Holiday granola

Margaux says…

This time of year, when peaches are extra, super delicious at the farmer’s market (and those 4 lb boxes at Trader Joe’s! Yum!) my favorite breakfast is yogurt, granola and peaches. It’s really like a heavenly dessert for breakfast. Juicy, sweet peaches. Creamy, rich (whole milk, of course) yogurt. And crunchy granola, with tons of nuts and a hint of salty-sweet. I also have it for dessert sometimes, too (it’s great on ice cream!) And for a mid-day snack. We walk through one of those 4 lb boxes of peaches in about a half a week!

Holiday Granola - Sweet & Savory Kitchens

The granola is just as an important ingredient as the peaches. It can’t be too sweet, too chewy, or too hard. Supermarket granola, even the best kind, always has a weird aftertaste to me, almost like a coating is left in my mouth. I really don’t like it. Thankfully, making your own granola is really easy. I have two recipes that I use, both from my Aunt Judy. I’ve already posted one, the original “crunchy granola,” that I make on a regular basis. It’s very cheap, quick and easy. I also use this recipe, which Aunt Judy calls “Holiday Granola.” It has a few more ingredients (more nuts!), and uses real maple syrup instead of honey and maple flavoring like the other one. My aunt makes it for friends and family members as Christmas gifts, which is how I first tasted it. It makes a perfect Christmas gift because of the pumpkin seeds (or pepitas) and dried cranberries: it’s red and green. I prefer it to the “Crunchy Granola” recipe, but don’t make it as often because it’s quite a bit more expensive. But it is totally worth it!

Maple Pecan Granola - Sweet & Savory Kitchens

Holiday Granola

4 cups rolled oats (not instant)
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
1 cup raw sunflower seeds
1 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1 cup sliced almonds
1 cup large flake, unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup raw sesame seeds
1/2 cup wheat germ, preferably untoasted*
1 cup maple syrup
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp canola oil
1 cup dried cranberries, or other dried fruit blend (optional)**

* I’ve made this gluten-free by substituting flax meal for the wheat germ and had great results.

**I leave out the dried fruit during the summer because I don’t want it competing with my delicious in-season fruits. Totally your call, though. 

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Mix all dry ingredients in large bowl. Heat maple syrup, oil and salt together, stirring to dissolve salt. Pour over dry ingredients and mix well. Spread in large flat pan (I use a large baking sheet and it fits perfectly).  Bake in oven for 45 minutes or more, until golden brown, stirring every 15 minutes. Sprinkle dried fruit over granola and allow to cool to room temperature. Store in airtight containers.

Note: I have subbed all sorts of nuts for the ones suggested, just sticking to the same measurements. In this last batch I swapped half the pecans for cashews, and in the past I have used chopped walnuts in place of pecans, pistachios in place of pumpkin seeds and an additional 1/2 cup of sunflower seeds in place of sesame seeds. Just make sure all the nuts are raw and unsalted!

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Chicken salad with cranberries, walnuts and tarragon - Sweet & Savory Kitchens

Aunt Suzy says . . .

I love when things just come together.  Last week I wanted to take some summer salads to a friend and her husband who recently had a baby.  I had most of a rotisserie chicken in the fridge and thought “chicken salad”!  But then felt a little discouraged because I’ve only made very simple chicken salads in the past – I love them, but would not feel good about giving them as a gift.  So I went to Smitten Kitchen, where I go when in need of some good ideas, and was delighted to find this recipe.  My friend Jane is of Ukrainian/Georgian heritage where lots of dishes have walnuts and tarragon in them.  Shazam!  Everyone, me included, deemed it a hit!  When Margaux saw it on Pinterest, she said “Yum”, so decided to try it out with her family.  One thing that Deb of SK said is that her husband doesn’t like chicken salad, so I was wondering about Jason’s reaction.  Jane’s hubbie, Cameron, liked it a lot.  Randy already said he’s not interested in trying it, but that won’t stop me from making it again!

Margaux says . . .

I was a little worried, actually, about whether Jason would like it or not.  Sometimes he’s really picky about things like that, and will only like traditional style, especially if it has something sweet in it like craisins or grapes.  But, to my surprise, he loved it!  I think it was the brined chicken…it was very tender and delicious (see instructions below).  This salad will definitely be on heavy rotation this summer.

