Tag Archives: Yogurt

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
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 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.

 

Moroccan Spiced Lamb Kefta Skewers

Lamb Keftas TasteFood
~ Grilled Moroccan Lamb Keftas, Spicy Roasted Red Pepper Sauce, Tsatsiki ~

There is something utterly complete about this meal. Homemade ground lamb keftas, fragrant with Moroccan spices, are grilled until crisp and succulent. Served with a sweet and spicy red pepper puree and cool minty yogurt sauce, these addictive morsels hit all flavor notes. They are a great option for party food, easy to prepare in advance and economical in ingredients. Just be warned that your guests will inhale these skewers before you blink, so you might need to splurge on a double recipe.

Lamb keftas plates

Spicy Lamb Kefta Skewers

Serves 4 to 6

Keftas:
2 pounds ground lamb
1 small onion, minced, about 1 cup
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 cup Italian parsley leaves, finely chopped
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, finely chopped

Pre-soaked bamboo skewers
Extra-virgin olive oil

Tsatstiki:
1 1/2 cups whole milk Greek yogurt
1 small English cucumber, seeded, finely diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup mint leaves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Dash of Tabasco

Spicy Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
Pita bread
Fresh mint leaves

Prepare the keftas: Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl. Mix to combine, without over-mixing. With a light hand, form a handful of the meat around a skewer into a sausage, about 2-inches long by 1-inch wide. Place on a tray or platter. Repeat with remaining meat. Lightly brush the keftas with olive oil. Cover with plastic and refrigerate at least 1 hour.

Prepare the tsatsiki: Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl. Keep refrigerated until use.

Grill the keftas over medium heat until cooked through, about 10 minutes, turning once or twice. (Or broil in the oven). Serve warm with tsatsiki, red pepper sauce and pita. Garnish with mint leaves.

And a special thanks to Kim for her photo editing skills on this post! Sometimes it takes a village…

Plum Compote with Rosemary

Plum Compote with Rosemary

We can never have enough dessert, can we? I comfort myself with that thought today as I push aside a blog post I planned to finish, in place of this lovely fresh dessert. You see, yesterday our freezer went on strike, or just plain quit, or read the horoscope and discovered that Mercury is in retrograde which is usually accompanied by massive appliance malfunctions, and decided to hop on the bandwagon. Whatever the cause, we woke this morning to a freezer filled with completely thawed food. So, instead of the shiny bright post I planned to write today, I spent the morning cooking meat – lots of defrosted meat – in a simple ragoût that I will use at a later point for pasta sauce and stews. That’s provided we can get the freezer working again so I can freeze it. Otherwise, we will be enjoying some pretty hefty dinners in the next few nights. Which makes this dessert even more welcome in its simplicity and lightness.

In my last post, I featured apricots it their glorious simplicity, lightly adorned with  a sprinkle of sugar. In this post, I do something equally simple with plums. For the past month it’s been raining plums in our garden: Little mirabelles are everywhere, dangling from trees, cascading down our hill, and always underfoot, enjoyed by all of the inhabitants of this garden oasis in which we live. We’ve popped them in our mouths until our stomachs ache. We’ve bestowed brimming baskets as gifts, and we’ve graciously deferred the unreachable gems to our resident squirrels. In the kitchen I’ve made crostatas, tarts and crisps, and when I finally tired of so much plum-ness I scooped as many as I could fit into a stock pot and cooked them down into a compote. Twice. The second batch of compote was inspired by the fragrant rosemary bushes in our garden, which happen to lie beneath many of the plum trees. As I gathered my fruit, the aroma of rosemary wafted through the air, nudging me to pick it too. And, as growing things do, these two ingredients make a fine pair not just in the garden but also in the kitchen, which I discovered when I tossed  a handful of rosemary sprigs in the last batch of bubbling compote.

Plum Compote with Rosemary

This recipe may easily be adjusted in quantity and sweetness. Depending on the flavor and tartness of the plums, more sugar may be needed. Add additional sugar a few spoonfuls at a time, tasting frequently until you find the right balance. If desired, use less sugar for a savory accompaniment to grilled meats.

1 pound plums, pitted, halved if small, quartered if large
1/2 cup granulated sugar, or to taste
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 large rosemary sprig

Combine plums, sugar, lemon juice and cinnamon in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring, until plums begin to break down and sugar dissolves. Add rosemary sprigs. Simmer, uncovered, over medium-low heat until plums are soft and the compote is thick, stirring occasionally. (Be sure that the rosemary sprig is submerged in the liquid at all times). Remove from heat and cool completely. Discard rosemary. (Compote may be made up to 1 day in advance. Cover and refrigerate until use). Serve cold or at room temperature. To serve, ladle into small bowls or cups. Spoon a dollop of lightly sweetened crème fraîche, Greek yogurt or whipped cream in the center of the compote. Garnish with a pinch of brown sugar and a few rosemary leaves.

