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Homemade Granola with Dried Grapes and Figs



Looking back over my blog there are several posts for granola. I love eating homemade granola – you know exactly what’s in it. Important if you don’t want added sugar. The recipe, or rather procedure, is super easy and quick. I make it every few weeks. The granola keeps well too, in a jar with a good seal like a clip top jar.

So here’s the granola recipe once more. And it’s another food staple that you can rustle up if you’re staying at home in isolation.

I usually add a variety of dried fruit like sultanas and raisins and apricots. This time I added my own version of raisins, black grapes that I dried in the oven. I had some grapes that were past their best, and reluctant to throw them out, I stuck them in the oven on a baking sheet at a very low temperature. Of course ordinary raisins are just fine! I did something similar with figs too. A quick how-to for the dried grapes and figs at the end of the recipe. I also threw in some some glacé orange slices left over from Christmas. This time I didn’t add seeds, however I have included them in the ingredients.

The proportions in the granola are really up to you. The quantities here are a guide only, feel free to add more or less of something to taste. And add different cereals, fruits, nuts or seeds to taste too!

Ingredients

2 cups of rolled oats
1 cup of any cereal you have in the cupboard eg weetbix, corn or bran flakes
1/2 cup of salted nuts like macadamias, cashews, walnuts, hazelnuts
A handful of mixed seeds like pepita, linseed, sesame
1/3 cup of honey, warmed with 1 tablespoon of water to pouring consistency in a microwave
1/2 cup of any dried fruit – dried grapes, figs, sultanas, raisins, apricots, cranberries, or even glacé fruit

Method 

Pre-heat the oven to 140 degrees C. You could try 160 degrees C for a quicker toasting but be careful you don’t burn the mix. Line a large baking tin with baking paper. You need to be able to spread the mix out so that all the mix is exposed to the heat.

Mix the oats, cereal, seeds and nuts together in a large bowl. Loosen the honey before microwaving with the water to make it more runny and easier to mix. Pour the warmed honey onto the mix and quickly stir it through. The mixture will be quite sticky, so stir fairly aggressively.

Spoon the mixture onto the baking paper in the tin, spreading it out so that it covers the base of the tin and there aren’t any big lumps.

Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until the mixture is golden brown and thoroughly toasted. You will need to turn the mixture over half way through cooking, so that the underneath mixture gets its time on top and gets toasted. The oven time is a bit of guess work – just keep checking and remove when the mix is golden and not burnt!

Let cool for 5 minutes then add the fruit, combining everything well. Don’t worry if there are some clumpy bits stuck together with honey – they are a bonus!

Delicious with Greek yoghurt, milk or almond milk, or sprinkled over a big bowl of fresh fruit like stone fruit or berries.

Dried grapes are rather like muscatels in that they are more juicy than raisins. I guessed that drying grapes in the oven would work – and it did!

Take any black grapes you have that are just past their best. Pull individual grapes off their stalks or you can leave a few on stalks if you want. Lay the grapes on a baking sheet lined with baking paper. Put the baking sheet into the cold oven, then turn oven to 100 degrees C. Bake until the grapes have not completely dried out, but are looking more like raisins. This process should take about 4 hours, but you can decide just how dehydrated you like your grapes.

Store in an airtight jar. You can use them in granola, or as part of a snack mix, or lovely with cheese.

Dried figs are easy to do too. Again, I use figs that are past their best. Cut them in half and place the halves on the baking sheet. Drizzle just a little bit of honey over each half. Bake in the same way as the grapes.

Apple and Almond Orchard Cake

 


I made a cake last week for a communal dinner – First Friday Feast – where the theme was “from the ground up”. Lots of ideas sprang to mind, and I eventually settled on the orchard theme, apples and almonds that grow in the orchard, and are obviously above the ground. The orchard theme is particularly appropriate as Sydney finally heads into autumn after a sweltering summer.

The recipe is a version of Diana Henry’s Swedish Apple, Almond and Cardamom Cake from her column in the UK Telegraph, see here for the original recipe.

I substituted cinnamon and a little ginger for the cardamom as I’m not a huge cardamom fan. I currently have some lovely fragrant cinnamon from Vietnam, which I love using in bakes.

Here’s the recipe. I served the cake with some lovely glacé fruit, orange slices and apricots and fresh herbs. I also made my own version of muscatels by slow roasting some black grapes in a very low oven. Possibly not worth the time, when muscatels are so readily available, but they certainly had a lovely caramelised flavour.

