It’s sunny. It’s going to be sunny for several days in a row. Sunny AND warm. It’s a miracle. And at last the good people of Britain can complain about it being too warm rather than too cool.
Everyone’s in a much better mood. I think probably because they no longer have to be embarrassed about the Olypmics maybe having to be cancelled cause London was flooded. Either way I am celebrating the good weather by doing loads of washing which I am then drying OUTSIDE. The luxury.
Today I am making granola bars or, if you’re Aussie, muesli bars. I got one of the Ottolenghi books for my birthday, from the boyfriend’s parents, and thought I’d have a go at it, starting with something I’ve never done before, not really that interested in, but that might marginally be construed as healthy. They’re not, of course, being full of dried fruit, butter and sugar but so far they seem quite delicious.
I doubled Ottolenghi’s amounts. It was probably a mistake but I got annoyed that all his measurements were about half of that contained in the packets of ingredients so I just used them all. I now have a lot of muesli bars.
His ingredients and measurements below:-
45g dried apricots, very roughly chopped (wear a wife beater whilst doing this, that’ll help with the rough quotient)
45g dried sour cherries (I used cranberries)
45g pumpkin seeds
30g sesame seeds (I totally forgot to include these)
30g ground almonds
190g rolled oats
1 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch salt (I forgot this, too)
95g unsalted butter
85g honey (I didn’t measure mine, I just gave a really good squeeze and hoped for the best)
95g demarera sugar
Put your pecans on an oven tray, having pre-heated your oven to Gas Mark 1 (or 140C) and chuck them in to roast for a very precise 8 minutes. Probably ruin everything if you do it less, or more. Don’t let Mr Ottolenghi down, yeah.
In a jug or bowl of hot water, throw in your apricots and cherries/cranberries.
Take your pecans out and turn the oven up to Gas Mark 4.
In a small saucepan melt the butter, sugar and honey over a low heat, bringing it up to a simmer. Ottolenghi says, and I quote, ‘bring to a light simmer. Leave to cook to a light brown colour, watching the whole time so the caramel doesn’t spill over or go too dark’. I didn’t really keep a real close eye on this but I stirred from time to time and it seemed fine. Took about 5 mins, maybe.
In a bowl chuck ALL the other ingredients, including your drained apricots/cranberries or cherries or whatever the hell you’ve chosen to use. I don’t think it matters too much what you choose, it’ll be personal taste but if 90% of your ingredients are chocolate then it’s probably not a granola bar anymore. That might not worry you, in which case go mad with it.
The melted butter, sugar and honey goes all bubbly and gets a bit bigger, and completely unscientifically this is when I figure it’s ready. Pour it on your dry ingredients and combine really well.
Lay it out in a greased and lined slice tin. I think the big O says 20cm square tin but I just used what I had. Press it down with a spoon or spatula or something, quite firmly, like a kind but strict headmistress you fantasise about.
Stick it in the oven for yet another very precise 22 minutes. I wasn’t precise, obviously, due to ShitOven.
Let it cool for a few minutes then turn out, let it cool a bit more then slice while it’s warm, then leave to cool entirely. It’s a bit tricky this bit as if you try to slice it too soon it just disintegrates and you’ve basically got sugary breadkfast muesli, but too late and it goes too hard. I can’t help you with timings here, as I’ve not been provided with any. Work it out yourself.
I’m currently setting off the smoke alarm with some lamb I’ve got cooking. There is no smoke but the alarm is lambist – it goes off the minute I bring raw lamb into the house but doesn’t make a peep when I incinerate chicken. The dog is quivering with a low tail. Buck up, dog.
Speaking of dogs, back home in Oz the below dog has headed to dog heaven. She is (oh god, was) a top pup and it’s pretty shitty to hear of her demise. I remember when I bought her (for my uncle) we were told she was a bull terrier. We rain into our vet at the local coffee shop just after having collected her and the vet congratuled us on our new Jack Russell, which was disconverting. Eventually we discovered she was a kelpie/bull terrier cross. Either way, she’s now gone and it really sucks.