Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Gorgonzola Stuffed Dates and #bookgiveaway

By Leslie Budewitz

I'm counting down to the release of GUILTY AS CINNAMON on December 1. Leave a comment below---tell me your favorite holiday appetizer---for a chance to win a signed copy!

One of the secrets of adult life is to choose friends who cook well. Our friend Zhamal is originally from Kazahkstan—she met her American husband, a long-time friend of my husband, when they worked on a Russian fishing ship. She’s a fun friend and a fun cook, and introduced us to these yummy stuffed dates. They’re perfect little flavor bombs, combining salty, sweet, and savory, and crunchy, chewy, and creamy. They’re also a perfect appetizer, and they transport easily—making them a great choice if you’re a guest contributing to the Thanksgiving feast.

We use Medjool dates because they’re large and yummy; other varieties would work, too. Don’t bother paying more for pitted dates— you need to cut them open to stuff them! And Medjool dates are fairly dry—the pits just popped out.

If you don’t have parchment paper, remove the dates immediately after baking—the sugar in the vinegar will caramelize as it cools, and the dates may stick to the tray. Use the thickest balsamic you’ve got. It won’t look like it’s staying on the dates, but it will make a nice coating anyway—and when you turn the dates, they’ll pick up a little more of the vinegar! You can drizzle with a little more vinegar on the serving plate if you’d like—test them and see if your taste buds want another hit.

We followed Zhamal’s lead and used Gorgonzola, but any blue cheese or goat cheese would provide a creamy tang that will make you a popular guest.

Leftovers will keep a couple of days—but I doubt you’ll have any. Especially if you make them for Thanksgiving. Me, I'm looking forward to seeing my blog sisters' menu suggestions---because we're going to Zhamal's house!

Gorgonzola Stuffed Dates

1/2 pound Medjool dates (18-20)
½ cup blue cheese
3 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto
2-3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Pit the dates by making a slit along one side and popping out the pit.

Stuff the opening with cheese.

Cut prosciutto into 2 inch-wide ribbons, about 4 inches long. Wrap each stuffed date with prosciutto. Place wrapped dates on the baking sheet. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar.

Bake 7-10 minutes, then turn dates and bake for another 7-10 minutes, until the prosciutto is slightly crisp.

Remove from oven and place dates on a serving dish immediately.

Serves 6 as an appetizer—plan on three dates a person.

Leave a comment below by midnight, Wednesday, November 18---tell me your favorite holiday appetizer---for a chance to win a signed copy of GUILTY AS CINNAMON, the second Spice Shop Mystery out December 1. 

Pepper Reece knows that fiery flavors are the spice of life. But when a customer dies of a chili overdose, she finds herself in hot pursuit of a murderer…

From the cover ...

Murder heats up Seattle’s Pike Place Market in the next Spice Shop mystery from the national bestselling author of Assault and Pepper.

Springtime in Seattle’s Pike Place Market means tasty foods and wide-eyed tourists, and Pepper’s Seattle Spice Shop is ready for the crowds. With flavorful combinations and a fresh approach, she’s sure to win over the public. Even better, she’s working with several local restaurants as their chief herb and spice supplier. Business is cooking, until one of Pepper’s potential clients, a young chef named Tamara Langston, is found dead, her life extinguished by the dangerously hot ghost chili—a spice Pepper carries in her shop.

Now stuck in the middle of a heated police investigation, Pepper must use all her senses to find out who wanted to keep Tamara’s new café from opening—before someone else gets burned…

Leslie Budewitz is the author of the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries and the Spice Shop Mysteries—and the first author to win Agatha Awards for both fiction and nonfiction. The president of Sisters in Crime, she lives in northwest Montana with her husband, a musician and doctor of natural medicine, and their cat Ruff, a cover model and avid bird-watcher.

Connect with her on her website or on Facebook.