Friday, 6 January 2017

Mary Berry Gets Thugged

My mother was a big believer in giving her kids a hot breakfast before school.  When I took charge of my own larder, my aversion to cooking led to discovering granola.

Match made in heaven.

Since that time, the granola permutations in the cereal aisle have grown to beat the number of fleas living in your bachelor uncle’s couch.  The problem is, I want the nuts from this version, the sweetening in that one, & the dried fruit in the one over there, third box from the left. 

So even before I got carried away with all this learning how to cook craic, I made my own granola just the way I liked it.  My current permutation is a combination of Thug Kitchen and Mary Berry.

Granola base uncooked.
Thug Kitchen Granola Base
300g rolled oats
½ C maple syrup
C olive oil
½ t vanilla extract
½ t ground cinnamon

Hag Improvs:  The Thugs add salt & ½ a cup of millet in their base.  They say if you don’t have millet (I don’t even know what millet is), then add extra oats.  I tend to use rape seed oil instead of olive oil.  Low on maple syrup?  You can top it up with golden syrup.  The end product will be stickier but just as nice.

Mix the maple syrup, vanilla extract, cinnamon &, if you use it, salt.  Stir in the oats & millet.  Cook on a baking sheet at 150/130 fan for forty minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.  Really keep an eye of this & DO stir because maple syrup easily burns.

Now how easy is that?

The Thugs add nuts, seeds & dried fruit to their recipe, about half a cup each type.  Those extras are what customise your granola, but don’t limit yourself to squirrel food.  Look inside your cabinets & see what you’d like to experiment with – coconut, chocolate chips, chilli flakes.  And of course, any type of fresh fruit & honey can go into the bowl when you actually get around to eating it.

So where does Mary Berry come into this?  Well, I found that while the seeds did just fine being cooked with the mix, the nuts lost their crunch.  The obvious solution seemed to be cook the nuts separately for less time, but then I had the daunting task (for me) of how much of the maple syrup mixture did I need for just the nuts?

Mary's toasted nuts & seeds, enter stage right!

Precision work.

MB's Toasted Nuts & Seeds
300g nuts
150g seeds
1 t olive oil
1 t soy sauce
1 t maple syrup

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Hag Improvs:  Again, I use rape seed oil.  This is also where I add the salt, as the nuts really need it.  And what  nuts are we talking about?  Cashews, pistachio, almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts or anything else that suits your fancy.  I find that pistachio loses its crunch if in for the full time.  Seeds could be flax, sunflower, pine nuts, pumpkin, sesame, nigella, nasturtium, etc., etc., etc.  Use less of the smaller seeds, such as sesame, as there's so many more of them per gram.

Mix the oil, soy sauce & syrup, then coat your seed/nut combo with the goop.  Spread in a paper lined baking tray, salt them bad boys & bake at 200/180 fan for 10 - 15 minutes.

Keep an eye on these, as maple syrup easily burns.

There you have it, your own customised breakfast cereal, easier'n falling off the bed.  Pour on your milk or soy and tuck in!

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