Sometimes life turns into such a whirlwind that my to-do list goes on and one yet nothing gets done. Case in point? Last October, I was invited to a lunch at Montreal’s Guilde culinaire — a very dangerous place I love dangerously — for an event organized by Natural Delights Medjool Dates.
The menu featured 7 courses from appetizers to desserts, and savoury to sweet, all concocted around dates. I was blown away at how versatile dates are, who knew? Cooking up a storm that day, chef-owner Jonathan Garnier had the assembly of journalists smiling at his way with food and words alike.
Since we were seated at the counter with a direct view on staff plating dishes, I decided to play Kid iPhone for once and photographed the whole proceedings. It was fascinating to watch the plates come together one carefully-placed ingredient at a time. And the whole meal proved fan.tas.tic. I always entertain doubts about TV chefs, let’s face it, but was quite delighted by the spot-on taste and plain deliciousness of everything served that day. Kudos to chef Garnier. Of course, I achieved nothing else all afternoon as I sat comatosed at my work table. Tough job but somebody must, you know, eat it.
In the first of the series, here are some of the photographs and, more importantly, a Goat Cheese Samossa with Date Ketchup recipe graciously provided by Natural Delights and La Guilde Culinaire. I don’t remember ever posting recipes from events I attend, so it says it all. Try them and enjoy?
About Medjool dates
Medjool are grown all around the world in desert-like areas from the Middle East to Africa, California, etc. There exist several families of dates — like Deglet Noor, Halaway and Zahidi —, but Medjool are considered the king of dates because of their size, rich taste and tender flesh even when dried. The perfect choice to sweeten dishes naturally, they rock on several levels: they’re a good source of fibre and contain many minerals like potassium, magnesium and copper.
You can use dates to cook many types of recipes as shown by chef Garnier; combine them with yoghurt for a healthy breakfast on the run; stuff them with meat or nuts for a quick appetizer; add them to your usual break or cake dough, etc. Little-known storage tip: dates can be frozen! In fact, that’s how they are usually shipped to your favourite fruit store… Feel free to do so at home too.
1st course: Samossa, soup and burger
Carrot Velouté with Dates
1 diced onion
45 mL (3 Tbsp) Mycryo cocoa butter or canola oil
1 kg (2 lbs) diced carrots
1 garlic clove, germ removed
2 L (8 cups) water
100 g (3 1/2 oz) Natural Delights Medjool Dates, pitted
20 mL (4 tsp) unsalted butter
15 mL (1 Tbsp) cumin powder
15 mL (1 mL) coriander powder
15 mL (1 Tbsp) ginger powder
15 mL (1 Tbsp) curry powder
15 mL (1 Tbsp) salt and a little pepper
In a hot pan over medium heat, soften onion in Mycryo butter or canola oil. Add carrots and garlic. Do not let colour. Add water, then cover and simmer 20 minutes.
Using the end of knife, check if carrots or done. If not, continue cooking a little.
With a hand-held mixer, blend soup until silky smooth.
Add dates, cold butter, cumin, coriander, curry, salt and pepper, mixing until well-blended.