Ingredients

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

4 cups cubed (1/2 inch) cooked chicken (AS used leftover rotisserie chicken, Margaux brined some chicken breasts, see below)
1 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
1 celery rib, diced into small bits (1 cup) (AS used 3 medium celery ribs, Margaux used just one)
2 or more tablespoons finely chopped shallot
1 cup dried cranberries (AS would use less next time, but everone else liked this amount)
1/2 to 3/4 cup mayonnaise (AS used 1/2 cup mayo, Margaux used 3/4 cup…she likes mayo!)
3 tablespoons vinegar, tarragon, if you have it,champagne or white wine  (AS used juice from 1/2 lemon)
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh tarragon or herb or your choice (AS used probably 1/4 cup tarragon)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Directions

Throw the first 5 ingredients into a large bowl.  Make a dressing by combining the mayo, vinegar or lemon and the salt and pepper.  Whisk to blend. Add the dressing to the bowl and stir (or use hands) to combine thoroughly.  This can be done ahead of serving.  Add the tarragon before serving and stir to combine.

Brining and poaching the chicken:

Dissolve 2 tbsp table salt in 2 cups of water in a medium bowl or gallon sized Ziplock baggie.  Add 1 3/4 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts to it and refrigerate for 30 minutes.  Remove chicken, rinse and pat dry before using.  Then poach it in water for 15-20 minutes, until the internal temp reaches 160 degrees.

DSC06708

Aunt Suzy says . . .

My friend, Ruth, and I recently read My Life in France by Julia Child and thought it would be fun to cook some things inspired by her.  . . maybe not exactly her recipes from The Art of French Cooking, but similar ones using fresh seasonal ingredients.  We had talked about a souffle, but I’ve always been intimated by them.  Probably should give one a try at some point, but we decided on quiche and chose an asparagus quiche because asparagus is at its peak right now.  I did look in TAOFC to see whether Julia had a recipe using asparagus (no) and to see her methods (interesting and helpful!).  Ultimately, we chose this recipe from Martha Stewart that we modified slightly.   I know the perfect person to buy from at the Minneapolis Farmer’s Market, so we went Saturday morning to buy asparagus and other items for our menu.  I realized that while I enjoy ordering quiche out or having it at other people’s homes, I had never made one myself!  This was very easy and definitely delicious, so I will make quiche again, experimenting with other types and recipes.  It was fun to cook with friends, with everyone diving in and making light work of the tasks. We served this with a beautiful salad and a glass of chardonnay.

Margaux says…

Quiche is kind of a staple in our house.  My dad made quiche a lot when I was a teenager, so it’s like comfort food to me.  And it’s (relatively) easy, inexpensive (especially if you just use leftover stuff like I do a lot), and really delicious.  This recipe is definitely a little fancier than I usually make, with the Gruyere and leeks, and it’s super good.  We usually have a few leftover pieces for breakfast the next day, but this one we totally polished off that night!

When I make quiche, or any baked single-crust pies, for that matter, I use the Joy of Cooking method with the crust, and I find that it always makes for a better finished pie.  In the Joy of Cooking test kitchen, this was the only way they found that didn’t end in a soggy, under done crust.  The edges may get a little brown, but it’s totally worth it.  I’ve included the instructions for this method after the recipe.

Ingredients

Your favorite pie crust for a single crust pie

1 pound asparagus, tough ends removed

2 medium leeks, white and light green part only

1 tablespoon olive or vegetable oil

1 cup shredded Gruyere cheese

4 large eggs

1 1/4 cups half and half

A pinch of nutmeg

salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Crust: Roll out the dough and place in a 9-inch pie plate.  Crimp or flute the edges.  Bake at 350° for 7-8 minutes.  Remove from the oven and make a few stabs with a fork to deflate any bubbles.  Set aside to cool slightly.  Leave the oven on. (Or follow Margaux’s instructions below for pre-baking the crust).

Asparagus and Leek QuicheVegetables: Wash the asparagus and pat dry.  Cut in roughly 3/4-inch lengths.  Cut the tops off the leeks so only white and light green part remains.  Slice these pieces in half lengthwise and wash thoroughly under running water, fanning out the layers.  Thinly slice in half moons then pat dry with a towel or paper towels.  Heat the oil in a non-reactive skillet over medium heat.  Sauté for about 10 minutes until asparagus is beginning to soften and the leeks show a few browned bits.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Eggs: Whisk the eggs and half and half together and add the nutmeg along with salt and pepper to taste.  Whisk to completely blend and emulsify a little.

