These baked pears with blue cheese encompass so many flavors and textures! Tender, juicy pears are baked with maple syrup and thyme sprigs, then stuffed with blue cheese and walnuts, a bit of salt and pepper, and drizzled with more maple syrup. Sweet, savory, tender, and crunchy all in one baked fruit! They make an elegant and delicious appetizer or snack, and they are even quite healthy!
This sweet, moist bread tastes great with a cup of coffee or tea. With chopped dates and walnuts, lemon zest, and black tea as ingredients, it has a uniquely rich flavor. It’s the kind of sweet bread that makes me want to slow down, sit in a sunny spot, and and enjoy a few moments of peace. Dates are so old-fashioned, yet so in style again, as we are looking to get away from processed sweeteners and get back to more natural sweeteners. Plus, they are loaded with nutrients, such as potassium and iron. Walnuts have their own nutritional benefits too, so this bread is both rich in flavor and dense in nutrients.
Since it is St. Patrick’s Day, I thought it would be a fitting day to share this recipe, since I found it in one of my latest cookbook obsessions–“The Irish Kitchen: 150 Recipes for Everyday Cooking from the Emerald Isle”, published by Love Food. This type of bread is not solely Irish (it seems to have been popular in England and Scotland as well), but in any case, the recipe I share below is from an Irish cookbook. I love the part where the recipe calls for soaking the dates and lemon zest in tea, and then adding that mixture to the batter. The tea makes the bread such a pretty color, and gives a subtle flavor that helps balance the sweetness.
We are lucky to have such bright, breezy St. Patrick’s Day this year. I can remember some St. Patrick’s Day snowstorms, so I am happy to see the bright sunlight today! For some reason, this bread really touched me this week. My husband, daughter, and I loved it, (my son, not so much….) and for some reason it’s the kind of bread that made us slow down when we ate it. It’s meant for a snack or a tea/coffee break, and it is the kind of thing that encourages contemplation and conversation, as least for me. Maybe because it feels old-fashioned and has the essence of a slower-paced time. Maybe because it’s so richly flavored that we had to savor it slowly. Or maybe it’s just that it’s been sunny the past few days, and the novelty of being in the sun has lulled us into a state of contentment. In any case, this bread is sweet. It also tastes just as good the next day (if it lasts that long). I hope you all have a wonderful St. Patrick’s Day and a great weekend! Now it’s time to join the party at Fiesta Friday, co-hosted this week by Naina @ Spice in the City and Julianna @ Foodie On Board.
Date and Walnut Loaf
- 2/3 cup dates, pitted and chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
- zest of 1/2 lemon, finely grated
- 1/2 cup of hot tea
- 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus a little more for greasing the pan
- 1/3 cup of brown sugar, firmly packed
- 1 egg
- 1 cup of unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon of baking powder
- 1/4 cup of walnuts, chopped
- walnut halves to decorate
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly grease an 8 and 1/2 X 4 and 1/2 X 2 and 1/2-inch loaf pan, and then line it with parchment paper.
Place the chopped dates, baking soda, and lemon zest in a bowl, and pour in the hot tea. Let soak for 10 minutes, until softened.
In the meantime, cream the butter and sugar together until the mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in the egg.
In a small bowl, combine the flour and baking powder.
When the dates are done soaking, add that mixture to the butter mixture and stir well to combine. Add the flour mixture, and fold in, gently combining. Fold in the chopped walnuts and gently combine again.
Spoon the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Smooth the surface and place the walnut halves on top to decorate.
Bake in your 350 degree oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until risen, golden brown, and firm. Let the bread cool in the loaf pan for 10 minutes, then turn it onto a wire rack to cool completely. Slice it and enjoy!
This recipe is adapted from The Irish Kitchen: 150 Recipes for Everyday Cooking from the Emerald Isle
With wheatberries, chopped apple, walnuts, and yogurt, this breakfast bowl is full of important nutrients to help you start your day. Maple syrup and vanilla give it a naturally sweet flavor.
Though I love a warm bowl of oatmeal on a winter morning, sometimes it is important to change things up a bit. Wheatberries are the whole kernel from a wheat plant, therefore they have more fiber, vitamins, and minerals than the processed wheat we often eat. They are a good source of fiber, protein, iron, and B vitamins, just to name a few. (Wheatberries do contain gluten, so they are not good for those who cannot tolerate gluten).
For this recipe, I am using a type of wheatberries that I bought already parboiled, so they only take about 20 minutes to cook, which is pretty important to me, since my mornings are often rushed. They are fairly easy to find, in natural food stores, or in the grain or health food aisle of many grocery stores. If you have wheatberries that have not been previously parboiled, they can take up to an hour to cook, which is fine if you have the time. One nice thing about wheatberries is that the leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for a couple of days, and they are very versatile, so you can make a big batch and serve a breakfast bowl a couple of times a week, or use the leftovers in savory dishes as well. Just warm up the leftovers on the stove with a little added water, or even in the microwave.
I love the hearty, nutty taste of wheatberries, and they are satisfyingly filling too. I can eat a bowl of them and feel sustained for at least a couple of hours or so, without feeling overly full. The ingredients in this breakfast bowl are simple and accessible. I am continually striving for a balance between convenience, nutrition, and good taste. It doesn’t take much time or extra planning to chop an apple, swirl some maple syrup and vanilla extract into some plain yogurt, and sprinkle on a handful of walnuts. Yet it tastes flavorful, comforting, and sustaining, like it will give me energy to get my day started in a positive way. Sometimes a recipe can be so simple, yet it’s what we need to give us an extra nudge to try something. I can imagine that bananas, dried fruits, almonds, and milk would also taste really good with this.
I hope you are all having a good week so far, and stay warm!
Cozy Wheatberry Breakfast Bowl
- 1 cup of wheatberries
- 2 and 1/2 cups water
- 1-2 apples, chopped
- 1/2 half cup of walnuts, coarsely chopped
- 1 cup of plain yogurt (I like Greek yogurt)
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons of pure maple syrup (more or less, to your desired sweetness)
Place the cup of wheatberries with 2 and a half cups of water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, and then lower heat to medium-low. Simmer, covered or partially covered, for about 15-20 minutes, if the wheatberries are parboiled. If they have not been previously parboiled, simmer for about an hour. Check the wheatberries often to test their tenderness. They are done when they have burst their shells and are tender and chewy. Cooking time may vary–it does for me.
While the wheatberries are cooking, chop the apple(s) and walnuts. Place the yogurt in a small bowl and swirl the maple syrup and vanilla extract with the yogurt. When the wheatberries are done, spoon them into bowls and stir in the yogurt mixture, apples, and walnuts. Refrigerate the leftover wheatberries (if there are any), and warm them up when you use them again. Enjoy!