homemade granola

14 Mar

My good friend, Sarah Lasry of Tastebuds’ fame, introduced me to homemade granola as I know it today.  Before she opened her cafe in 2003, she had an intimate gathering around her dining room table for the purpose of tasting the dishes to be served at the restaurant.  I was one of a select few people chosen, whose criticism and approval she sought.  One of the items Sarah served us was this homemade granola with just enough plain yogurt on top to moisten and hold the ingredients together.  In the restaurant, it was taken to a new level with fresh sliced strawberries, fresh blueberries and perhaps a few slices of banana on top.  The granola was always in high demand in the store and was sometimes sold in gourmet bags to go.  Here is the original recipe as printed in Sarah Chases Nantucket Open House Cookbook.  Sarah Lasry printed it with a variation in her Dairy Gourmet Cookbook.

Granola is one of those things that are easy to make and a treat to have on hand for those occasions that you need a little extra something on hand.  It’ll dress up a breakfast, a shalosh seudos and even an impromptu visit by a friend for coffee.  I usually do not add the dried fruit to the granola.  I like to decide what I want to add with regard to dried or fresh fruit when I am serving it.  This recipe makes a large amount but freezes well.  I have given this for mishloach manos once or twice and received great feedback! 

HOMEMADE GRANOLA

Ingredients

  • 9 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 4 cups shredded coconut
  • 1 1/2 cups whole hazelnuts
  • 1 1/2 cups slivered or sliced almonds
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
  • 1 cup golden raisins
  • 1 cup dark raisins
  • 1/2 cup chopped dates, optional
  • Other diced fruit like apricots, figs, prunes can be added or substituted.

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Toss oats, coconut, and nuts in a large roaster pan or cookie sheet.  Whisk honey & oil in a small bowl.  Pour over oats and mix till coated.  Bake 25-35 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, till golden.

Remove from oven and aerate by mixing several times while it’s cooling.  Add dried fruit, if desired.

Note: I’m not sure if you want this information, but at one point, I figured out the calorie content of this recipe.  I included 1 cup of raisins and 1/2 cup of dates in the nutritional facts.  The results were as follows: there are 770 calories per cup of granola which translates to 48 calories per tablespoon.  The total fat per cup is 41g, sat fat 11g, carbs 90g, fiber 12g, sugars 33g, protein 17g

 

Ina Garten has a granola recipe which was inspired by the one above.  It is equally delicious and of a lesser quantity.  I also prefer the dried cherries and cranberries to the raisins, which you can switch in the above recipe as well. You can see it here http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/homemade-granola-recipe/index.html

Ingredients

  • 4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
  • 2 cups sliced almonds
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup good honey
  • 1 1/2 cups small diced dried apricots
  • 1 cup small diced dried figs
  • 1 cup dried cherries
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup roasted, unsalted cashews

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Toss the oats, coconut, and almonds together in a large bowl. Whisk together the oil and honey in a small bowl. Pour the liquids over the oat mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until all the oats and nuts are coated. Pour onto a 13 by 18 by 1-inch sheet pan. Bake, stirring occasionally with a spatula, until the mixture turns a nice, even, golden brown, about 45 minutes.

Remove the granola from the oven and allow to cool, stirring occasionally. Add the apricots, figs, cherries, cranberries, and cashews. Store the cooled granola in an airtight container.

a trip to the city

7 Mar

To a Brooklyn girl like me, Manhattan will always be known as “the city”.  How I love the city!  I love the noise, the excitement, the hustle and bustle, the shopping and the shops.  I had to be in Manhattan briefly today and found a parking spot within a block of my destination.  I struggled with the muni meter and noticed I had parked in front of a bake shop called “Crumbs” on Amsterdam and 77th Street.  This area is traditionally known as the West Side.  I made a mental note to check out the shop before heading back to New Jersey.  The sign in the window said <strong>CUPCAKES, Made by hand, baked with love</strong>.  Little did I know that this was one of close to 20 stores bearing the Crumbs name!  An hour later, as I stepped into the store to view the selection, I noticed an orthodox kashrus certificate in the window.  I called my friend Y. who lives on the West Side to ask her about it and she said “some people eat there, and some don’t – just so you know, they are open on Shabbos”.  I thought, ‘Ok, not for me, but at least I can walk in!’ .  There was a nice long counter filled with the most appetizing looking pastries, each accompanied by signs with enticing sounding flavors, and the number of calories per serving!  Now that is daring, but it doesn’t seem as though it affects business.  the shop had a steady stream of customers some staying to sit and have a cup of coffee and others on the run.  Some of the cake flavors included, Rainbow Sprinkle, Squiggle, Red Velvet, Black-out (one of my favorites), Carrot Cake, and the most adorable 4″ birthday cake with chocolate frosting and 6 deflated icing balloons on top.  They had whoopie pies in Chocolate and Red Velvet, and cupcakes in innovative flavors and in 4 sizes ranging from the mini to the colossal.  Naturally, I didn’t try any of these delicacies and although I was able to see their kitchen through the door, I learned that the pastries were not made on the premises but came from a wholesale outfit in the Bronx.  Nevertheless, the store’s clean look and updated ambiance created a nice coffee shop atmosphere and I am pretty sure that the pastries were equally good.

