Friday, 10 May 2013

A long time since last, and granola revisited

Apologies. I've not been good at updating. I guess blogging regularly is a skill, and a time-consuming one at that.

It has been a very busy spring. There have been travels, and weddings, and planning for more travels, and spending time with family, and meeting with friends, and making new friends. There have been windy days, and still days (though not many). There hasn't been many sunny days, come to think of it. But those which we have had have been cherished and enjoyed.

When I am busy I don't tend to experiment with new recipes. Well, actually, I do, but they aren't recipes for sharing. They are concoctions, they are the results of emptying the vegetable drawer in the fridge or doing the supermarket shop late at night when foods are reduced down to nothing. They are a way to unwind my mind and to nourish myself. But they are not recipes to be shared. When things really get busy, it is time to revisit old friends. By that I mean the recipes that are so deeply ingrained in you that you could cook them while asleep.

The latest of my trips was to London for the Early May bank holiday weekend. My boyfriend is spending a couple of months in Vienna for work, and we had decided to meet up in London (where he used to live) to get to spend some time together, and for me to meet some of his close friends. It was a great weekend. At quite a late hour on Sunday, in a pub in Stockwell while attending a brilliant club night, I ended up in conversation with some of the crowd about granola. I extolled on the virtues of making your own granola (hopefully not to the extent of leaving these people with an impression of their mate's newish girlfriend being a bit loopy), and it struck me that the recipe I was talking about was not the one I had posted on the blog previously. You see, after the previous granola post I re-visited the recipe since a friend mentioned using apple juice instead of honey. Delicious magazine had written on the topic. It didn't take much experimentation to tweak it a bit to my liking. I made notes about how this granola was made, then ran out of time to post it between the travels, and weddings, and travel planning, and family time and all that. Lo and behold - when I return from the weekend in London I find my granola notes on my desk at work. Sometimes it's a really good things that we don't have a clean desk policy here.. So, this recipe really is for my boyfriend's friends in London, although everyone should try it. Give it a go, it's easy!

Breakfast: yoghurt, granola, fruit. Photo: Helene Frössling

Lean, mean granola

350 g jumbo oats
200 g seeds (sunflower, pumpkin, hemp, linseed..)
150 g nuts (walnuts, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, pistachios..), chopped into smaller pieces

200 g dried fruits (raisins, sultanas, cranberries, chopped dried figs...)

150 ml apple juice
90 ml maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Preheat your oven to 140 degrees, and line two or three baking trays with baking paper. Use baking trays with rims - baking sheets without rims are likely to cause a headache.

In a large bowl mix the oats, seeds and chopped nuts. In a small saucepan, gently heat the apple juice with the maple syrup, vanilla and cinnamon. The cinnamon will most likely start off coating the surface but you want to do your best to stir it in. You are only looking to heat it a bit, to enable the ingredients to mix. Fold the warm liquid into the oat, nut and seeds mixture, trying to gently coat all of it without mashing anything. Spread the granola over the lined baking trays and put these in the pre-heated oven. To toast the granola will take around 40 minutes, but you should ideally gently turn the granola every 10 minutes or so, and perhaps shift the trays around as well. Once the granola is golden, remove the trays from the oven and combine onto one tray, then scatter the fruit over the still-hot granola. Allow to cool on the tray before storing in an airtight container.

A note of advice - this can become fairly expensive to make if you buy the nuts, seeds and fruits at full prices. I always keep an eye out for special offers so I can keep a stock of these supplies in the house. 

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