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Cardamom-orange-honey glazed bacon-wrapped dates filled with Gorgonzola and pecans

Despite the absence of Thanksgiving Day amongst MidEasterraneans, I’ve welcomed the addition of this nationally celebrated day within my family. How could I not? It’s a day to highlight our gratitude and celebrate our blessings…and celebrate with FOOD!

Speaking of gratitude, last week, I came across a quote which I also shared on my Facebook .

 

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” – Melody Beattie

 

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

So as we do every year, we anxiously await for the Thanksgiving long weekend to roast a turkey. Yes of course we have turkey throughout the year, yet turkey somehow tastes better on Thanksgiving. So I made the whole traditional feast – roasted turkey accompanied by caramelized Brussels sprouts with white truffle oil, orange-cranberry sauce (zest of one orange + 1 cup sugar + 1lb cranberries + ¼ cup Pimms; B2B, simmer until cranberries bloom), stuffing (onions + celery + apples + prunes + lots of sage & thyme + home-made croutons all sautéed in butter, white wine and dry sherry), Yukon Gold potato purée,  buttered organic sweet corn, and mushroom gravy. So traditional. So simple. So good.

This year, I added one more menu item – one I know will remain a staple year after year. As an ode to the MidEasterranean theme, I developed a flavor combination that is truly MidEasterranean fusion. Take a look.

Medjool dates (cultivated highly in the Middle East), Gorgonzola cheese (mainly produced in Northern Italy), pecans, cardamom, orange and honey are all staples in MidEasterranean dishes. All enveloped in thick slices of bacon – and bacon, as we know, is universal – and for my non-bacon eating foodie friends, you can sub turkey bacon instead. Wrapped, drizzled with honey, and cooked in the pan until golden crisp, then deglazed with Spanish “Jerez” or sherry.

It’s everything that candied bacon is then kicked up a few notches! These sweet, salty, smoky, cheesy, gooey, sticky morsels are perfect to serve as an appetizer or amuse-bouche.

Nothing complicated here – just the right ingredients coming together to form an unforgettable taste, texture, and flavor combination. FoodPairing at its best. Try it and find out for yourself.

And if you like dates, you must also try my Armenian spice cookies filled with dates and peanut butter recipe.

Cardamom-orange-honey glazed bacon-wrapped dates filled with Gorgonzola and pecans

6 bacon strips, cut in half width-wise

12 dates, pitted

12 tsp Gorgonzola plus more for garnish

12 pecans, halves

Zest of 1 orange, ½ used in filling, ½ used as garnish

1-1/2 tbsp orange-honey

1/4 tsp cardamom

¼ cup dry sherry

Baby arugula, for garnish

12 toothpicks, to secure

Assemble: bacon, Gorgonzola-filled date, topped with pecan halves, orange zest. Envelope, secure with toothpick.

Cook: place in sauté pan over medium-high heat, sprinkle with cardamom powder, render the bacon morsels, then drizzle with orange-honey. Once caramelization starts, deglaze with sherry.

Serve garnished with crumbled Gorgonzola, pecans, arugula, orange zest, and more drizzled honey.

Serves 4 as an appy or 6 as an amuse-bouche.

Bon appétit et bonne vie!