Banana Bread

One-Ingredient Date Jam Is Excellent on Anything

October  8, 2020
Photo by Aubrie Pick

Typically speaking, jam is a mixture of fruit and sugar—often lemon juice, sometimes pectin—cooked until glossy and thick and as spreadable as soft butter. But this recipe stops at the fruit.

And not fresh fruit either. While preserving is a simple way to stretch the seasons—to carry spring strawberries into summer, summer peaches into fall—dried fruit is evergreen, shelf-stable, and, it turns out, just as jam-able.

In this recipe, from Eden Grinshpan’s new cookbook Eating Out Loud, the chosen ingredient is Medjool dates. Also known as “the diamond of dates” (!), Medjools are plump and meaty, with the sweetness of maple syrup and chewiness of mochi.

I reliably have a bag or three in the pantry for afternoon energy slumps (grabbed by the fistful) and midnight snacks (halved, pitted, and stuffed with almond butter). Also, salad-ish things and shakes.

This one-ingredient wonder is my new favorite use for them.

As Eden told me, the recipe was a last-minute addition to the book: “It happened during the photo shoot.” The crew was working on Date Banana Bread With Coconut Crumble (which gets its caramelly sweetness as much from fruit as it does from sugar), when Eden had an aha moment. “After I smeared on the butter, I was like: Date jam! And we made it right then and there. It took no time at all.”

The process goes something like this: Combine Medjool dates with water. Simmer for a few minutes until they start to break down. Blitz in a blender until smooth. Return to the pot and cook for a little longer until jammy. Store in the fridge.

“They’re so naturally sweet and rich, it would have been a shame for me to add any other sugars,” Eden said.

The yield is about 1 cup, so, after you serve it with banana bread, keep going. Try date jam...

  • Swirled into yogurt
  • Smeared inside a grilled cheese
  • Served with a cheese plate
  • Spread on toast, scones, etc.
  • Blended into vanilla milkshakes

How would you put it to good use? Let me know in the comments below.

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Emma is the food editor at Food52. Before this, she worked a lot of odd jobs, all at the same time. Think: stir-frying noodles "on the fly," baking dozens of pastries at 3 a.m., reviewing restaurants, and writing articles about everything from how to use leftover mashed potatoes to the history of pies in North Carolina. Now she lives in New Jersey with her husband and their cat, Butter. Stay tuned every Tuesday for Emma's cooking column, Big Little Recipes, all about big flavor and little ingredient lists. And see what she's up to on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.

2 Comments

Lady R. October 26, 2020
Raisin Rum Date Special Ice Cream (drink your ice cream)

Drink your ice cream. We call it an adult milkshake.

No ice cream maker? No problem. On the patio or at the dining room table for guests or family, this adult treat might be a surprise.

Start by whipping full fat cream in a cold metal or glass bowl until the cream has very stiff peaks. Fold into the whipped cream a cup of my Celebrity Maple Toffee cream cheese Bacardi Black (Puerto Rican) Rum marinating jus along with rum-plumped golden raisins and elderflower cordial dates and the marinated Maple Toffee cheese pucks.

You might want to chop the raisins and dates to a mince, and the marinated Maple Toffee cream cheese pucks, so you bite into little chunks in each mouthful.

Freeze in a cling-wrap lined, covered metal loaf pan. When frozen but not yet rock hard, slice in one-inch-thick pieces and put a piece of plastic wrap between each slice. Rewrap and freeze solid in the metal pan. When you are ready to serve you can knock off or pry loose each frozen slice.

You might like to make a homemade waffle ice cream sandwich or using a round cookie cutter the same size as your favourite cookie, cut an ice cream slice to match the size and make an ice cream Napoleon, or serve between two of your favourite tuilles. Mine? My dark chocolate, homemade candied hazelnuts and blueberries tuilles.

Drizzle second season maple syrup over top when ready to eat or use the reserved raisin date Maple Toffee cheese reserved marinating jus. Spritz the ice cream sandwich with South African Amarula cordial cream. You might want to roll the edges of the ice cream in unsweetened toasted desiccated coconut.

Instead of slicing, when just barely frozen, using an ice cream scoop, make individual ice cream balls and freeze hard in a freezer plastic zip bag. You might like to roll each ice cream ball in toasted desiccated unsweetened coconut.

You can buy readymade dark chocolate serving cups, big ones and small ones, or make your own. When ready to serve, place a frozen scoop in each cup. Drizzle with reserved Maple Toffee syrup rum sauce.