restaurant review

7 Mar

Tonight being Rosh Chodesh Adar II, we took some of our children out to Rimon Steakhouse in Lakewood.  It is generally an American steakhouse with some of the appetizers having a Mediterranean accent.  We had reserved a table for 6  and were given a round table which was conducive to nice table conversation.   There were sliced Israeli pickles on the table which we munched on hungrily.  My husband and I had arrived before the kids so we took the initiative to order appetizers for the table so they wouldn’t have to wait to eat.  We ordered Moroccan cigars with tahini, a portion of sliders (3 mini hamburgers and french fries), a meal on its’ own, BBQ chicken wings, and a beef chummus platter.  We washed on warm mini pita rounds and small warm dinner rolls.  The appetizers arrived just as our crew got there, and they were happy to dive in.  The cigars were good but likely not made in-house and the tahini was a bit too watery for my liking.   The sliders were great!  Each one had 2 mini hamburgers on one of their small round dinner rolls smeared with Russian dressing and held together with a toothpick.  A half of a slider was more than enough for each of us as we all wanted to sample a bit of everything.  The chicken wings were decent but there are two parts to a wing.  There’s the mini pulka and “the other” part.  Most of us prefer the mini drumstick part since it is easier to eat and more fleshy.  This portion only had the “other” part.  The beef chummus platter is a winner!  This is a large portion of delicious, smooth chummus with tasty, cooked ground beef in the center.  You want to get it all when dipping your piece of ripped pita into the chummus, and top it off with pickles for super flavor!  Again, chances are the chummus is not made in-house but so long as they know where to buy one of good quality, who cares?

Now for the mains:  Truthfully, I only tasted my own but the restaurant was very accommodating with regard to switching side dishes and sharing a dish.  They happily brought an extra plate and steak knife for the shared portion.  I ordered the Entricote Steak Au Poivre, which means black pepper encrusted.  It came covered in freshly fried thin rings of onion, with sides of  halved mini red potatoes and grilled vegetables.  The dish was plentiful with a mediocre presentation.  I ordered the steak medium-rare and it was done to perfection.   The potatoes were also cooked to my liking – baked to a crisp on the outside and soft on the inside – yet they were small enough that there wasn’t too much soft potato on the inside.  A bit more attention could have been paid to the grilled vegetables.  The peppers and onions were on the large side,  the zucchini ok.  The other 2 portions of steak ordered at the table were a bone-in Rib Steak, and a London Broil.  They were equally done to perfection and as ordered , medium-rare.  My daughter and SIL ordered salad with grilled chicken strips and grilled dark chicken respectively.  They were likewise happy with their choices.

There’s more to restaurant dinners than the fare.  Service, likewise, plays a big part and it is here that Rimon Steakhouse fell a bit short.  When we arrived, we were brought glasses with ice cubes, however, the waiter never came around with water or asked us what we’d like to drink.  Also the dirty appetizer plates stayed on the table for longer than I would have liked, and in fact were not even removed before the main dish arrived!  Suddenly the waiter appeared with our steaks and was scrambling for room to put it down.  We ended up rounding up the dirty plates on our own and giving them to him the next time he came by.

All in all, our experience was good and I would definitely go back.  The entrees range from the low $20’s to the high $30’s and our meal for six cost a little over $200.  Although we didn’t have wine or dessert (we were pressed for time!), we did enjoy 5 appetizers and 5 main dishes.  Located on Route 9 and Chestnut Street, Rimon’s ambiance is decent, with a Mediterranean accent.  I would recommend this restaurant for a casual dinner and I am confident that you will not be disappointed.

sunday musings

6 Mar

Our living room is usually not used during the week for casual entertaining.  But I do like to sit on my couch to say tehillim and to daven.  Today, my mother knocked on the door as I was saying tehillim and joined me on the living room couch.  I offered her something to drink – a coffee or perhaps some carrot juice?  She said she can’t “afford” (to drink) carrot juice.  We shmoozed for a bit, when my sister-in-law E. happened by and joined us.  After a few minutes she went to “the cabinet” where unsellable baked items are placed for family enjoyment.  You never know what you may find in “the cabinet”.  It usually has biscotti, but today she found butter cookies.  These are traditional Hungarian butter cookies or vajas pogasca.  They are round cookies, about 1/2 inch thick, with a grid design on top, traditionally baked on a high shelf in the oven so it can bake through without burning the bottoms.  They are dry with a rich buttery flavor, perfect with a coffee.  Mom’s eyes lit up.  “Now we’re talking”, she said and asked for a coffee to go with it.  Isn’t it interesting that the carrot juice is “unaffordable”, but the butter cookies and coffee are fine!  I guess the cookie just didn’t do it for E. or she had her mind on something else because she asked if I had any chocolate chip cookies.  “Sure” I said.  “In the last freezer on the left, on the second shelf , there’s a box  which has an opening on top that will fit a hand.  Please bring me one while you’re at it!”  And that is how it happened, that on a random Sunday morning I entertained my Mother and SIL with cookies and coffee in the Living Room.

Finally!!

4 Mar

Apparently, my friends and family have more faith in me than I do! They’ve been encouraging me to start a blog to share my vast knowledge of culinary skills with the world. Yes, my passion is cooking, baking, and serving food to loved ones, yet I still have much to learn and that’s where YOU come in. I hope that we can share ideas, recipes, menu & dessert planning, and all that goes with it, such as table setting and plating.