Category: Oatmeal

Bannocks — A Tribute to Marion Cunningham (Reposted from my Dinner Place blog)

Bannocks — A Tribute to Marion Cunningham (Reposted from my Dinner Place blog)

A little apricot preserves…

 I never knew Marion Cunningham personally, but after my Mom, she pretty much taught me to cook and, perhaps more truly, to bake.  She died this last week (July 11, 2012–Read the LA Times obituary here) at the age of 90 after a lifetime of cooking, writing, and testing recipes for her cookbooks (Fanny Farmer, Fanny Farmer Baking Book, The Breakfast Book, etc.) and for her long-lived column in The San Francisco Chronicle.  She encouraged several generations of home cooks to… well, to just go on and cook.  Set the table and eat at home, please and thank you.



Her books and recipes were not cute, though they were entertaining.  They weren’t novelesque, though they were terribly readable.  They were always sort of like Goldilocks’ favorite bed–just right.  Accurate, concise, occasionally gently witty…above all correct, well-tested, and usable. If I couldn’t remember the formula for cobbler topping, I grabbed The Fanny Farmer Baking Book.  For goodness sake, I STILL grab it.  If I was testing my own blueberry muffin recipe, I looked no further than Marion Cunningham for comparison. Not just because I knew the recipe would work, but because her entire life’s belief in feeding oneself and one’s loved ones well was warmed up, stirred in, and firmly baked into each and every page.

Food is a topic of conversation, she said. It can be an imprint that you pass onto someone else. It can be a shared experience. Sitting down and eating together is a binding quality for a family. Eating on the run doesn’t cover all the bases it should.

She never was a star chef on “Chopped,” (though she did have a cooking show, “Cunningham and Company,” on the Food Network) and she didn’t have lots of restaurants named after her, but all who knew her work respected and loved both her and the food-at-home she championed.  She worked with James Beard as his assistant for years, traveled with Alice Waters, and claimed Judith Jones as an editor.  Why she didn’t make Gourmet Live’s list of the 50 Women Game-Changers in Food was always beyond me.  So, Marion, my very own hero, in your tasty and fine memory, I today share your great Bannocks recipe for all far and wide.  I know there are delectable aromas whispering your name wafting toward heaven from all over the world today– and always.  Thanks for the food and even more for encouraging the life that goes with it.  God speed.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 A bit about Bannocks:  A Scottish, gluten-free flat and buttery bread that can be used as a breakfast treat with butter and jam or honey, it’s also a fine cracker for cheese, and a crunchy-buttery (not sweet) shortbread for anytime.  Before home had ovens, bannocks were cooked on a girdle..like a griddle, but hung over the heating surface with chains.  Bannocks were then cooked more like pancakes.  You might try it when camping.   If you’re a Dorothy Sayers fan, the British mystery writer mentions bannocks being cooked on a girdle in the book HAVE HIS CARCASE

Bannocks perhaps are a bit like scones in shape as they’re triangular, though they are not tall and bread-like, and rather only about a crispy  1/4 -1/3″ thick.  Lovely with soupI make these in the food processor in just a few minutes.  The recipe works fine at sea level and at altitude as is.
 

photo courtesy Gourmet

Bannocks by Marion Cunningham from The Breakfast Book
 
 

  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup oat flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled
  • 1/2 cup water

 
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Grease a baking sheet or line with parchment paper.

In a mixing bowl, toss the oats, flour, and salt together with a fork. Cut the cold butter into small pieces, toss it into the flour mixture, and rub it in until coarse bits form. Stir in the water until all the flour is absorbed.  (Can be done in the food processor if desired.) 
Gather the rough dough together and put it on a board lightly dusted with oat flour. Knead about 6 times. Divide the dough in half and pat each half into a circle about ¼- inch thick. Cut each circle into 4 wedges and arrange the wedges 1/2 inch apart on the baking sheet. Bake about 20 minutes or until lightly colored.

 “Cooking is one of the legacies we can leave to the future, and I would like to be remembered for my baking. We all know we’re not immortal, but after I’m gone, I would like my son and daughter to be able to say, ‘Our mother made real yeast bread for breakfast.’”
  ~Marion Cunningham

Have fun cooking and taking care of yourself,
Alyce

Trading Granola for Eggs – My Urban Barter Tale

Trading Granola for Eggs – My Urban Barter Tale

I was on the road a couple of weeks ago and checking my computer when my I-Spy Radar saw an email with a subject line that had something to do with too many fresh eggs and trading cookies for them.  I try and stay off email a lot when I’m away seeing my kids or on vacation, but I couldn’t NOT look at this one.  Backyard eggs just hook me right in.  And, of course, cookies fall right out of my oven.

