Monthly Archives: January 2012

Snow day granola

Um, people forgot to tell me that it snows in Seattle. A lot. What’s that you say? It doesn’t usually snow almost a foot in one week during a normal Seattle winter? Well, it did this week, my friend!

snowy yard

As a result, I have been house-bound and hunkered down all week. The one exception to this was a quick run we made to the grocery store on Tuesday in between storms. We picked up some essentials, which for me included baking ingredients. Because that’s what I do when it snows and we can’t leave the house – I bake!

salted peanut butter cookies

Does baking compound the problem of being sedentary for the better part of a week? Yes, yes it does. Does it make the time more fun and delicious? A resounding yes!

whole wheat cinnamon snacking cake

So, I’ve been baking up a storm to rival the one outside, but the one thing that I’ve had the most fun with – and thus am the most excited to share with you – is the granola. Sorry, is that a tease after I showed you a picture of cookies? Make this granola and I promise you will not feel let down!

cocoa coconut cherry granola

I L-O-V-E granola. And ever since I discovered Molly Wizenberg’s recipe for granola (which she adapted from Nigella Lawson) I have loved making it for myself. I am aware, as Molly notes in her post about this granola, that baking my own granola threatens to put me firmly in the category of Crazy Hippie, but when you taste this wholesome yumminess you will be right on that train with me (and her)!

tons of granola ingredients

Before I started grad school, I made this granola often – like really often… Let’s just say that for a while I just didn’t run out, I always had it. Since I’ve been in school, however, my granola-making has been yet another sacrifice to the academic gods. Until this week, that is! My classes were cancelled all week because of the snow and I made three batches of granola. Three! It is awesome.

granola in process

The reason I never get sick of this granola, and the reason I can keep myself busy making multiple batches of it at a time, is because this recipe is really more like a template than a strict recipe. The important thing to remember is that you want to keep the ratio of dry ingredients to wet ingredients about the same as it is in the “mother” recipe. Outside of that, you can go crazy!

I’ve tried so many different types of nuts, seeds, fruits, syrups, oils, etc. using this formula and they have all come out incredibly tasty. The formula is important though, because it ensures that you end up with a granola that is just wet enough to produce those lovely clusters, but dry enough to actually be granola cereal, instead of a granola bar (or a solid granola sheet!)

granola ready for the oven

Even if you aren’t snow-bound, I hope you will give it a try. It barely counts as a baked indulgence, but it is such a treat and far superior to granola you buy at the store.

I’ve given you the “mother” recipe below, followed by a few of my favorite adaptations and combinations. Please let me know if you find a winning combination of your own – I’m always looking to mix it up!

maple coconut granola

Daily Granola

From Orangette
Makes 10 cups of granola

This is what I keep referring to as the “mother” recipe, which doesn’t do much to shed the hippie label, but this is how I think of it. The recipe as published on Orangette is a delicious basic granola and you will not be disappointed if you make it just as it is here. If you are looking for a little something extra or different in your granola, however, read on for my favorite adaptations.

Dry ingredients:
  • 5 cups rolled oats
  • 2 to 3 cups raw almonds or pecan halves, or a mixture
  • 1 cup hulled raw sunflower seeds
  • 3/4 cup sesame seeds
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp salt
Wet ingredients:
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1/3 cup brown rice syrup
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil, such as canola or safflower

Preheat oven to 300°F.

In a large bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients. Stir to mix well. In a small bowl, combine all of the wet ingredients. Stir to mix well.

Then, pour the wet ingredients over the dry ones, and stir well.

Spread the mixture evenly on two rimmed baking sheets. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until evenly golden brown.

Note: Every ten minutes while the granola bakes, you should rotate the pans and give the granola a good stir; this helps it to cook evenly.

When it’s ready, remove the pans from the oven, stir well – this will keep it from cooling into a hard, solid sheet – and set aside to cool. The finished granola may still feel slightly soft when it comes out of the oven, but it will crisp as it cools.

Scoop cooled granola into to a large zip-lock plastic bag or other airtight container.

Spicy Ginger Granola

I like to think of this one as my super-healthy version, although the other versions are mostly just as healthy.

Dry ingredients:
  • 5 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup raw pecan pieces
  • 1 cup raw almonds, chopped
  • 1/2 cup walnut pieces
  • 1 cup hulled raw sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup sesame seeds
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup candied ginger pieces
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. salt
Wet ingredients:
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1/3 cup brown rice syrup
  • 1/4 cup agave nectar (or honey, if you don’t have agave)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
Follow instructions for “mother” recipe above.

Cocoa Coconut Cherry Granola

This version is the “decadent” version in my head, but remember that cocoa nibs are a super food! They are a lot healthier for you than their descendants chocolate chips. So again, this version is basically just as healthy as the others…it just feels more indulgent. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

Dry ingredients:
  • 5 cups rolled oats
  • 2 cups pecan pieces
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1/2 cup roasted cocoa nibs
  • 1 cup hulled raw sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp salt
Wet ingredients:
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1/3 cup brown rice syrup
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tbsp melted butter
After-baking ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup dried tart cherries
Follow instructions for “mother” recipe above. Once the granola has baked and come out of the oven, stir in the tart cherries (or any plump dried fruit you prefer).

Maple Coconut Granola

One of my favorite flavor combinations! Inspired by Shutterbean.

