granolaThis recipe started at The Seven Wives Inn in St. George, UT, a long long long time ago.  I asked for the recipe from my father, after I tasted the granola at his house one day–apparently he and Mom had it on a jaunt down there when they stayed at the Inn.  I don’t even know if the Inn still exists, at any rate, I’ve changed the recipe over the years to reflect my changing tastes.

8 cups whole rolled oats (NOT the quick kind)
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4- 1/3 cup wheat germ
8 oz raw almonds (1 cup)
8 oz. raw cashews (1 cup)
1/2 cup sunflower seeds

Mix in bowl.

Heat together until bubbly (I put everything in a 2-cup liquid measuring cup, then microwave it for two minutes and stir it well):
5/8 cup water
5/8 cup oil
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup peanut butter

Add 1 tsp. vanilla and pour over dry ingredients. Mix well and spread on two large cookie sheets. Bake in 200 degree oven for about two hours (I switch tray positions after 1 hour and stir a little bit). Store in airtight container. (If it’s a humid day, I turn the oven off and let it sit in there for a while—another 1/2 hour or so. If you live in a dry climate, you may need to adjust the cooking time downward.)

2017 Note: I modified the liquid ingredients to lower the amount of honey.  The original amounts were all 1/2 cup.

Torta di Pere

I found this one on one of my food blogs, who got it from another food blog, who got it from the restaurant that invented it.  While the original dish called for pears, I didn’t have any pears, so I used apples. If you do this, sautee the apples slightly, to the consistency of — what else? — pears.  The secret ingredients in this cake are brown butter and whole eggs that are beaten to the point of forming stiff peaks. When combined, they give the cake its springy texture and subtle nutty flavor. Serve this cake with whipped cream with a bit of almond extract.

Update: I made it again last night for the 21st Anniversary of Our First Date (an occasion if there ever was one) and used pears (Bosc–ripe, not crisp) and bit too many chocolate chips and IT WAS DIVINE.  We didn’t even use the whipped cream,  as it went freshly out of the oven and into Anniversary mouths.
(Makes one 9-inch cake, which serves about eight people)

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 eggs, at room-temperature
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter
3/4 cup sugar
3 pears, peeled, in a small dice (I used apples, lightly tossed in a pan with 1 Tbls. melted butter)
3/4 cup bittersweet chocolate chunks (I used chocolate chips)

Lightly whipped cream with a touch of almond extract (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 9-inch springform pan and dust with flour; set aside. Stir the flour, baking powder and salt together, set aside.

Using a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the eggs on high speed until pale and very thick. (It will take about nine minutes to get sufficient volume–just below Stiff Peak Stage.)

While the eggs are whipping, brown the butter. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan (because it will foam a lot) and cook it until the butter browns and smells nutty (about 6 to 8 minutes). It helps to frequently scrape the solids off the bottom of the pan in the last couple minutes to ensure even browning. It turns all-of-a-sudden, so be ready.  Remove from the flame but keep in a warm spot. (I poured the butter into a spouted measuring cup for the next stage.)

Add the sugar to the eggs and whip a few minutes more. Just as the egg-sugar mixture is starting to lose volume, turn the mixture down to stir, and add the flour mixture and brown butter. Add one third of the flour mixture, then half of the butter, a third of the flour, the remaining butter, and the rest of flour. Whisk until just barely combined — no more than a minute from when the flour is first added — and then use a spatula to gently fold the batter until the ingredients are combined. It is very important not to over-whisk or fold the batter or it will lose volume.

Pour into prepared pan. Sprinkle the pear and chocolate chunks over the top, and bake until the cake is golden brown and springs back to the touch, about 40 to 50 minutes, or a tester comes out clean. (Try this a few times to make sure you’re not hitting a pocket of pear.) Serve with whipped cream.

Note: After licking the bowl, I decided it didn’t really matter what kind of fruit I used, as the batter had this amazing taste.  I used Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate chips.

Angel-hair Pasta with Fresh Tomato Sauce

Angel-Hair Pasta with Fresh Tomato Sauce
Gourmet  | July 2006
by Ian Knauer

This is my new favorite summer recipe.  I can never figure out how much 3 pounds of tomatoes is.  Here’s my guesstimate: 4 huge tomatoes, or 6 large tomatoes, or 8 regular tomatoes, or 12 Romas.  I guess I could weigh them, but these aren’t the kind of tomatoes you buy in the grocery store.  They’re the kind you get from your, or your neighbor’s, garden.  Really Fresh tomatoes.

