Monday, March 03, 2008

Homegrown Gourmet - finally

It is time to get back to blogging events. I have been away far too long and I really do love events because they give me an excuse/reason to try something new. I really love homegrown gourmet since I'm not a native Californian, so it gives me the opportunity to play with local cuisine. Especially since this is the home of the year round farmer's markets.

This round we're doing breakfast. The most important meal of the day! I was trying to think about what I should use as my staple "homegrown" ingredient on our way up to Yosemite by reading all the "produce for sale" signs by the side of the road. Now anyone who has ever driven the 5 north from Los Angeles is no doubt aware that central California is known for a very specific fruit. Signs advertising "Date Shakes" can be seen every few miles for a very long stretch of time. Dates are one of those native fruits that really can't be found many places, and most Californians have date palms growing in their back yards (though many don't know it, because really - are you going to climb a tree when you can get it just as fresh from the market?)

I wanted to incorporate dates in breakfast, and really its easy. Chopped dates are great in yogurts, but what kind of recipe would that be? (Open yogurt. Put in dates.) So I thought a pound cake would be more appropriate. I came across a recipe for a couscous cake and since I associate both couscous and dates with the same part of the world, thought that dates would be a welcome addition. Now, please don't get excited about Cake for breakfast. This cake is more like a corn bread. Grainy, with a hint of sweetness that's not overwhelming. The cream on top is the perfect addition for moisture and in truth, most of the sweetness comes from those dates which are like little pieces of honey. Yum!

Couscous Cake with Dates

1 cup AP flour

2 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup uncooked couscous

3/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp EVOO

1/4 cup Muscat

6 large egg yolks

3 large eggs

1 cup sugar

1 Tbsp finely grated orange peel

1 cup chilled heavy cream

1/4 cup creme fraiche

12 dates, pitted, thinly sliced

1) Preheat oven to 375. Brush 9 inch cake pan with olive oil. Line bottom of pan with parchment paper and brush parchment with olive oil. Place flour, baking powder, salt in food processor and pulse a couple of times.

2) Stir flour and couscous in medium bowl.

3) Whisk olive oil and Muscat in separate medium bowl.

4) Beat egg yolks, eggs, and sugar on high speed about 7 minutes. Stir in orange peel. sing rubber spatula, gently fold in flour mixture alternately with olive oil mixture in 4 additions each.

5) Transfer batter to prepared pan, tap lightly to eliminate air bubbles. Bake care until dark brown, about 40 minutes. Transfer cake to rack and cool in pan at least 30 minutes.

6) Beat cream and creme fraiche in kitchenaid until soft peaks form. Spoon whipped cream over cake and sprinkle with dates.

8 Servings
Each Serving has:

Calories 409.9
Total Fat 21.6 g
Cholesterol 274.1 mg
Sodium 340.8 mg
Potassium 99.4 mg
Total Carbohydrate 46.7 g
Protein 7.8 g


  1. LOL- "Open yogurt, add dates"! I'm having that same problem since I've got to find something for eggs besides "Crack eggs in pan, cook and eat with bacon and OJ." I love your idea here- so creative!

    And I did get excited about cake for breakfast. Did you ever see that Bill Cosby sketch... it was great.

    But what is Muscat? It kind of makes me think of muskrat, and I sincerely hope they are not related or else I change my mind about this recipe!

  2. I LOVE that Bill Cosby sketch. It's one of my all time favorites.

    Muscat is a sweet dessert wine. Very different from Muskrat.

  3. mmmm, cake for breakfast. that makes me smile :)

  4. Oh yes, now muscat is ringing a bell. That cranks your item way up instead of way down into muskrat town.

    I used to "perform" that Bill Cosby sketch all the time at church youth group retreats. I hope people asked me to do it rather than me always volunteering. Dad is great! He gives us chocolate cake!

  5. Great dish! I'm making plans for mine now!

  6. I know you're going to look at me side ways when I tell you: I've never had dates. A date.

    I know I'm so moted...

  7. A responsible reason to have cake for breakfast? Oh yeah!

    Great entry, Kate!
    Thanks for playing along!