Above: the perfect happy hour snack
Seven weeks after we packed up our house and moved here, I'm cooking again. It's been a challenge to motivate myself back into the kitchen, because dining out here is just such a delicious experience, and it's also really hard to want to cook with the two borrowed pots we have, especially when we're using one to wash our clothes. Just kidding.
However, this week, the hubby had two work functions that required us to bring something, so on Wednesday I made a watermelon-feta-mint salad based on a recipe from my geriatric crush Jacques Pepin. Then, today, I made these beauties pictured above. Local dates are plentiful this time of year because during Ramadan, Muslims break their fast by first eating something sweet, and dates are one of the many sweets of choice. I bought 2 kilos (approximately 4 pounds) of these dates for less than $2 US dollars, and then promptly turned around and spent $10 on the mascarpone.
The version I made for the hubby's colleagues were sans bacon, because I figured that wrapping snacks in pork for a holiday happy hour leading into the biggest weekend of Ramadan probably wasn't the most culturally sensitive thing to do. Naturally, I came home and promptly rolled up a few of these tasty suckers in the stuff that makes everything taste better.
After the jump, my recipe, adapted from Food & Wine:
Lemon-Scented Mascarpone Dates Wrapped in Bacon
1 pound of dates, pitted*
4 ounces mascarpone
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 teaspoon honey
sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
6-8 strips bacon, cut in half*
2 tablespoons olive oil
lavender salt (or any seasoning salt), for garnish
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (200 degrees Celsius). In a small mixing bowl, combine mascarpone, lemon juice, honey, salt and ground pepper. Using a sharp knife, cut a slit in each date and remove pit (if dates are not already pitted). Fill each date with a small spoonful of mascarpone and wrap with bacon. Secure the bacon onto the date with a toothpick.
In a nonstick, ovenproof skillet, heat olive oil on medium-high until shimmering but not smoking. Reduce heat to medium, add dates and sear until crisp on the bottom. Turn dates over and place skillet in oven until dates are shiny and mascarpone is slightly runny. Remove from oven and transfer to a platter. Sprinkle with lavender salt and serve immediately.
* Notes: I used local Malaysian dates for my recipe, which were cloyingly sweet when roasted in the oven, so I added more lemon juice and reduced the amount of honey to balance the sweetness of the dates. The recipe also originally called for prosciutto, which was insanely expensive here in Kuala Lumpur, so I substituted with bacon. I purchased the lavender salt when we were in San Francisco last month, and I use it every chance I get. It smells like a fresh spring day.