I learned about Harry & David’s new wine collection during a media trip with 12 other food writers. One of them was Sandy Coughlin, of Reluctant Entertainer. While Sandy is anything but a reluctant entertainer, her site and book are focused on helping those who are. Sandy offers tips and tricks to make even the…
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If you’re like us, you have a ton of cookbooks that you sift through before every party. And if you’re like us, there’s one or two recipes that you always go to for those parties. Maybe they are easy recipes, or maybe they are amazing recipes to pair with wines. Or, perhaps they’re just great appetizers that get the party off on the right foot. I’d like to share one of our favorite recipes, taken from Williams-Sonoma, Entertaining, by George Dolese, that fits all of those categories. This recipe is easy, makes great appetizers, and those appetizers are perfect to pair with Champagne.
This delicious appetizer is so easy to make, my 12 year old son was the chef. He had a tiny bit of help from us, but in general, he did everything from preparing the dates, to stuffing them, topping them, and baking them. Therefore, even if you have no cooking skill, you can make a perfect appetizer to impress your guests. We’ll cover the recipe step by step, and recap at the end.
Dates Stuffed With Goat Cheese
The Williams-Sonoma Entertaining book recommends you use Medjool dates, however, our grocery store just had “dates” and they worked fine. I don’t like to discriminate. Start by preheating your oven to 375 degrees.
Lightly oil a baking dish that is just large enough to fit your dates in a single layer
Take a paper towel and use it to wipe the oil on the pan, removing excess. You want your dates to not stick to the pan, but you aren’t deep frying them. That’s for Paula Dean!
Put 1 TBS of olive oil in a small fry pan and warm on medium heat for 1-2 minutes.
Once the oil is warmed, you’ll pour 2 TBS of plain breadcrumbs (or panko) into the pan and cook, stirring constantly, until they are evenly golden brown, about 1 1/2 minutes.
Remove pan from heat and transfer crumbs to a plate, letting them cool. While the breadcrumbs cool, start pitting your dates. Using a sharp paring knife, slit the top of each date lengthwise, and carefully pry the pit out.
Be careful not to make the slit on top of the dates too long, or your goat cheese will ooze out when baking. It takes a little practice, but you’ll get it. You want to make a little pocket in each date to stuff the goat cheese into.
Once all of your dates are pitted, you’ll begin filling them with the goat cheese. Using a small spoon, gently fill each date with enough goat cheese that it just crests the top of the date.
Once all of your dates are stuffed, arrange them in a single layer in your lightly oiled pan. Top each date with some of the toasted breadcrumbs.
Once all of your dates are stuffed and topped with breadcrumbs, you’re ready for the bake. Bake dates on 375 until warmed, about 10-12 minutes.
Remove from oven and carefully transfer to serving dish. The dates will be hot, so use a spatula or tongs.
These dates are simple to make, and delicious. They’re a surefire appetizer to serve at any party. The dates also pair perfectly with Champagne or sparkling wine.
We paired our dates stuffed with goat cheese with an excellent Champagne from Vilmart & Cie, the NV Grand Cellier Brut, Premier Cru.
The Vilmart & Cie “Grand Cellier” Brut Premiere Cru is a blend of 70% Chardonnay and 30% Pinot Noir. The Brut NV Premier Cru Grand Cellier is the first in a line of specialty and Tete de Cuvees in the Vilmart line up. The blend is aged 3-5 years on the lees before degorgement, which helps create a full and rich mouth feel. This is a great NV Champagne incredible length, sophistication and mineral strength that is not usually found in non-vintage Champagne. The high percentage of Chardonnay provides a fresh apple and light tropical fruit note that is a beautiful and harmonious balance between crisp and full. Alder Yarrow from Vinograpy rated this $73 Vilmart & Cie “Grand Cellier” Champagne between 9 and 9.5 out of 10.
If you make these dates, let me know what you think. And more importantly, let me know what Champagne you pair them with.
Goat Cheese Stuffed Dates
- 1 T olive oil
- 2 T fine dried bread crumbs or panko
- 24 large dates, preferably Medjool
- 1/4 lb soft fresh goat cheese
- Preheat oven to 375. Lightly oil a baking dish just large enough to hold dates in single layer.
In a small frying pan, over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the bread crumbs (or panko) and cook, stirring constantly, until they are evenly golden brown, about 1 1/2 minutes. Remove pan from heat and transfer crumbs to plate, let cool.
With a small knife, make a small lengthwise incision in each date. Carefully remove the pits. Stuff 1 t of goat cheese into cavity left by the pit.
Arrange the dates, with goat cheese side facing upward, in the prepared dish. Sprinkle the crumbs evenly over the top. (The dates can be prepared up to this point 24 hrs in advance. Store, tightly covered in refrigerator.)
Bake the dates until warmed through, 10-12 minutes. Transfer to a serving platter and serve warm.
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