This week's recipe is from D.I.Y. Delicious (Chronicle), a new book from Vanessa Barrington that brings cooking back to basics with healthy, basic items you can make at home. There's nothing better than homemade granola, so I'll definitely be giving this one a try.
There are many advantages to making your own granola. You’ll use less packaging, you’ll save money, and you can completely customize it to your taste and health needs. You’ll never go back to store-bought. Basic ingredients in granola include grain flakes, dried fruit, nuts and seeds, sweetener, and fat, such as butter or vegetable oil. You can embellish with vanilla, coconut, and spices like cinnamon. What follows is a formula to help you create the granola of your dreams, to enjoy every morning.
1/3 to 1/2 cup vegetable oil or butter (as desired)
1/3 to 1/2 cup sweetener (you will need the lesser amount if using agave syrup or honey)
Vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, or cardamom
4 cups flaked grains, such as oatmeal, kamut, rye, etc.
Coconut, wheat germ, nutritional yeast, flax seeds, chia seeds (optional)
2 cups (about 8 ounces) lightly chopped nuts (any proportion)
1 cup chopped dried fruit
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the butter (or, if using oil, warm it) and add the sweetener along with vanilla, cinnamon, or other spices you’re using. If using honey for the sweetener, see the variation.
In a large bowl, combine the flaked grains, coconut or wheat germ, seeds, and nuts. Toss to mix. Pour the warmed butter or oil and sweetener over and toss with a large spoon or spatula until evenly and lightly coated.
Transfer the mixture to a large baking sheet and spread out evenly in a thin layer. Bake until evenly browned, 20 to 25 minutes. Stop halfway through and stir the ingredients so that they brown evenly. Remove from the oven, add the dried fruit, and toss to combine. Let the granola cool completely on the baking sheet and store at room temperature in an airtight container. It will stay fresh for up to 3 weeks, stored properly. I store mine in mason jars on the counter. It looks nice and keeps the granola fresh and handy.
If using honey, there’s no need to heat the oil first, but you still need to melt the butter (if using). Just whisk the fat together with the vanilla or cinnamon and pour it over the flakes, nuts, and extras, and toss and bake as directed. When you remove the granola from the oven, add the dried fruit, and drizzle the honey over it while still warm, toss to coat, and cool and store as directed.
Note that honey will produce a sticky granola that clumps together. It’s not unpleasant, just more difficult to portion as you can’t pour it, and it’s difficult to scoop.
Mix-and-Match Custom Granola
Here’s where we play. Mix and match the items below to come up with your own dream granola. You’ll want to change it up depending on the season and your spirit of adventure.
Sweetener options (use one):
Fat options (use one):
Flaky options (use one or more):
From D.I.Y. Delicious (Chronicle), by Jane Hornby. Reprinted with permission from the publisher. Read our review of this book.
We're still tantalizing your taste buds with sample recipes from the books you could win in this week’s contest. If you're looking for an elegant, off-the-beaten-path dessert to serve to guests over the holidays, this recipe from Alice Medrich's "paean to the perfect cookie," Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy (Artisan Books), is right up your alley.
Richer than sin, with an irresistible jolt of unrelenting bittersweet chocolate, these cookies are slightly crunchy on the outside with chunky but divinely gooey centers. For the best gooey texture and balanced flavor, pay attention to the amount of chocolate vis-à-vis the specific cacao percentages called for in the first part of the ingredient list and the sugar adjustment. For the chocolate chunks, I like to chop my own from a bar of bittersweet with 70% or up to 82% cacao for a deeply dramatic contrast to the flavor and sweetness of the batter. This ultrachocolaty batter begins to stiffen almost as soon as you mix it. Your cookies will look best if you scoop them ASAP, while the batter is still soft.
Cookie sheets, lined with parchment paper
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven.
Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl and mix together thoroughly with a whisk.
Place the 8 ounces of chocolate and the butter in a large heatproof bowl set directly in a wide skillet of barely simmering water. Stir frequently just until melted and smooth. Remove the chocolate from the skillet and set it aside. Leave the heat on under the skillet.
In another large heatproof bowl, whisk the eggs, sugar, and vanilla together thoroughly. Set the bowl in the skillet and stir until the mixture is lukewarm to the touch. Stir the egg mixture into the warm (not hot) chocolate. Stir in the flour mixture, then the chocolate chunks and nuts.