Ingredients

150g butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing

175g light brown sugar

50g marzipan, broken into little chunks

3 large free range eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten

½ teaspoon almond extract

4 Granny Smith apples

175g plain flour

2 teaspoon baking powder

75g ground almonds

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

2 tablespoons milk, if needed

2 tablespoons sugar

4 tablespoons apricot jam, to glaze

Method

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C. Butter and line the base of 
a 23cm springform cake tin.

Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and brown sugar together until pale and fluffy, then beat in the pieces of marzipan – the marzipan will break down and become amalgamated. Add the eggs a little at a time, beating well after each addition, then add the almond extract.

Peel, core and chop two of the apples Into small pieces and stir them into the mixture.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and a pinch of salt, and add the ground almonds, cinnamon  and ginger. Gently fold this mixture into the batter, adding it in three lots. If the mixture is really stiff,  add the milk.

Peel the other apples, halve, core and cut them into thin wedges. Toss the wedges with the sugar.

Spoon the batter into the springform tin and arrange the apple wedges on top in concentric circles. Be neat, but no need to be too fussy!

Bake the cake for 40-50 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Cover the top with aluminium foil if it looks like it’s browning too quickly.

Cool the cake for about 
15 minutes, then remove the outer ring. By sliding a knife between the cake and the base, carefully move the cake from the base. Quickly invert the cake and peel off the baking paper, and invert again. Carefully put the cake right side up on to a plate and leave to cool completely.

To glaze cake, put the apricot jam in a small saucepan with 1 tablespoon of water and heat until the jam is liquid. You will need to sieve the jam to make sure it’s smooth. Using a pastry brush, brush the jam over the top of the cake.

Serve with glacé fruit or fresh fruit or even some bunches of green herbs. Cake is always good with whipped cream or ice cream!

Rustic Pear Tart

It’s winter in Sydney, although for readers in the northern hemisphere our daytime maximums of 19 or 20 degrees C must seem quite balmy!

But winter it is, and that’s why I’m baking pies and tarts. It just seems the right thing to do as the days draw in and the nights become chilly.

This weekend I made a sweet tart. This rustic pear tart is easy and a relatively quick tart to make. I say quick – I added to the process by making my own rough puff pastry. It’s totally worth the effort, but using good quality bought butter puff pastry is probably the sensible way to go! I will include the recipe for both puff and rough puff pastry in another post.

You can whip this up in the afternoon for dinner that night. Or have it as an afternoon tea treat.

Oh by the way, you could use other seasonal winter fruit such as apples or quinces.

Ingredients
3 pears (any kind, I like Beurre Bosc)
2 tablespoons regular sugar + 1 teaspoon for sprinkling
1 quantity butter puff pastry (or you could make your own)
1 free range egg
1 tablespoon milk
1 tablespoon of honey

Method
Preheat oven to 180 degrees C fan forced. Line a large baking tray with baking paper.

Thinly slice the pears, leaving the skin on. This is a rustic tart! Scatter the sugar over the pear slices. If you’re worried about the pears going brown, squeeze a little lemon juice over the top.

If you’re using bought puff pastry, you will need to roll out the pastry on a floured surface to make a rectangle about 35cm x 25 cm. Depending on the brand you have bought, you will either be rolling a block or sheets. For block pastry, roll the block to the required rectangle size. If rolling sheets, you may need to cut a large sheet down to size, or amalgamate 2 sheets to make the rectangle. You can do this by putting the edge of one sheet over the other sheet and rolling with a rolling pin to make them stick together. Then shape into the 35cm x 25cm rectangle by rolling and cutting as necessary.

If making your own pastry, roll the pastry on a floured surface into a rectangle about 35cm x 25cm.

The size doesn’t have to be precise – you just want a rectangle that fits neatly onto your baking tray.

Fold over the four edges about 2cm and crimp down with a fork. Make an egg wash by beating the egg and milk together. Brush the pastry, edges included, with the egg wash.

Place the pears on the pastry, in any design you like. Sprinkle with the additional sugar.

Bake for 30-35 minutes until the pastry is a deep golden brown. Take the tart out of the the oven and allow to cool for at least 10 minutes.

Drizzle with honey and serve with thick cream or ice cream or both!

Buttermilk Pancakes for Breakfast!

