Spring Recipe Idea: Bacon Wrapped Dates Stuffed with Goat Cheese & Almonds

Just in time for Easter brunch – an easy and delicious recipe.

Bacon wrapped anything is just plain good. Wrap bacon around a scallop and you have an impossibly delicious land-meets-sea cocktail party morsel. Cover a chicken liver in bacon and you can make an offal-hater on a diet believe “fat meets fat” is a good thing (Fat is not a bad thing, by the way, but that’s a topic for another blog).

I started at Murray’s 3 months ago and one of my first assignments was to make our Bacon Wrapped Dates. I was quickly reminded of how much I adore bacon wrapped things when I pulled the first batch from the oven and – for professional reasons of course – popped one in my mouth.

The first rush is the smoky-salty perfection that is bacon, freshly sliced Nueske’s slab bacon to be precise. The bacon is wrapped around a plump Medjool date which any oven magically transforms into a gooey sweet candy. And here comes the kicker: inside the date is a creamy, tangy oozing bite of Bucheron goat cheese AND a surprising, pleasant crunch thanks to a single Marcona almond.

Crunchy, creamy. sweet, and salty – all in one bite. There isn’t a thing missing from this 3-D style hors d’oeuvres experience. It’s like a study in contrast of flavor and texture, I kid you not. Salty. Sweet. Creamy Crunchy. Want to make them? Of course you do. Lucky for you it’s incredibly easy. So get going, and bon appetit!

Bacon-Wrapped Dates     makes 10 pieces

10 Medjool dates (the large ones), pit removed with a paring knife

10 slices bacon (sliced thin)

10 whole marcona almonds

8-10 oz Bucheron

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Gently push 1 ounce of cheese and one almond inside each date. Squeeze the cut section of the date together. The natural stickiness will serve as a seal when you press the sides together and will help keep the cheese from oozing out.
  3. Lay a bacon strip down long ways and roll the date into the bacon.
  4. Place the dates on a baking sheet. If you have a wire cooling rack, place it on top of sheet pan and bake on this so the fat drips through the rack.
  5. Cook in the middle of the oven for 12-15 minutes, until the bacon is crisp.
  6. Dates will be hot! Let cool thoroughly to at or near room temperature before serving.

 

Michele Pulaski is a consulting chef at Murray’s Cheese. She has a way with words and can’t resist a colorful scarf.

Melts Recipes

MURRAY’S BREAKFAST MELT 

with Fontina Fontal and Nueske’s Bacon from the Murray’s Melts Pack

Click here to see Liz Thorpe making our Breakfast Melt on Martha Stewart

Cook bacon in your preferred method – we cook it in the oven for maximum crispness and minimal greasiness.

Place English muffin split-side down on your skillet or griddle — cook until toasted. Turn and top each half with a slice of cheese. Reduce heat, cover, and cook until cheese is melted. Remove from heat and set aside.

Melt butter in your skillet or griddle; crack egg onto melted butter and cook until whites are set; flip and top egg with a slice of cheese.  Cook until it’s done for you (runny or set).

Transfer the fried egg to your muffin, top with bacon and the other half of the muffin.  Devour and enjoy!

BCT – BACON, CHEESE & TOMATO

with Aggiano, Fontina and Bacon from the Murray’s Melts Pack

STRAIGHT OUTTA COMTE

with Comte from the Murray’s Melts Pack

MONGER FAVORITES… no instructions required!

  • Fontina Fontal & Caramelized Onions (Michele)
  • Gruyere with Fennel & Curry Mayo (Andrew)
  • Pepperjack on white bread (Nick)
  • Cheddar, apple and bacon – use yellow cheddar and mix in some Cabot Clothbound (Sascha)
  • Egg, bacon, tomato, avocado and any Alpine melter like Gruyere (Josie)
  • Bacon, tomato and a mix of Gruyere and Fontina Fontal (Liz) + a cup of Murray’s tomato soup (Mike)
  • Brie, Jambon Royal, Cornichons, and Dijon (aka the Frenchie at Murray’s)
  • Pepperjack, Tasso Ham & caramelized onions (Jason)

Our Grilled Cheese Secrets (sshhh, don’t tell anyone)

From Steve Millard, Master Melter / Bleecker Store Director

Bread: Use either really good thick cut bread, like sourdough Pullman cut ½” thick.  Or go the other end with really cheap sandwich bread.

