Why bother making your own granola? I mean, the stuff that comes in a nice box all full of stuff can’t really be that different and making your own sounds like such a hassle right? Nope. As it turns out making your own is not only ridiculously easy but it’s so much tastier than anything I’ve tried pre-bought. I find the readymade ones are far too sweet and you spend every morning searching for the elusive hazelnuts you’re pretty sure are meant to be in there. With my homemade easy granola you make up your mind and decide exactly what goes in your breakfast.
I went to Madrid last year in search of tapas, paella and Rioja and I was not disappointed. I think I ate more often each day I was there than anywhere else I can remember. If memory serves the meals were thus: breakfast, snack at lunch, late lunch, tapas then dinner. Amazing. It took some adjusting on the return home to get used to a mere three meals a day I can tell you. One of the most remarkable meals I had while there was at a roadside restaurant; the sun was going down, it was wonderfully warm and I was complemented on my excellent Spanish. I mean, I can’t be 100% sure the waiter said it was good but I like to think he did. The starter was translated on the menu as garlic and honey mushrooms and I thought I’d have a go at recreating it.
You will need (for two fools):
- 2 sticks rhubarb
- 1 tsp honey (runny or set)
- 1 tsp water
- 150ml double cream
- 1 tbsp runny honey
- Small handful chopped hazelnuts
- A few pieces of honeycomb
Chop the rhubarb into inch sized chunks and put into a saucepan with the tsp honey and water. Cook on a medium heat until the rhubarb is soft and most of the water has gone. You do need to make sure it’s quite thick otherwise your fool will be more like a soup. Set the rhubarb aside to cool.
Put a small dry pan over a medium heat and toast the hazelnuts, watching that they don’t catch, then set aside.
In a large bowl whip together the double cream and runny honey until firm. Fold in two thirds of the rhubarb with the hazelnuts and crush in a few bits of honeycomb. Divide the fool into glasses and top with the remaining rhubarb and a few more hazelnuts and honeycomb.
You will need (for around 16 pancakes):
- 200g spelt flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 40g caster sugar
- 20g melted butter, plus extra for cooking
- 1 egg
- 275ml milk
- 40g dark chocolate chips
- Yoghurt with honey to serve
Start by sieving the flour, baking powder and sugar into a large bowl.
In a separate bowl mix together the melted butter, egg and milk until well combined. Stir the egg mixture into the flour mixture and add the chocolate chips. Give everything a good stir to make sure it is well incorporated.
Heat a little knob of butter in a frying pan until it just starts to foam and then drop the pancake mixture in using around 2 tbsp of the batter for each pancake.
Fry the pancakes until they are golden brown before flipping them over and cooking the other side. Don’t be tempted to flip too early as you could end up with miserable looking pancake.
Quinces need time to be tantalising; it’s not one for the lunch box. This is a great way of turning your determinedly firm quinces into soft, sumptuous fruits that you can use in a myriad of different ways. When the ground is covered in fallen leaves and the evenings are slightly cool, the smell of this wafting from the kitchen is unimaginably warming.
You will need:
3 medium quinces
3 tbsp runny honey
1 star anise
You will also need a very sharp knife, determination and a whole lot of lemons. Once exposed to the air the flesh of a quince browns like no other; blink and you’ll think your quince has been replaced by a muddy potato. To prevent this you need to put lemon juice on everything the quince is likely to touch; chopping board, knife and even the quince itself. It’s also advisable to squeeze some lemon juice into a bowl of water to store the quinces when they’ve been peeled.
Sunday arrived and brought with it a craving for pancakes. I had bought some blackcurrants at the market; as one of my favourite berries they are irresistible to me. I’m not sure what it is about them, perhaps their distinct flavour, that makes me love them so much. It would have been rude not to include some for breakfast.
You will need (for about 16 pancakes):
200g self raising flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 egg (beaten)
20g melted butter
150g blackcurrants (topped and tailed)
You can find a very similar recipe on the Doves Farm site here.
You will need:
200g Wholegrain Spelt Flour
1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Ground Cinnamon
75g Sunflower Oil
These are some of the easiest biscuits I have ever made; mix everything together, put on a baking tray and bake for only 8-12 minutes.
In amongst all the book sorting, biscuit mixing and desperation in trying to remember to remove all dough from my hands before it ended up on my books I have a few tips to pass on.
Firstly, if you weigh the oil out first and then weigh the honey on top of the oil it will all slide out together and you won’t be stuck scraping honey out of your measuring bowl. Secondly these biscuits grow quite like no other; at least doubling in size so leave plenty of room. Lastly they need at least 12 minutes baking, mine took about 15 minutes in total but that may have been because they were large.
There are so many vegetables around at the moment and fruit is a little thin on the ground. To save me turning into a cabbage I felt I needed something other than a clementine to lift me out of my Savoy stupor. Persimmons (or Sharon Fruit) were something that I had never tried; for some reason they were forever unobtainable. I did manage to get hold of them eventually and was then thoroughly perplexed as to what to do with them.
My dilemma was ended when I asked Twitter how to deal with the situation. Roasting them in honey was my favourite suggestion and so I went about constructing honey roasted persimmons. I was very excited.
I had three persimmons to deal with and not a clue where to begin. The leaves didn’t look particularly appealing so off they came with a little persuasion. Slicing them in half also seemed like a solid start. It was sort of apple meets peach but they smelled of nothing in particular.
Where a few months ago a slice of lemon drizzle cake or a blueberry muffin would have cheered up my lunchbox I needed something more substantial, more buttery and more comforting. All this snow has meant I’ve been raiding the cupboards and I found jars and bottles full of stuff that really I’m never going to use. I also figured if any of my nearest and dearest know me, I’ll be getting many more jars of treats on the 25th.
I managed to find some raspberry jam, golden syrup, lime curd, greengage jam, pecans in honey and some quince jelly. All lovely on toast or scones or crumpets but also all nearing their ends. I needed to use them up and make the most of them.