Granola, p. 623.
This was my first time making granola. I've been meaning to try the recipe for a while -- my daughter can't eat tree nuts, which of course are an ingredient in almost any commercially available granola, so I wanted to make a granola she could eat.
This recipe invites subsitutions. Indeed, most of the ingredients listed are very general ("6 cups flaked or rolled grains," "1 cup chopped nuts," etc.). My ingredients were: rolled oats, sunflower seeds, wheat germ, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt, raisins, grape seed oil, honey, and a touch of maple syrup. Putting it together was a snap. Though she doesn't say so, the obvious way to mix the ingredients together is with your hands.
One criticism of the recipe: it says to bake until "done, after about 30 minutes," but doesn't really say what "done" is. The granola gets crunchier as it cools, so you don't want to bake it until it's crisp. I just baked it for 30 minutes and took it out, which seemed to work fine. My guess is that this is one of those things where pinpoint timing isn't necessary.
It's good granola. A little on the sweet side, but probably about right for most people. If I make it again, I will probably reduce the honey and add some coconut. I will also use currants or some sort of dried fruit that's smaller than raisins, so the fruit will distribute a little more throughout the cereal.
My daughter likes it, though "liking it" seems to involve making a gigantic mess.....
Spoon Bread, p. 648.
This is the easiest spoon bread recipe I've ever seen. (Directions boil down to: Put dry ingredients and butter in bowl. Pour in boiling water and stir a couple of times. Let sit a few minutes, then mix in remaining ingredients. Pour batter into buttered baking dish and bake.) I like to recommend it to beginning cooks as a recipe that's easy and produces a souffle-like spoon bread that can be dressed up or down.
Pita bread (p. 672) I tinkered with the recipe a little, using all white (bread) flour instead of the whole wheat combo, because I did this on a whim last night. I used her instructions to make it on the stovetop, which was a great way to have bread without heading up the oven. The bread turned out well, though it was a little too doughy -- for the life of me, I couldn't get the bread to flatten as much as I wanted it to, but this could have been because of the flour. I'd make these again.
Walnut bread, p. 668.This was one I hadn't made before. I will again. Yummy. It's a whole wheat yeast bread with walnut oil and chopped walnuts. It has nonfat dry milk and a bit of honey (or malt syrup; I used honey.)
There was one quirk in the recipe. No matter ow many times I read it, I don't see where she says to add the yeast to the dough. So I just added it.
Sandwich Focaccia with Rosemary, p. 671 -- I love this recipe, I've made it a few times. It makes a great focaccia bread either for sandwiches or just for slicing in chunks and using as an accompanyment to whatever else you're serving (I particularly love it with the peperonata on page 404). She does skimp on the salt, though, I use more like 2 1/2 teaspoons. She also isn't so good with directions -- she never tells you to use a 10x15 inch pan for it (you can figure that out by the recipe saying that it makes one 10x15 inch loaf, but it took me a while to find that the first time), and I quickly figured out that dimpling the dough by poking it with my fingertip didn't work unless I dipped my fingertip into olive oil first. I think that I've also sometimes used all white flour for this recipe, and not the cup of whole wheat that she calls for, and it's great both ways.
Jasmine: I just got back from a holiday trip tonight to see your post. I feel that this is exactly the type of report we need. You talk about what she leaves out and how you coped with the omissions, and, especially helpful to me, the tip about dipping fingers in olive oil before poking them into the dough.
Of course the idea of baking anything out here in NorCal, because of the heat and all our fires, is pretty unappetizing. We've had heavy haze here for days. Looks like L.A. on a bad smog day.
These COTM threads would be pretty boring if everybody just posted, e.g., "I made the Sandwich Focaccia with Rosemary and it was really good."
Keep up the good work.