Sweet and savory, crusty and chewy, these little bites set the stage for the rest of the meal. Cut any leftover pastry into strips or squares and bake alongside the dates; they make delicious crackers. Prep and Cook Time: 30 minutes, plus 1 hour to chill dough. Notes: Medjool dates are available at gourmet, health food, and Middle Eastern markets. Look for plump, shiny fruit.
1/2 cup butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
3/4 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary leaves
1 1/3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
2 teaspoons cider vinegar
48 pitted Medjool dates
How to Make It
Pulse butter, cheddar, rosemary, flour, salt, and cayenne in a food processor until mixture resembles cornmeal. Add vinegar and 2 tbsp. very cold water and pulse just until mixture holds together. Lay a piece of plastic wrap on your counter and turn dough out onto it. Form dough into a 6-in. square, cover with more plastic wrap, and chill at least 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 400°. Put chilled dough on a lightly floured surface and roll out into a 12-in. square. Cut square into 48 1- by 3-in. strips. Wrap each date with a pastry strip, then arrange on 2 baking sheets. Bake until pastry is light golden, about 15 minutes. Serve hot.