Butter: Butter is paramount to a superb grilled cheese sandwich.  I recommend Vermont Butter and Cheese sea salt butter.  Let the butter sit at room temperature for at least an hour to soften.  Spread an even coat of butter on the bread — not too much to make it greasy, and not too little to not even matter.

Cheese: Any cheese will melt, but not every cheese will make a delicious grilled cheese.  Look for alpine-style, melting, cheddar styles – here are a few great ones.  Generally speaking, blue cheeses do not make for good grilled cheese sandwiches.  Hard, Grana-style cheeses will work as an added flavor, but should not be the main cheese.  If you’re in  a hurry, soft cheeses like Brie and any cheese that you first shred will take less time to melt.

Think in terms of flavor combinations and what sort of grilled cheese sandwich you want to make.  You can add meats, vegetables, caramelized onions, roasted peppers, jams, relish, pickles, etc. to any grilled cheese.

Method: Cook on a flat surface. A panini press works the best at about 400 degrees.  A flat surface griddle will also work – just use some weight (such as another pan) to press the sandwich on the griddle.  Whether you’re using a press or a griddle, flip the sandwich half way to ensure even toasting.  The bread should be adequately toasty and not greasy.  Don’t rush the sandwich: 4-5 minutes will make for a sublime grilled cheese that will have wonderfully melted cheese and perfectly toasty bread.

Add-ons: Chips, tomato soup and a crisp, bubbly beverage.  I love GuS Dry Soda — soda helps cleanse the pallet and make each bite the more enjoyable.   Of course, beer is a perfect combination, I like a Pale Ale with a nice hoppy kick.

Dips to fill your SUPER bowl

Quick, cheesy, yummy.  What else can make your Super Bowl Sunday this delicious?

BLACK & BLUES DIP

This is the quickest blue cheese dip ever — great for wings and crudité.

1 lb. blue cheese, crumbled – use the Black River Blue from our new Super Bowl Shuffle package or order an extra pound.

1/2 Cup mayonnaise

1/2 Cup sour cream

2 TBS. apple cider vinegar

Dash of Worchestire sauce

Dash of Piri Piri sauce

Sea salt & freshly ground pepper

Optional: minced baby chives

Place all ingredients with half of the crumbled blue in a mixing bowl or use your mixer if you would like it ultra-smooth. Whisk vigorously or pulse in mixer until blended. Add in the remaining crumbles for the chunky factor; salt & pepper to taste. Want it more savory with a hint of heat?  Double dash with Piri Piri for that extra kick.

SPINACH FETA DIP

1 lb. pack frozen chopped spinach

1/2 Cup sour cream

1/2 Cup mayonnaise

1/2 Cup Crumbled Feta – either Bulgarian or French

2 TBS. dried oregano

Zest & juice of one lemon

Sea salt & freshly ground pepper

Optional: 2 TBS. Walnut oil (adds great flavor!)

Optional: Toasted Walnuts  (adds great flavor!)

Steam the frozen spinach and thoroughly drain the liquid. Place the spinach in a fine mesh strainer and press all of the liquid out of it.  Chop the drained spinach on a cutting board.

Place the chopped spinach in a bowl and add all of your other ingredients and stir.  Save a little feta to sprinkle on the top as well as the nuts.

Refrigerate in an air tight container, overnight is just fine.  When ready to serve, you can mix in more lemon, salt, feta to flavor it, and top with feta and walnuts.  Serve with endive, tortilla chips, flatbreads or crusty bread.