Hint: Make ahead lots of the Maple Toffee cheese syrup sauce and refrigerate in a sterilized glass covered jar so you can use it anytime. Remove the marinating sauce from the fridge a few hours before using. (Note: You could even drizzle the sauce over sliced stovetop sautéed garlic pork loin, oven-roasted or sautéed chicken or salmon, oven-roasted rock Cornish game hens, or even on roasted rabbit, venison or lamb; or barbecue any of these. Using my watercress pesto, drizzle the pesto with the syrup sauce and make a puddle on an oversize plate. Add sea scallops and/or pulled from the shells deep-fried oysters and/or mussels, gently sautéed in sizzling unsalted butter.

NOTE: You could substitute Asbach Uralt cognac marinated fresh black mission figs for the dates in any of the combinations; using congealed cognac marinating jus from your refrigerated jar. Celebrity has a Fig Cream Cheese as a possible switch-up.

In any of the ice cream mixes, you could stir in a tablespoon of my homemade kumquat marmalade and/or minced homemade candied citrus rinds from your pantry sugar jar.

To any of the selections you might like to add minced homemade candied nuts from your pantry collection, singular or a variety.

Maple Toffee Cream Cheese Rum Sauce

You can easily increase to adjust amounts. In a glass bowl, pour an inch of second season maple syrup. Add a tablespoon of golden brown sugar. Add a tablespoon of Bacardi Black (Puerto Rican) Rum. Chop a heat-sealed log package of Celebrity Maple Toffee cream cheese. Cut the log in half and half again. Don’t worry if the pucks break. Add rum-marinated golden raisins, chopped marinated in elderflower St-Germain or Amarula medjool dates.

If you are able to eat nuts, chop a few from your homemade candied nuts pantry jar. Mince homemade candied citrus rinds from your pantry sugar jar and add to the marinating sauce.

You can refrigerate this marinated cheese mix and just eat it as a sweet pick-me-up any time of day. It’s almost like candy, and equally addicting.

There are so many uses for this dish and it keeps for weeks refrigerated. A great nibble. It really is addictive. Maybe fill a crepe with the sauce and flambé with Mampe Halb and Halb or your favourite bitters. Maybe use Benedictine.

For those who imbibe, maybe drink your ice cream – a special poolside or patio treat, like this special alcohol ice-creamy milkshake:

Milkshake Extraordinaire

Using a large ice cream scoop, fill a glass full-size blender jar three-quarters full with scoops of your homemade frozen hard ice cream mix and pour in a cup and a half of Bacardi Black (Puerto Rican) Rum. This will make four milkshakes.

Whiz the blender contents just until frothy, leaving a few ice cream lumps using the pulse button. Sprinkle with a few flakes of Amagansett Sea Salt and pour into tall milkshake glasses.

Before pouring into milkshake glasses, paint the inside of each glass with the reserved raisin date marinating jus using a new thick, tufted mop-style pastry brush. Then cap the milkshake when ready to serve with a generous drizzle of the marinating jus. Clean the brush in a little plain rum, then rinse with boiling water, let air-dry and tip the rum into the leftover sauce.

Serve this delicious treat in an old-fashioned milkshake glass with a large-hole straw and a long-handled parfait dessert spoon.

ALTERNATE: Maybe use homemade Amarula marinated bing cherry ice cream with or without nuts and add one cup of Offley Royal Porto as an alcohol ice cream milkshake.

You could drizzle a little of your reserved refrigerated delicious Amarula marinating jus over top when ready to serve.

Place the milkshake glass on a small paper doily or a folded napkin on a small see-thru glass pie plate so you have a place to rest the parfait spoon. For a special occasion underpin with a large charger plate to stabilize. You might like to add a vine of sugared seedless green grapes on the charger to decorate; or use a generous sprig of fresh mint.

Using your imagination, mix and match and make your own amazing treats.

Amarula Bing Cherry Candied Ice Cream

Drain two tins of bing cherries, preserving the liquid. You could use fresh cherries in season but you would need to marinate them in heavy sugar syrup for about an hour. Drain. Chop the cherries or pulse.

Chop a half cup of candied almonds from your pantry storage jar or pulse them in your mini kitchen beaucoup.

In a sauté pan, bring the sugar marinating liquid and/or the bing cherry jus to a simmer. Add a quarter cup of Turkey Hill maple syrup and reduce by half. Add a sprinkle of Amagansett Sea Salt and a pinch of nutmeg and the tiniest pinch of bottled powder ground cloves.

Stir into the reduced liquid, a half cup of South African Amarula Cream liqueur and continue to reduce. The creamy texture should coat a cold metal spoon.

