Soul Cocina

Eco Chef Roger Feely

A Date With a Strudel

I bought some dates at the Civic Center Farmers Market to make a filling for a strudel. We tasted the dates at home and found each date to be unique. We thought the Medjool date had a nice chewy consistency and a brown sugar, buttery toffee flavor like a light caramel. The Black Abada made me think of China with its anise/licorice and orange fragrance. It was not too sweet and was neither sticky nor dry. The Black Sphynx had a glorious soft texture and was thick with pulp. It had a slight zing like Campari but was also sweet like molasses and it was pleasantly nutty. The Deglet Noor dates were dry and grainy compared to the first three dates. It reminded me of stale brown sugar.
Left to right: Black Abada, Deglet Noor, Black Sphynx, and Medjool. I blended the Black Abada, Medjool, and the Black Sphynx dates for the strudel filling just like a winemaker blends grapes. I also picked up some walnuts at the Civic Center Farmer's Market for the strudel filling. Then I toasted the walnuts and grated the zest of two blood oranges. I chopped the dates and walnuts and mixed all the ingredients together. Easy as pie.I knead the dough to make it tough and sturdy for pulling, developing the gluton which helps with elasticity. It is important to use a high gluten bread flour. For the dough I used:
1/4 cup warm water and 1/2 cup warm milk
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
2 eggs, well beaten
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 T extra virgin olive oil
3 1/2 cups bread flour
Sift the flour onto a table and form a well in the center. Whisk together all the liquid ingredients and pour into the well. Working from the center, combine the wet and dry to form a soft but not sticky dough, add a little extra warm water if needed and knead by hand for 8 minutes to form a smooth elastic dough. Dust lightly with flour and cover with a bowl for one hour in a warm place.
Then after letting the dough rest at room temperature for an hour or so, I roll it out thin giving it time to rest between rolling. This allows the dough to relax and makes it easier to stretch with less resistance. Then transfer the dough to a flour dusted tablecloth on a large table.
To stretch the dough use the back of your hands and pull it little by little, allowing the dough to rest every once in a while. But there is no need to make a silly face like me in the picture, I get a little too theatrical with my dough at times. It is also easier and more fun with a sidekick to help you pull and stretch the dough, preferably your grandmother or a young kid, they are usually more fun and tell better stories than a regular adult.It is hard to stretch out the edges as thin as the center with the back of your hands, so I use my fingers to finish the pulling.
The dough should be thin enough to read a cookbook through it.When the dough is stretched to it's full potential I brush it with a mix of clarified butter and olive oil and top with bread crumbs. After the filling is on the dough the tablecloth is used to help roll it up tightly.The strudel should be baked until golden and crispy at 350 degrees F.
Serve with cardamom ginger tea and/or Extra Virgin Olive Oil Gelato
3 3/4 cups whole milk
3/4 cup heavy cream
8 egg yolks
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
2/3 cup sugar

Scald the milk and cream and slowly simmer, stirring often with a flat spoon or spatula (not a whisk) until it has reduced to 4 cups. Combine sugar, yolks and salt in a large bowl and slowly whisk in a little warm milk. Add another cup of milk to the yolks and then stir the yolk mixture into the remaining milk in the pot and slowly cook, stirring the bottom of the pan until the custard thickens, coats the back of the spoon and the tiny bubbles disappear from the top. Chill custard in an icebath and when cool add the olive oil. Spin in an ice cream machine or use the old school method or the new school style. Remove gelato just before it freezes/ churns as thick as ice cream and freeze in an air tight container.

Here are the openning tracks of the Beatwalla's April Fools Crunk Mix where old school and new school live harmoniously.
Tune: Beatwalla's April Fools Crunk Mix track 1
Tune: Beatwalla's April Fools Crunk Mix track 2
Tune: Beatwalla's April Fools Crunk Mix track 3
Tune: Beatwalla's April Fools Crunk Mix track 4
Tune: Beatwalla's April Fools Crunk Mix track 5

Drizzle with a unique olive oil like the Pacific Sun Tehama County Blend we used for our Lemon Arugala Bucatini and top with a grain or two of grey fleur de sel and serve with the walnut date strudel.

If you plan on making this at home from scratch, you'll need some long, long mixes to get you through.
Tune: Beatwalla's two hour and fifty minute mix
Dance ditties from the date diaspora for download coming soon.