Easy Homemade Granola

Easy Homemade Granola

Basic Granola TasteFood

Why spend money on boxed granola when you can easily make it in less than 30 minutes? Now that school is in session, try making this recipe to keep on hand for healthy breakfasts and snacks. This recipe follows a basic ratio of 2 cups oats to 1 cup coconut to 1 cup nuts to 1 cup dried fruit. To that I embellish, adding different grains and seeds such as flax, sunflower, or even wheat germ, depending on what I have in the cupboard. Use this recipe as a template and mix and match your favorite nuts, fruit, and seeds to your taste – and consider doubling the batch, because it’s guaranteed to be gobbled up.

Easy Homemade Granola

Be sure to add any of the fruit after the granola has cooked to prevent the fruit from burning. Makes about 5 cups.

2 cups old fashioned oats
1 cup unsweetened grated coconut
1 cup coarsely chopped raw almonds
1/4 cup pepitas or sunflower seeds (optional)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup raisins, or more to your taste

Preheat the oven to 300°F. Combine the oats, coconut, almonds, pepitas, and salt in a large bowl. Whisk the syrup, sugar, oil, vanilla, and cinnamon in a small bowl. Pour over the oats and stir to thoroughly coat.

Spread the mixture on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment or a silpat. Bake until light golden, about 25 minutes, stirring once or twice. Remove from the oven and add the raisins, stirring to blend. Cool completely. Store at room temperature in an airtight container for up to one week.

Back to School Basics: Easy Granola

Basic Granola TasteFood

Everyone needs a good granola recipe up their sleeve. Homemade granola is a healthy pantry staple, great for quick breakfasts and wholesome snacks. It’s also very easy to make, requiring only 30 minutes. I follow a basic ratio of 2 cups oats to 1 cup coconut to 1 cup nuts to 1 cup dried fruit. To that I embellish, adding different grains and seeds such as flax, sunflower, or even wheat germ, depending on what I have on hand.  Use this recipe as a template and mix and match your favorite nuts, fruit, and seeds to your taste – and consider doubling the batch, because it’s guaranteed to be gobbled up.

Easy Granola:

Be sure to add any of the fruit after the granola has cooked to prevent the fruit from burning. Makes about 5 cups.

2 cups old fashioned oats
1 cup unsweetened grated coconut
1 cup coarsely chopped raw almonds
1/4 cup pepitas or sunflower seeds (optional)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup raisins, or more to your taste

Preheat the oven to 300°F. Combine the oats, coconut, almonds, pepitas, and salt in a large bowl. Whisk the syrup, sugar, oil, vanilla, and cinnamon in a small bowl. Pour over the oats and stir to thoroughly coat.

Spread the mixture on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment or a silpat. Bake until light golden, about 25 minutes, stirring once or twice. Remove from the oven and add the raisins, stirring to blend. Cool completely. Store at room temperature in an airtight container for up to one week.

This recipe also appears in my Food and Drink column at Marin Magazine.

Else’s Saffron Bread

Saffron Bread tastefood Swedish Saffron Bread (Lussekatter)

I have been making saffron bread with my Danish husband since we first met and lived in Geneva, Switzerland.  It’s a charming and delicious tradition passed down from his mother, Else, which celebrates the festival of light during the dark winter solstice, Swedish-style, by forming billowy saffron scented breads into various shapes (lussekatter) and buns. In those early years, before our children were born and since my husband and I lived far from our own families, we made a point of inviting friends who had children, since this holiday isn’t complete without the help of little fingers assisting in shaping and nibbling the dough. While the bread rose, we would take a long walk in the vineyards beneath the Jura mountains overlooking Lake Geneva, before returning to form and bake the breads, which we would enjoy with  a glass of glogg or tea before the fire. Later, we had our own children to help, but we continued to invite our friends to join making Else’s saffron bread, even as we moved from country to country in Europe. No matter where we lived, this was a lovely holiday celebration enjoyed by everyone, no matter their nationality, impossible not to share with our extended family of friends.