This cream liqueur is made using fruit from the Murula tree. The fragrance is enjoyed by the local South African elephants, thus the product logo. Real local cream is used with the magnificent fruit, local herbs and spices to create the cream liqueur product on our shop shelves.

Whip two large cartons of heavy cream in a refrigerated cold metal bowl, until just before the cream reaches the butter stage. Refrigerate.

Mix the chopped candied almonds into the reduced cream sauce. Add the chopped bing cherries. Allow to come to room temperature and then refrigerate in a covered glass container. Fold this mixture into the very cold whipped cream. Freeze until solid.

Add a scooped ball of this amazing ice cream to any salad choice.

You could reserve a little of the reduced jus and drizzle it over the Amarula ice cream dessert served in a champagne flute, with a long-handle parfait spoon. Maybe tuck in one of my dark chocolate fruit/nut tuilles on top.

You will find many enjoyable uses for Amarula Cream liqueur. I was recently introduced to the miniature sample product by the importer and added it to my go-to list of spirits in my kitchen.

Rum and Raisin Ice Cream (or use Elderflower Dates or Cognac Figs)

Whip two cups of full-fat whipping cream until stiff. Add a half cup of minced Bacardi Black (Puerto Rican) Rum soaked golden raisins that you have squeezed most of the liquid out. Save the liquid.

Freeze the fruit cream mixture in a metal container such as a plum pudding steamer dish until solid. Ideally overnight.

In the meantime, heat the reserved raisin marinating rum liquid and add a half cup of brown sugar and a quarter cup of molasses. Stir to combine until the liquid reduces and coats a metal spoon.

Store in a refrigerated covered glass container and pour a few tablespoons over each ice cream serving.

This homemade ice cream presents nicely in a double glass shrimp cocktail dish with crushed ice in the under-glass, positioned on a see-through glass plate on a charger separated by a paper doily.

ALTERNATE: Replace the rum marinated raisins with finely chopped Medjool dates marinated in Elderflower St-Germain. Make similar sauce using the St-Germain marinating liquid but replace the molasses with maple syrup.

Or, you can fill my pre-made Bird’s Nest Pavlova and serve immediately. If you have a container of individual cup-size stored pavlova, this makes a terrific instant gourmet surprise for guests or family.

These gourmet homemade ice creams keep, frozen, for weeks and stay as fresh as the day they are made. I often use an ice cream scoop and make individual size serving balls and keep frozen in bags, ready to serve on short notice.

If you want to be really creative, roll a still warm genoise that you baked in a rimmed baking sheet, into a jellyroll shape using sheets of plastic wrap so it doesn’t stick to itself. When cool, unroll and fill with a layer of slightly mashed ice cream. Re-roll in jellyroll shape. Wrap in cling wrap. Re-freeze. Slice thick slices with a sharp serrated bread knife when ready to serve and drizzle with related sauce.

With any of these ice creams you can mince (or use your mini kitchen beaucoup) homemade candied citrus rinds from your pantry sugar jar and stir into the ice cream mix or into the sauce. You could always serve candied citrus segments on the side.

If you enjoy cream in your coffee, make a different kind of cup by stirring a tablespoon of any of these ice creams into hot black strong fresh-brewed coffee. Maybe make a different kind of Asbach Uralt Rudesheimer coffee by adding a spoon of any of these ice creams when ready to serve. Use your long-handled special spoons to stir gently.

Drink your ice cream. We call it an adult milkshake.

No ice cream maker? No problem. On the patio or at the dining room table for guests or family, this adult treat might be a surprise.

Start by whipping full fat cream in a cold metal or glass bowl until the cream has very stiff peaks. Fold into the whipped cream a cup of my Celebrity Maple Toffee cream cheese Bacardi Black (Puerto Rican) Rum marinating jus along with rum-plumped golden raisins and elderflower cordial dates and the marinated Maple Toffee cheese pucks.

You might want to chop the raisins and dates to a mince, and the marinated Maple Toffee cream cheese pucks, so you bite into little chunks in each mouthful.

Freeze in a cling-wrap lined, covered metal loaf pan. When frozen but not yet rock hard, slice in one-inch-thick pieces and put a piece of plastic wrap between each slice. Rewrap and freeze solid in the metal pan. When you are ready to serve you can knock off or pry loose each frozen slice.

You might like to make a homemade waffle ice cream sandwich or using a round cookie cutter the same size as your favourite cookie, cut an ice cream slice to match the size and make an ice cream Napoleon, or serve between two of your favourite tuilles. Mine? My dark chocolate, homemade candied hazelnuts and blueberries tuilles.