My siblings and I grew up with fresh eggs; my dad either traded produce for them or shelled out a little cash to his Swedish farmer friend Munson.  When our  parents retired and took it (ha!) easy on a little “hobby” farm,  they had their own chickens and, hence, their own eggs, to say nothing of a garden that produced tomatoes the likes of which I’ve never again tasted.  When Dave and I visited as newlyweds, we had fresh eggs (fried in bacon or sausage grease) every morning early.  Why would you want anything else?  And why not at 6am?  There, of course, were also biscuits.  With sour cream and honey or molasses.  Unending pots of coffee.

To say that  mass-produced eggs pale in comparison is an apt description.  Don’t you love the looks of this egg produced by one of Cathy’s ladies?

(Read my post about this salsa here.)

So, anyway,  I missed great eggs for years.  I really missed them because I just love eggs.  I go through phrases where sure that the SB diet will take off my well-fed excess, I eat them daily.  Then I begin to worry about the cholesterol and switch back to egg whites.  Whichever, I always eat vegetables for breakfast, too.  (Alternately, I’ll eat yogurt and fresh fruit for weeks on end–with my homemade low-fat granola.)  But back to the email:  as soon as I could arrange it,  I was ready to start trading whatever I had for those eggs

In St. Paul, you can now raise chickens in your own back yard.  Right in the city.  Now I don’t have much space, and I’m only fond of eggs, not chickens, so I’m not putting up a coop back there in place of my postage stamp patio.  But I’m happy to oblige my friend Cathy and her family, who are the ones suffering from the overage.  Her “ladies” live in the yard, eat well, exercise daily, and are nearly pets who produce things like this:

 Here’s a closer up pic so maybe you can see the beautiful colors.  The whites are nearly blue:

One week, I traded some oatmeal chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin cookies:

This week I made granola for Dave, so just made a bigger batch and traded that.

It’s lovely with milk, better with plain Greek yogurt and a drizzle of honey, and best with homemade ricotta and fresh fruit. Naturally, you can scoop up a little and eat it out of hand.  (I do recommend leaving a scoop or spoon in the jar as you’re keeping this granola awhile.)  Your choice.   Whatever you do, I hope you find someone with whom to trade it so that you can eat eggs like I’m eating!  Thanks, ladies.

alyce’s low-fat granola with apricots, currants, and cherries
based on David Lebovitz’  recipe, which he says was based on Nigella Lawson’s!

  • 5 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 2t cinnamon
  • 2t ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves, optional
  • 1t kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups each: chopped walnuts and almonds
  • 1/2 cup each: pistachios, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and plain sesame seeds
  • 1/2 cup each: chopped dried apricots, cherries, and currants or raisins
  • 1/3 cup each: real maple syrup and honey  (can use all honey)
  • 3/4 c applesauce 
  • 2T olive oil

Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees F.

Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl or soup pot.  (oats through seeds)  Meantime, heat liquid ingredients over low heat, stirring, in a small sauce pan until just warm and well-combined. (syrup, honey, applesauce, and oil).  Pour liquid ingredients over dry and mix well for a few minutes.  Pour onto two or three large, rimmed baking sheets and bake 50-60 minutes until dry, golden, and crispy, stirring 3-4 times during the baking time.  Store in a tightly-sealed container for up to a month.  (This granola will not keep well in a plastic bag.)

Cook’s Notes:

1.  I thought I’d share the differences between my granola and David Lebovitz’–his included 3/4 cup brown sugar (I skipped that) and had no fruit at all (I like fruit).  I also added ground cloves, which are optional.  But I definitely borrowed the idea of applesauce in place of the large amount oil usually used in granola and part of the reason it’s so caloric.  This is very low fat, crispy, tasty, and…  well, you’ll like it.

If you’ve never visited the magical David Lebovitz blog,  please do yourself a favor and make the trip today.  David is an American pastry chef living in Paris who always has a great story to tell—  The food’s lovely, too, but it’s the stories that bring me back again and again.  FYI–David also does things like Paris Chocolate Tours if you ever get to the City of Light.  If you want more info, check the blog or ask David yourself in the comment section of his blog.

2.  Changing it up:  The number of additions (and the size of their amounts), to the oats is rather flexible., as are the spices.   If you only have a few nuts and some raisins, for instance, you can still make this granola.  Or if you have only apricots and almonds…you can still make this granola.  Only have cinnamon?  Use 3 teaspoon cinnamon then.  See?   Do keep the main ingredients and proportions intact:  oats, honey, maple syrup, applesauce, and oil.

two-dog kitchen and a bit of travel

Mother Gabriela

Our lilacs through the piano window.  Two views–above and below.

Above: Tasting Sean’s brews in Colorado.  Our son’s on his way to becoming a master brewer.  Woo hoo!

Above:  In Princeton–a facade saved, ready for its new building to be built behind.  Meantime, you can see the sky!

My Easter cake…will blog soon.  Great for spring!

