12 Weeks Of Christmas | Week 8: Bacon-Wrapped Dates

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Don’t go by how these look- I know they don’t look too pretty. But I guarantee they taste wonderful! A perfect combination of salty & sweet, gooey & crunchy. And it takes just half an hour to put together, including the baking time.

This recipe comes from Anna at The Yellow Table, one of the inspirations behind this series. What I love about Anna’s blog is her focus on entertaining, and how to put together menus and parties for every occasion. She has some great appetizer recipes, ranging from ridiculously easy (like this one!) to more sophisticated but still simple stuff like crostini.

The dates soften and caramelize a little during their time in the oven, and the bacon strips get nice and crispy- it’s a pretty much to-die-for combination. I pitted the dates and added some slivered almonds in the middle, but you can use cheese, too- that would make for a more indulgent bite!

So seriously- the next time you have a party, ditch the chip & dip, trash the tartines and avoid the antipasti. (It’s been awhile since I alliterated, folks! I was itching to!) Just wrap some dates in bacon and stick ‘em in the oven like so. Your guests (a long as they’re not vegetarian/vegan) will be happy.

BACON-WRAPPED DATES (From The Yellow Table.)

INGREDIENTS

  • 30 dates, pitted
  • 30 almond slivers
  • 450 grams bacon strips, each strip cut into thirds

METHOD

  • Preheat the oven to 190 C
  • Place an almond sliver in the middle of each date.
  • Wrap each date in a strip of bacon, wrapping the ends under.
  • Place on a baking tray/sheet, and bake at 190 C for 15 mins until the bacon is crisp and golden.
  • Cool before serving.

12 Weeks Of Christmas | Week 7: Orange & Basil Salad

20141120_163814This is another Padma Lakshmi recipe I saved from a magazine. The combination of orange, sharp red onions and the bitter leaves is pretty darn good. The original recipe calls for blood oranges and pepitas, but I substituted regular oranges and sunflower seeds- they add a pleasant crunch. The Christmasy element comes from the cranberries (I used dried,) and we all know that orange+cranberry are a happy combination.

Here are 3 reasons why you should make this salad:

  • It’s quick;
  • It’s uncomplicated;
  • The oranges make it more fun to eat.

Now I tried really hard to peel and segment the oranges the way chefs do on TV- but I ended up slicing away a good portion of the fruit along with the skin. So the oranges aren’t half-moon shaped, but it was ok, since I was the only one eating it!

Either way, here’s a little tutorial I found.

The original recipe can be found on Popsugar Food.

 

12 Weeks Of Christmas | Week 7 : Roast Potatoes

 

PotatoesAfter weeks of sweets and baked goods, it’s time to switch things up with some savoury sides for the holidays. And no Christmas table is complete without a side of potatoes, in some form.

I love rosemary potatoes, it’s a classic combination, easy to prepare, and is an agreeable accompaniment to all kinds of meat.

There are enough rosemary potato recipes out there, from Jamie Oliver to Ina Garten and even Popsugar + Sorted Food. Most of the recipes I make here come other bloggers and food websites, or from cookbooks I own. But today’s recipe comes out of an old issue of Vogue India! The magazine did a feature on Padma Lakshmi and her favourite holiday recipes, and I went old-school and cut out a few of them for later.

Each of the recipes differs from the other, but is the same at it’s core. Ina adds some minced garlic, the Popsugar recipe calls for a little truffle oil and JO leaves his simple and unadorned, just olive oil+salt+pepper. Padma’s recipe calls for  balsamic and a wee bit of sugar, which adds a lovely sweetness and tang in contrast to the woody rosemary.

ROAST POTATOES WITH ROSEMARY & BALSAMIC VINEGAR (Recipe here.)

INGREDIENTS

  • 500 g baby potatoes
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped rosemary (I used dried)
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  •  A pinch of sugar
  • 1 pinch black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

METHOD

  • Preheat oven to 220 C
  • In a deep saucepan, cover the potatoes with cold water and bring to the boil. Simmer for 25 to 30 minutes. Drain the potatoes, allow them to cool a little and cut into quraters
  • Place the potatoes in a single layer in a shallow baking pan.
  • In  bowl, whisk together olive oil, balsamic vinegar, rosemary, sugar, and black pepper. Drizzle this over the potatoes so they are evenly coated, then sprinkle with salt.
  • Bake at 220C for 20 to 22 minutes.