You’re probably thinking, “sweet ole dessert dates for hors d’oeuvres? How crazy is that?” But you will be surprised how quickly these will disappear during cocktail hour. Hot, cold, with bacon or without – they are festive, easy and eminently appreciated.
Stuffed Dates with Goat Cheese
- 12-15 Medjool Dates
- ¼ cup (2 oz.) Goat Cheese, room temperature, soft
- ¼ cup (about 2 oz.) Cream Cheese, room temperature, soft
- ½ teaspoon honey
- ¼ cup pecans, finely chopped (optional)
- Bacon, strips cut in half (optional)
- Salt and pepper
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees, or alternatively, turn on oven broiler and move rack close to heat source. (Only if bacon wrapping dates)
2. Split dates length-wise. Remove pit, forming the opening for the cheese.
3. In small bowl, combine cheeses. Add honey and half chopped nuts. If cheeses are cold, put in food processor and mix until creamy; add honey and nuts if using.
4. Stuff dates with cheese mix. One could use a pastry bag, or Ziploc bag with corner cut off, but spoon stuffing is easy.
5. Mix remaining chopped nuts with a bit of salt and pepper. Dip exposed cheese filling in chopped nuts. If eschewing bacon, serve these as is; room temperature or chilled.
6. If using bacon, wrap bacon around date; secure with toothpick.
7. For bacon wrapped, place on baking sheet and bake about 10 minutes, turning over (with tongs) after first five minutes. If broiling, broil about 3-4 minutes until bacon crisps. Serve immediately.
8. Variations: Use almonds instead of pecans. Use a whole almond placed in the date before stuffing with cheese mix. Use blue cheese instead of goat cheese. Dip in brown sugar instead of nuts and broil. Substitute a strip of thin sliced prosciutto for bacon; added bonus: no need to cook!
9. Have fun with these; make them your own.
Chicken Liver Pate
It is crazy to generalize, but people seem to love or hate liver with very little compromise in between. This hors d’oeuvre is for the former. Serve this and your guests will think you are a genius, or a gourmet.
1. Hard cook 4 eggs. Cool in ice. Cut into fine dice.
2. Melt ¼ butter in skillet; sauté 1 chicken livers (about 3-4 minutes per side); remove from pan. (or broil livers)
3. Slowly sauté 2 diced onions in same pan over low-ish heat. Salt onions. Add more butter if necessary until onions are very soft. Do Not Brown.
4. Put livers, onions and ¼ cup brandy/cognac in food processor. Puree until smooth. Remove to bowl
5. Add eggs to liver mixture. Taste. Add S/P, possibly a SMALL amount of honey, if necessary.
6. Rough mince toasted Pistachio nuts (or nut of choice; pecans also work well). Add to mix
7. Fill 4 oz. buttered ramekins about ½ to ¾ full.
8. Melt butter in clean sauté pan. Pour a THIN sheen of butter over pate in ramekins. Chill well. (Butter will seal top of pate)
9. Service: Lavash crackers, Toasted baguette slices and sliced cucumber on bias. You will get raves.
Susan Delbert joined The Fourth Estate Restaurant at the National Press Club as Executive Chef after working at The Old Ebbitt Grill in Washington, D.C. as Sous Chef for several years. Delbert has worked in several Washington restaurants, including The Oval Room, BeDuCi in Dupont Circle and Gerard’s Place. She started her culinary career as a Front of the House Maitre d’ in Clyde’s of Chevy Chase. She trained at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., where she graduated at the top of her class. She was an invited participant in an Italian regional cooking program sponsored by the Italian Trade Commission.