Dogwood blossom in Princeton

 With Dave and Emily eating lunch in the sunshine in the West Village

                                                  At The Spotted Pig in NYC,  April Bloomfield’s restaurant.
                                                        Couldn’t get in.  🙁

Dappled light –West Village/NYC (above)

Gorgeous window boxes in downtown Princeton (above)

Princeton spring–Dogwoods (above)

“Yes, we did,”  said Gab and Tuck

Sing a new song,
Alyce

Figs, Figs, Figs or Bring me some figgy what?

Figs, Figs, Figs or Bring me some figgy what?

  Bring me some figgy…. oh, just bring me some grilled figs.  With blue cheese and thyme.
                                           

I missed you, blog.  Travel.  Work.  Kitten-sitting.  Cooking for folks.  Uh, writing for other websites (sorry.)

But I’m back.  And I’m back with figs.  If you haven’t grabbed fresh figs yet this season, the season is, my friends, waning.  (If it were early in fig season, would we say the season was waxing?)  Cheap?  OH NO.  Guess not.  So you better make the most of every biteful and not let one single one get too mushy to eat.

My little pint made it through two courses and I’ll share them with you.  After I tell you that I ate figs at Tyler Florence’s new restaurant, Wayfare Tavern, in San Francisco last Friday at lunch.  (Along with halibut and berry pound cake served with cabernet sorbet.) Of course, figs are a bit more available in California (just a tad) and Tyler had featured them as a starter with burrata cheese, onions and honey.  Were they good? Yes.  But why not save that buck (a little more than a buck to get to SF) and do something sweet at home?

Did we see Tyler? Yes!!!  Really.  What a day.  (Other spots we ate and loved in SF:  Scala Bistro-dinner and breakfast-wow; Cliff House –lunch at the bistro; dinner in the dr-best view in town!–a whole local sole-so fresh and perfectly fileted by the waiter at table; Tea House at the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park; AT&T Park–what beats a beer and a dog?)

Anyway, back to our (your) figs.  I grew up eating fig preserves or stewed figs my mom put up in the summer.  I can’t figure out where she got figs, but get them she did.  And how did we eat them?  In a little bowl to the side of a nice, big breakfast or right on top of a big plate of buttered biscuits that often were piled high with…sour cream. 

Nowadays, I often have dried figs with cheese in the winter.  Or I poach them in a little wine and serve them with honey and goat’s cheese or mascarpone or…blue cheese.  I have a youza youza recipe with puff pastry, reconstituted figs and blue cheese that is a slamdunk dessert with port in the winter.  But today.  This weekend.  It’s fresh figs in Colorado.  Get yours today.  Eat them plain.   Split them with a little knife and take off the stem or just eat them whole while holding the stem.  Or, you can do what I did:

Recipe 1:  Figs on the Grill   2 servings

1/2 pint fresh figs
2 ounces blue cheese (I like Maytag for this, but any blue would be fine.)  cut into pieces 1/4×1″ or so

2-3 T honey
2t fresh thyme leaves (or 1/2 tsp dried)
1/2t freshly ground black pepper
Heat grill, indoors or out, to medium-high temperature.  Slice figs in half and place cut side down on grill.  Let cook about 2-3 minutes until golden and sizzling with grill marks. 
 Turn over and let cook about 1 minute.  Place a tiny piece of blue cheese on each fig half right in the middle of the fig, pressing down a little to make sure the cheese stays put. 
 Cook until cheese is softened and just barely getting gooey.  Remove figs from grill, using tongs,  and divide between two plates.  Drizzle with honey and dust with thyme and a little black pepper on each.

Drink?  Ruby port. 

Fig “recipe” #2  Oatmeal with Fresh Figs and Almonds

Make your favorite oatmeal exactly as you like it.  While it cooks, slice some fresh figs into 1/4″ slices and toast 1/4 c sliced almonds.  When the oatmeal is done, sprinkle each serving with Vietnamese cinnamon and about 1T brown sugar.   Add some sliced figs on top and shower with toasted almonds.  Add about 1/3 c hot milk and chow down your goodferya breakfast.  Ahhhhhhh…perfect.

Drink?  Coffee, I’d guess.

Two-Dog Kitchen + 1 Kitten… and Around the Hood

Skippy Jon Jones is visiting Aunt Alyce and Uncle Dave for a few days while Mom goes to the mountains.
A few bloody clawmarks.
A little cat litter eating by the dogs.
A little catfood eating by the dogs.
Much general merriment.
Love. 
Mostly.
We’re thinking Skippito.

The fam in San Fran
Check out all the pics on my fb page

Rhyan brings dad for a hamburger and rootbeer float lunch on Saturday.
We still have to watch “The Incredibles”
Grandma never tires of it.  Well, not too much.
Sing a new song; eat a new fig,
Alyce