a couple little tricks I happen to have up my sleeve, which I will share here with you.  For starters, I like to ease the burden of buying gifts for other people’s kids by keeping a stash ready to give in my garage. It's not that I don’t enjoy shopping for children, but spending two hours in the Ark with one or more of my own rowdy offspring is something I can muster the patience for only once or twice a year. Instead of using those hours to chant “we’re not shopping for you now, we’re shopping for <insert birthday name here>” seven thousand times, I would prefer to weed oxalis out of the yard while my kids throw mud at each other or give them handfuls of dried beans to juggle in the kitchen while I attempt to cook dinner.

So if you have a child who will be having a birthday this year, look out for Rivers, Roads and Rails from our family. And if you know what’s good for you, no matter how fabulous you think this game is, don’t buy it for anyone I might happen to know. I already have. 

Likewise, I’ve chosen a favorite recipe for this season’s potlucks and stuck with it. This year my winter recipe is mascarpone stuffed dates with pomegranate seeds and pistachios. They are seasonal, easy to make, look pretty on a plate and best of all, they taste sweet and delicious. A real treat all around. In truth, I stole this from someone in my food lit book club, but I can’t seem to remember exactly who it was to give credit. Maybe I’ll remember to ask (and write it down) at our next meeting.

Best wishes for the new year, if all goes well you’ll be seeing more recipes from me. And enjoy your dates!

Mascarpone Stuffed Dates with Pomegranate and Pistachio:

8 oz (or so) mascarpone cheese

1 lb (or so) whole dates

1 pomegranate

1 handful roasted pistachios, shelled and chopped

This recipe is so easy and so delicious that I can’t believe everyone doesn’t make it for all winter potlucks.  After over serving my GCETP class this fall, I have nightmares of arriving at the next party to find that everyone else has brought them too, and that mine are not as pretty as all the others. Their beauty does fade, when you drop a tupperware full, so be careful when transporting your dates. They can’t be slopped around in the same way as a thermos of soup or a tray of roast vegetables.

Figure on about two dates per person, that way the one guest who doesn’t like them will leave enough for the two people who do and are brazen enough to take thirds. I’ve listed the ingredients in the weights I most often find them sold, but you could really get by with less cheese. Dates last forever in the fridge, and mascarpone for a while, so you can probably make these for multiple parties with only one set of ingredients. Yippee!

Cut the pomegranate in half and seed it into a small bowl, you can save the rest in an airtight container for later - it will last about a week. If the pistachios were not already roasted, heat them in a dry frying pan until they smell good, then remove them from the heat and let them cool. Chop the pistachios and put them in a small bowl. Slice the dates you will use in half longways, discard the seed. With a table knife, smear a little mascarpone into the hole in the date, then hold the date upside down and lightly press it into the pistachios. Last, press three or four pomegranate seeds into the cheese.  Line them up on a pretty plate, and there you go! 


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