It seems to be the inclusion of dates, in old cookbooks sometimes called "Persian apples," that gives this otherwise traditional American apple crisp the more exotic sounding name. The recipe comes from an old cookbook called Fondue, Chafing Dish, and Casserole Cookery, written by Margaret Deeds Murphy and published in 1969. Although the peeling and chopping of dates and apples takes a bit of time, it can be sort of Zen-like work if you let it, and the dish is easy to put together. It is very sweet, so much so that you may want to cut the sugar a bit, as I did.
Have ready: 1 cup pitted dates, cut crosswise; 4 large tart apples, peeled, cored, and chopped (make sure they are tart!); 1/2 cup chopped pecans. Combine the dates, apples and pecans with 1/4 cup granulated sugar (the recipe here calls for 1/2 cup of sugar).
Put this mix into a buttered 1 and 1/2 quart casserole. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Then mix 3/4 cup flour, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/2 cup brown sugar, and 1 tsp. cinnamon. Cut in 1/2 cup butter, with two knives or a pastry cutter, until the mix resembles coarse meal. Spoon this over the apples and dates in the casserole. Bake for 35 minutes, or until the apples are tender.
And pair it with a robust syrah or a dry light rose, to see which you like better. Honestly, we all don't match desserts with wine enough.