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Posts Tagged ‘Granola’

  1. A Food Daddy Two-Fer: “Dream Duo” Granolas

    April 4, 2011 by Cas

    Now understand up front: the “Dream Duo” does not imply that these two snacks — one sweet, and one savory — are best served in combination. Their tastes are  not necessarily complementary, though in contrast to that statement I did indeed, while developing and living with these two recipes, alternate handfuls of each quite to my satisfaction.

    The “Dream” nature of the name itself comes from my involvement with a monthly live show called “Meet the Lady” which, if you follow me on Facebook, you have no doubt seen me pimp on a regular basis. It’s almost impossible to describe this program — a now year-old staple of the entertainment programming at 92Y Tribeca here in New York City — except to call it a Variety Show. But even that label fails it on so many levels because it is at once high brow and illuminating and excruciatingly intelligent, and on the other, downright hilarious and often shocking — with a stable of regulars and a host of guests, known far and wide from the stage and screen and various glittering circles of the pop culture and counter culture. So it’s not unlikely to find a cabaret sensation playing a homeless do-gooder trying to share her radishes with you if you look a bit peckish, sharing the play space with an infamous Hollywood drag queen and a celebrity cook book author. Likewise, the recording artist and Broadway actress may have to yield the spotlight to a burlesque queen in break-away Ms. Pacman garb gyrating cheekily as she pops marshmallows out of her g-string and into her mouth.

    In light of this last one, I’ve avoided marshmallows in these recipes just for mental-image sake…

    And as off the wall and uproariously tangential as this may all seem, “MTL” always has a core theme that is fully served by each of its participants’ contributions, be they pedantic or seemingly puerile.

    My own contribution this month, in the form of talking about these two recipes, was to address the foodie aspects of the night’s topic: Hollywood Dream Sequences.

    Creator/curator/host/chief-cook-and-bottle-washer Tom Blunt — an extraordinary talent and thinker and collector of humanity and the stuff that falls out of humanity’s pockets when you hold it upside down by the ankles and shake it wildly — approached me after the Food Daddy blog started taking off and we discussed the potential for adding a cooking segment to the regular features of this highly irregular show. This was the segment’s first outing.

    And at first I was thinking “I could make just about ANYTHING and affix the word ‘Dream’ to it to keep on-theme.” I figured “Dream” was a culinary catch-all that just made mundane food sound like it might be special, in the same way recipes of yore often used the words “Supreme” and “Surprise”. So I was ready to take this low road, and join the ranks of “Tuna Supreme” and “Meatloaf Surprise” with something like “Rice Pudding Dream” or “Dream Casserole” or “Awesome Dream Toast on a Fucking Fabulous Dream Stick” — just to have something to talk about and offer as a palate-pleaser to the audience.

    And then one morning I awoke in a cold sweat with three transforming words on my tongue: “Dream-inducing foods.”

    So a bit of research — and I’ll run through this really quickly because I’ve droned on long enough to bore myself already — proved that indeed there is some nutritional science behind dreaming. In a nutshell, dreams are activated, made more vivid and focused, and are more memorable when our brain absorbs the neurotransmitter seratonin. But it has to be presented for uptake in a certain form and dietarily that comes about when tryptophan is modified by vitamin B6. So cutting to the chase, when foods with tons of tryptophan mix with foods with high levels of B6, the results can be — and a week of experimenting with these ingredients proved it to me personally — amazing.

    The highest dietary levels of tryptophan are, surprisingly, not found in turkey (we talk about the effects of the fowl because we OVER-indulge on Thanksgiving, and sure: near-seam-bursting ingestion of ANYTHING can make its nutritional density higher by sheer volume); cheddar cheese is the big winner. Poultry and salmon are also very high, as are eggs, all dairy, white rice, and whole grains and flours.

    Foods rich in Vitamin B6 include bananas and orange (concentrated, as in the frozen juice you need to water down), nuts and beans, again the eggs and the poultry, and carrots and leafy greens.

