Having been out of cooking commission for most of fall, I missed the season of fancy party snacks and holiday breakfasts. I spent December gazing at a certain very delicious little face, foregoing the mistletoe and the cocktail parties. Now it’s January, and the cinnamon rolls and champagne flutes are fading in the rear view mirror on your way to the gym. 2015, you came quickly.
But I’ve been making up for lost time, now that the babe and I have hit our stride. We’ve had scones and omelettes for brunch, wintry mixed drinks at happy hour, and plenty of snacks. I’ll spare you the over-the-top breakfasts and the bourbony indulgence — for now — but the snacks I’ve been making these past couple weeks are too good not to share. Think of it as some belated holiday cheer.
These dates snapped back into my repertoire after I received a version of them from a friend, shortly after Adi was born. Jana, an excellent cook (and now a maker of very fancy cakes), slipped some chevre into pitted dates, and topped each date with a slice of pistachio and a pinch of minced chives. I ate one, then shamelessly ate all the others before D could get any. And then, the very next day, I added a TJ’s run to our itinerary to pick up dates and chives and chevre and do the whole thing again.
In my scrambled-up version, the chives and chopped pistachios are folded into the chevre, so I could assemble the dates whenever hunger struck. Lazy me snacks straight from the fridge, but if I’m serving them to other people, I bring the dates to room temperature before serving. When I’m feeling fancy, I heat them in a low oven. The heat softens the dates and caramelizes their edges, and of course, no one ever said no to hot, melty cheese.
Maybe you’re the lucky type to be hosting or joining a January dinner party, in which case, go you. Bring these along. If not, there’s not an ounce of shame in eating them for dinner.
Dates Stuffed with Chevre, Pistachios, and Chives
Makes about 20
1 lb. medjool dates (20-22 dates)
5 oz. chevre or other fresh goat cheese
1 1/2 tablespoons minced chives
3 tablespoons shelled salted pistachios, coarsely chopped
flaky salt and cracked pepper
Use a small paring knife to make a lengthwise slit in each date. Remove pits, and splay dates open.
In a small bowl, combine chevre, chives, and 2 tablespoons of pistachios. Use a fork to mash the cheese, softening it while combining it with the chives and pistachios.
Fill each date with a heaping teaspoon of filling. Sprinkle remaining pistachios over dates, and finish with a sprinkle of salt and a bit of cracked pepper.