1 small garlic clove
3 lb tomatoes
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar (optional)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 lb dried capellini (angel-hair pasta)
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil

Accompaniments: finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling

Mince garlic and mash to a paste with a pinch of salt using a large heavy knife.  This is kind of a cool mixture.  Mash and mash until you can’t tell one from the other–really moosh them together.  You’ll feel like a real chef.

Core and coarsely chop two thirds of tomatoes. Halve remaining tomatoes crosswise, then rub cut sides of tomatoes against large holes of a box grater set in a large bowl, reserving pulp and discarding skin. Toss pulp with chopped tomatoes, garlic paste, lemon juice, salt, sugar (if using), and pepper. Let stand until ready to use, at least 10 minutes. Note: Tomato mixture can stand at room temperature up to 2 hours.

While tomatoes stand, cook pasta in a 6- to 8-quart pot of boiling salted water, uncovered, until al dente, about 2 minutes. Drain in a colander and immediately add to tomato mixture, tossing to combine. Sprinkle with basil.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate Chip Cookies at Their Best
(My Favorite Recipe—from Sunset)

1 cup solid shortening
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, softened
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
4 eggs
1 Tablespoon vanilla
1 teaspoon lemon juice (freshly squeezed!!)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup regular oats (oatmeal)
2 to 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour*
2 large packages (12 oz. each) semisweet chocolate chips–that’s about 4 cups
2 cups chopped walnuts

In a large bowl of an electric mixer, beat shortening, butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar at high speed until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes).  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Beat in vanilla and lemon juice.

Add oats.  Mix together soda, salt, whole wheat flour, cinnamon.  Beat into creamed mixture until well combined; add rest of flour until dough is not too sticky when you pick up bit with your fingers.  Stir in chocolate chips and nuts.

For each cooky, drop a scant 1/4 cup dough on a lightly greased baking sheet, spacing cookies about 3 inches apart.  Bake in a 350 oven for 16-18 minutes or until golden brown.  Transfer to racks and let cool.  Makes about 3 dozen large cookies.

*Note: if you don’t have whole wheat flour, you can use all white (all-purpose) flour.

Quinoa Basic Directions

Follow the direction on the box or bag.  Really.

I usually use 1 cup dry quinoa (and I don’t rinse it) to 1 1/2-3 cups liquid.  I like using water, then I can mix it with other things, but I’ve also used chicken broth.

If this makes too much, dump the cooked quinoa into a ziploc bag and freeze it.  To use, put it in your microwave on a defrost setting, just until you can mush it between your fingers.

If you want to get fancy, you can go this way:
Wash 2 cups dry quinoa (about 10 ounces) in 3 changes of cold water in a bowl, draining in a large sieve each time. Cook quinoa in a 4- to 5-quart pot of boiling salted water, uncovered, until almost tender, about 10 minutes. Drain in sieve, then set sieve over same pot with 1 inch of simmering water (water should not touch bottom of sieve). Cover quinoa with a folded kitchen towel, then cover sieve with a lid (don’t worry if lid doesn’t fit tightly) and steam until quinoa is tender, fluffy, and dry, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand (still covered) 5 minutes.

Quinoa with Corn, Scallions, Basil and Mint

Gourmet  | August 2006
yield: Makes 8 servings

2 ears corn, shucked (Our corn was really fresh, so I just used the kernals raw.)
finely grated fresh lemon zest from 1 lemon
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 Tbls. butter, melted
2 Tbls. olive oil
1 tablespoon mild honey
salt, to taste (it absorbs a lot)
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 cups cooked quinoa
3 shallots, chopped
1/8 cup chopped fresh mint
1/8 cup chopped fresh basil
Put corn in a 5- to 6-quart wide pot, then add water to cover and bring to a boil, covered. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, 5 minutes. Transfer corn with tongs to a cutting board. When cool enough to handle, cut kernels off cobs with a large heavy knife.
Meanwhile, whisk together lemon zest and juice, butter, honey, salt, and pepper in a large bowl until combined. Add quinoa to dressing and toss until dressing is absorbed, then stir in corn, scallions, mint, and salt and pepper to taste. I added rotisserie chicken, about 1 1/2 cups cubed.  I also put out fresh chopped tomatoes to place on top.

If you’ve never used Quinoa, head to Quinoa Basic Directions (either find in Pasta/Grains category on the side, or do a search up top).  Basically, it’s like rice, with a little more liquid to grain.