Apricot Brûlée: Roasted and Caramelized Apricots with Greek Yogurt and Lemon

This apricot dessert has a few secrets. Not only is it sublime, it’s healthy and relatively low-fat. Its secret ingredient is Greek yogurt – a wondrous whole milk product which is richly thick, creamy and tart. Its secret technique is to use ingredients which are simple, fresh and in season – which isn’t really a secret, but a golden rule for cooking. Freshness and simplicity showcase great natural flavor and preclude the need to over-fuss ingredients.

The sumptuous results belie the ease and healthiness of these brûléed apricots. A little sugar is sprinkled over each apricot half, which are broiled until the sugar dissolves and begins to caramelize. As this happens, the fruit softens and breaks down, virtually melting into itself, held together by its soft skin with a puddle of caramelized sugar pooled in the center. Whisked Greek yogurt, lightly sweetened and brightened with lemon, is spooned over the top or to the side of the fruit – you decide – serving as a cool complement to the apricot’s warmth. It’s a luscious and fresh end to any meal. Your guests will be licking their plates.

Apricot Brûlée

Serves 4

6 ripe but not too mushy apricots, halved
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar, plus extra for garnish

1/2 cup Greek style whole milk yogurt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon finely grated fresh lemon zest, plus extra for garnish

Heat the oven broiler. (If using a grill, heat a cast iron skillet over direct medium heat for 10 minutes.)

Mix sugars together in a small bowl.

Slice the apricots in half, top to bottom. Discard pits. If broiling, arrange fruit, skin-side up, in an oven-proof skillet or on a baking sheet. If grilling, arrange the apricots skin side up in the cast iron skillet. Broil or grill until light golden, about 2 minutes. Remove from oven or grill and turn the apricots over. Sprinkle sugar evenly over each apricot half. Broil or grill with the lid closed, until centers are bubbly and beginning to caramelize, 3 to 5 minutes. Divide apricots between serving plates.

Whisk yogurt, sugar and 1 teaspoon lemon zest together in a small bowl. Spoon a little yogurt over each apricot half (or spoon on the side of the plate). Sprinkle with a little brown sugar and extra lemon zest for garnish.

Blueberry Tartlets with Yogurt and Lemon

Blueberry Tartlets with Yogurt and Lemon – recipe by Lynda Balslev

Go ahead, indulge yourself. These gorgeous blueberry tartlets are rich and creamy, fragrant with lemon, bursting with fruit and not-too-decadent. Why? The luscious filling is 100 percent yogurt, not cream cheese or mascarpone. The trick is to choose a full fat Greek-style yogurt. It’s thick and silky, with a tang that perfectly offsets mellow, inky blueberries. The crust is a traditional graham cracker crust, which, yes, has brown sugar and butter (as any self respecting graham cracker crust should). So these tarts are just a little bit wicked, but it’s a dessert after all, and what’s wrong with being a little wicked anyway?

Blueberry Tartlets with Yogurt and Lemon

Makes 1 (10-inch) tart or 6 to 8 individual tartlets

Crust:
10 ounces graham crackers (or sweet digestive biscuits)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted

Filling:
2 cups whole milk Greek-style yogurt
3 tablespoons granulated sugar (or honey)
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
2 cups blueberries
Lemon zest for garnish

Heat oven to 350°F (180°C). Combine the graham crackers, sugar, cinnamon and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Process until crumbly. Add butter and pulse until the crust is blended and beginning to stick. If using a tart pan, dump the crumbs into a 10-inch tart pan, pressing with fingers evenly over the bottom and up the sides. If using individual tart dishes or ramekins, divide the crumbs between 6 to 8 ramekins and press the crumbs evenly over the bottoms and up the sides. Transfer to a baking sheet. Bake in oven until crust begins to turn golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove and cool completely on a rack.

While the crust is cooling, whisk the yogurt, sugar and lemon zest in a bowl. Pour the yogurt into the cooled crust, smoothing the top. Dot the yogurt with blueberries. Garnish with lemon zest. Refrigerate until serving, up to 4 hours.

Yogurt Parfaits with Rhubarb Compote and Almond Granola

~ Rhubarb Compote, Almond Granola, Greek Yogurt ~

Every morning I remind my kids to eat breakfast – and then I don’t eat one myself. I confess that a strong cappuccino is enough to propel me out the door each day, when I know - I know – it’s not smart. How to change my ways and correct this parental double standard? Well, if I had the fixings for this yogurt parfait in my refrigerator each morning, you can bet I would eat it. The good news is  the compote and granola are easy to make in large quantities ahead of time. So no excuses. Eat your breakfast.

Yogurt Parfaits with Rhubarb Compote and Almond Granola

This is delicious for breakfast, lunch or a snack. Feel free to double the quantities so you have extra on hand for breakfasts during the week.

For the Rhubarb Compote:
Makes about 2 cups

2 pounds rhubarb stalks, ends trimmed, cut in 1/2-inch pieces
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

For the Almond Granola:
Makes about 4 cups

2 cups oats
1 cup almonds, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut
1/4 cup wheat germ
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup grapeseed oil
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup raisins

Greek-style yogurt

Prepare the compote:
Combine all of the ingredients in a large saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until the sugar dissolves and the rhubarb begins to release its juice. Simmer, partially covered, until rhubarb is soft, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and cool completely. Compote may be made up to 3 days in advance. Cover and refrigerate until use.

