Tag Archives: Party

Cheese-stuffed dates

One of my favorite stands at the local farmer’s market sells Medjool dates. They’re enormous, plush and sticky and sweet as candy, so rich that you can’t eat more than one or two at a time. The most popular dates at the stand are the freshest ones: soft, pillowy and priced for a splurge. But I prefer the older, firmer dates–not just because they’re cheaper, but because they’re ideal for stuffing with cheese and wrapping in prosciutto.

I’m a sucker for salty-sweet things, and these scratch my itch every time. There’s nothing quite like tangy cheese, sugary fruit and fatty, salty ham all mashed into one perfectly-sized bite. They’re quick to put together–if you don’t mind a bit of assembly-line work–and make the perfect entrance at a party. Give me one or two of these morsels and a glass of dry rose wine, and I’m a happy girl.

Most stuffed dates in the world have goat cheese inside them. This is where I push away from tradition. I adore goat cheese, but it’s just not my favorite date filling–it’s too soft and malleable, no contrast at all against the gooey stickiness of the fruit. Instead, I like to use cubes of Parmesan or another firm, aged cheese: the sharpness cuts right through through the sweetness of the dates, but the cheese still has enough chew to stand up to the fruit around it. And then, of course, aged cheese is a natural partner for the thin layer of prosciutto holding everything together.

These are delicious just-assembled, at room temperature. In the sweltering height of summer, there’s no need to do anything more. But if you can stand to, try running them under the broiler until the cheese melts and the ham starts to shrink in on itself. At room temperature, the dates are subtle and layered; warmed through, they’re butter-rich and decadent. Your call.

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Five-layer dip

Well.  Seems I’m making a habit of being late to things.  Here’s a post about five-layer dip, two weeks after the Super Bowl.

Layer dip is a bit of a Pavlovian thing for me.  When I was in high school, a theater geek among theater geeks, every cast party we threw had multiple tubs of the stuff: a Meximurrican mishmash of refried beans, guacamole, salsa, sour cream and shredded cheese.  To this day, digging straight down with a tortilla chip brings me right back to those parties, when we were young and loud and silly and weird.

Well, the weird part hasn’t changed.  But the point is, I love layer dip.

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Onion jam

I can’t believe it.  This blog is well into its second year, and I haven’t written about onion jam yet.

This is the secret recipe I keep in my (metaphorical) back pocket.  It’s my chosen way of winning friends and influencing people.  I think I’ve made it for every shindig I’ve hosted for the past two years. My friend Anthony is so smitten with it that he brings a bag of onions every time I invite him to a party.

Onion jam is, well, my jam.

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