Sunday, March 18, 2007

supernaturally good granola

I've gotten a nice haul of cookbooks in the last few weeks--some for my birthday, and some as presents from me to me--so I'm planning to try a few new things out here over the next weeks.
Last week I got Heidi Swanson's new cookbook, Super Natural Cooking. I've been following her blog, 101 Cookbooks, almost since I started reading blogs (how did I live in that pre-blog darkness?) and I bought this as soon as I could. It's a beautiful book, wonderful colors, great photographs (Heidi is her own photographer), and the recipes are the kind I like best, that is, they are recipes that quest and explore.

So far I've mostly been reading it, dipping in here and there, making note of things I want to try (Raspberry Curd Swirl Cake! hibiscus-flavored Agua de Jamaica! a healthy version of Thin Mints!). But yesterday I wanted to get my hands into one of those recipes, and I chose something simple to start: Heidi's Grain-ola. I changed her recipe a little, partly to downsize it by half, partly to suit my cupboards.

Grain-ola, mostly from Super Natural Foods
2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup hulled pumpkin seeds (a sub for sunflower seeds)
1/2 cup roughly chopped walnuts
grated zest of 1 orange
1/3 cup of maple syrup, plus 3 tbs of honey (Heidi used all honey, but I was almost out)
1/8 cup peanut oil (sub for coconut which I didn't have)
about a cup of assorted dried fruits (I used raisins, cranberries, and chopped apricots)
(I also left out coconut, again because I was without, and I have promised to try it with the coconut and the coconut oil.)

Heat sweeteners and oil until warm, and pour over the other ingredients, combined in a big bowl. Spread out on a cookie sheet (I lined mine with foil to save clean-up) and bake at 300 degrees for about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Mine came out a little darker than Heidi's, because I couldn't decide if it was done and left it in about 10 minutes longer--not a terrible mistake, because it has a nice darkly caramelized flavor. Altogether, as fine a granola as I've had, right up to my former high watermark of granolas, the kind they make for Vermont College's cafeteria (which is catered by a culinary institute): crispy, chewy, with the nice toothy softness of the dried fruits--good as a dry snack, and ambrosial in a bowl of milk.

One of the appeals of Super Natural Foods, for me, is its focus on unprocessed or minimally processed food, and on unfamiliar grains. Under Heidi's tutelage, I'm hoping to get to know teff and wheat berries in the most intimate and delicious ways.
For Amy Sherman's (of Cooking with Amy) interview with Heidi, check here.


lorna sass said...

Take a look at the Granola recipe in my new book WHOLE GRAINS EVERY DAY, EVERY WAY (Clarkson Potter). It's baked very slowly at 250 degrees. If you get a chance to try it, I'd love to know what you think. Lorna Sass

holly_44109 said...

i have heidi's first book cooking 1.0 - it's really beautiful.

MJN/NYC said...

I love granola. This sounds delicious and easy. The orange peel, I bet, makes it ambrosial.

julie said...

Hello Lucette, it's my first visit on your very nice blog.

I am making this right now thanks to you, and putting Heidi's book on my wishlist.