Raspberry-white chocolate muffins.

Raspberries from Publix, flash frozen at the peak of freshness.

White chocolate chips, silky and sweet.

All-purpose flour, baking powder, whole milk, sugar, and though you can’t see it, ground flaxseed. Mixed just together, then dolloped in a greased tin to bake, rise, puff, to the peak of sweetness.

Pockets of seeded, fruity goodness and soft, sweet white chocolate burst with each bite.

Perfect with a tall glass of icecold milk.

Granola – Deux

(I know, I said I was going to replace the previous post with this one. But you know, I decided I liked that post just how it was and so I left it. Nyah.)

Granola ready for bakingThe same night that I made the quiche, I tried my second go at granola, this time using Julie’s Mixed Fruit and Nut Granola recipe as my base. I found it on Tastespotting just a few days before it disappeared. There were several things that attracted me to this recipe, the first thing being the picture of the overflowing pioneer enamelware bowl (they have a real name, I just don’t remember what it is) of granola at the top of the entry. My mother has some of that same dinnerware, except hers are red and not blue, and I love that dinnerware. For some reason, the sound of those plates and bowls clanging together while I was washing dishes was always comforting. And you can’t damage the dang things, either, not like stoneware or ceramic. Another thing was the abundance of dried fruits and nuts (imagine that, in fruit and nut granola). Personally, I like a little crunch and a little softness alternating in my granola. I like more than toasted oats. If I just wanted toasted oats, I’d eat Cheerios. I like some variety in my hippie cereal. And looking through the whole recipe, it looked fairly forgiving, something that I learned to appreciate in Part One.

I did change some things, of course. I used honey instead of mapButter melting in brown sugar mixturele syrup because I don’t like maple unless it’s on my breakfast pancakes or waffles. Or my sausage. I have some local Georgia wildflower honey that I stand by (while I’m in the state, anyway) and it’s very tasty. I didn’t use quite the abundance of nuts that Julie did, because I don’t have that particular abundance of nuts in my house. I had pecans and salted sunflower seeds in the freezer, so I used those. I still used a lot of fruits, because I like them (as aforementioned), but I used golden raisins, craisins, blueberries and cherries. The cherries and the blueberries I was a little iffy about, because I don’t really like blueberries or cherries, but they were in the bag of mixed dried fruit and I figured it wouldn’t hurt me any.

I only made half the recipe, because I don’t really need 12 cups of granola – I don’t eat it that fast. It took me a while to halve the oats, particularly, because I’m special and can’t do fractions anymore without the help of a calculator. I was a little worried about halving it because of the ‘sauce’ – in my experience, sometimes sauces don’t always agree that half the listed recipe is really half, more like a third. So when I was mixing all the dry ingredients together, I was going on faith that the sauce would be enough. Faith was helped by the delicious scent of brown sugar and butter making good friends over heat. All that lovely combination of brown sugar, butter, vanilla, a touch of almond and a little cinnamon and nutmeg was mouthwatering. My spirits soared. Anything that smelled so good couldn’t be a horrible thing, right? There was more honey than canola, so I was sure that I wasn’t going to be bowled over by greasy, burnt oats and nuts by the end. I kept my faith in Julie.

Granola after baking.When I poured it in and started mixing, my faith began to waver, but I kept mixing dutifully. Eventually I felt that I’d done enough mixing and the oats looked coated, so I dumped it all out onto my parchmented sheet. I got a little more confident there, because everything was sticking together nicely instead of just falling out in a flood of oats and pecan pieces. I put it the sheet in the oven and shut the door, building up my faith and mixing up quiche. Every once in a while in my 50 minutes of baking, I checked on the granola, stirred it around, rotated the pan for even baking. It was looking good, so I ignored my negative side and let it go on about its business. When the timer went off, I let the granola go a little longer, taking my time with the quiche. When I finally took it out, it was browned and golden and smelled comforting. I drained and squeezed my reconstituted dried fruits, stirred them in the still-hot granola and pressed it all down to let it cool. While it cooled, I went on about my quiche. I took some of both my creations to work with me the next day.

I was pleasantly surprised with the granola. It was nutty and sweet and salty all at the same time, but each flavor was defined. I’d chew on it a minute and get sweet from the honey and the fruits, and then I’d get a burst of salty from the kosher salt and the sunflower seeds, and overlaying it all was that roasted oat and nut flavor. Nothing overwhelmed anything, but melded together beautifully. The golden raisins and the cranberries were old familiar friends, but I was actually kind of happy with the cherries, too. (I either haven’t caught a blueberry or haven’t been able to taste one.) They were tart and sweet and chewy. I wasn’t expecting to like them. This mix didn’t even take away from the flavor of the yogurt (I prefer vanilla), but complemented it!

