dried berries

“Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
A visit to Smitten Kitten always leaves me enamoured and charmed. Deb’s always got something that holds my attention. It’s often simple comfort food. Beautiful brownies, awesome cakes, or then something as simple as these thick, chewy granola bars. The beauty of her posts is the passion she does them with. She bakes from scratch, her commentary is engaging, and her posts have brilliant photographs. These granola bars, adapted from King Arthur Flour, had her readers, including me, quite smitten. For me, the bars scored a 10/10 in every aspect – health, taste, looks, versatility. Above all they were kid friendly too… very Ten in 10!

I had to make them soon because I identified with the immense possibilities and substitutions at every level that Deb offered. If you didn’t have this, then you could use that, that, or that. The recipe below is what I did with what was available in my larder. Do check Deb’s post for more  options! Almost everything was optional, and the recipe can be tailored to suit individual tastes. How often do you find something so good?

In her words … This is probably the most flexible recipe I’ve posted. When it comes to granola, what you’re looking for is a basic proportion of chunky (nuts, dried fruit) to sticky (syrups, sugar, butter or oils) and from there, you can really go to town. The vanilla is optional. The cinnamon is optional. You can use no dried fruit or you can use all dried fruit in your 2 to 3 cup mix. You can toss in things like puffed rice cereal or flax seeds. In the comments, I’d love to hear what mix you came up with and how you liked it. I can only imagine the possibilities.

I loved how the bars came out. Made a couple of errors, the primary one getting anxious to see how they baked and urging them to jump out of the tin while very warm. I put them right back instantly realising my folly, and saved the bars. They won’t stick to the paper, so leave them be. Let them sit for at least 20 minutes, and then if you still want to, take them out, lining paper and all, let them cool on the rack. Cut them up only when they are cold. They behave beautifully!
I also added something that the kids didn’t take to very well. I read someone had sprinkled sea salt on top, and I was very taken in by the idea. So I added a light sprinkling of sea salt on top. While it was a good idea for adults, the kids became very iffy about it. It seemed to take the snack monster joy away from them. I really should have experimented with just a 1/4 or 1/2 surface wth the sprinkling. 
Thought hard as I didn’t want the kids to have these bars sans enjoyment. Suddenly, I had a flash of brilliance … chocolate would bring the mojo back! Chocolate makes everything better and I just knew it would fix this problem too. Woohoo… it sure did. I coated the sea salt topped bars with melted dark chocolate, and let it set in the fridge for a bit. I won the kids back! They were smitten!

Thick, Chewy Granola Bars
Recipe minimally adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour

Of note: The original recipe calls for something called “sticky bun sugar” which can be made at home with sugar, butter and corn syrup. It is for this reason that corn syrup is listed within one ingredient but also separately, and I used all butter rather than two different fats. Whether the corn syrup can be entirely replaced with honey or maple syrup or the butter can be entirely replaced with a healthier oil is worth auditioning, I just didn’t. Yet. I can tell you this: as is, this is the best granola bar I’ve ever eaten.

1 2/3 cups quick rolled oats
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup oat flour (or 1/3 cup oats, processed till finely ground in a food processor or blender)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 to 3 cups dried fruits and nuts
1/3 cup peanut butter
6 tablespoons melted butter
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons light corn syrup (see note above)
1 tablespoon water


