I’m going a little out of the box this month. I actually made some cranberry and almond cookies for my post, but was compelled to post my granola after a few friends this month were inspired to make their own, if only they knew how. Though it is technically a breakfast food, one of our current flatmates loves to eat it with yoghurt for dessert! And that’s what gave me the idea that maybe it would be vaguely appropriate for BSS!
I started making my own granola in Hong Kong. We couldn’t find any that we liked there, and what was available was expensive. So after a bit of searching, I found Nigella’s recipe and have made adjustments over time according to our taste, moreso in the spices and the addition of maple syrup.
It’s super easy – pretty much mix everything in one bowl, pour it all into a tray and bake! You can add whatever nuts and dried fruit you like. I always add two or more dried fruits to boost the flavour and health benefits. My staple is sultanas, then I like to add dried cranberries, blueberries or both! It’s really a matter of taste, but berries are one of our favourites. Try it with your favourites and mix it up however you like.
I sometimes like to grab a handful for a quick afternoon snack, so I works at any time of the day. Go ahead and try this tasty but healthy breakfast, snack or dessert. Or pack them in small jars for take home gifts after brunch!
You can find the recipe here.
My favorite crisps of all time are Lesley Stowe’s raincoast crisps, which are sold in Wholefoods and gourmet food stores. There are several flavors with different combinations of dried fruit and nuts, but the one I like the best is cranberry and hazelnut. They are thin and crispy, with the contrasting flavors and textures from the fruit and nuts. Although they have a lot of ingredients, the taste is subtle and they pair amazingly well with soft cheeses like camembert or brie. They can also be eaten plain or with other sweet or savory toppings. There are a number of copycat recipes out there, probably due to the price point of the crisps ($8-10 for a single pack). I’m not sure who was the original source for the recipe, but I was definitely happy to find it! And even happier when they turned out just like the store bought ones!
These are also incredibly easy to make, but it’s a two step baking process, so you need to plan ahead. The mixture is first baked in loaf pans, then cooled and refrigerated overnight, and then sliced (the refrigerated loaf is easier to slice thinly). The slices are then baked for a second time. The recipe makes two loaves. If you only want a small portion, I would recommend making the full recipe and freezing the second loaf. You can defrost the loaf in the fridge, and then slice and bake when you need them. The recipe also uses buttermilk, which I have never been able to find in a size smaller than 1 quart (1 litre), but is also something that you can freeze for next time. The other great thing about these crisps is that they don’t have any added butter or cream, and not very much sugar. This is a recipe I will keep forever!
Find the recipe here
This month I finally tried a cookie recipe that I had clipped from a magazine a while back. Fruit in cookies might sound a bit unusual, but some of the best cookies I have ever had are fruit inspired: oatmeal raisin, sticky date cookies…just to name a few.
When I was growing up, one of my favourite dining spots was Fuddruckers and I still remember the cookie and sundae bar they had inside the restaurant. Fuddruckers is an American hamburger restaurant chain. I haven’t been to one since I was about 12. (The one in my hometown in Canada closed down). Anyways, the kids’ meal included a hamburger, drink and a cookie voucher (which looked like a Vegas slot machine coin), which was redeemed for a cookie at the cookie counter. I remember finishing my burger really quickly and rushing up to the cookie counter to redeem my voucher. There were quite a few cookie selections, but my favourite was the fresh, melt-in-your mouth oatmeal raisin cookie. Actually, I still find oatmeal raisin cookies irresistible. :)
This cranberry oatmeal cookie recipe comes close to the oatmeal raisin cookies I remember from my youth. They are just as addictive and are soft and chewy. The dried cranberries are a touch sour, but balances the sweetness of the cookie. And oats in the recipe means that they are healthy? ;p
I made these cookies on a lazy Saturday afternoon. It took about 15 minutes to make the cookie dough and each tray (2 trays) took c.20 minutes to bake. I ate 6 with a cup of tea while flipping through a magazine that afternoon. I meant to freeze a dozen of them because the recipe makes about 20, but I finished all of them in 3 days….on my own :(
Dried fruits are something that I generally have in my pantry at any time of year. So versatile, and so tasty, they can give any dish an extra kick of sweetness. Whether you use it in a savoury dish such as sultanas in a chicken tagine, or in a sweet bread, or in a cake, they are easy to use, and available no matter what season you’re in.
This month I decided to go super simple. In fact, if you have kids, this is a perfect dish to introduce them into baking. And for the grown ups, it’s an easy recipe that will only take minutes to put together.
What is it about Wintertime that makes you crave sweet sugary things. Maybe it’s because we also crave warm drinks such a tea and coffee to heat us up from the inside. This slice is a perfect accompaniment to your choice of tea or coffee. Need a 3 o’clock pick me up? Just grab a piece of your florentine slice and indulge in some chewy goodness.
Hope you all enjoy!
We’re carrying on the fruity theme, this month using it dried!
Available all year round, in many different types, and often interchangeable in recipes, dried fruit is versatile, healthy and flavoursome.
Join us this month for some treats to keep in your recipe file, no matter what the season!
*image by sommai from freedigitalphotos.net
I was looking for a pear dessert that was a little different and came across a tea cake recipe that combined pear with black sesame. Definitely not a pairing I would have thought of myself, but I decided to give it a go! I’d planned to take my dish to Tropfest (yes, we have it in New York!), so it had to be something that could be easily transported. For those of you not familiar with Tropfest, it’s a short film festival that started out in Sydney, Australia, and has now gone global! The finals are screened outdoors (the New York one was held in Prospect Park) and it’s tradition to get there early, bring a picnic and hang out with friends while waiting for the films to start. Of course this being New York, there were food trucks to supplement the food we brought!
Black sesame is definitely the dominant flavor in this dish. There are two types of black sesame in it – sesame paste and whole sesame seeds. I made the black sesame paste myself, which was a first for me, but was actually pretty easy! I liked the texture of the cake – it came out very soft and crumbly. The pear was definitely an unexpected touch, but it got good reviews from my taste testers! You could also bake it in a loaf tin, slice it up and serve for brunch!