Overall, if you can’t tell, I love this version of granola. Julie, my faith was not misplaced – thank you! It even goes well with nonfat vanilla yogurt. In fact, it makes it bearable better! (Ever buy something by mistake in a rush at the grocery? I bought nonfat yogurt.) This is definitely a breakfast, or snack, or anytime staple in my pantry from now on. I’m never going to buy storebought ever again, because I don’t have to! (Now, if I can just find some enamelware of my own for cheap… it’s such a shame that economics works and demand makes prices rise.) I’m going to recommend this recipe to anyone that wants to ask me, because I love it and it deserves recognition.

Now that Part Two was a success, one would think that I would stop. “Your granola search is over,” one would say reasonably. But no! I’m not to be swayed. I may have found a recipe I adore, but who’s to say I won’t find more? Granola, then the world! Onward, I say!

Closeup of pecans in granola.

Pain perdu.

First of all, let me say THANK YOU to all the military men and women who have served, are serving, or have died defending our freedoms and liberties. Your sacrifices are appreciated, and you are loved.

Onto the food…

I hope everyone had a great Memorial Day, filled with fellowship and great food. I don’t know about y’all, but Memorial Day means bbq, coleslaw, sweet tea, potato salad and apple cobbler, to say the least. That’s normally at home, of course, with family and old friends and summer heat. Today, I’m not at home with family and old friends, so I decided that I’d make the day special for me with a good breakfast.

Pain perdu

Pain perdu is “real” French toast – soaked bread in custard, pan-seared and baked to perfection. If you like creme brulee – and I do, I do, I do – then this is definitely your overindulgent breakfast. I’d never heard of this particular feast until I came across Marc’s recipe in March. I’d wanted to try it for a while but never acted on the notion until this morning (well, last night).

I’m a little low on utensils – well, on kitchen in general, on the weekends for a little while. Being between apartments – just far enough apart to make a dent in fuel if I went back to the ‘old’ apartment to get anything – can be tough. (Don’t you love my Dixie plates?) I brought all I could remember for the recipe, but I still forgot some things – like milk and butter, for example. I used a loaf of ‘Italian’ bread from Kroger that I’d had in the freezer for a while. I used only cream for the custard, one large egg and a little less than a teaspoon of Reyna Natural Gourmet Vanilla (/plug).

I can’t tell you how much I love the stuff. Really. I would use it as an air freshener if I could. Or a body wash. Maybe a sugar scrub recipe is in order… anyway. If you ever get the chance to go to Mexico, BUY some Reyna, and thank me later. Back to breakfast.

I didn’t bake the pain in the same pan I fried it in, because the pan I borrowed had a plastic handle (and who likes melted plastic in the oven?). All I did was swap from the frying pan to the baking pan and stuck it in the oven, no timer. I fried up the bacon while the pain baked, and about the time the bacon was done, I checked the pain – perfect. The custard had set, no liquid excess. It came out buttery yellow, with deeply caramelized spots from the pan sear, and just solid.

Biting into it was like magic. Soft bread, crispy crust, creme brulee custardy goodness… magic. Eye-opening. Rich, silky – food at it’s most beautiful. I had anticipated needing maple syrup, but after that first bite, I never even looked twice at the bottle. If you use it, more power to you. I couldn’t have handled the sweetness overload.

My advice? MAKE THIS RECIPE. That’s my first piece of advice. You will not regret it.

Otherwise, I would like to say that while the Italian soaked up the bread nicely and make for a nice custard, make sure that if you use a similar bread that you don’t make your slices too big, or it will be floppy and hard to handle (although nonetheless tasty). Brioche would work handily, I’m sure, as any other kind of ‘dessert’ bread. You could come up with a ganache of some type without a problem, if you cut back on the sugar just a little. I’m going to try out a white chocolate pain perdu (of a sort) and see how it works against my white creme brulee for taste. Would this work with light brown sugar (or natural cane sugar)? I’m sure it would. It seems like a reasonably forgiving recipe.

Even if it’s not, the original is still pretty darn tasty on its own.

Pain perdu

(And yes, that is my truck grill in the background of that picture. Oorah.)