DSC06707Assembling and baking the quiche:  Place the slightly cooled pie crust on a jelly roll sheet pan. Scatter the grated Gruyere onto the bottom of crust.  Place the vegetable mixture in a layer over the cheese. Next pour the egg/cream mixture over all.  Place the quiche on the sheet pan in the center of the oven and bake for 45 to 60 minutes.  (check at 45 just in case it’s done. At Ruth’s it took an hour in a gas oven and at my house it took 45 min in an electric oven.)  A knife inserted into the center should come out almost clean.  The quiche will continue to cook slightly as you let it rest for 15 minutes (or more) before serving.  You can serve warm or room temperature.

NOTES ON THE INGREDIENTS: 

Suzy says…None of us had time to make a crust so we used store bought and it was fine! While I swear by homemade, I have friends who swear by store-bought. Today I was convinced that if pressed for time purchased crust is a good option.  On the recommendation of the cheese department manager, I used half local Gruyere and half imported French.  Her idea was that the French is nutty and flavorful, but not very “melty” and the local is very melty, but does not have as much flavor as the French.  If Gruyere isn’t readily available, you can use regular Swiss cheese.

Margaux says…I have used store bought crust before too, and prefer Whole Foods brand by far.  But I have to be REALLY pressed for time to do it…I always make an all-butter crust and it’s way more flavorful.  🙂

Joy of Cooking pre-baked crust method:

Roll out your dough and place in pie dish.  Crimp the edges as desired, and freeze for about 8-10 minutes.  Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees and set a rack in the upper third of the oven.  Take the pie dish with crust out of the freezer and smooth a large sheet of aluminum foil, shiny side down, into the pie crust, leaving an overhang all the way around the edges.  Fill the liner with raw beans or rice or metal pie weights, banking the weights along the sides if you don’t have enough to fill the whole shell.  Bake the crust for 20 minutes with the weights in to set the crust.  Take out of the oven, carefully remove the foil by grabbing the corners and pulling it out with the weights, then prick all over with a fork.  Put it back in the oven for 5-10 minutes, until its golden brown.  Check periodically for doneness and if there is any puffing up, prick the puff with a fork and gently push back in place with a spoon. Take out of the oven and fill with the filling and bake (don’t forget to turn the oven down to 350).  If your crust edges start to get too brown during baking with the filling in, carefully cover just the edges with aluminum foil pieces.  Or get a vintage crust saver (aluminum ring that you set on the crust) like I have…it’s great!

Corn Meal Pound Cake - Sweet and Savory Kitchens

Cornmeal Pound Cake with Orange and Dried Cranberries

Aunt Suzy says . . .

I’ve wanted to make a cornmeal-based cake for a while, with my eye on one made with olive oil.  But this cake, featured in our local newspaper’s Taste section, looked good and was just what was needed to get me in gear.  We really enjoyed it for breakfast with tea and coffee, feeling that tea was the better complement.  I also toasted and buttered a slice the second day – delish!  One of the things we really liked about this cake is that it’s not very sweet, making it perfect for breakfast.  The original recipe suggested berries and/or whipped cream when serving the cake as a dessert.

Corn Meal Pound Cake with orange and dried cranberries - Sweet and Savory Kitchens

Margaux says…

I’m really glad Aunt Suzy shared this recipe with me!  I made it for our Saturday morning breakfast (baked the night before), and it was really fantastic with our over-easy eggs and yogurt with strawberries.  I love the orange flavor and the texture the corn meal gives to the cake.  My son pointed out that it would also be good with frosting (of course), and I agree, as a dessert it would be great with an orange glaze (2 tbsp fresh orange juice, 1 cup powdered sugar, 1 tbsp orange zest).

Corn Meal Pound Cake with Orange and Dried Cranberries - Sweet and Savory Kitchens

Cornmeal Pound Cake with Orange and Dried Cranberries

Ingredients
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup cornmeal
1 teaspoon baking powder
Generous pinch salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
5 eggs, separated
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon grated orange rind
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 cup dried cranberries, chopped

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter or grease a 5 x 9-inch loaf pan.

Whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until very light and fluffy.  Next, beat in the egg yolks one at a time, continuing to mix at high speed until light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla, orange rind and orange juice and dried cranberries.

Gently fold the dry ingredients into the butter mixture and stir until combined.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form.  Gently fold the egg whites into the batter using a spatula until combined. Scoop into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.  This will take 1 to 1 1/4 hours depending on your oven.

