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!
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:
Cook. Serve. Eat. And most of all…