Scoop slightly rounded tablespoons of batter and place 1 1/2 inches apart onto the lined cookie sheets. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, until the surface of the cookie looks dry and set and the centers are still gooey. Rotate the sheets from top to bottom and from front to back halfway through the baking time to ensure even baking. Set the pans or just the liners on racks to cool. Let the cookies cool completely before storing or stacking. May be kept in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
To Make the Dough Ahead
Refrigerate or freeze scoops of batter until hard. Place them in an airtight bag and refrigerate for up to 3 days, or place in a second freezer bag or airtight container and freeze for up to 3 months. When ready to bake, thaw frozen scoops in the refrigerator. Place scoops on lined pans, bring to room temperature, and bake as directed.
Bittersweet Orange Decadence Cookies?San Francisco pastry chef Deirdre Davis had the brilliant idea of adding a handful of her exquisite homemade candied orange peel. Voilà! The big trick is to fold the peel in at the end, with just a few strokes, so that the flavor of the peel does not blend with the batter. Instead, you want little explosions of chewy orange flavor with crunchy walnuts enveloped in bittersweet chocolate. Make these if you can get very good quality candied peel or if you make your own peel—or if you know someone who does. These are extra chunky but still a little gooey. | Increase the nuts to 2 1/2 cups (8.75 ounces). Fold in 1/2 cup (2.25 ounces) diced good quality or homemade candied orange peel after the nuts.
Excerpted from CHEWY GOOEY CRISPY CRUNCHY by Alice Medrich (Artisan Books).
Copyright 2010. Deborah Jones, photographer. Read our review of the book.
Today's recipe is another winner from What to Cook and How to Cook It, Jane Hornby's excellent step-by-step take on home cooking. This delicious salad, a French bistrot classic, works well as either a main course or a starter.
Heat a small pan over low heat, then add the pine nuts. Cook very gently for 5 minutes, stirring often, until the nuts are toasted and golden. Transfer them to a plate once they’re ready.
For the dressing, finely chop the onion and put into a small bowl. Add the vinegar, oil, honey, and some salt and pepper, then set aside.
Preheat the broiler. Cut the cheeses in half, then place, cut sides up, onto a nonstick baking pan or a pan lined with parchment paper. Pick the leaves from the thyme and sprinkle over the cheese. Season with salt and pepper.
Put the cheeses under the broiler for 5 minutes, or until they start to melt and turn brown around the edges.
While the cheese cooks, cut the beets into wedges. Put onto 2 plates with the salad greens. Sprinkle with the pine nuts.
Using a spatula, lift the cheeses from the baking pan and onto each plate. Drizzle the dressing, including the chopped onion, over and around each plate. Serve immediately.
Here's another delicious cookie recipe in honor of this week's contest, from Very Merry Cookie Party—a unique book that gives tips and tricks for staging a successful cookie exchange party along with classic recipes. These beautiful cookies are especially fun to make with children.
Use fruit-flavored Life Savers, sour balls, or similar hard candies for the “stained glass.” It is fun to make your own design for the ornaments. For example, if you want to make a holly leaf or a dove, draw the shape on a piece of cardboard—about 3 inches in diameter is a good size—and cut it out. Edge the gingerbread strips around the design on the cookie sheet. Continue until all the gingerbread has been used.
To crush the candies, use a food processor or place the candies between 2 pieces of waxed paper and crush with a rolling pin.
Cookie Exchange Tip
To make this cookie into a tree ornament, attach a loop made from the dough to the top of eth cookie before baking. After the cookie is baked, thread a piece of ribbon through the loop and tie the ribbon in a bow. To make these ornaments at a party, prepare the cardboard patterns in advance.
1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy. Add the sugar and molasses and beat for 2 minutes. Beat in the water. On low speed, beat in the flour mixture until a soft dough forms.
3. Gather the dough into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour or up to overnight.
4. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line cookie sheets with aluminum foil.
5. Divide the dough into thirds. Divide each third into 10 equal pieces. Using your palms, roll each piece on a lightly floured work surface into a rope 1/4 to 1/2 inch in diameter. Gently trace the design of your choice onto the prepared cookie sheets (a wooden spoon handle or chopstick works well for tracing on foil). Outline each design with a rope of dough, pressing the ends together to seal securely.
