Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Syrian-Style Date-Nut Torte

This past Saturday I attended MCC Full-Time School's Muslim Women's Spring Fashion Show & Bazaar in the beautiful north Chicago suburb of Morton Grove. I was pleasantly surprised by how wonderful it was. I congratulate these fellow Halal Mamas on the well-planned, professionally executed and enjoyable event. It was a great opportunity for my daughter and me to experience such a fun, high-energy show in a totally halal atmosphere. The clothes presented on the runway were impressive, displaying a modern take on Muslim fashion from retailers based all over the globe. I was especially taken by the abayas from Aab of the UK - these beautiful dresses exuded elegance as they were very simple yet made with incredibly fine fabric and attention to detail. The bazaar that followed was also fun and quite shop-worthy! I ended up with a nice printed tunic, an Indian Jewelry set and some bangles for my daughter.

So if you are from the Chicago area, my tip for today is plan to attend this event in the future. It is a guaranteed good time for any Halal mama, daughter, sister or grandmother.

And since we are talking about all things halal, and given the special place dates have in any halal pantry, I leave you with a date cake recipe of Syrian origin that goes great with sipping afternoon tea while day-dreaming of luxurious ladies fashions from all over the world.

Syrian-Style Date-Nut Torte
From Ripe for Dessert by David Lebovitz

2 cups pitted and quartered dates
1 cup walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped*
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp anise seed, crushed
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 tsp alcohol free vanilla extract
3 Tbsp orange juice
Powdered sugar for dusting

Pre heat oven to 350°F (180°C). with rack in the center. Butter and flour an 8 inch pan and set aside

In a small bowl, using your fingers separate the date pieces and then toss them around with the walnuts and a tablespoon of the flour.

In a separate bowl, mix the rest of the flour, the baking powder and salt.
Using a large bowl, mix together the eggs, sugar, vanilla, orange juice, and crushed anise seed. Stir in the flour mixture, then the dates and nuts.

Place batter into prepared cake pan and bake for about 40 minutes, until the top is light golden brown, and the cake is just barely firm in the center. After cool, dust with powdered sugar.

* Bake walnuts on a cookie sheet, in a single layer, at 350°F for 8 to 10 minutes, checking frequently

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