My father spent some time as a young man in the services (RAF) in Egypt and developed a taste for dates and figs. Consequentially come Christmas we always used to have dates and figs on the "nibbles" table together with fresh Clementines and other speciality foods. Unusual for the time but it is something that spilled over into the rest of the family as well. Looking back I think on both the paternal and maternal side there is a strong link with food and having a good meal. We even used to have Pomegranates which we used to have half of each and prick the seeds out with a pin. They were a regular favourite enjoyed by all of us.
Mum used to keep dried dates in - when I was a child they were more commonly sold in little solid blocks the size of a jelly pack and you used to have to boil the dates up with some water to create a paste for use in cooking rather than in the format we purchase them in today i.e. each date individually preserved and dried in sugar. I know that my mum used to turn the dates together with apples into a chutney but she also used to make a baking tray of what she referred to as Date Palm - which was something I was very fond of with a layer of porridge oats on the top. I have been looking for the recipe for ages and I think I have found it. It is quite simply called Date Squares.
1/2lb dates stoned and chopped
6 tablespoons of golden syrup
4 Tablespoons of water
Juice and grated rind of half a lemon
8oz rolled oats
1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
6oz brown sugar
in a heavy based saucepan melt half of the butter and add the dates, golden syrup, water and lemon juice. Bring slowly to the boil and simmer for about 5 minutes stirring constantly or until the mixture has thickened. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
Mix the rolled oats, with the flour bicarbonate of soda, sugar and lemon rind. melt the rest of the butter and stir into the oats and flour mixture. Spoon half of it into 12 x 8 inch tin lined with greaseproof paper cover the oats with the date mixture and spoon the remaining oats on top bake in a moderate oven gas mark 4, 350 degrees F 180 degrees C for about 35 minutes or until golden brown. When cool cut into squares.
As I have some dates to use up guess these will be on agenda for either today or tomorrow.
Catch you soon.