Archives for posts with tag: dried cherries

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This was somewhat of a magical spring weekend in Brooklyn. Finally, warmth. Finally, a reason to use sunscreen. Finally, dust off the bike and get in the park. I didn’t waste a minute of it. Saturday I was at the farmer’s market in Grand Army Plaza plucking asparagus and radishes (post to come soon). The cherry blossoms made a rosé carpet of petals. Today it was the Fifth Avenue market in Park Slope, stopping by to visit friends at the Butterstein’s kettle corn stand and Runner & Stone‘s tent for Peter Endriss’s almond croissants and rye miche. Other weekend treats included nettle gnochi (from Runner & Stone’s brick-and-mortar restaurant in Gowanus), tatsoi dressed with lemon and olive oil that I made at home, and these chocolate coconut date bars. Raw, vegan. Inspired by fellow blogger Emily von Euw’s recipe for chocolate cream caramel bars over at This Rawsome Vegan Life.

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My friend Jill and I made some substitutions which ultimately worked well but left us with more of a peanut-butter-and-jelly style bar than a chocolate-cream-caramel. We substituted a cup of dates in the nut butter layer with a cup of dried cherries (because we ran out of dates, oops!); and we used peanut butter instead of cashew butter mostly because it’s cheaper. Next time though I think I’ll try with the cashew butter and dates, but this version is lip-smacking. And there is no baking, no heat involved. All you need is a blender or food processor.

And go see the new Jon Favreau movie Chef. It’s the story of a father learning how to get close to his son. It’s a story about how to make the best Cubanos. About how not to settle in life. Just don’t watch this movie hungry like I did.

I also include a photo below of the new Dan Graham installation on the Met’s rooftop garden. If you’re in New York, go see it!  The views, even on a rainy misty evening, are sublime.

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Chocolate Coconut Date Bars (Raw & Vegan)
Adapted from This Rawsome Vegan Life

For the crust:
1 1/4 cup almond flour (or 1 cup almonds)
1 cup dates
pinch of salt

For the nut butter layer:
1/2 cup peanut butter or cashew butter
1/2 cup coconut oil
1 cup dried cherries or dates

For the chocolate layer:
1/3 cup coconut oil
2-3 tbsp cocoa powder
1/4 cup sweetener (I used date syrup; maple syrup or honey would work)
Sea salt, for sprinkling

To make the crust:
Blend the almonds (or almond flour) with the dates in a food processor or blender until smooth and stuck together. Press the mixture evenly into the bottom of a loaf pan or 8 x 8 baking pan lined with parchment paper. Refrigerate while you prepare the rest.

To make the remaining two layers:
Mix the nut butter, coconut oil, and dried cherries or dates in your food processor or blender until smooth. Pour over the slightly chilled crust layer. Refrigerate while you prepare the final layer. Wipe out your blender and add the remaining coconut oil, cocoa powder, and sweetener. Blend until smooth and pour this final layer on top. Chill in the refrigerator for a couple of hours. Or in the freezer for about 30 minutes. Before serving sprinkle some Maldon sea salt flakes over the top.

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Last month, my roommate hosted a party in our apartment celebrating his grandmother’s 90th birthday. I was in Milwaukee, but enjoyed the leftovers when I returned to New York. One of my favorite dishes Mark made with his mother was this Israeli couscous salad with dried cherries, arugula, and walnuts. We had so much of it left in our fridge I brought some out to my grandmother, knowing she’d probably never had couscous (which she now calls “frou-frou”) but might like it nonetheless.

Did she ever. I was sorry I’d only brought a pint-size container full. She wanted more and has asked for it ever since. So Labor Day weekend, before driving out to Long Island, I whipped up a batch to take over. I had most of the ingredients on hand; the day before, at the co-op, I only had to pick up some more couscous in bulk (Israeli couscous, also known as pearl couscous, is made from baked wheat and is bigger and rounder than North African couscous, which is finer and made from semolina). Instead of orange juice, like the recipe called for, I used grapefruit juice since that’s what I had in my fridge.

Of course, this recipe is just asking for substitutions. I bet fresh squeezed lemon juice, cooked eggplant, feta, and mint would work nicely. Or chickpeas, turmeric, a dried red chile pepper, and cilantro.

This salad makes for a great lunch during the week, and doesn’t require heating up. Leftovers last a few days at least, although the arugula will begin to wilt once dressed. Give it a try, and hey, offer it to someone who thinks couscous is called “frou-frou” because I think they just might like it.

Couscous salad with dried cherries, walnuts, and arugula

For the couscous:
1 c water
2/3 c orange or grapefruit juice
1 1/3 c (1/2 lb) Israeli (pearl) couscous

For the salad:
1/4 c orange or grapefruit juice
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
2/3 c dried cherries
2 stalks celery, finely diced
3 oz (a couple handfuls) arugula
1/2 c walnuts, lightly toasted
1 shallot, peeled and minced
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Put the water and the juice in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir in the couscous, cover the pan, and turn the heat down to a simmer. Cook for 20 minutes. Prepare a large baking sheet by covering it with parchment paper. When the couscous has absorbed all the liquid spread it out on the baking sheet to cool.

Whisk together the juice, olive oil, and red wine vinegar in a glass measuring cup or bowl. Add the dried cherries and microwave for 2 minutes on high. (Alternatively, you can bring the mixture to a simmer in a small saucepan on the stove, then stir in the cherries and turn off the heat.) Let the cherries stand in the liquid for at least 5 minutes, until they are glossy and plump. Drain off the liquid into another cup and reserve.

When the couscous has cooled to lukewarm, slide the couscous into a large mixing bowl. Take the reserved liquid drained from the cherries and whisk vigorously until thoroughly combined. Stir this into the couscous. Stir in the steeped cherries, celery, arugula, walnuts, and shallot. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Serves 4–6.

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