Tuesday, May 18, 2010

crunchy granola

closeup granola

I have always thought that granola and I had the same birthplace--Chico--but this article makes it clear that granola's actually a Texan, and only moved to Chico in early childhood. We made it once when I was little, and it turned out well, but Annie was so horrified by the huge amount of oil in the recipe that we never tried it again and stopped buying it at the health food store.

Last January I read an article in the San Francisco Chronicle about modern, un-hippified varieties of granola, including one in which applesauce takes the place of much of the oil. I tried it and it was good. Here's my version--it makes a little more (it keeps well, so why not?) and has even less fat. I don't add any fruit, because it's easy enough to add fresh or dried fruit as you serve it, depending on your mood and what you have on hand. You can, of course, vary the nuts and seeds according to your tastes.

granola serving suggestion

Crunchy Granola
makes about 5 pints

dry ingredients:
450g rolled oats (or other rolled grains)
150g each flaked almonds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds
100g each sesame seeds, flax seeds
2t cinnamon
1t each ginger, kosher salt

wet ingredients:
1 medium apple, cored and roughly chopped (or 200g applesauce)
100g (1/3C) agave nectar
1/4C (80g) maple syrup
2T oil (I used canola)

Heat oven to 300°. Line two cookie sheets (the kind with edges) with tin foil.

Mix all of the dry ingredients together in a big bowl. Blend the wet ingredients in a blender till you can see no discrete pieces of apple, then mix into the dry stuff with your hands. Spread out over the cookie sheets and bake for 40-50 minutes, every 10 minutes or so stirring the granola and shuffling the pans around in the oven so that they will bake evenly.

Let cool thoroughly before putting into jars.

This is less sweet than granola from the store, so you'll want to be sure to add some fruit upon serving.

jarred granola

Sunday, May 16, 2010

springtime parfaits

rhubarb parfait

I've been getting strawberries and rhubarb in my vegetable box lately. If I was cooking for just myself I'd have made strawberry tapioca with some of the strawberries, but Rachael inexplicably doesn't like it. I used to make these strawberry parfaits from Eating Well at least a couple of times a year during strawberry season, so thought Id try a veganised version. It was a success, so I followed it the next week with a rhubarb version which I thought turned out even better. If you're a fan of strawberry-rhubarb, you could try using raw, sliced strawberries in place of the banana in the rhubarb version.

This should make four or five parfaits, depending on the size of your glasses--mine are 250ml, or a little over 8oz, and I get five with them.

Strawberry or Rhubarb Parfaits

for the cream:
1 1/2T tapioca flour
2t custard powder
3T sugar
1 1/2C almond milk
2t orange zest

for rhubarb:
1lb rhubarb, trimmed and sliced
1C sugar (7oz)
3T orange juice
2t Minute Tapioca
1/4t cardamom
2t clementine cordial or similar
2 bananas, thinly sliced

for strawberries:
1 pint strawberries, cored and sliced
1T sugar
2t clementine cordial

To make the cream, mix the tapioca flour, custard powder, sugar, and 2T of the almond milk in a small heavy pan. Once all of the lumps are mixed out, whisk in the rest of the milk along with the orange zest. Bring to the boil and turn the heat down and simmer for a couple of minutes, stirring frequently. Take off the heat and let cool for about twenty minutes.

To make the rhubarb, mix together all of the ingredients except the bananas in a medium pan. Bring to a simmer and cook, covered--stirring frequently--till the rhubarb is very soft. Take off of the heat and stir in the bananas and cordial. Cool for about twenty minutes.

To make the strawberries, mix everything in a bowl and let rest for about twenty minutes.

Once everything has rested and cooled, assemble your parfaits: starting with a layer of fruit, divvy up the cream and fruit among the glasses. With my glasses, three layers of fruit and two of cream worked out well. Cover the glasses and chill the in the fridge for an hour or so. These keep well for at least three days.

strawberry parfaits

Friday, May 7, 2010

olive bread

sliced i

My usual olive bread is a sourdough with a little bit of rye flour as its base, but I recently had a request for an olive ciabatta recipe so I decided to branch out. I made a couple of loaves of this--one for me and Rachael to sneak in to the movies, and another to take in for a work treat. Rachael didn't really like it (she's not a big olive bread fan in general), but it was a great success at work.

I usually measure my bread ingredients with a scale--as well as being more accurate, it's easier and less messy and makes for fewer dishes to wash--but have converted to volume measures for any scaleless readers.

Olive Ciabatta

makes 2 loaves

180g bread flour (1 1/2C)
180g water (3/4C)
1/8t instant yeast

400g bread flour (3 1/4C)
25g toasted wheat germ (1/4C)
260ml water (1C +2T)
12g salt (2t)
1t yeast
2t fresh thyme, or 1t dry
225g unpitted olives (1 1/2C)--I used kalamatas because that's what I had, but use any olives you like.
all of the poolish

The night before you bake, mix the poolish ingredients together in a little bowl and let rise, covered, overnight till it's very bubbly.


In the morning, thoroughly mix together all of the dough ingredients except the olives. This dough will be very sticky, so if you don't want to use your mixer to knead it do as I did and stretch and fold* it three times in the first hour of its rising. Let the dough rise for about three hours altogether, till about tripled.

Meanwhile, smash the olives with the side of a big knife, then tear them in half and get the pits out. Let them drain on a towel while the dough rises.

draining olives

Dump the dough out onto a well-floured counter and stretch out into a big rectangle (about 10"x14"), and scatter 2/3 of the olives over it. Fold the rectangle into thirds (like a letter), stretch a little more, scatter with the remaining olives, and fold into thirds again. Cut it in half and shape each half into a round, tucking in any exposed olives.


Let the dough rest for ten minutes, then stretch out into ciabatta shapes on a piece of parchment paper on a peel or back of a cookie sheet.


Veil the shaped loaves with flour, cover with a cloth, then let rise till very light, one to one-and-a-half hours.


At least 45 minutes before you bake, preheat your oven with its baking stone in it to 475°. When the loaves are risen, squirt them with water and then slide them onto the stone. After ten minutes, turn the oven down to 425°. Bake for about 25 minutes total, till well-browned and until the loaves' internal temperature is at least 205° (mine got up to 211° and weren't overdone).


*I just do this in the bowl, not laying it out on parchment paper, and stretch mostly lengthwise instead of making nice rectangles. It works just as well.