Tag Archives: granola

What’s Been Cooking? “First month in Münster” edition

Hello there! Long time no blog, I know. My excuse is that F and I were moving countries. After a wonderful 6.5 years in London, we decided it was time for new adventures in a smaller place with a less hectic pace of life, so we moved to Münster, Germany at the end of May. It was hard to leave our friends and communities in London but we are glad to be in Münster, where we already have a good network thanks to F’s friends from his university days.

Part of moving into a new flat in Germany required buying and installing a kitchen. No, not just the appliances – an entire kitchen. Apparently it’s a thing in Germany. Kitchens are seen as “furniture,” and most flats come unfurnished, so…no kitchens! (Or at least they aren’t a guarantee.) Once a kitchen is installed in a flat or house, if those tenants move out they can either take the kitchen with them (yes, people do that) or they can sell it to the new people moving in.

Anyway, designing and buying a kitchen was a new experience for both of us. They are not cheap, but ideally we’ll be in this flat for the next 5-10 years so it’s a worthy investment and we both enjoy cooking and baking. We ended up at KüchenTreff Münster and had a great experience from designing through installation. I’d recommend them if you’re in the Münster area and in the market for a kitchen.

All that was a long-winded way of getting to the point of this post: what F and I have been cooking (and baking) in our new kitchen over the past month! Here goes, in no particular order:

I made our favorite Käsekuchen (German cheesecake) for F’s birthday in mid-June. He returned the favor for my birthday two weeks later by making our now go-to cherry pie from Stella Parks at Serious Eats.

June was Spargel-Saison in northwestern Germany. Spargel is white asparagus, which I never came across until visiting western Germany and Belgium in May/June. It’s a thing, and for many – like F – it’s something to be enjoyed in multitudes for a short time every year. It tastes completely different from green asparagus – milder and sweeter, to me. Peel it, then wrap it in a foil packet with butter and salt and roast it in a 200C/400F oven for 45-60 minutes. Yum.

Back to baking, the first thing I made in our new oven was a batch of my go-to granola. Needless to say, more batches have followed.

Anita Bean’s lentil-stuffed peppers from her Vegetarian Athlete’s Cookbook made for a tasty and light dinner on a warm summery evening.

We don’t usually celebrate the Fourth of July (American Independence Day), but F wanted to have friends over for a barbecue and he asked if flag cakes are actually a thing. I wasn’t sure, but I checked smitten kitchen and – lo and behold – she had a recipe for one. A classic yellow cake base (it stayed quite moist, maybe thanks to buttermilk) is slathered with cream cheese frosting and topped with berries in the shape of the American flag. I think it’s one of the most patriotic things I’ve ever done or made… It was a hit with our German friends and I’d definitely make the cake again, with or without the flag design.

What have you been cooking recently?

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Recipe: Go-To Granola (previously known as “nutty maple granola”)

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UPDATED 28 October 2017: I recently realized that, although I’ve had two granola recipes on the blog, I actually end up making some sort of hybrid recipe every time. I was telling my mom and grandma about it recently, which made me decide I really only needed one granola recipe on the blog. Apparently I get the granola-making bug from my grandma, who has been making her own for years, thanks to the Barefoot Contessa!

All that is a long-winded way of saying I’ve rebranded my “nutty maple granola” as this “go-to granola“: the failsafe, works-every-time, crunchy deliciousness that granola ought to be. I have still not found a store-bought brand that measures up, at least by my taste.

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While this is my favorite base recipe and works great as-is, you are welcome to vary it to your tastes. In fact, I often go with whatever the pantry holds. Here are some tips and tricks that I have gleaned over a few years of granola-making:

  • I learned from the excellent smitten kitchen cookbook that an egg white is the secret to beautiful, ragged, crunchy granola clusters. Don’t skip it, unless you somehow don’t like clusters.
  • Use your favorite nut(s): use one kind, use two or even three kinds of nut to get up to the 1.5 cups required. I usually throw in whatever I happen to have around: sometimes it’s walnuts+almonds, sometimes one or the other, and on occasion it’s pecans when I’ve splurged. (Pecans are really the best, as they work so well with maple syrup.)
  • You’re welcome to use coconut oil instead of sunflower oil. Any other neutral oil would be fine, too.
  • In terms of spices, sometimes I use ginger+cinnamon and sometimes I use allspice+ginger – the latter gives the granola a lovely bit of kick.
  • I used to add dried fruit to my granola after it cooled. Now, I leave the dried fruit out and just add raisins or dried cranberries straight in when I’m ready to devour a bowl of yogurt and granola.
  • You can store your granola in a jar or other air-tight container at room temperature, but this recipe makes so much granola that I usually store some in ziplock bags in the freezer. It thaws quickly and is actually quite nice (extra crunchy) straight from the freezer!

 

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beautiful, crunchy clusters!

Go-To Granola (inspired by these two recipes and tweaked to my tastes over 4 1/2 years of making it)

Ingredients

  • 4 cups oats
  • 1.5 cups nut(s) of choice, whole or roughly chopped/crushed
  • 1.5 cups coconut flakes
  • 4 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1.5 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1/3 honey
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 egg white

Procedure

  • Preheat the oven (convection setting) to 300F (150C). Spread parchment paper on a baking sheet.
  • Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
  • Heat the oil, honey, and maple syrup in a small saucepan until smooth.
  • Add the liquids to the dry ingredients and stir until combined. Stir in the egg white until it has coated most of the mixture.
  • Spread the mixture onto the baking sheet and pat it into an even layer.
  • Bake the granola for 40-50′, carefully flipping after 20 minutes. If the granola doesn’t seem crispy when it comes out, don’t worry — it will firm up as it cools.
  • Cool and store or eat immediately!

Enjoy!