6. Sprinkle the inside of each design with the crushed candies, dividing the candies evenly among the outlined designs and creating an even layer.
7. Bake in the center of the oven or until the edges of the cookies are golden and the candy has melted, 6 to 9 minutes. Let the cookies cool on the cookie sheets on wire racks until the candy hardens, about 5 minutes. Gently peel the foil away from the cookies and transfer to the racks to cool completely.
Recipe reprinted from Very Merry Cookie Party (Chronicle), copyright 2010, with permission from the publisher. All rights reserved. Read our review of the book.
Here’s another delicious cookie recipe in honor of this week’s contest, from Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy (isn't that the greatest title for a cookie cookbook?) by Alice Medrich. These thin, chocolate-y, crispy cookies are a surefire hit.
Makes fifteen 5-inch cookies
A theatrical departure from mainstream chocolate chip cookies, these are large and decidedly flat. They shatter dramatically when you bite them, releasing loads of caramel brown sugar flavor and bursts of bittersweet chocolate. I created this recipe for the original Scharffen Berger Chocolate Factory Store in Berkeley. These cookies will not spread as they should in a convection oven, so make them only if you have a conventional oven.
1 1/3 cups (6 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup (1.5 ounces) quick rolled oats
1/2 cup (3.5 ounces) granulated sugar
1/4 cup (1.75 ounces) packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon (2 ounces) light corn syrup
2 tablespoons whole milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
7 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped into chunks, or
1 generous cup chocolate chips or chunks
Cookie sheets, lined with foil, dull side up
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven.
Combine the flour and baking soda in a small bowl and mix together thoroughly with a whisk or fork.
In a large bowl, whisk together the melted butter, oats, sugars, corn syrup, milk, and salt. Mix in the flour mixture. If the batter is warm from the butter, let it cool before adding the chocolate. Stir in the chocolate chunks. If possible, let the dough rest for at least several hours at room temperature or (better still) overnight in the fridge. The rest makes for an especially crisp and extra-flavorful cookie!
Divide the dough into 15 equal pieces (each a scant 1/4 cup or about 1.75 ounces). Lay out 3 sheets of aluminum foil, cut to fit your cookie sheets, on the counter. Arrange 5 pieces of dough (4 in a square and 1 in the center) well apart on each sheet of foil, remembering that the cookies will spread to 5 inches. Flatten each piece of dough until it is about 3K inches in diameter. Slide two of the sheets onto baking sheets.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the cookies are thin and very brown. If they are too pale, they will not be crisp. Rotate the pans from top to bottom and front to back halfway through the baking time to ensure even baking. Slide the foil with cookies onto racks to cool completely before removing the cookies from the foil.
Repeat with the third batch—you can even slide the next foil and cookie dough onto a hot baking sheet as long as you put the pan in the oven immediately. Cool the cookies completely before stacking or storing. May be kept in an airtight container for at least 3 days.
Excerpted from CHEWY GOOEY CRISPY CRUNCHY by Alice Medrich (Artisan Books).
Copyright 2010. Deborah Jones, photographer. Read our review of the book.
This week's recipe comes from The Essential New York Times Cookbook (Norton) by Amanda Hesser, a labor of love for sure. Hesser solicited readers' input on their favorite NYT recipes, then pored through the newspaper's archives to find other winners from as far back as 1895. She tested them all and chose more than 1,000 of her favorites for inclusion in this mammoth book. (Read our review here; watch the trailer here.)
The sprouts are then wilted in bacon fat and blended with fried bacon, scallions, nutmeg, and toasted pine nuts. If that combination isn’t good, then what is?
1. Trim and core the sprouts. Put them in a food processor (in 3 to 4 batches) and coarsely shred.
2. Fry the bacon in a large skillet until it is crisp. Remove and drain on paper towels.
3. Add the pine nuts to the fat remaining in the pan and stir over medium heat until lightly browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the sprouts, scallions, and nutmeg. Cook, stirring, until the sprouts are cooked through but still crisp, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in the bacon and season generously with salt and pepper.
Serves 8 to 10
Ball instructs you to core each Brussels sprout, a step I had no interest in following. I aggressively trimmed the sprouts and cut off the stems with a small paring knife.
This dish reheats well in a sauté pan coated with a film of olive oil.