When done, remove and allow to cool in the pan.  Remove from the pan and turn the cake right side up. Cool completely before slicing.

Cornmeal Pound Cake with Orange and Dried Cranberries

AS COOK’S NOTES:  The original recipe called for 1/4 cup dried cranberries, but each slice had only 2-3 pieces per!  We’ve increased the amount of cranberries to 1/2 cup – they provide a nice contrast in taste and texture to the cake.  I used the organic dried cranberries from Trader Joe’s, which are large, round and plump. The baking time was specified at 1 hour 15 minutes, but I was glad I checked at 65 minutes, because the cake was definitely done – maybe slight too done!  I recommend setting a timer for 1 hour and checking from there until done.

Cornmeal Pound Cake with dried cranberries

M COOK’S NOTES: I agree about the baking time…I checked it at 55 minutes and found mine to be too done, too…It probably could have come out at 52 minutes.  I would actually recommend starting to check at 50 minutes.

Whole Wheat Sweet Potato BananaBread by Sweet and Savory Kitchens

Margaux says…

My dad is the family cook. You can find him in the kitchen most of the time, especially when my brothers were teenagers…I remember him telling me once that he is constantly cooking something; the minute something is done, the vultures descend and gobble it up, and he just starts cooking the next thing. I probably learned the most about cooking from Dad.

Dad

He even comes to our house and cooks (nice boarded-up window in the background, huh?  The pane just fell out one day and smashed everywhere.  It’s fixed now.)

Dad

Like any good cook, he likes to test things over and over and perfect them.  The first thing that I remember him doing this with was pumpkin pie.  We ate pumpkin pie for months (well, it was probably weeks, but in my child-mind we were eating pie every night for a year), which is no problem for me because I love pumpkin pie, until he got his own recipe just right.  Another time we were having all different kinds of stovetop macaroni and cheese…also no problem for me!  This winter he’s been doing quick breads…you can pretty much always find a loaf somewhere in his kitchen right now.  This one really stood out for me.
Whole Wheat Sweet Potato BananaBread by Sweet and Savory Kitchens

I love the texture and earthy flavor the whole wheat gives to this bread.  It’s super moist and dense from the sweet potato and banana, and because of the oil you can refrigerate it without losing any of it’s texture.  It’s really great plain, for breakfast or a snack, and extra super good drizzled with cream cheese glaze for a dessert.

Aunt Suzy says . . .

I hadn’t had this before Margaux made and posted it, but I love banana bread and thought the addition of sweet potato would be just that much better.  I made it this morning and both Randy and I loved it!  It’s not too sweet and, as Margaux has noted, has a great texture.  It’s silky and the whole wheat flour gives a slight crunch.  Delish!  I will definitely put this in regular rotation for the occasional Sunday morning treat.

Whole Wheat Sweet Potato BananaBread by Sweet and Savory Kitchens

Whole Wheat Sweet Potato BananaBread by Sweet and Savory Kitchens

Whole Wheat Sweet Potato Banana Bread

1 cup white flour, sifted
1 cup whole wheat flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 large eggs
1 ripe banana, mashed
1 small sweet potato, mashed
1/2 cup yogurt
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoon white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 tablespoon butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, grease and flour (or use baking spray with flour) 9×5″ loaf pan (or two mini loaf pans like I used).

Sift together flours, baking soda, salt and cinnamon into a small bowl. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, banana, sweet potato, yogurt, sugars and vanilla until completely combined. Add the oil and butter and mix until completely combined. Slowly add the flour mixture and mix until just combined.  Fold in the chopped walnuts with a rubber spatula. Pour batter into prepared pan(s), bake for 45-55 minutes (I start checking at 45 minutes and kind of babysit it. It gets really dark and crispy on top, check it with a toothpick inserted in the center.) Place on cooling rack for 10 minutes, remove from pan and cool on rack completely.

AS Cook’s Notes: I used a 9×4 pan and it took 60 minutes in my oven.  I also did not pre-sift the flours before sifting with other dry ingredients.  I thought I would try this because it seems sifting is not found in many recipes these days, even though this defies everything I learned in 4H and from Mom/Granny. 🙂 I learned recently from the Julia Child cookbook I just got that sifting isn’t necessary with today’s flours.  I used pecans and added currants, which are standard additions in my banana bread recipe.

Cream Cheese Glaze

2 oz. cream cheese, softened
1-2 tablespoons milk
1 cup sifted powdered sugar

Beat the ingredients on medium-high speed with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy. Add more milk if needed to desired consistency. Drizzle over cooled bread.

