Each month, Mark and I write a recipe newsletter which I named recip(e)rocity.

It started when his father died in 2007. The family gathered in Lenox, Massachusetts, and one night we all got together to make a meal for the entire family. Everyone pitched in and, as tends to happen when I am in a room, the conversation soon revolved around food.

A couple of our nieces asked for recipes, and then one asked, "Hey, Uncle David, why don't you write a blog?" I replied fairly quickly that I didn't think I would have the time, energy, or technical ability for a blog (see how well that is working for me?), but maybe I would consider a monthly recipe newsletter. recip(e)rocity was born, so named because from time to time includes recipes from family and friends.

I have missed a month or two along the way, but it has been pretty consistent, and my printed binder is quite large now. In most cases, I don't use blog recipes for the newsletter, or newsletter recipes for the blog. There have been times, though, when one of them is too good not to share it with both audiences. Today's recipe is one of these.

For the July issue each year - to celebrate the diversity of our planet - we offer recipes of the international cuisines that have so enriched the variety of American food. This past July, we opted for tapas as our theme.

For those who are unfamiliar, tapas are a wide variety of small plates, or snacks, served in the early evening in Spain; dinner isn't generally served in restaurants until way after 10:00 (way after my bedtime!). Tapas may be cold or hot, and with the right wine/sangria/cocktail, make for a perfect early supper. Notice: I didn't say ‘light.’ Tapas are not necessarily slimming! In some Central and South American countries, they are known as bocas. In Mexico, similar dishes are called botanas. There are countless versions around the world. Cicchetti, mezes, and so on.

Today's recipe is my version of a tapa we had at one of our local favorites, Contigo, run by my friend Deborah Tenino. Dates stuffed with chorizo wrapped in bacon. What on earth could be wrong with pork wrapped in pork?

So, I made a batch of homemade chorizo (recipe follows), stuffed some jumbo dates from the Bard Date Company and then wrapped them in thick-cut bacon. I roasted them on racks so the bacon fat could drip freely and not make them soggy. They are delicious, if I do say so myself...

And, today, you get a bonus recipe! My friend, Liney, who sent me the dates from her family's date farm, told me that her son stuffs small, yellow, Mexican peppers (called güeros) with a mixture of chorizo and dates, then bakes them. We made our version of those, too, and they were amazing!

So now you have two reasons to make homemade chorizo. It is really easy,  worth doing - as you can season it to you own taste - and then freeze it in small amounts for later use.

So, my advice is to head back to my post on the Jerez Fresca, make a batch of those cocktails, these two tapas, and call it dinner (and get to bed early)!

~ David

Sonoran-Style Chorizo

2 pounds of not-too-lean ground pork
1 tablespoon ground oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup chile powder (pure ground chile colorado, not a spice mixture)
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 cup red wine (or red wine vinegar)

Mix all ingredients together with your hands until the meat is evenly colored by the red chile powder.


     • eliminate the cloves and cinnamon, double the oregano, and add 2 teaspoons cumin seeds.
     • use ground lamb instead of pork - wonderful flavor and great with both these recipes.
Bacon-wrapped Dates Stuffed with Chorizo

50 large Medjool dates

1 pound chorizo
25 thick-cut slices bacon

Preheat oven to 350º F.

Slice each date lengthwise on one side and remove its pit. Stuff each date with about 1 1/2 teaspoons of chorizo sausage meat. (You may have some chorizo leftover to freeze for another use.)

Cut the bacon in half so you have 50 short pieces. Take each piece of bacon and stretch it around a date about 1½ times.

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, and top with a rack coated with cooking spray. Place wrapped dates, seam side down, on the rack. Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until bacon is cooked.

Makes 50 appetizers. 

Chorizo-and-Date stuffed Güeros

9-12 güeros, also called banana peppers

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 large shallot, diced
1/4 cup fresh (soft) breadcrumbs
1/2 pound homemade chorizo
6 Medjool dates, pitted and chopped

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Cut the chiles in half lengthwise and, using a knife or spoon, scrape out the seeds and ribs. Using a small skewer, poke a hole in the bottom of each chile.

Heat the olive oil and sauté the shallot until soft. Remove from heat and add breadcrumbs,
chorizo and chopped dates. Mix thoroughly.

Stuff each half pepper with about a tablespoon of the
chorizo mixture.

Place stuffed peppers on a rack over a foil-lined baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until bubbling at the edges.

Serve hot or warm.

Makes 18-24, depending on the size of the güeros.

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