Ben has been bugging me for months – maybe even an entire year – to attempt a gluten free donut recipe. More than that, he has been not-so-subtly suggesting a lemon-curd-filled gluten free donut.
This weekend, I finally attempted to make his dream a reality.
I failed miserably.
I thought about taking a picture of the pale, flat, bland little discs on the baking sheet to share with you all how miserable it really was, but couldn’t even be bothered with it. Despite the resounding failure, however, Ben was appreciative of the attempt and even ate a number of them dipped in the lemon curd we made.
“They taste like bland little cookies,” he said, as he made a lemon-curd sandwich with two of them. I love how Ben can always take lemons and make…lemon sandwiches.
I ate my usual rice cakes with sunbutter for breakfast that morning and we tossed the remaining batter in the trash, moving on with our day. Though the donuts won that morning, I will certainly try again, until I get it right.
Our day took us to the Hawthorne district, where I purchased the print pictured at the top of this post. We were at Greg's - recently re-opened almost a month after his passing. He was truly one of Portland's most amazing people (those of you who knew him know) and Ben and I were incredibly saddened to hear of his death. I'm not sure he really knew how many lives he touched, even by some of the simple things he did every day, but Ben and I knew him for a scarce 5 months and we have felt a loss of someone we really admired.
We noticed his shop was open, so we had to go in. A number of Nikki McClure's prints resonated with me, but this one did especially. I often speak of how enjoyable the process is in accomplishing any task, but mostly with cooking and baking.
The process of coming up with a fantastic gluten free donut recipe, is, believe it or not, enjoyable. It's a challenge.
So, the fact that this print depicts someone pitting cherries (which are lush and delicious, but pitting them can be tedious) with the word "process" - it really spoke to me. It also reminds me to slow down, to appreciate the little daily things that might appear tedious, and to think about how these small things matter. Similar to the all the ways Greg touched the Portland community just by doing and being what he did every day.
This will go up in my kitchen.
Though we don’t really “do” the whole Valentine's day thing, I thought it was a good enough excuse as any for us to share a nice red wine and some of our favorite small-bites foods. Taking center stage last night was our bacon-wrapped dates stuffed with toasted almonds and feta cheese.
I know I might get sick of these if I ate them every day, but it would probably take years. They are impossibly delicious – the perfect blend of salty and sweet, especially with the good, thick-sliced bacon and big, juicy medjool dates we used.
These definitely turned out – no more experimenting required!
By the way, that is Dewey in the background - sitting up at the table, grumpy because there is no bacon for him :)
I bought a brick of feta cheese, which is easier to use because you can cut narrow bricks to stuff into the dates. Also, the meatier (less fatty) your bacon, the easier it is to put these together and the better they hold up. You can also use chevre and pipe it in using a plastic bag – just stuff the cheese into the corner of the bag and snip the tip with a scissors and squeeze into the date after you stuff in the almond.
10 medjool dates
5 slices thick-sliced bacon
10 toasted almonds
To remove pits from the dates: using a long, narrow object (I used an orange peeler), push through the end opposite of where the date was attached to the stem and push the pit all the way out of the other end. Remove all of the pits and create a pile of your dates.
Slice 10 small, narrow bricks of feta cheese and pile these pieces next to your dates.
Place your almonds next to your cheese and dates. Then place 10 toothpicks there as well.
On a separate place, slice the bacon slices in half, so you now have 10 shorter slices of bacon.
Stuff each date with a piece of the cheese, then an almond. Then roll the date up in a bacon slice and secure with a tooth pick. Repeat for all dates.
Place dates in a baking dish or a sheet pan with edges and bake at 425F to 450F for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until bacon is cooked through. Higher temperatures will obviously cook the works faster and will make your bacon crisp up more.
Let them cool a bit before you bit into them, because the cheese will be very hot!