[Sca-cooks] Dates

Stefan li Rous StefanliRous at austin.rr.com
Fri Feb 8 14:51:21 PST 2008

Felicia asked about dates:

<<< I was the happy recipient of a box of dates brought back from  
Dubai by a co-worker.  (It WAS a 2 pound box.    I now have about a  
pound and a half left.) They are huge, moist and delicious.  Not at  
all like the stale dried up things you get in boxes in the local  
supermarket.  I would like to make something with them this weekend  
to bring into the office Monday to share the bounty.  I've looked at  
recipes for standard date nut breads and variations on the theme, but  
I am searching for something slightly outside the norm.  Do any of  
you have a recipe that the modern masses might enjoy, but is not the  
same old same old? >>>

I wouldn't look for a recipe where the dates are chopped up, because  
it sounds like the advantages to these large, moist dates would be  
lost. I would look at some of the stuffed date recipes. I think there  
are both modern and medieval recipes.

There are some recipes in this file:
dates-msg         (32K) 12/14/03    Period date fruits. Recipes.

For instance:
From: lilinah at earthlink.net
Date: Mon, 9 Jul 2001 22:52:30 -0700
To: sca-cooks at ansteorra.org
Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] period sweets

 >...I shall be IN persona.. a woman of 10th century Al-Andalus...  
what would
 >be the proper sweetmeats that I would make and offer to my 'guests'...
 >Islamic Empire - 10th century..
 >'bella / Aine

Here are two 13th century Muslim recipes:

They're from the book "In A Caliph's Kitchen" by David Waines. His
worked out recipes don't always follow the originals, but for the
sweets they are pretty close. It is long out of print and i searched
for nearly 2 years for a used copy before i gave up and got it via
Inter-Library Loan.

I've included the Original (as published in "In a Caliph's Kitchen")
and David Waine's version, along with my notes and one of Lord
Cariadoc's redactions. I've never made these myself because i don't
like sweets much.
<snip of Khushknanaj recipe - See desserts-msg?

Rutab mu'assal
"Honeyed Dates" (literally)
13th c. recipe - source not specified

Take freshly gathered dates and lay in the shade and air for a day.
Then remove the stones and stuff with peeled almonds. For every 10
ratls of dates take 2 ratls of honey. Boil over the fire with two
uqiya of rose water and half a dirham of saffron, then throw in the
dates, stirring for an hour. Remove and allow to cool. When cold,
sprinkle with fine-ground sugar scented with musk, camphor,and
hyacinth. Put into glass preserving jars, sprinkling on top some of
the scented ground sugar. Cover until the weather is cold and chafing
dishes are brought in. [my note: might "chafing dishes" be "braziers"
used to warm the house?]

David Waines' version:
1 lb. fresh dates
2 Tb. honey
4 oz. blanched almonds
3 Tb. rosewater
big pinch saffron
2 Tb. castor sugar (extra fine granulated sugar)
2 Tb. ground cinnamon [i think that's a bit much!]

1.) Carefully slit each date down one side and remove the pit.
2.) Into each date place one blanched almond, then squeeze closed.
3.) Mix together rosewater, honey, and saffron in a small saucepan.
Bring to a boil and simmer 3 minutes. Remove and allow to cool
4.) Add dates to syrup, spooning it over the dates so each is
thoroughly coated. Leave them in the syrup for a couple of hours.
5.) Remove dates and roll each one in caster sugar mixed with cinnamon.
My notes:
I have never made this. That said... (1) i've seen some dates that
were a bit hard. If you end up with these, you can simmer them in
water to cover until they're tender, probably a few minutes. Drain
and cool before proceeding. (2) Also, you can sometimes find pitted
dates, which could save a bit of work. (3) you might want to put more
than one almond in a date, depending on the size of the almonds and
of the dates. (almonds in Morocco were rather small, but they were
incredibly flavorful.)

Well, that's it for these two recipes... There some others, but these
sounded not bad to me and like they might work for your schtick.


THLord Stefan li Rous    Barony of Bryn Gwlad    Kingdom of Ansteorra
    Mark S. Harris           Austin, Texas           
StefanliRous at austin.rr.com
**** See Stefan's Florilegium files at:  http://www.florilegium.org ****

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