    So you wanna dream big? Make a cheddar and banana sandwich. Yum!

    Not!

    What I did here to save us all from the kind of food combos that pregnant women have made famous (though pickles aren’t on the list, even if you consider ice cream to be peripherally dairy) is develop two granolas that combine foods high in both Tryptophan and B6, the savory one being more “T-Heavy” and the sweet, more “B-Heavy”.

    Try them both. At the very least they’re off the beaten path of what you normally find in the stale old box of granola on your grocer’s shelf. And they make a great snack, even when served instead of chips or nuts alongside cocktails.

    A note about the actual cooking process: there are two ways to go here, baking your granola forever at nearly undetectably low temperature, or baking it at higher temps requiring a lot of constant checking and stirring. I’m combining both methods here, with a moderate temp and moderate cook time, and you are advised, invited, and even implored to extend the time to make for a crunchier granola or keep it short and enjoy it chewier. Just know that the longer it sits around, the better it gets — but the more moisture you leave in the mix, the more it will benefit from storing in the fridge or freezer because it will, like any fresh-baked product, be more likely to “turn” if left to the atmosphere.

    For ease and searchability, I’m posting each recipe separately.You can find them on the blog as usual, or click here:

    7-Layer Fiesta Burrito Granola

    Orange-Banana Bread Granola

    Cook. Serve. Eat. And most of all…

    Enjoy.


  2. Orange-Banana Bread Granola

    April 4, 2011 by Cas

    A general rule with granola is you want to keep wet ingredients to between a cup, cup-and-a-half per 10 cups of dry ingredients, the bulk of which will be rolled oats.

    Here we push the wet a bit further, so a bit more baking time if you prefer your granola crunchier will be in order — and you will find humidity has a great deal of effect on the outcome as well, so use your instincts and your fingertips and teeth to guide you, ultimately.

    The things we add in here will come in stages: there are some things that go into the mix in the beginning and bake off the entire time. Others, such as raisins, will get too dry or too burnt if added at the outset, so we put those in toward the end.

    Another style choice that’s purely up to you, is chunky versus finer-grain. I prefer my granola bits about the size of popcorn in a sweet recipe (you’ll find this much more difficult without a sugary binder in the savory recipes) so I lay it in the baking pans and leave it alone until the last “check-in” when I add the final mix-ins and then finally toss it around a bit. This also lets the wetter parts get more exposed and dry more evenly.

    This is one of those baked items for which there is no exact science to share, so just stay on your toes (good for the ass muscles, as well) and allow your own brains and tastes to arbitrate.

    PREPARE THE WET INGREDIENTS:
    1 Quart orange juice
    2 Tbsp. lemon juice
    2 Cups sugar
    2 Large eggs
    2 Tbsp. corn starch

    Mix the fruit juices (reserving 1/4 Cup of orange juice) and powdered sugar in a saucepan, and boil to reduce liquid to about half (20 minutes). Remove from heat.

    In a separate bowl, mix the remaining 1/4 Cup of juice with the eggs and cornstarch, beating to combine thoroughly with a fork or whisk.

    Pour about 1/4 cup of the boiled juice mixture into the egg mixture in a steady stream as you continue to whisk; this will keep the eggs from scrambling when you add the mixture to the heated liquid. Now add the tempered egg mixture to the saucepan, return to medium-high heat and stir constantly as it comes to a boil and thickens. Remove from heat.

    PREPARE THE DRY INGREDIENTS:

    10 Cups dry oatmeal, old fashioned or quick
    1 Cup sunflower seeds
    1 Cup chopped walnuts
    5  Cups Rice Krispies cereal
    3 Large bananas, mashed
    1 Cup raisins
    1 Slice (5-6 oz.) pound cake, crumbled
    1 Cup powdered (confectioners) sugar

    Preheat oven to 300°.

