18/06/2011

Home-made granola

Granolahome-made granola
Makes about 1kg (2 pounds)

Ingredients:
6 cups (about 500g) oats

flexible dry ingredients:
1/2 cup almond meal (or ground almonds or wholemeal flour)
1/2 cup buckwheat flour
1/2 cup dessicated coconut
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup flaxseeds
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1-2 tsp cinnamon

flexible wet ingredients:
2/3 cup honey or carob syrup
2/3 cup olive or vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla essence (optional)

optional other ingredients:
raisins, chopped apricots, other nuts seeds or dried fruit

Method:
Heat oven to 180C. Spread the oats in an ungreased roasting pan or similar large ovenproof dish, and cook, dry, for about 10-15 minutes, stirring about half way through to ensure they cook evenly, and to stop the edges burning.

Add about two and a half to three cups of dry ingredients, which can be altered to suit personal tastes (see notes below), and mix well. Mix the oil and honey together, and stir in, with the vanilla essence if used, mixing thoroughly to ensure that the dry ingredients are well-covered. Spread the mixture out, and return to the oven. Cook for around 10-15 minutes, until slightly golden, stirring every two or three minutes. Turn off the oven and leave the pan inside, adding optional ingredients if wished, allowing the granola to cool before removing from the tin - overnight is fine.


Store in airtight container. Add optional ingredients if wished, or add them when serving.

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Granola is a breakfast cereal based on cooked oats. It differs from muesli in that the latter is usually based on uncooked oats. I was given some home-made granola by a friend; it was in crunchy clumps, and looked wonderful. I asked for the recipe, and she gave it to me, pretty much as above. I've made it many times, but, alas, have never managed to make clumped granola: it's crunchy, with a few clumps, but mostly the consistency of toasted oats.

As this is an American recipe, the measured quantity of the ingredients is somewhat significant, so it's not possible to give weights as they vary depending on what is used. If you don't have measuring cups, you can use a measuring jug; one American cup measures about the same as eight fluid ounces or about 260 ml.

Any of the dry ingredients is optional and the amounts are flexible, but the total amount should be somewhere around two and a half to three cups. You could try rice flour instead of buckwheat, for instance, or use a cup of sesame seeds instead of the coconut. I use almond meal that's left over from making almond milk, but if you don't have access to that (and if you don't mind wheat/gluten) then regular flour is fine. The great thing with this recipe is that it can be adapted to suit almost any taste.

I use olive oil, but any vegetable oil would be fine. I also tend to use half carob syrup rather than all honey; golden syrup would work, too, although it would be quite sweet. For a treacle taste, molasses or black treacle could probably be used instead of some of the honey - just make sure there's a total of around 2/3 cup of honey-like substances, and 2/3 cup of oil, although if you prefer your granola to be less sweet, you could decrease the honey and increase the oil a little.

If anyone makes this and finds that it clumps nicely, please let me know what you did!

I find this makes enough to last me about three weeks, eating it with extra nuts, fresh fruit and yogurt, and using some fruit juice or milk to moisten.

04/06/2011

Tomato ketchup (using fresh tomatoes)

Tomato Ketchup
home-made tomato ketchupMakes about 700-800ml ketchup (3 cups)

Ingredients:
about 1.5 - 1.7kg fresh tomatoes (US: 3 - 3 1/2 pounds)
1 large onion
4-6 garlic cloves
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp ground pepper
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp mixed spice
2 tsp salt
30ml(1 tblsp) freshly squeezed lemon juice
80ml  vinegar - any kind (US: 1/3 cup)
75g sugar (US: 1/3 cup)

Method:
Roughly chop the tomatoes and place in a large saucepan - preferably stainless steel. Peel and dice the onions reasonably finely, then peel and chop or crush the garlic cloves. Add onions and garlic to the pan, along with the paprika, pepper, turmeric and mixed spice.

Put over a fairly gentle heat, and stir a few times as the tomatoes start to make their own juice. Simmer uncovered for about half an hour or so. Switch off the heat when the onions look translucent and very soft, and the mixture has reduced significantly. Prod the mixture a bit with a spoon, and if any of it still feels hard, simmer for another ten or fifteen minutes.

Leave to cool for at least half an hour - it can be considerably longer. Then use a blender - preferably a hand-held one, as it's a great deal simpler to blend in the pan than having to transfer the mixture gradually to a standard blender and then into a fresh saucepan - and liquidise thoroughly. This is very important - make sure all the onions and tomatoes are very well blended.

Now switch the heat on again, and return the pan to the stove. Add the last four ingredients - salt, lemon juice, vinegar and sugar - and stir until mixed. Then leave to simmer for another 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the desired consistency is reached. Note that as it thickens, the mixture will bubble quite violently - this is to be expected, but can be a bit messy, and if it splashes on a hand it's extremely hot.

Cool in the pan after it has thickened, then transfer to suitable covered containers and refrigerate. Keeps for at least two months in the fridge, or can be frozen if you want to keep some of it for longer.


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My inspiration for this recipe came from 'The Loving Path' ketchup recipe, a few months ago. I was fed up of the preservatives in supermarket ketchup, and we have readily available inexpensive fresh tomatoes all year round in Cyprus; I can often find about 3kg for only a euro. A few of them may be squashy, but that doesn't matter at all. (I cut and freeze the rest of the tomatoes in 400g portions, to replace canned tomatoes in other recipes.)

I adapted the recipe gradually, simplifying greatly - for instance, I saw no reason to sieve the mixture to remove the tomato skins, or - as some other recipes suggested - to blanch and skin them first. However, if you like your ketchup smoother than even the best blender can make them, you might want to consider one of those options.

I added turmeric to the spices since it's considered a modern health food, and removed some of the others from the recipe, not wanting it to be too highly spiced. I found my first batch of experimental ketchup tasted too much of cinnamon for my preferences - so I simplified still further. I'm sure many more variations are possible; if you don't like garlic, for instance, you could simply omit it. If you like hot spicy ketchup, try adding some cayenne or even chili powder.

I've found that sometimes I stop the final simmering before it's quite thick enough; this doesn't affect the taste, but means that the texture isn't exactly like commercial ketchup. However, the taste - in my opinion - is out of this world. It tastes, I believe, as all ketchup ought to taste. That bubbly simmering at the end can be quite messy, but it's well worth the effort.