Sunday, 23 July 2017

Let's Make It A Date!


In my last post I promised the recipe for my date paste or puree which is an excellent substitute for sugar in baked goods. It is likewise good on a slice of bread and butter instead of jam. Maybe it can be used to sandwich cookies together or use it as filling for donuts Once you taste it other options will surely come to mind!

This post will be a bit lengthy, so let me start with the main ingredient, namely dates. The second ingredient is water and nothing else. Other items required are a bowl or two, a saucepan, cooking spoon, paring knife, a nylon sieve ( metal gives the puree a not so nice taste and also affects the colour ), jam jars or preserving jars and a wide-mouth funnel.


Raw dates 
I buy my dates locally from the market and usually they are really dry and hard, so they can't really be properly enjoyed until they get some TLC treatment.

Dates soaking in warm water

Put the dates in a bowl and cover with very warm water, not hot! Allow to soak for 30 minutes to 1 hour, depending on how hard they were to start with.
All seeds removed


Use the paring knife to cut the dates open lengthwise to remove the seeds. If dates are still too hard allow them to soak some more.


Place deseeded dates in your saucepan and cover with water. Cover with lid and bring to boil. When boiling, reduce heat to low and remove lid. Allow water to evaporate until you have just 3 or 4 spoonfuls of liquid left which should be a rich brown colour and look rather syrupy. The dates should be very soft now. If not add extra boiling water and again allow liquid to reduce.

Remove from heat and drain off the syrup and set aside. Allow dates to cool a little, then place in  a food processor and process until smooth, adding a little of the reserved liquid to soften the paste. 


Processing the dates

Now is tasting time. If you are satisfied with the texture you can fill the paste into the sterilized jars and seal, using a funnel for convenience. But I find that the skins of the dates don't quite disintegrate, so I add another step to get it really smooth like a proper puree. Turn the lot into a sieve and use a wooden cooking spoon to press through.
Pressing paste through sieve
That way you get a super smooth puree! Fill your jars  just up to the neck and seal with the lid. The puree will keep like this in the fridge for 4 - 6 weeks. To keep for longer storage use a simple preserving method. Choose a pot with a well fitting lid, large enough to hold your jars with at least 3 cm head  space and wide enough so the jars will not touch each other. Place a folded dishtowel on the bottom of the pot, fill with water and bring to boil. Using tongs, place the jars in the pot and bring water back to boil. Water should cover the jars completely. Reduce heat to medium and boil for 10 minutes. Place folded dishcloths on a work surface and carefully add your jars. Let them cool completely before labelling and storing. 

Please, let me know your verdict after you make it. 


Saturday, 15 July 2017

Anya's Muffins

 Since my last post a lot of things have happened to me healthwise. I am not going into gory details, but just want to say that the removal of the gallbladder requires some re-assessment of one's dietary habits. So, now in addition to creating a heart friendly/ diabetic meals for hubby, I have to plan my own with a serious reduction in fats and an increase in fresh fruits and veggies.

In the last couple of months I have designed a few smoothies which I greatly enjoy and take every day as my breakfast. They must be good because my young granddaughters want a share whenever they see me sipping mine!

The recipes for them will come in a later post. Today I will give you a recipe which will indulge your sweet tooth but has no sugar (good for hubby), low in fat (good for me) but rich in taste which is good for everybody!

INGREDIENTS:

2 - 3 ripe bananas
2 eggs
2 Tbsp date paste (recipe will follow in next post)
4 Tbsp vegetable oil
10 - 12 Tbsp milk (keep 2 or 3 Tbsp milk back)
-------
1 cup plain flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup tiger nut flour (or any other nut flour)
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp rum (optional)

METHOD:

Lightly grease a muffin tin for 12 pieces. Preheat oven to 180 C.
Mash bananas with a fork and place in a large bowl. Add remaining wet ingredients and mix well. Sift all dry ingredients and add to bowl. Mix by hand or an electric whisk until well combined. Dough should fall in a heavy ribbon from spoon when lifted, if too solid, mix in the remaining milk.

Use an ice cream scoop to portion dough  into muffin tin. Makes 12. Place in oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes. An inserted toothpick should come out clean when muffins are done. Let stand in the tin for a couple of minutes then remove to a cooling rack.

Another option is to use the same ingredients to bake a cake instead of muffins. For this you use a loaf tin which has been greased and floured. Bake at same temperature for 40 - 45 minutes.

Bon appetit!




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