I have recently come into some free time and have decided to (finally) create this blog. This little guy has been floating around in my subconscious for some time now. I was trying to figure out just what kind of Blogue Culinaire I wanted this to be. First I decided what I didn't want it to be. This is not going to be a forum for slamming restaurants. There are definitely enough of those out on the web-er-net. It's also not going to be a blog that just follows the newest and hottest of restaurants.
Damn Tasty is a place to share recipes I've created or that inspire me. It's also a place to discuss food politics, favourite restaurants and bars. The recipes here, for the most part will be fairly casual, homey food. I love to go eat at fine dining restaurants and have an eight course meal with wine pairings, but.....that's not my everyday style(who's is it really?).
I LOVE to entertain! Whether it's one or two close friends over for some BBQ or a 50 guest holiday brew-ha-ha. I'm happiest when my house is full of people (well - as long as they leave at some point). This past weekend my husband Gideon and I entertained a few times. We were also lucky enough to be guests on our friends' sailboat (more on that another time).
The week end started with a giant granola fest at my place. Contrary to what you might think this was not an opportunity for my sister Ariel and I to play hackey sack while listening to Phish. We actually made granola. Now I haven't always been a fan of granola. Growing up in the 80's with hippie parents all I really wanted for breakfast was Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Fruity Pebbles. Actually getting my hands on the stuff was nearly impossible. Maybe on our birthdays my little sister and I would be "lucky" enough to take home a box. But times have changed and the idea of sugar-laden, artificially flavoured and coloured pellets are just not that appetizing any more.
The first time I made granola was with my friend Sarah. Sarah is often my baking partner, especially come December. This past Christmas she gave me a bag of granola that BLEW my mind. It was nutty, fruity,toasty and not too sweet. This ain't no Harvest Crunch. Gideon and I finished it in 2 days. After that bag disappeared I insisted that the next time she made granola it be with me as I had to know her method. It seems that this granola recipe inspires that sort of coming together. I ended up giving away jars of the stuff as gifts and Ariel insisted she come over to learn the ways of the kick-ass granola.
I was almost out of that first batch I made with Sarah and so I gave Ariel a call. Now, when Ariel was younger she would sometimes request that I teach her how to make a dish. I would gather the ingredients, write out the recipe and Ariel would often get distracted and I would finish the dish. But we're all grown up now and Ariel has found a new love for food and the joy in making it. She chopped dried fruit, toasted nuts, stirred pots and filled jars and now we both have so much granola we don't know what to do with it all.
Kick Ass Granola
I like to double, triple or even quadruple this recipe and make different flavours. My favourites so far are: red fruit (dried cherries, dried currants and cranberries), tropical fruit (powdered ginger, dried pineapple and dried mango), tree fruit (dried apple, ground cinnamon and dried apricot). Of course you can use whichever combo of dried fruits and nuts strike your fancy. A dried fig and sliced hazelnut one would be nice for a Mediteranean brekkie. Next time I'll definetely be making that one. This granola is outstanding with yogurt and fresh fruit (or even defrosted fruit in a pinch). It's pretty damn good with milk too!
Makes approximately 17 cups(4.25 Lt) of granola
1 1/4 cup sliced almonds
1 cup pecans (or any other nuts you love), chopped
1/3 cup pumpkin seeds
3/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
3 Tbs. flax seeds, ground
1/3 cup maple syrup or honey
1/3 cup agave syrup
1/3 cup butter (or coconut oil or other vegetable oil)
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
generous pinch salt
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon or ground ginger (optional)
12 cups rolled oats
2 cups dried fruit, chopped (obviously if you're using raisins or currants leave them whole)
Preheat oven to 375degrees. Toast almonds on a baking sheet till just golden, approximately 5-10 minutes. Place almonds in large mixing bowl. Toast chopped pecans on baking sheet for approximately 10 minutes or until golden. Add pecans to almonds in mixing bowl. Pour coconut onto baking sheet and toast in oven till just golden. Stir coconut every 2 minutes to ensure even browning. Remove the baking sheet from the oven when coconut is a little underdone as it will continue to toast in the hot pan. Add coconut to nuts. Toast pumpkin seeds in the same manner as coconut and add to the mixing bowl. Add ground flax seeds.
Cook butter, agave syrup, maple syrup and salt in a small pot sitrring constantly over medium heat till butter is melted and the liquid is fairly homogeneous. Take pot off of heat and add vanilla and spices (optional). Let syrup mixture cool till just warm. Place oats in a large mixing bowl (I quadrupled the recipe the last time and had to mix it in a stock pot) and toss with most of the syrup mixture till just moist and a bit sticky. Pour oat mixture onto a few baking sheets - the oat mixture shouldn't be more then an inch thick on the baking sheet. Drizzle the remaining syrup over the oats. Place in oven and bake, stirring occasionally till lightly golden.
Pour hot oats into large mixing bowl (or stock pot) and add the dried fruit and the nut mixture. Toss and let cool.