This year, we are a half empty nest, with our oldest away at college. We continue the tradition, once again inviting friends of my daughter to help. After all, the more hands the merrier. Needless to say, we’ll also be making an extra batch of Else’s saffron bread when our son arrives home next week – but we couldn’t wait until then.

Else’s Saffron Bread
Makes about 24 buns

1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar plus ⅔ cup
⅔ cup unsalted European-style butter, softened
2 cups whole milk
2 envelopes dry yeast or 2 (.6 ounce) fresh yeast cakes
1 teaspoon kosher salt
6 to 7 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup raisins, plus extra for garnish
1 large egg, lightly beaten

In a small porcelain mortar or bowl, crush the saffron and a pinch of sugar with a pestle or spoon until finely ground.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan, then add the milk and heat over medium-low heat until warm to the touch, but not hot. Place the yeast in a large bowl, the add 1/4 cup warm milk. Let stand until the yeast dissolves, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the remaining milk and the saffron, then add the ⅔ cup sugar and the salt. Stir once or twice to blend.

Add 6 cups flour to the bowl and stir with a wooden spoon to blend. Add the 1/2 cup raisins. The dough should be sticky but not overly wet – if necessary add a little flour. Knead the dough until it pulls away from the bowl and is smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes, sprinkling with a little extra flour if too sticky. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and place in a warm draft-free spot, such as the oven with the pilot light on. Let rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour. Punch the dough down and let stand at room temperature for about 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 450°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll the dough into shapes by grabbing a small handful and, with light hands, rolling out into a ½-inch thick rope. Shape the rope into an “S” shape, or braid 2 ropes together. Place the shapes on a baking trays lined with parchment paper.

Lightly brush the breads with the egg and garnish the folds and corners with a few raisins. Bake in the oven until puffed and golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Cool slightly on wire racks. Serve warm with butter.

Roasted Pears and Yogurt Streusel

pear yogurt crumble tfPosted by Lynda Balslev

Fall on a plate: Burnished Warren pears, toasted streusel and golden honey. I am not one to look a gift horse in the mouth. Or in this case, turn down an offer for a box of pears from Frog Hollow Farm – especially in the fall, when I love to bake fruit crisps, crumbles and tarte tatins. This recipe is a “healthy” version of a crumble, with pear halves roasted in the oven, then topped with yogurt, honey and a streusel topping. Call it a healthy dessert or a decadent breakfast, but just be sure to make it.

Roasted Pears and Yogurt Streusel
Serves 4

2 ripe but firm pears, such as Warren or Bartlett
Extra-virgin olive oil
Granulated sugar
1/4 cup old-fashioned oats
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt
1 cup whole milk Greek yogurt
1 1/2 tablespoons runny honey, plus extra for drizzling

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Cut the pears in half lengthwise and remove the cores. Brush the cut sides with olive oil and sprinkle with granulated sugar. Place in a baking pan and roast in the oven, cut side up, until tender but not mushy, about 20 minutes.

Combine the oats, walnuts, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl. Add 1 tablespoon oil and mix to coat. Spread on a small rimmed baking pan and bake in the oven until golden brown, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Whisk the yogurt and honey in a small bowl. Arrange the pears in bowls. Spoon the yogurt into the centers of the pears. Sprinkle the streusel over the yogurt and pears. Drizzle with additional honey.

*Disclosure: I received a complimentary box of Warren pears from Frog Hollow Farm with no obligation to write about the product. All opinions are my own.  This recipe is inspired by and adapted from a recipe by Bon Appetit.

Bircher Muesli

birchermeusli 1

I had my first bircher muesli in Switzerland. Bircher Muesli is a hearty alpine favorite and a breakfast staple. No wonder: it’s a healthy, satisfying and refreshing start to any day. The technique to bircher muesli is an overnight soaking of oats, steeped in milk or yogurt. Just before serving additional ingredients such as grated apple, dried fruit and nuts are folded in. Feel free to experiment with extra ingredients and toppings such as chia seeds, pepitas, dried cranberries, and fresh berries. If you are feeling luxurious, a dollop or two of whipped cream may also be gently folded in at the end (I call this the I-am-on-holiday ingredient).

