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Tag Archives: cherry

Cherry Almond Granola

26 Nov

Sometime in the past decade or so, I became a stingy Scottish granny. At least, this is what I have been told. Well, I haven’t been told that I, specifically, have turned into a stingy Scottish granny, but I have been told, many times over, that my non-Indian grandmother often referred to herself as being a stingy Scottish lady, and, well, it appears as though that apple hasn’t fallen too far from its tree. But allow me to back up just a bit.

Over the summer, I spent several lovely mornings in the company of my best friend, who had just had a baby. We spent our mornings together chatting, squeezing her new baby, and walking to a nearby place to get coffee. One day, while waiting in line, I was gazing at the selection of baked goods, practically drooling all over the glass as I ogled their offerings of scones bursting with fruit, cookies packed with nuts, and a huge, nearly overflowing glass jar of granola. The granola was a deeply golden brown, studded with big chunks of dried cherries and slivers of almonds. I could practically feel the crunch of the granola between my teeth as I brought my face closer and closer to the display counter, almost certain that the only thing that would make my coffee even better was a big bowl of cherry almond granola.

And then, like something out of a cartoon—I mean, you could practically hear the record needle come to a scratching halt as my eyes hit the price tag—I noticed the going rate for a bowl of granola: $6.

Now, I realize that complaining about the cost of a pastry or breakfast item or, really, anything at all that comes from a restaurant is ridiculous, being as though the entire existence of restaurants if contingent upon charging lots of money for stuff that people simply don’t feel like making at home themselves, but the price of that granola set something off in me. $6 for a cup of granola with a scoop of yogurt on it? You can buy a three pound tub of oats for less than that, and I happen to know from experience that granola is made up of mostly oats. So, I did what I had to do. I took that knowledge and made my own cherry almond granola. And I did it my way—free of oil, low on sweetness, big on crunch, and heavy on the almond, I can’t imagine that the $6 granola tastes any better than this, and I don’t think I’ll ever bother to find out. I’ll be too busy spending $3 on a couple of shots of espresso with a splash of milk tossed in. Because that, of course, makes perfect financial sense. Ahem.

Last Year: Crisp Spiced Nuts and Kicking Off the Holidays

Cherry Almond Granola Recipe

6 cups rolled oats (not quick cooking)

1 cup sliced almonds

¼ cup wheat germ (optional)

1 teaspoon cinnamon

pinch of sea salt

1 cup unfiltered apple cider

¼ cup grade B pure maple syrup

1/3 cup almond butter

1/8 teaspoon almond extract

½ cup dried cherries, roughly chopped

Preheat oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a large baking dish, combine oats, almonds, wheat germ, cinnamon, and sea salt. Stir with a wooden spoon or toss with your hands to combine.

In a medium bowl, or in a large measuring cup, whisk together apple cider, maple syrup, almond butter, and almond extract. Pour the apple cider mixture over the oat mixture, and stir to thoroughly combine.

Bake the granola in the center of the oven for 2 hours, stirring once or twice just to keep the granola from sticking to the bottom of the baking dish, until the mixture is crisp and golden. Remove from oven, stir in the dried cherries, and allow to cool completely before packing away in an air-tight container.

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Cherry Almond Strudel

18 Jul

Do you enjoy seemingly infinite layers of shatteringly crisp phyllo?  What are your feelings concerning rich, dark cherries?  How about a dash of almond in each bite playing off of the lingering almond scent of cherry pits?  You approve?  Great!  You want to make this.

But then there’s the other side of the equation.  Pitting a pound and a half of cherries.  Layering each sheet of phyllo, brushing it with butter, and then sprinkling it with a dusting of ground almonds and spices.  Repeating that process many, many times.  Maybe you don’t want to make this.

But, wait!  You do!  I know this strudel might look like something only a person who is really into self punishment might attempt, but I swear to you that, start to finish, it’s really not all that time consuming or difficult.  Yes, I pitted a pound and a half of cherries by cutting each cherry in half and removing the pit by hand, one by one, but the entire operation only took me, start to finish, fifteen minutes.  And, true, layering the sheets of phyllo and then brushing and sprinkling each one can seem like a monumental task, but, in reality, it’s not the type of activity that one needs a graduate degree in Food Science to complete.

Again, it’s a process that will take you fifteen minutes, tops, and you certainly won’t be any worse off having taken a stab at it.  In fact, at the risk of sounding like a complete loon, I actually enjoy the process of methodically layering phyllo.  Perhaps it is the repetitive nature of a rather short task that produces immediately, visible results, but I find the motions rather soothing.

But forget all of that.  Whether or not you fear the task of making this strudel, I can assure you of one sure thing: you will definitely, without a doubt, immensely enjoy eating this strudel.  Again, flakey layers of crisp phyllo.  Plump and perfect cherries.  Sweet, syrupy juice mingling with a hint of almond.  No, really. You want to make this.

Cherry Almond Strudel

½ pound of phyllo sheets, defrosted if frozen

4 tablespoons melted butter

½ cup finely ground almonds or almond meal

½ teaspoon cinnamon

½  cup dark brown sugar, divided

1 ½ pounds cherries, cut in half and pitted

2 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/8 tsp almond extract

pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine ¼ cup dark brown sugar, pitted cherries, tapioca, lemon juice, almond extract, and pinch of salt. Toss to combine thoroughly, then set aside.

In a small bowl, combine ground almonds, cinnamon, and remaining ¼ cup dark brown sugar.  Reserve 1 tablespoon of mixture and set aside.

Cover unrolled phyllo stack with a lightly dampened kitchen towel (this will keep the phyllo from drying out as you work).  Take two phyllo sheets from stack and lay them down on your parchment-lined baking sheet with a long side nearest you (keeping remaining sheets covered as you work) and brush lightly with butter.  Evenly sprinkle surface of buttered phyllo with a heaping tablespoon of ground almond mixture.  Continue layering, buttering, and sprinkling in this fashion until all of the phyllo sheets have been used.  The number of layers you will have will depend largely on the size of your phyllo sheets.

When all of the phyllo has been layered and prepared, spoon the cherry mixture on top of the phyllo stack, doing your best to arrange most of the cherries on the long half of the phyllo that is closest to you.  Carefully roll the cherry-topped phyllo sheets into a large log, tucking in the short ends as you go.  Arrange the roll seam side down.

Brush the top of the strudel with the last drops of melted butter, then sprinkle with reserved tablespoon of almond mixture.  Using a sharp knife, cut two or three steam vents along the top of the strudel.

Bake strudel in center rack of oven for 30-40 minutes, until cherry mixture is bubbling and the strudel is a deep golden brown.  Cool strudel on baking sheet for at least 30 minutes before attempting to cut and serve.

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