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Archive for the 'Sweet Treats' Category

Holiday Recipes: Pomegranate Sunset Salad

The holiday season is here.  Cue the food!

Let’s face facts.  The colder months can be great inspiration for some delicious dishes, but they can also be a shortcut to a pie-and-gravy-strewn path of personal destruction.  Specifically, the chill and the short days somehow inspire carbohydrate hoarding, at least for some of us.  (I speak from a purely observational perspective, of course.  You’d be surprised how much you can see from behind the delicious fort of bread I’ve built.) While carbs–especially those slathered in butter–taste great, I always find that a heavy rotation of too many bready or sweet items makes me tired and kind of cranky.  Nobody likes that.

Still, it is a good time to enjoy delicious food, particularly when you can share it with friends and family.  Over the next few weeks, I will be posting some holiday-themed recipes you can use for the myriad shindigs and goings-on that inevitably pop up this time of year.  Some of these recipes will be meant to balance the richer fare found at holiday dinners, while others will be more self-indulgent.  I hope you enjoy them all.

First up is a salad inspired by one my friend Rachel mentioned when I was in Philadelphia.  Apparently, her aunt used to toss melon and pomegranate seeds together into a lovely and delicious treat, one Rachel describes with considerable enthusiasm years later. I decided to see if I could dress up this recipe into something gala-worthy, seeing as how I had gotten a canary melon from our farm CSA last week and some pomegranates from the nearby farmers’ market.  Pomegranates are everywhere here this time of year, growing fat and red and nigh-to-bursting on the neighbors’ trees.  (Pomegranates are, in fact, classified as an exploding fruit, one that bursts to release its seeds.) It’s a good time of year to make friends and beg for fruit.

Anyhow, the cooking gods smiled on me; my experiment turned out to be both tasty and beautiful to look at.  I am confident your guests will be über-impressed by the splash of color on the dinner table.

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A Different Take on Granola

Because Miz Valerie has been asking about some rough-and-ready guidelines for granola for the faint of heart, in the interest of research, I riffed on my generic granola recipe and made some extra-nutty honey nut granola yesterday with twice as many nuts as usual, no millet or flax, buckwheat honey thrown in with the sweeteners, and a generous splash of almond extract.  Hello, deliciousness!

What prompted the out-of-season granola fest?  Well, a few things have been weighing on Miz Valerie’s mind about the granola-making process.  Specifically, she wanted some wet-to-dry ratios and the details on how long it would keep.  Miz V, this post is for you.

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Cleaning Out the Freezer: Peach Muffins

Note: Since I am still on my delirious food tour of Philly, frolicking merrily with friends I love and far too busy to update you on the fun I’m having while I’m having it, I penitently offer you a post I wrote before leaving about some very delicious muffins I recently made. See–I planned ahead because I care. (I also knew it was impossible not to have ridiculous amounts of fun with Rachel, Sara, Becca, and Mary.) I leave for New York tomorrow, and I hope to have a little time to tell you all about the amazing places I’ve been so far in Philly–the Italian Market, Reading Terminal Market, Sabrina’s Café, White Dog Café, and Dock Street Brewery. Stay tuned!

One of the best things about the change of the seasons is the coming ready of different crops. Right now, apples are blushing and growing heavy, greens are sprouting tall, and squash are swelling full and bright. Other times of year have other gifts to offer. Last May, the Unicyclist and I took advantage of the first peaches of the year at Schnepf Farms in Queen Creek. The orchards are about a half hour from our home, and they grow several different varieties in pesticide-free orchards. We spent a morning there among the trees, enjoying the evidence of natural pest control–I came across several of the little alligator-like lacewing larvae as we picked, and an assassin bug stowed away in one of our flats of peaches. Both creepy-crawlies are beneficial insects that keep crop-munching pests under control.

We came back with a small mountain of fragrant peaches and apricots that filled the house with a wonderful scent. Then, a friend came by with about 20 pounds of peaches a neighbor had giver her from a tree in their yard. The peaches she brought were even more juicy and sweet. Softly furred, delicate, sunset-colored, we ate a half dozen fresh peaches or more a day. However, a couple days passed and the peach pile still loomed large. It was time to get down to business. Peach crisp. Peach jam. And a whoooooole lot of frozen peaches to enjoy later. All we had to do was wash them, pit them, and cut them in generous slices.

Since fresh peaches are long gone from this neck of the wood, I decided last weekend that it was time to enjoy some of them again. I pulled out a bag of my frozen peaches and chose, after a bit of deliberation, that muffins were the destination. This recipe is loosely based on the blueberry muffin recipe in Rose Levy Beranbaum’s The Bread Bible. They turned out great–dense and moist, sweet and tasting richly of peaches. While you may not have such amazing peaches hiding in your freezer, try it with fruit you do have squirreled away, or experiment with what’s fresh now. Recipes are frameworks, not rules.

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Mighty Morning Granola!

It’s the weekend, which means it’s probably a good time to cook up something delicious for the coming week. To help you in your endeavors toward deliciousness, I offer you the very first of an ongoing series of recipes. Here, to kick off the recipe portion of the Simple Spoonful, I present you with…Mighty Morning Granola!

Take a look–ain’t she purty?

Granola has become a staple here in our household. Either the Unicyclist or I cook up a batch on a biweekly basis, and it’s almost never the same. Granola is a very forgiving dish, not to mention a wonderful platform for experimentation. You want coconut? Toss it in! Hate cashews? Use peanuts! Want to find out what happens when you swap almond butter for some of the oil? Yee-ha! Want dried apples, raisins, and cardamom in this batch? Go for it! It is inevitably delicious.

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