Feed Your Brain…

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Hemp-Walnut Olive Oil Granola

 I am in need of some serious super foods right now. Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve really run my reserves down. Studying, fun with family and friends, running (outdoors, ya’ll!). All the beautiful things I love to do. And so, I find myself in the kitchen yet again, digging through pantry and cooler, in search of something to make that’ll bathe those brain cells and keep me alert and focused.

I love the addition of olive oil to granola. Not only is it an incredible source of healthy unsaturated fats, it adds a flavor dimension that is unique from other granolas I’ve tried. The addition of hemp seeds provides not only essential fatty acids (omega-3’s and 6’s), it supplies trace minerals and is a good source of protein, one of the few vegetarian foods that supplies all 9 essential amino acids.

Ditto on the omega-3’s provided by the walnuts.

I don’t typically add fruit to my granola, rather I prefer to add fresh berries/peaches/etc. or frozen, if out of season. If you’re really into the dried fruit thing, I recommend adding it after the granola has finished baking, as the fruit tends to dry out and become excessively chewy. Figs might be a good option here, or mulberries.

Fold it onto yogurt, or add almond milk, or simply enjoy by the fistful. Yes, it’s that good.

Greek yogurt with granola and berries

Greek yogurt with granola and berries

Hemp-Walnut Olive Oil Granola

2 c oats

1 c hemp seed

1.5 c walnuts, chopped

1/3 c olive oil

1/3 c honey

2-3 tbsp sugar (I use raw, unprocessed)

freshly grated nutmeg, about ¼ teaspoon

1.5 teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 325.
  2. In a large bowl, combine oats, nuts and seeds.
  3. To a small saucepan, add all liquid ingredients, sugar, salt and spices. Warm gently at low temp, until sugar is dissolved.
  4. Remove from heat and add vanilla.
  5. Toss dry mixture with wet and put in a shallow roasting pan or lined cookie sheet and bake for ~40 minutes. Give a toss every 15 minutes or so to encourage even browning.
  6. Let cool, then store in an air tight jar.

It should last for about a month, however I challenge you to let that happen.

Here, Figgy Figgy…

Green King Fig

Green King Fig

Swoon. Its a forager’s dream out there right now. And the overflowing gardens of friends and neighbors are ripe for the picking.

Rarely do I laud the merits of Facebook, however I am in complete gratitude for the linking of friends and networking that bestowed upon me a bounty of rich, juicy, succulent figs in their ripe perfection. Figs! I could jump for joy. They are quite simply my most favorite fruit.

Of course, after David and I made our haul, I was left worth the question: what am I going to do with five pounds of figs? I truly cannot eat them all fresh, and they were at the pinnacle of perfection. So, as we were driving, the talk of baseball in my ear, I daydreamed about figs. Fig jam, fig crostata, figs dripping down my chin, figs with Greek yogurt and honey, figs with mascarpone…

Figs with toast, Greek yogurt, honey, blueberries and oregano blossoms

Figs with toast, Greek yogurt, honey, blueberries and oregano blossoms

Or simply adorning a tray of summer nibbles, such as this one, composed by my lovely friend Donna last night, which we enjoyed languidly, sprawled out on sofa and floor, talking for hours.

Summer Romano beans, raw goat cheese, pate, torts, yellow zucchini, arugula flowers, fresh figs

Summer Romano beans, raw goat cheese, pate, torts, yellow zucchini, arugula flowers, fresh figs

And so I was inspired to make this incredible fig jam. I’d been purchasing it and using it addictively on sandwiches, nestled between arugula and salami or prosciutto, or with toast and tea.

I’d never made fig jam before, however I was thinking that the perky acidity of balsamic vinegar would pair nicely in a spread, so I set out to make this balsamic-infused jam.

I have a preference for Pomona’s Pectin, as it is the most natural product I’ve found, requires minimal sugar, and really preserves the flavor and integrity of the fruit. It’s a pretty basic formula. If you’re a jammer; just follow the package directions, to which for this particular batch, I substituted a really nice, aged balsamic vinegar for ~1/2 the lemon juice called for in the recipe.

Getting Jammy

Getting Jammy

Voila! Love to all.

Gimme Some Sugar…

Berry-Peach Tartlet with Elderflower and Lemon Cream

Berry-Peach Tartlet with Elderflower and Lemon Cream

Recipes showcasing summer berries abound, however, second to tasting a fresh berry off the vine, I find their marriage with pastry so effing satisfying. Berries erupt when heated, creating this saucy, syrupy goodness, when soaked into a rich buttery flaky pastry…there’s nothing like it.

I found myself with a small treasure of fresh berries and a couple of perfectly ripened peaches and that’s how it all started. See, I don’t typically enjoy fruit on it’s own, so when faced with bounty, I will either make jam, or some sort of crisp, biscuit, shortbread or pie.
I had a modest idea where this is going when I started. While my tart dough was resting away in the fridge, I peeled and diced the peaches and combined them with the berries, then let them macerate with a little bit of sugar, lemon and freshly grated ginger – lots of it.
Macerate. I use the term loosely, as I had intentioned to make this these little babies the same day. However, the sudden onset of a gastrointestinal bug sent me to bed for much of the afternoon.
Moving on…
frangipani (almond-custard)

frangipani (almond-custard)

 

 

Once I’d recovered my energy (and my insides), I set to work. I discovered a bit of frangipani in my freezer from a previous experiment, and thought that the almond flavor would make a nice addition to my tartlets.
Rather than encrust these beauties with another layer of dough, I set on a crumble that would be light enough and provide the right crunch, while not taking away from the juicy bits in the middle. I prepared a mixture of two parts oats, one part cornmeal one part sugar (demerara to be specific), maybe a teaspoon of freshly grated ginger, a good dose of cinnamon, a pinch of salt and some lemon zest. To combine it all, I took a couple tablespoons-ish each of butter and coconut oil, incorporating it all with a pastry cutter.
mini berry tartlets

mini berry tartlets

 

 

I lined about 6 mini-tart tins with dough, then blind baked at ~400 degrees for 12 minutes. Next I removed the tart shells from the oven and filled with a spoonful of frangipani, some berries, and lastly, packed the crumble on top. This baked for ~30 minutes at 350 degrees, until bubbly and golden.

For this recipe, you will need
~3 cups berries (fresh, or thawed from frozen, but seriously, use fresh right now because it’s summer)
2 peaches peeled sliced and diced
~2 generous tablespoons sugar (again I prefer the raw stuff)
~1 tablespoon of freshly-grated ginger
1 batch prepared pie dough (see earlier post)
crumble topping (see descriptive above, or just create one on your own!)
Serve with lemon-elderflower cream, or basic whipped cream.