Bircher Muesli
Serves 2

1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup apple juice
1/2 cup whole milk plain yogurt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 green apple, cored and grated
1/4 cup chopped almonds
1/4 cup raisins
Shaved unsweetened coconut
Honey (optional)

Mix the oats, apple juice, yogurt and cinnamon in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight.
Before serving, stir in the grated apple, half of the raisins and almonds. If too thick, thin with additional yogurt or milk to desired consistency. (If you are on holiday, then add the whipped cream).
Serve garnished with remaining nuts, raisins and the coconut. Drizzle with a little honey if desired.

Apple Cinnamon Cake with Raisins and Walnuts

apple cake tastefood

~ Apple Cinnamon Cake with Raisins and Walnuts ~

When things get busy and stressful, I head to the kitchen. Mind you, I’m normally in my kitchen anyway, developing and testing recipes, preparing meals for clients, and always making a dinner of some sort. But that’s not what I’m talking about. My to-do list is seemingly endless right now, and this weekend I needed a break. So I put aside my oil splotched recipe notes, shopping lists and white board (yes, I have a white board in my kitchen) and closed my laptop. I  asked my son what I should bake – something sweet, something frivolous, something unplanned. He instantly asked for an apple cinnamon cake I used to bake, and I knew exactly which one he meant. It’s a simple crusty-topped cake studded with fruit and nuts that my kids love and I used to make for afternoon coffee and tea – when I actually used to have afternoon coffee and tea in another life we lived in Europe.

The recipe I used back then was from an old Gourmet magazine and sadly long misplaced or packed. But I remembered seeing a recipe over at Food52 for a classic, popular cake they loved which closely resembled my memory of this cake. That I could find, and here it is:

Apple Cake with Raisins and Walnuts

adapted from Food52 and a distant family memory

1 1/2 cups vegetable oil, such as grape seed
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
6 tart apples, peeled, cored, cut in coarse chunks
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup raisins

Heat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 9 by 12-inch baking pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper and butter the parchment.
Beat the oil and sugar in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until light, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix well.
Whisk the flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt in a bowl. Add to the batter and mix to combine. Stir in the apples, walnuts and raisins. Pour into the prepared pan, smoothing the top with a spatula. Bake until a toothpick inserted comes clean, about 1 hour. Transfer to a rack to cool completely. Serve at room temperature. (The flavors will develop once the cake has cooled).
Cut in pieces and serve sprinkled with powdered sugar.

Homemade Granola

granola tastefood

~ Homemade Granola and Greek Yogurt with Plum Compote ~

Whenever I can I make my own granola – and you should too. It’s easy to prepare and you can mix and match your favorite grains, nuts and dried fruit to your taste, while avoiding excess sugars and additives. The only downside is that it never lasts long enough in our house before it’s gobbled up. So make a double – or triple – batch if you can.

Homemade Granola

Substitute other nuts and seeds such as walnuts, pecans, flax, sunflower and pumpkin seeds. Other dried fruit such as cranberries, chopped apricots and blueberries may be substituted for the raisins. Add after baking so they won’t burn in the oven.

Makes about 4 cups

2 cups old fashioned oats
1 cup chopped or sliced raw almonds or other nuts
1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
1/4 cup wheat germ
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup or honey
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 300°F (160°C) Combine oats, nuts, coconut, wheat germ, cinnamon and salt in a bowl. Whisk the sugar, syrup, oil, and vanilla in a small bowl until combined. Pour over the oats and stir to coat. Spread on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake until golden brown, stirring once or twice, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and cool. Add the raisins. Store in an air-tight container for up to 1 week.

To prepare a yogurt parfait, layer granola with fresh fruit or fruit compote and greek-style yogurt.