Why I’m becoming famous, by sharon

September 10, 2009

I bet you didn’t know that I’m on a steady rise to fame, but I am.  And do you know why? Because I bring bacon wrapped dates stuffed with goat cheese and almonds to parties.

In fact, I was all set to bring something else to a party on Saturday, but the hostess said “Oh . . . well. That’s good. I guess. Or you could bring the bacon date things. PLEASE bring the bacon date things!!”

And so I was at the store today, buying ingredients for the bacon date things.  As I’m checking out,

Cashier: I gotta ask, why do you have this many dried dates? What are you up to?
Me: Oh, I’m making them for a party. You split the dates, remove the pit, stuff it with goat cheese and slivered almonds. Then you wrap bacon around it and cook it.
Cashier: Oh my god.
Me: Yeah . . . it’s kind of amazing. People lose their minds.
Woman behind me in line: What’s this? What are you talking about? You do WHAT do dates?
Cashier: (repeats what I just told her)
Woman: Oh my GOD.
Cashier: Honey, you just got invited to my Thanksgiving dinner. Which is now potluck.
Me: (laughing) They’re so easy, I swear. But they are insaaaanely good.
Woman: You need a card or something. It can say “Bacon-date girl.”
Cashier: But that sounds like she goes on dates and brings bacon.
Woman: I bet that would be just as successful. It’s bacon.
Me: (I’m done checking out at this point and I’m laughing really hard. I turn to leave)
Woman: WAIT! So tell me again, real quick, what do you do?
Me: (repeating the recipe)
Cashier: (hands woman a piece of blank receipt and a pen) Here, if you write it down can you give me a copy?

See there? People who’ve never even TASTED this are going crazy.  So here is the recipe. This is for a larger group, but can easily be multiplied or scaled down.

2 pounds of dried dates
8 ounces of fresh goat cheese (chevre)
slivered almonds
a big pack of thick-sliced bacon, 2 pounds?
toothpicks

I get dried dates for a reason. First, fresh dates can be hard to find. Second, I like the sticky texture against the creaminess of the cheese and the crunch of the bacon and almonds. Third, they’re a little sweeter, which plays nicely against the tanginess and saltiness. And this might be way more bacon than necessary, but what’s wrong with having leftover bacon in the house? It’s bacon.

With a small, sharp knife, cut a slit into one side of the date. Make sure you don’t cut it all the way in half. Open it up a little and pull out the pit.  I like to pit all the dates at once before moving on.  Get your goat cheese ready and make a pile of slivered almonds. Take, I don’t know, a teaspoon of goat cheese and stick it into the middle of the date. Poke a couple almond slivers down in there. Again, do this to all of the dates before moving on.

Cut your bacon strips in half. Wrap a half piece of bacon around each date, making sure the slit you cut is covered, and try to spiral around the whole date. Secure with a toothpick and place on a rimmed baking sheet. Once they’re all done (this amount may take 2 sheets) put them in the oven to BROIL, not bake.  Check and turn them every 4-5 minutes or so until the bacon is cooked through.  This might take a total of 15-20 minutes. Also, don’t have your sheet too close to the heating element. When they’re done, place the dates on a paper towel to drain the excess grease. Remove the now charred toothpicks and put them on a plate.

If you are making these ahead of time, you can store them in the fridge once they’re cooked. They’re best warm or at room temperature, so give them 10-15 seconds in the microwave to take the chill off.  Prepare to have random strangers ask if you are God (this happened to me once).  I’ll try to take some pictures of these and post them when I make this on Saturday.


Creme Brulee

November 28, 2008

creme-brulee

This is what ended the Thanksgiving dinner last night.  I had to come up with something, since my girlfriend doesn’t like pumpkin and I wasn’t sure if my father could eat pecans.  So, creme brulee!  It’s always a hit and it’s simple to make.

Ingredients:
7 egg yolks
1 quart (4 cups) heavy whipping cream
3/4 cup sugar, plus extra for topping
2 vanilla beans, split and scraped

Method:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place whipping cream and vanilla beans in a medium pot.  Heat over medium-high until bubbles start to form on the surface, just below a boil.  DO NOT boil, or the cream will break.  Whisk the eggs and sugar together in a large bowl.  When cream is ready, pour slowly and in a thin stream into the eggs, whisking continuously.  Using a fine mesh sieve, strain the mixture into 8 medium-size ramekins.

Place the ramekins in a baking dish and pour hot water into the dish until it reaches halfway up the ramekins.  Bake for approximately 45 minutes, until the custard is set around the edges but still moves slightly in the center when shaken.  Remove ramekins from the water bath to a towel and allow to cool.  Once cool, cover and chill for 2-3 hours or overnight.

When ready to serve, sprinkle approximately 1 tablespoon of sugar (or half white and brown sugar for a deeper flavor) over the top of each custard.  If using a torch, start burning the sugar in the center and move outwards in a circular motion.  If you don’t have a culinary torch, preheat a broiler.  Place the ramekins on a baking sheet and then place them approxiately 4 inches from the broiler.  Heat until the sugar carmelizes, approximately 5 minutes.  Allow the sugar to cool and harden before serving.  Serve plain or with assorted berries on top.

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