PIMENTO CHEDDAR DIP

1 lb. cheddar: our favorite is Tickler

1/3 lb.  cream cheese

1/2 Cup mayonnaise

1 tsp. white pepper

1 tsp. smoked paprika

2 tsp. cayenne

8 oz. jar roasted red peppers

1 tsp. sugar

Dash Worchestire sauce

Optional: pickled jalapenos (if you like it spicy)

Use a grater or a food processor to shred the cheddar.  Pulse the red peppers in the food processor.  Add spices and cream cheese and pulse until mixed.  Then just add in cheddar and pulse until mixed – go for a textured (not smooth) finish.  Serve with celery, apples and bread.

Three Ways to Do the ‘Due

Who isn’t a fan of fondue? On a cold winter night there are few things more comforting than melted cheese, especially when friends and family are gathered around to share in the experience.

And we’ll let you in on a little secret: Fondue is the perfect storm of minimal effort and maximum rewards. A true cornerstone of entertaining for lazy people. It’s so easy that we made three batches in an just under an hour to try out some new recipes, which you’ll find below. What are you waiting for? Get melting!

RECIPE #1 : Basic Fondue

This is the “classic” recipe most people think of when thinking of fondue. Want to add a little flair to your fondue? Substitute 1/4 lb of any cheese below with a more flavorful Alpine style cheese like Scharfe Maxx, Etivaz, or Vacherin Friborgeois.

Serves 3-4

Ingredients:

1 Cup Chardonnay

½# Gruyere, shredded

½# Emmenthaler, shredded

¼# Appenzeller, shredded

2 Tbsp Cornstarch

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1 Tbsp lemon juice

1 Tbsp Kirsch (if desired)

Pinch of salt and pepper to taste

1 clove garlic

Method:

  1.  Take garlic glove and cut in half.  Rub the garlic clove halves all over the inside of your fondue pot or thick bottomed pot on your stove.
  2. Add the wine and lemon juice and bring to a simmer.
  3. In a large bowl combine all cheeses and the cornstarch tossing the cheese several times until all cornstarch has evenly coated the cheese.
  4. Add cheese to the liquid in the pot over low heat.
  5. Stir frequently with a wooden spoon.  Approximately 7-10 minutes until all cheese has been fully melted and your fondue has a smooth consistency.
  6. Add nutmeg.  Add salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Serve it up!  Keep over low flame to keep fondue melted.

Accompaniments of apples, ham, crusty bread, and cornichons will complete your meal.

RECIPE #2: Steve’s Fondue

A funky twist on a classic. The combination of Etivaz, nutmeg and Piri Piri makes this fondue especially rich, flavorful and nuanced in a way that will make people say, “Do I detect a hint of…?” Yes. Yes you do.

Serves 3-4

Ingredients:

1 cup Samuel Adams Boston Lager or other Lager

½# Gruyere, shredded

½# Emmenthaler, shredded

¼# Etivaz, shredded

2 Tbsp cornstarch

2 teaspoons Piri Piri

1 Tbsp lemon juice

1 garlic clove

1 teaspoon nutmeg

Salt and pepper

Method:

Follow method for basic fondue. Add Piri Piri at the end, seasoning to taste.

Serve with accompaniments of your choice. We like it with roasted Brussels sprouts and potatoes, chorizo, tasso ham, and crusty bread.

Recipe #3: Matt’s Fondue

If you’re ready to take your fondue to the next level, also known as “The Maxx,” this is the ‘due for you. Bold flavor, silky smooth texture and unmistakable nuttiness.

Serves 3-4

Ingredients:

1 cup Samuel Adams Boston Lager or other Lager

½# Scharfe Maxx, shredded

½# Gruyere, shredded

¼# Appenzeller, shredded

2 Tbsp cornstarch

1 Tbsp lemon Juice

1 garlic clove

1 teaspoon nutmeg

Salt and pepper

Method:

Follow method for Basic Fondue.

Serve with accompaniments of your choice. We like apples, saucisson sec, potatoes, roasted fennel or pearl onions, crusty bread, and cornichons.