2011/03/22

Ahhhhh (Date Butter)

A few Saturday's ago, the most bizarre thing happened to me.  Like bizarre to epic proportions...


Now, I am sure to most this is a common place event.  And not monumental.  At all.  But to me.  It was a "Wow, what do I do now moment?"


Do I have you stumped yet????  I do?  Okay.  Here goes...


...I had the house to myself for like a four whole hours.  Four blissful hours of solitude.  There was not a creature stirring.  No one asking me to feed them.  Wash their clothes.  Find something.  No cries of "M-o-o-o-m-m-m, Can you..."


The couch was mine.  The remote was mine.  The computer was mine.  The kitchen was mine (well, the kitchen is ALWAYS mine - especially the dirty contents of the sink and the dishwasher... UGH).  I think my eyes welled up with tears of joy when I realized my good fortune.  (Now mind you, I dearly love all my peeps but absence makes the heart grow fonder and all that...)


So how does one celebrate these stolen moments of solitude?


Sorry to disappoint, but no spa day was involved.  No shopping spree.  It was too cold for a run (the temperatures were still hovering in the single digits and a fresh blanket of snow was covering the ground). 

 

It went down like this.  I popped some freshly risen dough into the oven.  Whipped up a batch of "adult date butter" (see ingredient list).  Slathered some of my freshly made spread onto a slice of bread.  Grabbed the past couple of months of periodicals that I hadn't weeded through yet and a couple of fat cookbooks.  Snatched the remote.  Turned on one of "those shows" (you know, the ones that you love but never get to watch because everyone else whines when they are on...BLAH) and settled in until it was time to reluctantly start rounding up the herd peeps. 


And it was...  Heaven.  Bliss.  Beyond words. 

And since it will probably be many more cycles of the moon before solitude comes my way again.  I shall cling to those few moments and savor the memory.  And know that in just a few short years, I will long for the hustle & bustle of days gone by and lament about the excessive solitude that was once so cherished. 
 

This is one of my favorite winter-time spreads (although good all year).  The complex, deep flavors of the red wine combined with the sweetness of the dates pair nicely with the tang of sourdough.  It is also lovely with any of your "darker grains" (whole wheat, rye, spelt, buckwheat).  Oh, and the smell of this cooking on the stove top is enough to brighten the spirits on a cold, dreary day.  How can you stay miserable when red wine & spices are simmering away?  Just saying...

 
Date Butter
Adapted from Fig Butter recipe in Good to the Grain by Kim Boyce
1/2 cup sugar
3 whole cloves
1 star anise
1 cup red wine (Cabernet Sauvignon is nice)
1/2 cup ruby port
1 pound dried Medjool dates - pitted
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature

Combine 1/4 cup water and sugar into a small sauce pan.  Stir together with a wooden spoon.  (If any gets on the side, wet down with a pastry brush dipped in cool water).  Add the cloves & star anise (I like to wrap them in a cheesecloth bundle secured with twine - digging cloves out of a dark red mixture, not so simple...).  Bring to a boil over medium heat & cook until sugar darkens to amber (~8-10 minutes). 

Add the wine, port, dates & cinnamon (Be careful - the syrup will be hot & might spurt up.  Trust me, hot syrup does not feel so good...).   At this point the syrup will harden - it is okay, I promise!  Keep cooking at medium heat for a couple of minutes - everything will start to mix back up. 

Reduce heat to low & simmer gently until the liquids have reduced by half (~30 minutes or so).  Once mixture is reduced, remove pan from heat.  Cool to room temperature. 

Scrape the cooled mixture into a food processor and puree until smooth.  (~1 minute).  Add the room temperature butter and process again until smooth.  If not using right away, place into an air tight container.  It will keep, refrigerated for ~1 month (if it lasts that long).  Or you can just spoon it into the gullet straight up...  Your choice!

11 comments:

  1. That fig butter looks yummy! What a great way to spend the time to yourself!

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  2. Cher, glad you had some alone time. Now that my boy is almost 13...I have it more than I expected. It's nice...but sad too! The date butter looks amazing!!

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  3. That sounds like the perfect afternoon and the date butter - divine!

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  4. wow, this looks like a new recipe for me, sounds great !

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  5. I just realized in the last couple of years how much I love dates! This sounds delicious esp. with freshly baked bread! Glad you enjoyed your day off! Sounds like a wonderful afternoon!

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  6. And you adapted that from fig butter! Woo hoo! Brash! Do you think, because dates are so sweet, that I could leave out the sugar and it would still taste heavenly?

    And ... I do SO identify with that feeling of being alone in the house. Sometimes I would just not do ANYTHING but sit and listen to the silence.

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  7. @ Becky. You could probably reduce the sugar to 1/4 cup - it would probably be okay to make a lesser amount of the syrup. I don't know if I would be brave enough to cut out all the sugar. But if you ever try it that way, let me know how it works out!

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  8. Wow, Cher, this sounds fabulous! I love apple butter, and this more exotic fruit butter must be incredible...yum!

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  9. Cher, Love the date butter! I always make fig jam in the fall, with fresh figs but , this sounds so yummy! I am looking forward to giving it a try with the figs! The combination of the dry figs and port just pulled me right in! Glad you had a good day.

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  10. Date Butter!?! I would never have thought of it, but it sounds delicious!!

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