Preheat the oven to180°C. Line an 7″ x 11″ x 2″ pan in one direction with parchment paper, allowing it to go up the opposing sides. Lightly grease the parchment paper and the exposed pan, or coat with a non-stick spray.
Stir together all the dry ingredients, including the fruit and nuts. In a separate bowl, whisk together the vanilla, melted butter, syrup or honey, and water. Toss the wet ingredients with the dry until the mixture is evenly crumbly. Spread in the prepared pan, pressing them in firmly to ensure they are molded to the shape of the pan.
Bake the bars for 30 to 40 minutes, until they’re brown around the edges — don’t be afraid to get a little color on them. They’ll still seem soft and almost underbaked in the center when you take them out but do not worry, they’ll set completely once they cool.
Cool the bars in their pan completely on a cooling rack. (Alternately, after about 20 minutes you can use your parchment “sling” to lift and remove the bars, and place them in their paper on the rack to cool the rest of the way.)
Once cool, a serrated knife (or bench knife) to cut the bars into squares. To store, wrap the bars individually in plastic or stack them in an airtight container. In humid weather, it’s best to store bars in the refrigerator. They also freeze well.
Suggestions: Dried cranberries, apricots, pecans, sunflower seeds, coconut, walnuts, sesame seeds, pepitas, dried pples or even chocolate chips. My mix: 1/2 cup wheat germ, 1 cup dried cherries, 1 cup walnuts, 1/2 cup pecans and 1/2 cup dried unsweetened coconut flakes.

♥ Thank you for stopping by ♥

Just a quick reminder about our special BloggerAid initiative for Haiti

H2Ope for Haiti raffle is open until Sunday March 7th. A huge thank you to all who have already purchased their tickets to win any of the fabulous prizes donated such as an i-Pod Shuffle, artwork, autographed cookbooks from authors such as David Lebovitz, and so much more!!!!. We appreciate your generous contribution. A list of prizes is available on the here.

Don’t miss a post

“And there never was an apple, in Adam’s opinion, that wasn’t worth the trouble you got into for eating it.”
Neil Gaiman
What’s l♥v got to do with this cake? Everything!! Loves got everything to do with this if you love fruity goodness. This is a light fruity cake, great for a snack, elegant for evening tea, different in so many ways. The bottom layer is basically the fresh fruit which gets cooked in a cakey batter, and the topping is a nice burst of dried fruit. Feel free to use  what suits you, what you love!!
The blogiverse is exciting and BIG! It’s fun to find new blogs, some exciting and full of content you are absolutely SO MAKING as soon as possible. One lucky find the other day was off TasteSpotting. I saw this gorgeous picture, and followed it in trance to a beautiful blog called ‘The Mansurovs‘. Gosh, it neatly sliced a couple of hours off my day. Stunning photography, brilliant step-by-step pictures, wonderful recipes!!
The Apple Pie with Dried Fruit is a recipe that will call your name, if, like me, you love fruit in bakes. I made a few minor changes, and am sure the cake will offer added luxury if you stick to ‘all purpose flour and all butter’. I made a few teeny healthy changes in line with my Ten in 10 resolutions, but the cake was still fab. Lola‘s cake looks firmer, and I think that her apples were of a crisper texture. I basically used apples that the vendor had, (read ‘not much choice’), and even though I wasn’t a 100% happy with their ‘crunch’ factor, I went ahead … the result was still delicious!!
I went back to The Mansurovs beautiful blog to pick up the link to the post, and found a new post  out already calling my name. Blogaddicted… yes.. I am!! Need I add …  I’m l♥ving it??

adapted from The Mansurovs recipe here
4 oz of dried fruit of your choice. (I used raisins, dried apricots, crystallised ginger and dried cranberries)

1 cup of apple juice (as suggested by Lola)
3/4 cup of all purpose flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
4 medium apples
8 strawberries (optional)
3 eggs
pinch of salt
1/2 cup light brown sugar
6 Tbsp unsalted butter melted
2 Tbsp oil
Pinch of cinnamon
1/2 cup of chopped walnuts divided in half
Cooking spray or little butter to grease the spring form pan