When I first started this blog in 2013, I was keen to post lots of different culinary experiences as well as my own cooking efforts. So writing up a great meal is obligatory!

We had a memorable breakfast back then, cooked in the beautiful Hunter Valley, one of the best wine districts in NSW, if not in Australia, on a weekend retreat.

The brekkie was cooked by “the doctors”, two of my oldest and dearest friends. They cooked Bill Granger’s buttermilk pancakes and French toast, and the link to that post is here.

Here we are in 2018 and the doctors have done it again, cooking Bill’s buttermilk pancakes for breakfast, this time in Terrigal, a beachside locality on the central coast of NSW. The doctors have wisely decided to make Terrigal their other home, and we were lucky enough to have a relaxing weekend at their new abode.

Doctor B served the pancakes with fresh fruit, mango yoghurt and lashings of maple syrup.  I probably shouldn’t have, but I just needed to add a spoonful of Nutella…

Ingredients
250g plain flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
a pinch of salt
2 tablespoons sugar
2 free-range eggs, lightly beaten
750 ml buttermilk
75g unsalted butter, melted
Unsalted butter, extra, for greasing the pan

Method
Stir the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar together in a bowl.
Add the eggs, buttermilk and melted butter and whisk to combine.
Heat a large non-stick frying pan over a medium heat and brush a small portion of butter over the base.
For each pancake, ladle 1/3 cup of batter into the pan and cook for about 2 minutes, until bubbles appear on the surface.
Turn the pancakes over and cook for another minute.
Transfer to a plate and keep warm while cooking the rest of the pancakes.

Super Good Granola

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Everyone has a version of granola that they love to make. There are lots on foodie websites at the moment, including of course, a version from my very favourite  chef, cook and food writer – you know who I mean – Jamie!

I have been making versions of granola for a few years, along with home-made muesli and various species of cereal, nut, fruit and seed mixes on the way. I make it up as I go, tweaking the recipes depending on what I feel like at the time.

I really love a crunchy, toasty, baked granola, jammed packed with oats of course, and lots of nuts and seeds. I make a mix, and bake it on the oven till toasted. Once out of the oven and while still warm, I add dried fruit.

Sometime I make the basic mix with a little oil and honey, sometimes just honey, and if I feel super virtuous I make the “naked” version. No oil, no honey, just the unadorned oats and nuts and seeds.

This January 2016 version has a little honey for sweetness. I saw no need for oil, saving a few calories…

This granola has several different kinds of seeds – chia, linseed, sesame, poppy, pepitas – from my healthy food Mecca The Source at Balmain. And lots of nuts. Also  my current favourite dried fruit – mango cheeks, cranberries and sour cherries.

But feel free to pop in what you want. This less of a recipe and more of a list of guidelines.  The quantities are pretty changeable too.

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My Granola

Ingredients

2 cups of rolled oats

1 cup of any combination of seeds – I used chia, linseed, sesame, poppy, pepitas

1/2 cup of any nuts you like – I used macadamias, cashews, walnuts, hazelnuts

1/3 cup honey, warmed to pouring consistency in a microwave

1/2 cup of any dried fruit – I used apricots, mango cheeks, cranberries, sour cherries

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 160 degrees C. You could try 170 degrees C for a quicker toasting but be careful you don’t burn the mix. Line a large baking tin with baking paper. You need to be able to spread the mix out without too many piles.

Mix the oats, seeds and nuts together in a large bowl. Pour the warmed honey onto the mix and quickly stir it through. The mixture will be quite sticky, so stir fairly aggressively. Sometime I loosen the honey before microwaving with a little bit of water to make it more runny and easier to mix. Up to you.

Spoon the mixture onto the baking paper in the tin, spreading it out so that it covers the base of the tin and there aren’t any big lumps.

Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes or until the mixture is golden brown and thoroughly toasted. You will need to turn the mixture over half way through cooking, so that the underneath mixture gets its time on top and gets toasted. The oven time is a bit of guess work – just keep checking and remove when the mix is golden and not burnt!

Let cool for 5 minutes then add the dried fruit, combining everything well. Don’t worry if there are some clumpy bits stuck together with honey – they are a bonus!

Serving ideas: with milk, with yoghurt, with fresh fruit or mix with a handful of other cereal such as bran flakes or even more rolled oats. Make a breakfast trifle for something ritzy!

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