Friday, August 15, 2008

Granola, honey

I read the Williams-Sonoma catalog the way some people pore over Victoria's Secret--furtively, open-mouthed, panting slightly. I fold over pages; fantasize about a hot and juicy night with La Caja China Grill's battery-powered rotisserie. And I realize that, like life with a lingerie model, an electric raclette maker just might not live up to the fantasy.

But Williams-Sonoma has changed our lives for the better with their honey granola recipe, clipped from a catalog while visions of muesli-drenched housewifeliness danced in my head. It was easier than I thought, and yummier, and I've since adapted the recipe beyond all recognition, doubling the oats (it's still plenty sweet) and throwing in whatever combination of dried fruit and nuts we have in the fridge.

I eat a sprinkling of granola on top of plain oats and topped with a peach and rice milk for breakfast. But an unnatural affection (obsession?) with plain cold oats runs in my family, so I'd understand if you sprinkled it on top of yogurt and fruit or just ate it out of hand instead.

Honey Granola

5 cups rolled oats
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 1/2 cups mixed dried fruit and nuts, chopped if in large pieces
4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) salted butter
1/4 cup honey

Preheat oven to 325. Put a piece of parchment paper on each of two cookie sheets. (You can skip the parchment, but it does make your life easier.)

Mix oats, sugar, spices, fruit, and nuts in a bowl. In the above granola, I used dried blueberries and golden raisins, sunflower seeds and almonds. Sesame seeds, chopped dried apricots, pumpkin seeds, dried cranberries--they all work well. If I use regular raisins, I drop them in after cooking; they seem to get too crunchy and burnt-tasting in the oven.

Put butter and honey in a small saucepan, heat until melted, and mix. (Or combine in a microwave-safe bowl and nuke until melted.) Pour over oat mixture and stir.

Divide mixture between pans. Bake until golden and crunchy, about 25–30 minutes, switching pans and turning 180 degrees halfway through cooking. Stir if the granola on the edges starts to burn.

Cool and store in airtight containers.

Halve the recipe if you don't need granola on hand for regular eating for a week or two.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Dutch babies

Blackberries: Part 2

Sunday mornings mean Dutch babies around here, or pancakes, or eggs and bacon and fried potatoes. I make the bed with the baby, shaking out fresh sheets over her head again and again, waiting for the scent of coffee to waft upstairs.

W. does the baking--I don't like to bother with those fussy kinds of things like measuring. Which is funny, since I pretty much make my living being anal.

We set powdered sugar and lemon slices out on the table and make a big deal when the Dutch pancake comes out of the oven puffed and brown. It's good.

These summer mornings sound ideal, and after devouring breakfast we load the baby and dog into the car for a trip to the creek and a morning swim. But we only have time for all this loveliness because babies don't take Sundays off. Believe me, pre-kid, our asses were in BED until at least 10 am.

5:30 wake up call, anyone?

Peach & Blackberry Dutch Baby
(based on a November 2004 Gourmet recipe)

3 T. butter

1/2 c. milk
1/2 c. all-purpose flour
4 eggs
3 T. granulated sugar
1/2 t. vanilla
1/4 t. salt

1-2 peaches, each cut into 8 wedges (if you have very big or very juicy peaches, use1 or 1 1/2--the more fruit you use, the longer it cooks)
1 handful blackberries
Lemon wedges and powdered sugar for topping

Put butter in heavy 10-11 inch cast-iron skillet and put in middle rack of oven. Turn oven to 450°F.

While butter melts, put milk, flour, eggs, vanilla, and salt in blender.

When butter has just melted in preheating oven, remove skillet. Swirl butter around skillet and pour excess into blender. Blend well.

Arrange fruit in buttered skillet and slowly pour batter on top. Put into the oven and baked until puffed and golden, about 20 minutes.

Cut and serve right away. It will sink pretty much right away--don't worry about it. We're not making souffles here. Squeeze lemon on top of each slice and dust with confectioners sugar.
We switch out fruit based on the season--sauteed apples, as in the original recipe, or pears, or strawberries...