Drizzle second season maple syrup over top when ready to eat or use the reserved raisin date Maple Toffee cheese reserved marinating jus. Spritz the ice cream sandwich with South African Amarula cordial cream. You might want to roll the edges of the ice cream in unsweetened toasted desiccated coconut.

Instead of slicing, when just barely frozen, using an ice cream scoop, make individual ice cream balls and freeze hard in a freezer plastic zip bag. You might like to roll each ice cream ball in toasted desiccated unsweetened coconut.

You can buy readymade dark chocolate serving cups, big ones and small ones, or make your own. When ready to serve, place a frozen scoop in each cup. Drizzle with reserved Maple Toffee syrup rum sauce.

Hint: Make ahead lots of the Maple Toffee cheese syrup sauce and refrigerate in a sterilized glass covered jar so you can use it anytime. Remove the marinating sauce from the fridge a few hours before using. (Note: You could even drizzle the sauce over sliced stovetop sautéed garlic pork loin, oven-roasted or sautéed chicken or salmon, oven-roasted rock Cornish game hens, or even on roasted rabbit, venison or lamb; or barbecue any of these. Using my watercress pesto, drizzle the pesto with the syrup sauce and make a puddle on an oversize plate. Add sea scallops and/or pulled from the shells deep-fried oysters and/or mussels, gently sautéed in sizzling unsalted butter.

NOTE: You could substitute Asbach Uralt cognac marinated fresh black mission figs for the dates in any of the combinations; using congealed cognac marinating jus from your refrigerated jar. Celebrity has a Fig Cream Cheese as a possible switch-up.

In any of the ice cream mixes, you could stir in a tablespoon of my homemade kumquat marmalade and/or minced homemade candied citrus rinds from your pantry sugar jar.

To any of the selections you might like to add minced homemade candied nuts from your pantry collection, singular or a variety.

Compliments of:

© Spirits in My Kitchen: Lady Ralston - Canadian Cooking with Bouquets and Aromas - Good Food Made Better Adding Spirits
 
Lady R. October 23, 2020
I have two original date-themed comments ... this is my first time making a comment on Food52, so I will copy and paste and hope it is successful and appropriate. The comment is rather long, but I hope readers enjoy. I am writing a cookbook and own the copyright for the original recipes.
Thank you. Lady R.


Medjool dates and my cream cheese pastry (or frozen puffs; even pizza)

Coarsely chop room-temperature Medjool dates (about a pound).

Simmer the dates in a half cup of Asbach Uralt cognac for just a few minutes. Remove from heat, cover and let steep for about 10 minutes. Sprinkle with just a little salt.

Remove the dates with a slotted spoon. Mash with a potato masher. Add a half cup of figgy jus from your marinating jar to the cognac pot. Simmer. Reduce by half. The reduction should be a sticky gooey spread. Add the date mash back to the pot. Stir.

Using my recipe for cream cheese pastry, while still hot, top the flaky baked pastry, cut into two-inch squares and using a spoon of the date mash and top with a piece of room temperature blue cheese. Drizzle a small spoon of my wonderful tomato butter over the blue cheese. Serve right away at room temperature.

ALTERNATE: You can also serve the cognac figgy date mash on a rectangle bed of frozen puff pastry (follow package baking directions). Egg wash the edges of the rectangle. When the pastry puffs, this tasty treat is ready to eat. Drizzle with just a little of your favourite red pepper jelly, warmed in a skillet or even cold from the fridge.

Or, you can prepare mini frozen puff rounds and then fill the warm or room temperature pastries with the date mash. Use a pastry ring to cut.

Another idea: Paste the cognac date mash in a thick layer, add a few candied walnuts and chop a few candied orange rinds from your citrus sugar jar onto my Stollen dough. And continue that recipe, instead of using the Christmas fruit mix.

For a wildly wonderful treat, you can even top homemade pizza with the date mash. Spread the mash on the pizza dough, instead of tomato sauce base, and bake as usual.

Fresh from the oven, drop generous bits of room temperature Brie over the pizza. Lots of Brie. Spritz with a little cognac figgy jus. Grind fresh cracked peppercorns and sprinkle on a few flakes of Atlantic Ocean sea salt.

Add crispy fried half-inch pieces of bacon on top. Chop a bosc pear and sprinkle a few of your favourite nuts on top. Homemade candied walnuts are wonderful. Drizzle with just a little of the bacon fat and cut the pizza in pie-shape wedges.

Make plenty. Your unusual gourmet pizza will be a hit.