Around 2002, chefs in a couple of New York City restaurants began serving a dish of shredded raw Brussels sprouts, sprinkled with olive oil, salt, pepper, and shavings of Pecorino Romano cheese. In this case, shredding the sprouts in the food processor won’t work because you need the slices to be even—so you’ll want to use a mandoline. Dress the shreds with the olive oil, salt, and pepper, then spread a small mound of the sprouts on each plate. Finish with the shavings of cheese.
Butternut Squash Soup with Brown Butter (p. 156), Veal Shanks with Garlic Mashed Potatoes (p. 540), Red Wine Ice Cream (p. 730); also, Thanksgiving dinner
“We will be having this tonight—for about the millionth time (I skip the pine nuts).”
Mitzi Maxwell, Orlando, Fl, e-mail
“I learned the trick of cutting up and sautéing Brussels sprouts in this recipe, which is the very best way to treat them. I now use that technique when I cook them plain or with onions and lemon.”
Laura E. Perry, e-mail
December 16, 1990: “Coming Home,” by Aimee Lee Ball.
Reprinted from The Essential New York Times Cookbook by Amanda Hesser. Compilation copyright (c) 2010 by The New York Times Company and Amanda Hesser. Recipes and reprinted text copyright (c) 2010 by The New York Times Company. Used with permission of the publisher, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.
This week's recipe comes from What to Cook and How to Cook It (Phaidon), a phenomenal new cookbook that takes readers through recipes step-by-step for "foolproof cooking," says our cookbook columnist.
Economical, warming, and delicious, this lightly spiced soup will brighten up even the coldest of evenings. It thickens as it stands, so stir in a little extra water or broth if you need to re-heat it.
Heat a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the cumin seeds and chili flakes and cook for 1 minute, or until they start to jump around the pan and smell toasty. Scoop half of the spices out of the pan and set aside. Take the pan off the heat while you prepare the vegetables.
Chop the onions very roughly, crush the garlic, and finely grate the ginger. Gently heat the 2 tablespoons olive oil in the pan, then add the onions, garlic and ginger and cook gently for 5 minutes until the onions are starting to soften.
While you wait, peel and roughly chop the sweet potatoes.
Stir the sweet potatoes, chickpeas, and broth into the pan, cover with a lid, and simmer for 15 minutes, until the potatoes are soft.
Use a potato masher to mash most of the potato to a pulp to make a thick soup. Season with salt and pepper, then roughly chop the spinach and stir it in. After a few seconds the spinach will wilt.
Serve in bowls topped with a spoonful of the yogurt, a sprinkle of the reserved spice mixture, and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.
MAKE IT WITH SQUASH
Butternut squash or pumpkin work wonderfully in this soup, but can take a little while to prepare. Either buy pre-cut cubes or allow 10 more minutes to peel and seed the flesh
Happy Thanksgiving! Today's recipe is from the Southern Living collection 1001 Ways to Cook Southern (Oxmoor House), a book full of "fail-proof, detailed instructions" for practical and delicious dishes. "Practical" can definitely describe this recipe—make it for a tasty way to get rid of those leftovers!
1 (15-ounce) bottle roasted-garlic dressing
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 head romaine lettuce, shredded
1 1/2 cups chopped smoked turkey (about 1/2 pound)
8 ounces crumbled feta cheese
1 (12-ounce) jar roasted red bell peppers, drained and chopped
2 cups cornbread, crumbled
8 bacon slices, cooked and crumbled
5 green onions, chopped
Stir together dressing and buttermilk, blending well.
Layer a 3-quart glass bowl with half each of lettuce and next 6 ingredients; top with half of dressing. Repeat layers with remaining ingredients and dressing. Cover and chill 2 hours.
For testing purposes only, we used T. Marzetti's Roasted Garlic Dressing.
Recipe reprinted with permission from 1001 Ways to Cook Southern (Oxmoor House), copyright 2009. All rights reserved. Read our review of the cookbook here.
If you're looking for some new sides to put on the Thanksgiving table this year, check out these stuffing and chutney recipes from our cookbook of the month, David Tanis' Heart of the Artichoke. They're definitely out of the common way and will wow your guests.