Any extra glaze can be stored in the freezer until next time you make the bread, or to use on something else. Or you can put way more glaze on your bread than I did! 🙂

Aunt Suzy says . . .

Buddy was interested in what Randy and I were exclaiming about!  It was a new rhubarb recipe – a spin on the classic sour cream streusel coffee cake. We can’t get enough rhubarb here at S&SK, so when this recipe showed up last week on Pinterest, I ran right over to my friend Dianne’s.  I am lucky to have my pick of their beautiful ruby red rhubarb during the season.  Here’s how much we liked it . . . as we were eating the last of it, Randy asked if I would make it again this year.  This from a man who did not grow up with rhubarb and isn’t as wild about it as Margaux and I are!

Adapted from Relishing It

Preheat the oven to 350° and grease an 8-inch square baking pan

The cake batter

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

3/4 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs at room temperature

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup yogurt or sour cream

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1 /2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

The rhubarb and the streusel

2 cups chopped rhubarb

1 teaspoon grated orange rind

1 /4 cup plus 2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1 1/2 tablespoons butter, softened

pinch of kosher salt

Prepare the rhubarb by combining it with the orange rind and 2 tablespoons of brown sugar in a small bowl; set aside.

Prepare the streusel by combining the remaining brown sugar, 1 tablespoon of flour, the cinnamon, 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter, and a pinch of kosher salt in a small bowl.  Cut with a fork until crumbly.  Stir in the walnuts; set aside.

Prepare the cake batter.  First place 2 cups of all-purpose flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a bowl.  Whisk together to thoroughly blend; set aside.

Next, cream 1 stick of butter and the granulated sugar until creamy on high speed with a mixer.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating on high speed and scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition.  Cream for 2-3 minutes, until light and fluffy.  Add half of the dry ingredients and mix on low until just combined.  Add the yogurt and mix till blended, then the remaining dry ingredients.  Beat on low until just incorporated, being careful not to over mix.

Place half of the batter in the prepared pan.  Sprinkle half of the streusel evenly over the batter in the pan and then dollop the remaining cake batter on top of the streusel.  Smooth out with a spatula.  Place the remaining streusel on top of the batter.

Top all with the rhubarb mixture, being careful to drain of any liquefied sugar.  Press the rhubarb down into the batter a little.

Place in the oven and bake for about 50-60 minutes.  Check the center for doneness with a toothpick at 50 minutes and continue baking according to doneness.  Let the cake cool slightly before serving either warm or at room temperature.

You can enjoy immediately, and it will last for a few days if  stored covered at room temperature.

Banana-Coconut Crumb Cake

April 20, 2012

Aunt Suzy says . . .

S&SK goes to Florida!  I’m in Sanibel Island for my annual girlfriend get-together with women I used to work with – this is the 23rd or 24th annual trip. (We can never remember exactly how many years!)  I wanted to make a treat to bring and thought this recipe looked really good.  And it is!  Here’s what the blogger had to say about it and I agree:  “An addictive spiced, crumb-topped banana coffee cake is a big hit!

So if you have some bananas that are past their prime, this is a great option.  I’ve adapted the recipe slightly.  We all agreed that the original is a little sweet, so I’ve adjusted the amount of sugar accordingly.

2 cups all-purpose flour

1  cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/2 cup  (1 stick) butter, at room temperature (add 1/2 teaspoon salt if using unsalted butter)

1 cup (2-3 small) thinly sliced overripe bananas

1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup plain low-fat  yogurt

1 egg

Instructions

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Have an ungreased 13 x 9 in baking dish.

In a large bowl, combine first four ingredients (flour through butter) and mix at low speed until crumbly.

Press 1 1/2 cups crumb mixture into the baking dish. Measure out another 1/2 cup crumbs and set aside.

Place the rest of the ingredients in the bowl with the remaining crumbs. Beat 30-60 seconds at medium speed until well blended (this will mash the bananas). Pour evenly over crumb crust. Sprinkle with reserved 1/2 cup crumbs.

Bake 30-35 minutes, until golden brown.

Cool before cutting into serving pieces.

COOKS NOTES:  This recipe has an unusual approach in using a crust with a cake.  I was curious how this would work and really like the crunch provided by it.  Don’t worry if the amount of bananas is a little less or a little more than 1 cup.  You can use yogurt, sour cream or buttermilk for the liquid.