Now for the dinner-table special treat:

Medjool dates and maple syrup pork chop cream

Marinate a centre cut thick pork chop on the bone, for just a few minutes, in just a little oil, a sprinkle of nutmeg, pepper and a little garlic salt on both sides, and paint both sides with a little Dijon mustard. Sprinkle with salt just when ready to pan fry. Use a rubber scraper to wipe the marinating plate liquid into the skillet.

Melt butter in a hot stainless-steel skillet. There’s already enough oil on the chop that will mix with the hot butter. Set the timer for three minutes. Sear the pork chop, turn down the heat, reset the timer for three minutes and sear the other side. Check doneness. Cooking time will depend on the thickness of the chop.

Tent the skillet with foil, then move the skillet to a turned-off burner and re-check for doneness. The chop should be just cooked. Be careful not to overcook. Remember the chop will continue to cook in its own heat while resting, tented. Remove from the skillet to a plate to rest, tented.

Deglaze the pan with Asbach Uralt brandy and reduce, scraping the stuck-on pork chop bits.

Slice the chop in thin slices on the diagonal when ready to serve.

Spoon a little puddle of Medjool date maple syrup cream sauce (see instructions below) on a serving plate. Arrange the sliced pork chop off to one side. Dress with fresh leaves of basil, sage and or tarragon and fresh chopped parsley. And if you like, decorate the plate with candied citrus rinds from your pantry citrus sugar jar and a few candied kumquats or mandarin orange slices.

To make the Medjool date maple syrup cream sauce: Every kitchen should have a mini-processor. They cost about $20 in housewares departments in such stores as Canadian Tire. They are worth every penny and don’t require much storage space.

Grind six or eight Medjool fresh sweet dates. A big sweet lump will form. Push out the date lump into the still hot butter oil pan juices and deglazing liquid. Mash with a fork, stirring constantly over low heat. Drizzle three tablespoons of maple syrup over the mashed dates. Keep the skillet hot on minimum heat so the dates don’t burn. Sprinkle a little salt.

Note: You could substitute three tablespoons of figgy jus from your marinating jar for the maple syrup.

Now you can make this sauce as plain or fancy as you like. It stores well in a covered glass container in the fridge. If preparing a plain sauce, add a cup or more half and half cream and increase heat to incorporate the bubbly hot cream with the mashed dates, stirring constantly. A most beautiful sauce will happen right before your eyes. If it gets too thick, add more cream and incorporate well.

If you want to dress up the sauce, sauté finely chopped onions in butter and add to the sauce. You could add chopped fresh tomatoes, and/or chopped sautéed bell peppers.

As a side, offer a wide flat soup bowl of al dente, your choice of pasta noodles. Fresh homemade pasta is wonderful. Top the pasta with the hot fresh Medjool maple syrup cream sauce, grate fresh peppercorns and sprinkle with shards or grated Sartori BellaVitori Raspberry Cheese.

Beyond yum. A most unusual combination of flavours. The result is a sweet savoury sauce that can be used on many dishes. (Take into consideration that Medjool dates are very sweet).

A Caesar salad is a nice pairing if you wish to add a salad on a side plate.

Make a bruschetta with toasted slices of black-olive bread, topped with coarsely chopped brandy marinated black mission figs, a little chopped oil packed sun-dried tomatoes and chopped green, red pepper-stuffed Manzanilla olives. Sprinkle with your favourite nuts. Top with grated mozzarella cheese or gobs of Celebrity label Canadian goat cheese (even my marinated goat cheese pucks) and pop under the broiler for just seconds. Drizzle with a little of the Medjool date maple syrup cream sauce.

Flash un kas

This fantastic recipe makes about eight dozen bite-size delights. If this sounds like too many, cut the recipe in half. I did that the first time I made them and boy, was I sorry. I hardly got to eat any. They just disappeared. They can be filled with nearly anything that strikes your fancy. I made some with liverwurst and others with lobster paste and creamed crab.

Work together two cups of flour and a half-pound of cream cheese. Chill thoroughly overnight. Take pieces of the dough and roll them very thin, quickly, on a floured board. Preheat the oven when you cut out the dough.

Cut with a round cookie cutter or small glass and fill with the mixture of your choice. Fold in half, close and bake at 400 F for about 10 minutes.

Reheat for serving or make them ahead and bake just before guests arrive. Flash un kas can be frozen.

ALTERNATE: Fresh King crab, claw meat, chopped mashed macerated, marinated in Asbach Uralt brandy, black mission figs, cream cheese, pinch of mustard.

Compliments of:

© From Lady Ralston’s Kitchen: A Canadian Contessa Cooks ~ Turning everyday meal making into a Gourmet Experience