3 cups fresh cranberries
3/4 cup sugar
One 2-inch piece ginger, peeled and finely slivered
Grated zest of 1/2 orange
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1 jalapeño, seeded and finely diced
Put the cranberries and sugar in a shallow saucepan or a wide skillet over medium heat, stirring well to dissolve the sugar. Simmer for a few minutes, then add the ginger, orange zest, salt, and cayenne. Continue cooking until the mixture thickens slightly, about 10 minutes.
Stir in the jalapeño. Transfer to a serving bowl and let it cool and jell in the refrigerator before serving.
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter
2 large onions, finely diced
4 celery stalks, finely diced
Salt and pepper
4 tart apples, peeled, cored, and coarsely chopped
1/2 pound turkey or chicken livers, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped sage
2 teaspoons chopped thyme
10 cups cubed day-old bread (crusts removed), in 3/4-inch pieces
1 cup turkey broth
1/2 cup heavy cream
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Melt the butter in a large skillet. Add the onions and cook until softened. Add the celery and let it soften, then season with salt and pepper. Add the apples and cook for a minute, then stir in the livers. Add the sage and thyme and turn off the heat.
Put the bread cubes in a large mixing bowl and add the contents of the skillet. Stir together well. Pour in the turkey broth and cream and mix well to moisten the bread.
Taste and adjust the seasonings; it should be highly seasoned.
Beat the eggs, and stir them in well. Transfer the stuffing to a buttered shallow baking dish. Bake for about 40 minutes, until golden.
Today's recipe comes from Nigella Kitchen (Hyperion), the latest collection of recipes for "homey holiday cooking" from the British domestic goddess Nigella Lawson. Try this traditional English dessert as the comforting finale to a cozy fall meal.
Now, this is a beauty. I don’t mean flash or fancy—rather the opposite; there is something austerely handsome about its appearance, and yet gorgeously warming about its taste. But then, this laid-back Sunday-lunch pudding is what kitchen food is all about. I’m happy to leave the picture-perfect plate-decoration dessert to the professional chef and patissier. When I want to eat one, I’ll go to a restaurant. That way, everyone’s happy.
I don’t want to be too prescriptive about this marmalade pudding cake—which has the surprisingly light texture of a steamed sponge—as it doesn’t seem in the spirit of things. I love the bitter edge of a thick-shred, dark marmalade and so tend to go for a proper, glamorously auburn, tawny one here; if this is too full-on for you, choose a fine-shred marmalade, instead.
1 x 8-inch square Pyrex or other ovenproof dish
Preheat the oven to 350°F, and butter the ovenproof dish.
Put the 1/3 cup marmalade and juice of ½ orange into a small saucepan and set aside to make a glaze later.
Put all the other ingredients for the cake batter into a food processor, process them, and then pour and scrape the batter into the buttered dish, smoothing the top. If you’re not using a processor, cream the butter and both sugars by hand or in a freestanding mixer, beat in the marmalade followed by the dry ingredients, then the eggs, and finally the orange zest and juice.
Put in the oven and bake for about 40 minutes – though give a first check after 30 minutes – by which time the cake mixture will have risen and a cake tester will come out cleanish. Remove from the oven and leave in the dish.
Warm the glaze mixture in the saucepan until melted together, then paint the top of the cake, letting the chunks or slivers of peel be your sole, unglinting decoration on top of the mutely gleaming pudding-cake. Know that this cake will keep its orange-scented warmth for quite a while once out of the oven, so you could make it before you sit down for the main course.
Use a large spoon or cake slice (or both) to serve, and put a pitcher of cream or crème anglaise on the table to eat with.
I urge you to try to keep some of this cake back and, once it’s cold, wrap it well and keep it in the freezer (in an airtight container for up to 1 month) until you need something effortless for a casual dinner party. All you need do (and see p.171 for exact measurements and step-by-simple-step guide) is to thaw for 3–4 hours at room temperature, arrange some slices on a plate, douse with orange juice and liqueur, and top with blackberries strewn with orange zest [and you have an orange-blackberry trifle].
But I admit it’s hard to override the temptation to keep (for up to 2 days in the refrigerator, covered with plastic wrap) whatever pudding-cake may be left from its first outing and heat up the odd bowlful, or just eat it cold straight from the dish.
From Nigella Kitchen by Nigella Lawson. Photographs by Lis Parsons. Copyright (C) 2010 Nigella Lawson. Photographs copyright (C) 2010 Lis Parsons. Published by Hyperion. Available wherever books are sold. All Rights Reserved.