    In a large mixing bowl, combine oats, seeds, nuts, and 3 cups of the rice cereal. Add mashed banana and toss together. Finally, pour cooled orange juice and egg mixture over the dry ingredients and toss to coat thoroughly.

    Grease two roasting pans or baking sheets (or line with parchment paper) and transfer granola mix in two equal portions, spreading evenly by hand.

    Bake for 1 hour, alternating top and bottom rack pans half way through. After an hour, remove the granolas and transfer back into clean, large mixing bowl. Add remaining 2 cups of rice cereal, raisins, and crumbled pound cake and toss to incorporate. Transfer back to pans, reduce heat to 250°, and bake an additional hour, checking every 20 minutes to insure the granola is cooking evenly. If it’s darkening and drying unevenly especially around the edges, toss quickly to redistribute and return to the oven.

    Once done to your desired crispness (granola will dry further slightly as it cools) remove from oven. Toss in mixing bowl once again with powdered sugar, and transfer to sheets of wax paper on a flat open surface to cool, tossing occasionally.

    Once cooled, transfer to an airtight container for storage. This is a nice “display piece” so I always keep my fresh granolas in glass canisters with labels noting their varieties.

    You can enjoy this granola as a finger-food snack, or as a cold cereal with milk or yogurt and, if you like, additional fruit or brown sugar.


  3. 7-Layer Fiesta Burrito Granola

    April 4, 2011 by Cas

    Here, a savory sweet swap I think you’ll enjoy.

    Normally when you think of granola you think fruits and berries mixed in with the grains. This one features savory additions like beans and cheese and gets its flavor from savory spices such as cumin and chile.

    This granola is a great snack food, and is also amazing sprinkled on top of soups and salads. I found it most dangerous when just displayed in a glass jar on the butcher block, because every time I passed was occasion enough to grab a handful. The good news in that is if it becomes that regular a habit, it will be gone in no time so you won’t suffer for long.

    1 19-oz. Can black beans
    1 19-oz. Can red kidney beans
    10 Cups dry oatmeal, old fashioned or quick
    1 Cup Minute white rice
    3 Cups crushed tortilla chips
    1 Tbsp. chili powder
    1 Tbsp. paprika
    2 tsps. cumin
    1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
    2 tsps. garlic powder
    2 Tbsps. dried chopped onion flakes
    2 Tbsp. dried parsley
    1 Tbsp. dried cilantro
    1 Tbsp. dried oregano
    1 Tbsp. salt
    1 15-oz. Jar queso dip
    1 15-oz. Jar prepared salsa (mild or medium)
    2 Tbsp. corn starch
    1/4 Cup vegetable oil
    8 oz. shredded cheddar cheese
    4 Slices white bread, coarsely shredded or chopped

    Preheat oven to 350°. Grease two baking sheets or roasting pans, or line with parchment paper; set aside.

    Rinse and drain the beans in a colander and pat dry with some paper toweling. Transfer to a big mixing bowl with all but the last six remaining ingredients, and toss to mix.

    Mix salsa with corn starch until smooth. Add Salsa mixture, queso and oil to dry ingredients, and toss to coat thoroughly.

    Transfer granola mix to pans in two equal portions, patting each gently to form almost a bar-cookie, though not as densely packed.

    Bake for 1/2 hour; swap the pans between top and lower racks for more even cooking, and reduce heat to 300°. Return granola to oven for another 1/2 hour.

    Remove granola from oven and transfer back to clean mixing bowl. Add crumbled white bread and shredded cheese, and toss to incorporate.

    Transfer granola back to baking pans, and return to oven. Reduce heat to 250° and bake an additional hour (or longer if desired) checking every 20 minutes for even browning and tossing as necessary.

    When desired level of crispness and browning are reached, remove from oven and transfer to sheets of waxed paper on flat, open surface to cool completely. Once cooled, store in an airtight container.