Dry ingredients:
  • 5 cups rolled oats
  • 2 cups raw almonds, chopped
  • 2 cups unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt
Wet ingredients:
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
Follow instructions for “mother” recipe above.

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Filed under Breakfast, Food

Broccoli pie now, diet later

Among the many wonderful presents I received for Christmas this year was the cookbook Plenty. I wanted to buy it for myself for quite some time, but once I put it on my Christmas wish list I was forced to wait and see if someone bought it for me (oh the agony!)

Well, they did (you know who you are, you lovely people) and let me tell you, it was worth the wait.

Plenty cover

The book itself is gorgeous – in fact it is one of the prettiest cookbooks I’ve ever seen. It’s clean and simple, but the photographs are just stunning. In looking through it for the first time my mouth was almost instantly watering and I bookmarked at least 10 recipes to make immediately.

One of the first dishes I made from it was a Broccoli and Gorgonzola Pie. Yes, you read that right. Broccoli. Gorgonzola. PIE. It was amazing.

filled pie

Now…this recipe may be a bit controversial to share with you in January because if you are on a diet, this is not the dish for you, and I know dieting is the thing to do this month.

My opinion? Make this pie now, diet later (maybe).

broccoli

I’ve since made several other delicious dishes from this book that I will try to tell you about in the near future, but this one has been my favorite so far. It is rich and decadent, but there is enough broccoli in it that it is also very vegetal – which is a good thing! because it cuts through the unctuousness of the cheese and cream.

leeks

Another revelation I had when making this pie: I’ve figured out THE KEY to perfect pie crust. Are you ready? Pastry flour.

Pastry flour!… Does everyone know about this except me? Maybe so, but if I inform even one person with this post, I will have done my good for the world.

I was tipped off about the wonders of pastry flour by the awesome Brandi Henderson, pastry chef of the equally awesome Delancey,  while taking a class last month at The Pantry at Delancey. I thought I would give it a try, even though deep down I didn’t think it would make that big of a difference. Well, it makes a world of difference.

finished pie

I used it in my standard, go-to pie crust recipe, so that my experiment was sure to only have one variable (um, sorry about that, I am taking a research methods class this quarter and have been thinking a lot about experiments and variables…).

The outcome was divine. It was flaky in a way my crusts are never flaky! It was tender in a way my crusts are never tender! It was melt-in-your-mouth good.

It is the case that white pastry flour is a little hard to come by, though for some reason whole wheat pastry flour is everywhere. For those of you in Seattle, you can buy little bags of fresh, locally made pastry flour at The Pantry (along with other delicious, restaurant-quality products). For those elsewhere, you can find it on King Arthur Flour, if it isn’t in your local grocery store.

I admit that going through the trouble of mail-ordering your flour (or driving to Ballard, if you’re me) sounds like a little much, but if pie crust is important to you it will be worth it! Go ahead and try it for yourself – when you’re making this Broccoli and Gorgonzola Pie, for instance – you will be amazed.

beautiful crust

Broccoli and Gorgonzola Pie

Adapted slightly from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi
Makes one 10-inch pie

Do ahead: make the pie crusts for this a day or two ahead of time if you can and keep them in the fridge, otherwise remember that you need to refrigerate the dough for at least an hour before you can continue!

For the crust:

  • 2 1/2 cups white pastry flour
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, very cold
  • 1/2-3/4 cup water, very cold

For the filling:

  • 1 1/2 lbs broccoli (about 2 medium heads), cut into small florets
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 3 large leeks, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 tbsp dried chives (use fresh if you can, 1/3 cup)
  • 2 tbsp dried tarragon (use fresh if you can, 1/3 cup)
  • 3 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp salt
  • black pepper to taste
  • 4-6 oz Gorgonzola (I used 4oz, up to your preference!)
  • 1 egg, beaten (optional)

First, make your crusts by following the wonderfully precise instructions on SmittenKitchen.com. Just remember to use pastry flour instead of regular AP flour! If you make your crusts ahead of time and they’ve been in the fridge for a day or two, take them out about 15 minutes before you want to roll them out.

Preheat oven to 400°. Roll out one half of your dough to about 1/8 inch thick – large enough to line a 10-inch pie dish or tart pan. Line the dish and trim off the excess pastry. Roll out the second half of your dough so that it’s a little larger than the surface of the dish and put it back in the fridge so it doesn’t get too soft.

Line the shell in the pie dish with parchment paper or foil and fill with pie weights. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until light brown. Then, remove the pie weights and paper and return it to the oven to bake for about 5 more minutes, or until it is golden brown. Set aside.

While the pie shell is baking, prepare the filling. Steam the broccoli florets over about 2 inches of boiling water for 2-3 minutes, until fork tender but still firm. Drain and set aside.

Melt the butter in a pan and sauté the leeks on low heat for 10 minutes until soft. Then, add the cream, water, chives, tarragon, mustard, salt, and black pepper. Stir well for a minute then and remove from heat.

To assemble your pie, first spread the leek mixture over the bottom of the cooled pie shell. Then, scatter the broccoli and Gorgonzola on top of that. It will likely be a very full pie, that is, the filling will be mounded up above the rim of the dish. That’s ok! Lay the rolled out pastry top over the filling and pinch around the edge to seal the top shell to the bottom shell. Trim off any excess.

Glaze the top of the pie with the beaten egg if desired, then bake for 30 minutes, or until the top of the pie is golden brown. Allow to cool for a few minutes before slicing.

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Filed under Food, Main Course