Friday, July 06, 2007

hola granola

with cherries, coconut, almonds, cashews & ginger

The bulk aisle at Whole Foods (or Berkeley Bowl for that matter) is very compelling. Bins and bins of rolled oats, crystallized ginger, dried cherries, pecans, almonds, flaked coconut...

After years in the consulting biz, I've become obsessed with adding value. Making granola is all about creating value out of finite resources, and it can almost be guaranteed that your final product will be greater than the sum of its parts (note: this does not apply if you burn the batch).

Cowboy and I recently made a granola based loosely off a recipe from Bon Appetit. (The flaxseed was added for omega-3s, no joke - but its unique flavor also added a nice dimension to the delicious crunchy mixture of fruit and spice.)

Mission Street Granola
2 cups old-fashioned oats
1/8 cup flaxseed
1/2 cup whole almonds, halved
1/2 cup flaked coconut
1/2 cup raw cashews
1/4 cup (packed) brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup crystallized ginger, chopped
1/4 cup dried cherries

Preheat oven to 300°F. Mix first 8 ingredients in large bowl. Melt butter with honey in heavy small saucepan over low heat. Pour over granola mixture and toss well. Spread mixture on rimmed baking sheet. Bake 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add ginger and cherries; mix to separate any clumps. Continue to bake until granola is golden brown, stirring frequently, about 15 minutes longer.

We ate our perfectly toasted granola atop a bowl of Nancy's Organic Plain Yogurt, with fresh berries and figs.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

cowboy ciao

the stetson chopped

The other night I was feeling the need to bring some excitement into my regular salad repertoire - something new and different - when I came across this recipe from Not only did the combination of pepitas, currants, arugula, avocado, couscous , and chicken sound fabulous, but the recipe had also received an average of four fork ratings, with 92% of reviewers claiming that they would make the recipe again. As a veteran user of epicurious (and market research data), I knew that this pretty much guaranteed that I would not be screwing up the dish at the culinary equivalent of 95% statistical significance.

Later on, as I was perusing the recipe in the kitchen, I realized that this dish had actually come from a restaurant called Cowboy Ciao in Scottsdale, Arizona, and that the salad was originally called "the Stetson Chopped".

First of all, I am definitely one to appreciate cute names. The fact that I was going to be sharing the meal with a cowboy software engineer made it even more interesting.

A week later, as I was catching up on my impressive stack of Wine Spectator back issues, I got to the annual Dining Guide (August 2006). Lo and behold, Cowboy Ciao, with a rating of two wine glasses (i.e. the "Best of"Award of Excellence) for its 2900 wine selections! (For context, Thomas Keller's The French Laundry also has two, while Daniel Boulud's Daniel in NYC has three).

Needless to say, I've checked - it's about an 11.5 hour drive from San Francisco (that's about 4x the farthest I have ever driven for food - see my previous post on the best pizza east of the Mississippi). Though I'm not sure if that will stop me. There'll be a right time and place. And when that comes, I'm going to order the Big Biceps Salad and a bottle of that Bründlmayer grüner veltliner.