Pre-heat oven at 170 C.
In a small bowl mix the dried fruit with apple juice and half a vanilla bean, seeds scraped and added. Close the lid of the bowl (or simply cover it with microwave safe plate) and microwave it for 2 minutes. Once ready, set aside until further use.
Sift the flour together with the baking powder and set aside until needed.
Whisk together eggs, pinch of salt and light brown sugar, until the mixture is lighter.
Add the melted butter, cinnamon and whisk until everything is mixed. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. With a spatula gently stir everything together, just until incorporated.
Once well-incorporated, mix in half of the chopped walnuts along with the cut fruits. Grease the sides and the bottom of the 9″ spring roll pan using baking spray or butter.(I lined the tin)
Place the ready mixture in the pan. Drain the juice, if any, from under the dried fruit and place them randomly on top of the pie. I addede som e chopped strawberries too. Sprinkle remaining walnuts on top of the pie and place the pan on the middle rack of the oven.
Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on the readiness of the pie. Once time is up, take the spring pan out of the oven, let it cool for 10-15 minutes before un-molding the pie. Cool it further on the wire rack.
 You can serve it warm or cold. Voila!
♥ Thank you for stopping by ♥
I’d like to make a mention here of some super work an amazing 16 year old blogger, Lauren @ Celiac Teen, has singlehandedly done for Haiti. She took it upon herself to make a difference and came up with an idea for a Haiti e-book to raise  money for the victims of the Haiti earthquake.
All proceeds will do to the Canadian Red Cross. And here’s the really important part: the Canadian Government will match all donations received by February 12th, that are marked for Haiti Relief.

I’ve got a recipe in there too, my small contribution…. Orange Patisserie Tartlets with Candied Tangerines
Add to Cart 

Enjoy this book. It has been an absolute labour of love. Best of all, it is for a good cause.
Notes:  Being an ebook, you purchase the PDF file, then can print off as many copies as you wish!

To quote Lauren‘There are 87 recipes contributed by 71 fantastic people.  They are a collection of home recipes.  People from all over the world have provided recipes that bring them comfort.  I have loved looking through them, and can’t wait to cook them!  I hope you do too.
In terms of price, the ebook will cost as much as you want it to cost, with a bare minimum of $10.  It is a donation, so that price is adjustable and you can donate as much as you wish!  Whether you purchase it for $10 or $510, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.  All together, we can make a difference.  We can pool our donations and extend a hand to Haiti’

Don’t miss a post

“Bread is the warmest, kindest of all words. Write it always with a capital letter, like your own name.”
…from a café sign

Yay…finally managed to bake bread. No mean task these days. We live in the so called millennium city, but have suffered unannounced power outages this winter from 4 hours to 6 hours daily, sometimes even more. It’s bad enough for a daily routine, but spells desperate times for the baker in me.
But bread I had to bake for Jamie who is hosting Zorra of Kochtopf’s Bread Baking Day #26. Bake something special for Jamie’s special BBD theme –“Baking Bread for a Birthday Party”! How could I go to her birthday empty handed? So began the search for a suitable bread!

Didn’t have to look far because my current obsession made me reach out for Ottolenghi… a book that is possibly the best & most used one that I own. The fact that Jamie also has the same book, adds to the connect. {Add Hilda & Meeta to this explosive package, & you have the Ottelenghi sistah’s!! YAY}.

My attention was held by the Sour Cherry & Walnut Stick. I just had to make this. The pictures in the book are moreish. Bread that called my name because it looked so artisanal. Fitted in with my ‘Ten in 10′ resolution too… as it had healthy flours in it! Of course we have very limited flour varieities available here, so I substituted a bit here & there. Was thrilled to see buckwheat flour in the ingredients. I had buckwheat!! Yippee…
The Ottolenghi bread is much darker in the picture cause they use country brown flour. I used a combination of all purpose, whole wheat and buckwheat flours. Didn’t have sour cherries so used dried cranberries instead. The bread was wonderful. I made it over a 2 day period. Did the first rise & kept it in the fridge overnight to get a quick start the next morning. Worked fine, though I think warmer weather will give me a lighter, more airier crumb & texture. Can’t wait to try it again!
It tasted like an artisanal bread, full of deep wonderful flavours, the sweetness of the cranberries coming out beautifully with the nutty walnut. Also tasted quite like the artisan bread Jamie & I had with our sweet potato soup at The Natural Kitchen in London. I knew she was going to love this bread…so here it is for her, with flowers!! Happy Birthday twin sistah!

