Let’s stop kidding ourselves. Just like “muffin” is basically another word for cake, granola doesn’t have to be strictly “health food.” In fact, some granolas are so sweet they could easily qualify as candy. But since I tend to spend the better part of the day roaming around my apartment, sticking my hand in various boxes and jars of stuff to eat (some that qualify as health food, while other things that don’t quite fit that definition), I wanted to come up with a granola (called muesli, in French) that I didn’t feel so guilty about dipping my hand into throughout the day.
Results tagged oats from David Lebovitz
Someone once asked me how I know when to give up on a recipe. Sometimes I realize after a few tries, that I should just forget about it. And others, like the tarte tropézienne in my next book, I made seventeen times until I got it just right. (Because I got a little crazy about getting it just right, including bringing slices around to local bakeries to get their opinions. Plus making a second trip to the bakery in the south of France where I had the one that inspired me to include it.) And the cake has four components, so multiply that times seventeen, but I still didn’t give up until I got it just right.
Speaking of my next book, I had a kind of funny idea (well, at least to me…) to end the book with a recipe that has been vexing me for ages: granola bars. And I would accompany my spectacular barre de müesli recipe with a triumphant story about how I was able to succeed in the face of multi-grain adversity, which somehow I could turn into a metaphor for my culinary life. (In that very special way that I do…which has editors scratching their heads as my writing curves from one completely different subject to eventually landing on another – which, if I/they have any luck, is on the recipe at hand.)
But after a whole other round of testing, as my deadline loomed – and I had depleted all the flacons d’avoine (oats) in the natural food stores of my neighborhood – I realized that it was time to give up my idea of including a naturally delicious dream bar, and move on with the rest of my life.
Then, one day, I had little peanut butter frosting leftover from a project, sitting in a bowl on the counter. And since we were taking a trip and I wanted to bake up something to take along to snack on, I mixed it up with some nuts, dried fruits, and whatever I had around – then pressed the whole shebang into a pan and baked it up. And you know what? Bingo! They were the best granola bars I’d ever had, hands down. C’est la verité.
With just a week left before my move, things have gotten rather frantic around here. I won’t bore you with stories about delays, budget overruns, a bruised eardrum from someone yelling in my ear when I’m standing just a foot away, and so on, but I can now say with confidence that I understand why there are so many pills in the medicine cabinets across France. Chez David has become a mini Vallé des poupées (Valley of the Dolls), with most of my efforts right now concentrating on trying to obtain a minimum of three hours of solid sleep per night. And, of course, making sure blog posts don’t have a single typo in them.
Needless to say, visitors can forget my requests for bringing over corn tortillas or dried cranberries – I need a reload on ExcedrinPM. What I thought would be a relatively straightforward project has become a lesson in how much patience and good humor are left in me. I made the grave error of stepping in freshly poured cement, which has occurred only once during my 53 years on this earth, but someone on the job has not let me forget it and has mentioned it at least seven times since I did it. And it was only yesterday.
I think the highlight of my Christmas dinner this year was when I entered the family kitchen, where I arrive bearing the dessert, and promptly dropped the the whole thing on the floor, where it shattered into a million pieces. I sighed, and guessed it was a fitting end to a fragmented year. Having seen more than my share of kitchen catastrophes in my time in various professional kitchens, like getting yourself stuck in a traffic jam, there’s not much you can do once the damage has been done and I’m glad that I’m able to laugh them off.
This year, one of my catastrophic ideas was to tackle granola bars. I see recipes out there all the time—usually some sort of combination of oats, dried fruits, sometimes nuts, and invariably lots of sweeteners to hold everything together. I wanted to make a bar that was really grainy and nutty, without being overly chewy or sugary, but not one of my experiments turned out as I expected. And what I was left with after each of my attempts was a cutting board with some combination of oaty crumbs, miscellaneous dried fruits, dried out seeds of some sort, and a wounded ego.
I have quite a few “issues”, including an aversion food that’s blue which wasn’t intended by nature to be so (I don’t understand what’s up with that ‘blue raspberry’ soda), I don’t like getting dressed first thing in the morning or talking to others for at least the first hour of the day, I get uneasy when being driven anywhere by a taxi or hired driver, and I’m so terrified of my bank back in Paris that I avoid making money so I don’t have to go in there and do anything scary like, say, make a payment or deposit money into my bank account.
But nothing strikes fear in the heart of me more than one thing: Hotel Breakfasts.
Continue Reading Bircher Müesli…
We seem to be going though an age of competitions and it’s interesting for me to see so much fascination with being a chef, and people acting out on television what goes on (or they perceive goes on) in restaurant kitchens. I spent most of my life behind the stoves and let me tell you, it’s often not pretty and I would not want anyone following me around with a camera while I cooked. (Which is why this blog doesn’t include a webcam.)
I’m not sure how this fascination with being a chef came to be as it’s really ‘grunt’ work and there’s nothing at all glamorous about it; no matter how many tattoos you have or how much you swear at underlings, there’s still a ton of work involved and no way you’re going to get through it by the end of your shift. Sure, I had a great time cooking with friends and co-workers (well, most of them…), but the grueling hours and the physical labor involved is one of the main reasons that I’m permanently damaged, both physically and psychologically.
Thankfully I was part of that elite group of people in the professional cooking world: The bakers and pastry chefs. Unlike the line cooks, who were whooping it up and play with fire, we disciplined souls were in the back of the kitchen, dusting doughs with flour, rolling out cookies, melting chocolate, and creaming buttery cake batters. But a regular chef once said to me—”Why are all you pastry chefs so weird?”
I never planned to write about this granola, since both Molly and Cenk did excellent adaptations. Because they are probably sick of me clicking on their sites, I finally jotted it down on a scrap of paper. And since that scrap of paper gets pulled out of my files at least once every other week, I thought that it was simply too good to keep buried away under my piles of paperwork and I’d share it here.
Although I haven’t tried the thousands of variations of granola floating around (and in Why Stealing is Wrong?, I got my comeuppance for trying to pilfer another one), this is what the French would call le top du top—the best of the best.
(I don’t know what they call “comeuppance” in French, but I seem to get mine frequently around here. Like the other day, when I was feeling cocky because I finally managed to extricate myself from my nefarious cable company and went to the France Telecom office to see if I could finally get one of those fancy iPhones like absolutely everyone else has. “C’est pas possible, monsieur”, I keep hearing, even after I reason to them that I want to switch to a much more expensive plan, giving them more money, and let them sell me a pricey new phone. They say it may be possible, peut être, sometime in 2010. But I ain’t gonna garde mon souffle…)
Well, I wouldn’t say it was exactly stealing. But last time I was in the states, I was going through one of my frighteningly-full storage lockers (there’s your glimpse into the glamorous life of international living…) and while rifling through cookbooks, I came across my own personal book of handwritten recipes, a fat mess of pages, stained with butter, eggs, almond paste, and lord-knows what else, that I compiled during my years working in restaurants.
It really is a treasure trove of recipes and I was thinking I should start a “working my way through the book” blog, dedicated to doing each-and-every recipe in there. Then I thought the better of it and got that idea out of my mind—fast.
The main reason being that most of the recipes make a hundred servings and call for things like 80 egg yolks or 5 1/2 cups of honey or 8 quarts of heavy cream.