Once again, I am way overdue for an update around here. I can explain. About three weeks ago, my life turned upside-down. In a good way. On a very rainy Monday morning, I was fortunate enough to join my friend Meg for a Paris by Mouth pastry tour. After the tour, Meg and I had lunch on the now-sunny terrace of a nondescript café. We talked about how my book was going, and the possibility of me leading some tours, and at some point I think I mentioned that I was starting to miss working in a professional kitchen. (Apparently, six months is about how long I am able to be unemployed before I get antsy.) The rest of the week was fairly uneventful, until Friday morning, when our dear friend Barbra emailed me that Frenchie was hiring a pastry chef for their new To Go restaurant. After checking out their menu, I thought that it could actually be a really good fit: the American-style breakfast pastries and other treats are the kind of thing I probably have the most experience making, and it’s clearly an enterprise which places high value on food quality and seasonality, two things that are very important to me, too.
So I applied. A few clicks and my resumé zipped into the hands of chef Greg Marchand, who called me that very afternoon to set up an interview for the next day. Tuesday morning at 6:30 am, I was at work. And so far, it’s been great. The team is enthusiastic and professional, the chef is knowledgeable and passionate, and for the first time since I started working in Paris five years and two kitchens ago, I feel like I belong.
Before all this happened, though, I was on a pretty major granola kick. I was making a batch a week, and Nick and I were eating it every morning with yogurt or milk and strawberries from the panier. I’m no stranger to homemade granola, but I thought I’d try a different base recipe for kicks. While I’ve almost always made my granola without any butter or oil, and been perfectly happy with the results, I wondered if I was missing out. The first one I made may have been my favorite, with candied grapefruit that I made for a scone recipe I was working on for the book. Where ordinarily I would use honey or maple syrup to sweeten it, I was low on both and took a gander through my pantry to see what else I could use. I found a bottle of rice syrup, and the toasty, rich flavor it brings has probably made it my new go-to sweetener for granola. Either it was that, or the butter. I’ll be leaving that in future recipes, too.
A breakfast classic. I love granola for its nearly infinite variability – as long as you keep the proportions similar, you can swap in different fruits, seeds and nuts to your heart’s content. I made this three weeks in a row, and never the same way once. So if grapefruit and almond don’t float your boat, you could always try it with pecans, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds and dried cranberries, or if you’re feeling exotic, why not pine nuts, pistachios, sesame seeds, and dried apricot? I also like to switch the sweetener to best enhance the chosen add-ins: try maple syrup for the first variation, honey for the second.
4 c. / 400 g rolled oats or 5-grain cereal (The one I buy is a mix of oats, wheat, barley, rye, and rice.)
1 1/3 c. / 170 g whole almonds
½ cup / 60 g shredded unsweetened coconut
1½ Tbsp. sesame seeds
½ tsp. fine sea salt
½ tsp. ground cardamom
6 Tbsp. / 85 g butter
½ cup / 170 g rice syrup
½ cup / 75 g chopped candied grapefruit
- Preheat the oven to 325F / 160C. Mix the cereal, almonds, coconut, sesame seeds, salt, and cardamom in a large bowl. Melt the butter with half of the rice syrup and pour this over the ingredients in the bowl. Stir to make sure all is evenly coated.
- Spread onto a large rimmed baking sheet and bake about 45 minutes, carefully stirring every 10 minutes or so, until the granola is dry and a lovely deep golden brown color.
- Meanwhile, heat the remaining rice syrup until it is thin and fluid. Transfer the granola back to the large bowl, add the grapefruit, and immediately pour the hot syrup over all. It should make a little hissing noise when you do this. Stir to coat and return the granola to the sheet pan to cool. Stored in an airtight container at room temperature, the granola will keep for 1-2 weeks, depending on ambient humidity.
Makes about 7 cups, or about 10-14 servings.
On this day in 2010: Les Funambules (Another fairly nondescript café.)
Originally published on Croque-Camille.