Prepare the granola:
Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 300 F (150 C). Toss the oats, almonds, coconut, wheat germ, cinnamon and salt together in a large bowl. Whisk oil, honey, maple syrup, brown sugar and vanilla together in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves. Add to the oats and toss to thoroughly coat. Spread the granola on the baking pan. Bake until toasted golden brown, jiggling the pan once or twice, about 30 minutes. Remove and cool. Transfer to a bowl and toss with the raisins. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to one week.

To assemble the parfaits, spoon alternating layers of yogurt, compote and granola in a glass, finishing with a topping of granola.

Rise and Shine: Yogurt, Plum and Granola Parfait

~ Spiced Plum Compote, Maple Granola, Greek Yogurt ~

If you need a reason to get up in the morning, then try this sumptuous breakfast parfait. A slick of stewed plums swirls through clouds of rich greek yogurt flecked with nuggets of granola. If it weren’t so early in the morning, you might be tempted to call this dessert.

Spiced Plum Compote
Not overly sweet, this rich plum stew is delicious with yogurt. If you are calling this dessert, do not hesitate to ladle some over a bowl of ice cream, too.
Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

1 pound plums, pitted, sliced
1/4 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 cinnamon stick
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon salt

Combine all of the ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until the plums soften and the compote thickens, about 20 minutes. Cool, cover and refrigerate until use. The flavors will develop with time. (May be refrigerated for up to 3 days.)

Granola
Feel free to fiddle with the ingredients. Substitute or add hazelnuts, pecans, flax, dried cranberries … you get the picture.
Makes about 2 cups.

1 cup old fashioned oats
1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup chopped almonds
2 tablespoons wheat germ
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 300°F (160°C). Combine the oats, coconut, almonds, wheat germ, sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl. Whisk maple syrup and vegetable oil together in a small bowl. Drizzle over the oats and toss to combine. Spread in a baking pan lined with parchment paper. Bake until golden brown, about 30  minutes, stirring once or twice. Remove from oven and cool. Add the raisins. Store in an air-tight container for up to 1 week.

To assemble parfaits:
Alternate plum compote, granola and whole milk Greek-style yogurt in a bowl or glass. Serve for breakfast, lunch or whenever you please.

Apples and Tsatsiki

Green Apples 2
September is the gateway to autumn, my favorite season. Everything seems to sparkle in the lower light, perhaps as a last hurrah while the foliage changes its color, leaves begin to fall and nature hunkers down for the winter. Warm, cosy pullovers are pulled from storage; enough time cannot be spent outdoors walking in the woods, raking leaves, picking apples and breathing in the crisp fall air tinged with smells of chimney smoke and fallen wet leaves.  At home, the fire is lit, homemade bread bakes, and the wooden floor creaks beneath my feet while I pad around the kitchen preparing a comforting braised dish for our dinner.

But wait.  I live in California now.  It’s actually hot outside.  I have summer dresses in my closet – not fluffy cardigans. The redwoods don’t lose their leaves. My kitchen floor is tiled, not wooden.  And grilling is the only sane way to cook in this heat.

Where is that New England autumn I grew up with?  Since I moved from Boston many years ago, all ensuing autumns, whether in Europe or here, have been measured, perhaps unfairly, against New England’s version. Even in the less temperate climates of Switzerland, England and Denmark the smells and colors failed to capture the autumnal intensity I remember from my youth, an intensity especially associated with the return to school after summer holidays. Presently, in my new home of Northern California, the children have returned to school, but autumn is nowhere to be found.  In fact, there is talk of an Indian summer happening at this moment.  How can there be Indian summer, when summer hasn’t even ended?  This is just more summer, and hotter.  Please don’t misunderstand me. This is not a complaint, just an observation – with a trace of wistfulness. Apparently, you can take the girl out of New England, but you cannot take New England out of the girl.

So, having said all of that, I shall do what I always try to do:  I will get on with it, embracing the moment and the environment – in flip-flops, tank-top and shorts.  The following recipe will not be for an apple tart or a stew.  Rather, it will be a simple staple that I cannot live without on a warm day; a wonderful accompaniment to grilled meats and vegetables – especially late, end of summer vegetables. It is also a cool, creamy dip or salad on the side, best served with bread.  The other autumn recipes will follow later on, when I can finally put on the cardigan, and after I have been out apple-picking, my eyes and nose watering from the brisk fesh air.

Tsatsiki

Makes about 3 cups

14 oz. (400 grams) Greek-style whole milk yogurt
1 English cucumber, washed, seeded, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon, plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped

In a bowl, combine yogurt, cucumber, garlic, 1 tablespoon olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.  Stir in mint leaves.  Adjust seasoning to taste.  Transfer to a serving bowl. (Tsatsiki can be refrigerated covered up to 4 hours before serving.)
Before serving, drizzle with 1 teaspoon olive oil.  Garnish with mint leaves.  Serve with peasant bread or baguette.