Tuesday, April 19, 2011

How Vanilla

Even though it's mid-50's and rainy -- there is something in the air. At times frustrating, seasons changing are always lovely because you can smell it. Winter is over and the sun is beaming when not hidden behind angry clouds. We all just have to be patient. Ya gotta think glass-half-full people: at least it's not snowing. While crossing my fingers for a warmer and awesome May, I'll be eating spring for breakfast and storing up that good weather energy. 

First of all, vanilla and granola are two wonderful adjectives for something that is boring. But Vanilla Granola is flippin phenomenal. It's also explicitly expensive when you buy it pre-made in any super market or grocery store. But that's why you make it for yourself in ginormous batches.

Mix old school oats, slivered almonds, sweetened coconut, cinnamon, and salt in a pretty bowl. In a saucer on the stovetop bring honey, vegetable oil, and brown sugar to a simmer. Turn the heat off and add vanilla. The syrup will spaz out a little here because of the vanilla, it's kinda fun and spooks ya. Stir it off of the flame and all will be well.

Drizzle syrup over oat concoction and mix well. Spread sweetened oats on a buttered cookie sheet (the butter does wonders for its flavor) and pop in a 325 oven for about 25-30 minutes. Widdle a wooden spoon around three, if not four, times throughout cooking. It's gonna be a lovely brown color and have a gorgeous cinnamon smell. As it cools, run your spoon around it a few more times or the honey will start to bind the oats together into giant clumps.

Hardy oats, mellow yogurt and tartastic blackberries. I personally don't like dried fruit in many things. My dad (as far as i'm concerned) coined one of my favorite phrases when describing food. Bitching about sushi, he called cucumber an uninvited guest (which I don't agree with). Dried fruit is often times an uninvited guest in my humble opinion. The coconut shreds, however, are a fantastic replacement adding the slightest chewy texture and lovely mild tropical flavor. Blackberries were on super awesome sale this week and were totally invited to this granola party. Of course, most any fresh fruit is welcome. I used plane-jane yogurt to bring it all together.

3 cups Old Fashioned Oats
1 cup raw slivered almonds 
1 cup sweetened coconut shreds
1 teaspoon cinnamon 
1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 vegetable oil
1/4 honey
1/4 brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract 

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


I strive for balance and equilibrium. Combining things that oppose each other make for stability of flavors when cooking. They're like food friends.

Salty ham + sweet pear + buttery brie = campadres

I was about to make a salad out of these three homies but then was like cuss it I wanna sam-ich. Since moving to Chicago I constantly struggle to find a good sandwich, which I simply cannot wrap my head around. Beside the fact that a decent slice of pizza doesn't exist here (hey Chicago, 3-inches of coagulated cheese is NOT pizza), a good deli is hard to find. I grew up with Jewish and Italian deli's on every other block. A good sandwich is a daily convenience that I was apparently spoiled by. Good golly I miss piled high pastrami on rye with grainy mustard or an old-school Italian Combo with Oil and Vinegar. Quality meat, classic combinations and a few off-beat specialties along with a staff of characters. Chicago needs to step up their deli game.

Of the off-beat deli specialties -- I do love some fruit in between my bread. Whether it's a marmalade or slices of produce, fruit tends to add great sweetness and texture that won't overwhelm. I was real happy with the pear against the ham and brie. I used 12-grain bread with mayo and country style mustard along with baby spinach.

The next day I only had the bread ends and made this treat into a panini. If you've never had warm brie you're really missing out. I'll go so far as to say you haven't lived.