Lamb Date & Saffron Tagine

Serves 4

Ingredients

2 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

650g boneless shoulder of lamb, cut into 3-4 inch pieces

1 ½ tsp ras el hanout

1 tsp ground ginger

A pinch of saffron

500ml hot lamb stock

6 dates, stoned and ripped in half

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

1. Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium heat and add the onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 8-10 minutes until golden. Chuck in the garlic and mix well.

2. Put the meat into the pan and add the ras el hanout, ground ginger, saffron, stock and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Mix well. Bring to the boil, cover and reduce the heat to low. Cook, stirring occasionally for 2 hours or until the meat is just tender.

3. Remove the lips and bring the sauce to a boil over a medium heat. Add the dates and reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 20-25 minutes or until the sauce is really thick. Serve immediately.

Peach, Radicchio and Date Salad

This simple summer salad is all about using the freshest ingredients. Pick the the ripest peaches you can so that they are really juicy and full of flavour. This robust salad is lovely with burrata, which you can use instead of the feta.

Serves 2-3

For the dressing

1 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp. date molasses

The juice of a lemon

Sea salt

For the salad

2 really ripe peaches, stoned and cut into 8 wedges

100g radicchio, shredded

A handful of rocket leaves

100g cherry tomatoes, halved

70g feta

25g pomegranate seeds

½ a red chilli, finely sliced

Method

1. To make the dressing, whisk all the ingredients together with a good pinch of salt.

2. Put the peaches, radicchio, rocket and tomatoes into a mixing bowl and add the dressing. Toss together and transfer to a serving dish. Crumble over the feta and garnish with the pomegranate seeds and chilli. Serve immediately.

Chocolate, Peanut and ‘Caramel’ Date Bar

Makes 8 bars

Ingredients

300g medjool dates, pitted and stoned

150g crunchy peanut butter

30g roasted peanuts

180g 70% dark chocolate

Sea salt

1. Line a 6 by 8 inch baking tin. Chuck the dates into a blender and blend for a few minutes until smooth.

2. Spread the dates out over the baking pin using the back of a spoon. It helps if the spoon is wet it to stop it stickling. Smooth over the top. Spoon the peanut butter over the top and smooth out evenly. Scatter over the peanuts and gently press them into the peanut butter. Pop into a freezer for 2 hours or overnight to set.

3. Once set, cut into 8 bars and place onto a plate lined with baking paper. Return to the freezer to re-set for two hours.

4. Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water. Once melted, remove from the pan. Dip the bars into the chocolate, making sure they get completely coated. Place onto a rack. If you have any excess chocolate, drizzle it over the top of the bars to leave a pattern. Sprinkle with sea salt and leave to set for a few minutes.

Return to the freezer for an hour to firm up. Keep the bars in the fridge and face plant as necessary.

Date and Cinnamon Squares - Maamoul Mad

Serves 15–20

Ingredients

225g semolina

110g fine semolina

130g caster sugar

3.5g (1/2 sachet) fast-action yeast

1/2 teaspoon mahlab (optional)

4 tablespoons rose water

170g butter, melted, plus extra for greasing

95g walnuts

500g Medjool dates, pitted and any bits of stalk removed

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

4 tablespoons runny honey

25g pistachio kernels, bashed into a rubble

Method

1. Tip the two types of semolina into a mixing bowl and add the caster sugar, yeast and mahlab (if using). Mix well. Add 2 tablespoons of the rose water and the melted butter. Mix together and then rub the semolina between the palms of your hands to separate out the grains as much as possible. Cover and chill in the fridge for 2 hours.

2. Meanwhile, put the walnuts in a food-processor and blitz until fine. Set aside 25g. Add the dates to the food-processor along with the remaining rose water and the cinnamon. Blitz together into a paste.

3. Butter a 23cm round cake tin. Take the semolina out of the fridge and quickly work the mixture with your hands to separate out the grains again. Tip half into the cake tin. Spread out evenly, then press down with the palm of your hand to form a solid base.

4. Next you want a layer of the date mixture. It’s easiest to do this in stages. Wet your hands to stop the dates from sticking, then take a small piece of the date mixture and flatten it out. Put it into the tin and then continue until you have a layer covering the semolina. Wet your hands again and smooth the dates out into an even layer.

5. Preheat the oven to 200ÆC/180ÆC fan/gas mark 6. Top the date layer with the remaining semolina. Even out and then press down firmly to form an even layer. Run a sharp knife around the edge of the tin. Bake for 30–35 minutes until golden. Remove and leave to cool completely.

6. Cover the cake tin with a large plate and carefully invert the maamoul mad to release it from the tin. Then cover it with a serving plate and flip again so that the lovely golden side is on top. Drizzle over the honey, then scatter the pistachios and remaining walnuts over the top. Cut into little squares and serve immediately.