This is a RARE recipe that does not include any spices! But it was soooo delicious, as part of our Christmas Eve dinner this year, that I had to share it with you.
I am sure that as long as there have been dates, people have been stuffing them. When planning the dinner menu, I thought I remembered seeing dates stuffed with almonds, somewhere in my travels. Turns out, dates stuffed with blue cheese, with or without almonds and bacon, are a classic Spanish dish.
Since I was already serving almonds, I decided to skip them in this dish. Bacon is not a hugely popular ingredient in my family (if you can believe it), so I 86’d that, too.
That left only the blue cheese to deal with. Instinctively, I knew how these two foods would work together. Dates are very dense, intensely sweet with a lingering taste of honey in your mouth. I needed something that would cut through that sweetness and give a sharp, delicious contrast.
“Chaource” cheese is what came to mind! Not a blue, at all, but I knew it would work. Chaource is a cow’s milk cheese with a bloomy, ash-coated rind. It is one of the oddest cheese I’ve encountered, the reason being that it completely changes in character during ripening.
I use “Moonlight Chaource” from The Amazing Real Live Food Co in Pine Plains NY, and I also re-sell it at my farmers markets, so I’ve eaten quite a bit of it over the years.
When it is younger, it is quite firm, almost crumbly in the center, and the rind remains white with grey speckles of ash. As it ages, the interior turns creamy melty gooey, like a ripe Camembert, and the rind darkens somewhat.
Slit each date and remove the pit.
Insert about 1/2 tsp of Chaource into the date.
You can pop the completed dates under a broiler for 1-2 minutes, on a cookie sheet, but you don’t have to (I didn’t).
I am not a baker. Really.
So why did I tackle cornbread muffins? Because I had a fabulous idea for a Mexican-style muffin, and I wasn’t going to let my fear of baking stop me!
Here is the scoop: this is the peak of the corn season, and I’ve been having fun preparing corn all sorts of ways. I pictured some nice, moist cornbread with lots of fresh kernels, something that my sister used to make and call “Corn on the Cube”.