I didn’t know what I didn’t know about dates. This despite using them… a lot. (Can’t tell you the quantity and versions we’ve made of Uncle Howard’s Chocolate Ganache Tart.) If you’d asked me before last month about varieties of dates I’d have said there are Medjool and errr, organic Medjool? My eyes were opened in November at the Farmers’ Market in Berkeley, CA. Flying Disk Ranch displayed eleven types including Khadwari, Ciré, Yellow Barhi, and Medjool. While I was talking with the guy managing the stand a customer asked what kind he would recommended for “Devils on Horseback” which she planned to serve at a dinner party that evening. She needed 16 – 20. This led to a conversation about a sexy hors d’oeuvre I’ve eaten and enjoyed, but never knew had a name.
Devils on Horseback (Serves 4-12 depending on… you know)
12 whole dates, pitted
12 natural wood toothpicks
2 tablespoons GF soy sauce/Tamari
2 tablespoons molasses
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard, ginger, curry, or cinnamon (depending on the flavor profile)
4 slices of good quality bacon cut evenly in thirds – the pieces should be long enough to wrap 1 1/2 times around a stuffed date
4 ounces (more or less) cheese of your choosing
1. Preheat an oven to 400F and line a shallow rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Soak the toothpicks in water.
2. Combine the tamari, soy sauce, and spice in a small bowl.
3. Spread the pitted dates, place a small portion of cheese in the middle, fold, wrap with bacon, secure with a toothpick, and dip into the tamari molasses mixture. Place on the prepared baking sheet.
4. Bake at 400F for 15 – 20 minutes or until the bacon is brown and crispy. Let the Devils cool for 10 – 15 minutes before serving.
Angels on Horseback
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup fresh lemon or lime juice
1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
1 tablespoon grated fresh onion
Fresh grated pepper and a pinch of sea salt
12 medium to small oysters, shucked and drained
12 scallops, side muscle removed
12 slices bacon, cut in half crosswise
24 tooth picks
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1. Preheat the broiler. Set the rack to medium high in the oven. Soak the tooth picks in water.
2. In a shallow bowl, combine the wine, lemon juice and zest, onion, and salt and pepper. Add the oysters and scallops and toss to coat. Let marinate for 10 minutes.
3. Place the bacon flat on a work surface and massage with the back of a knife to prevent shrinking while cooking. Place an oyster or scallop on each piece of bacon, roll up, and secure with a toothpick. Place on a foil-lined baking sheet.
4. Broil, until the bacon is crisp and the edges of the oysters have curled, turning once to cook both sides evenly. Drain at the flipping stage if enough liquid is created to prevent the bacon from crisping up.
5. Plate for passing or on individual plates and sprinkle with fresh cilantro.
Devils on Harley – same as the horseback riders, but spice the marinade with cumin and fill the dates with small Jalapeno peppers and Jack Cheese.