Dried Cranberry & Walnut Stick
adapted from Sour Cherry & Walnut Stick, Ottolenghi – The Cookbook
160ml lukewarm water (not more than 30C; I used a little extra)
2 1/4 tsp tightly packed fresh yeast (or 1 1/2 tsp active dried)
1 tbsp olive oil
40ml orange juice (from about 1 large orange)
200gm plain flour
50gm whole wheat flour
65g buckwheat flour
1 tsp salt
50g dried cranberries (or sour cherries)
50 gms walnuts, roughly broken up into pieces
Oil to oil bowl


Put the yeast into the warm water & stand for 10 minutes, then add the orange juice, olive oil & salt. Stir to mix well.
Mix the flours together in a big bowl, and knead with yeast mixture for 8-10 minutes into a smooth and silky dough, adding a little more water if required. Knead in the cranberries & walnuts. Put into an oiled bowl, cover with cling wrap & leave in a warm place to double.
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Trying not to beat too much risen air out, pull the edges so that they all met in the centre to form a puffed round cushion shape.Using a long object, divide the dough into 2 equal spheres.Press down a little & fold one half over he other. Crimp the edges with your fingers like you were making Cornish pastry. Now roll this on th floured surface to create a torpedo like baguette shape. Lay it gently on a floured tea towel, cover loosely with cling film, and leave to rise in a warm place for another 45 minutes.
Heat the oven to 220C, place a bowl of hot water on the base. Roll the bread off the tea towl onto the baking sheet gently so as not to lose air. Use a sharp serated knife to give it 3 diagonal slashes, 1cm deep.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, till the bottom sounds hollow when tapped. (I baked for about 30-35 minutes). Leave to cool on a wire rack.
♥ Thank you for stopping by ♥
This bread is off to  Susan @ Wild Yeast for Yeastspotting!

The Ottolenghi cookbook is a celebration of tastes, texture, flavours, complexity, simplicity… so much. The glossy colourful pictures have the food leaping out of the pages, the presentation droolworthy. It is comforting, rustic and tantalizing! A book I have an instant connect with. Just my kind of book. Never have I baked/cooked so much out of a single book! Thank you Hilda.

We just had the bread for lunch…with this flavourful roasted bell pepper sauce pasta from Muneeba’s blog An Edible Symphony. I connect to Muneeba, her taste, her blogging style and her food, like I do to Ottolenghi. I know that whenever I stop by, she’ll tempt me to make something. That was the case with these Apple & Brown Butter Tartlets, and so too with this pasta. She said it was the fastest pasta ever…how true. I made the sauce while the pasta was boiling, and LOVED it. I didn’t have pine nuts, so I used walnuts instead. Worked fine!
Also used some garlic greens which I currently tend to use in all my savoury dishes as I really love the flavour this imparts to food. Lunch came full circle with Ottolenghi’s chargrilled broccoli made for the nth time on Mr PABs request. Never has broccoli been so popular in our home. (I made 3 heads of broccoli, all disappeared… & he’s asked when I’m making it again. YES!!)

The kids loved the pasta to bits, nuts and all. The flavours really come out deep and strong thanks to the roasted bell peppers. The sauce would have been redder, but I had 2 red & 1 yellow bell pepper, which explains the orangish hue! The recipe is adapted from The Pioneer Woman’s recipe here. In Muneeba’s words, ” The Pioneer Woman, Ree, being a cowgirl who is also usually short on time and needs to take a break from her typical man-pleasing food, had the perfect recipe for me. A pasta dish that came together in almost no time flat.”

Pasta With Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
adapted from An Edible Symphony
based on Ree’s original recipe
Serves 2-4
3 roasted bell peppers(charred on the stove, skins removed, then deseeded)
3 tbsp walnuts
2 tbsp olive oil
4-5 garlic greens with stems, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup cream
fresh Parmesan, shaved or grated
fresh parsley OR cilantro OR basil
1/2 lb penne pasta
Salt and pepper to taste

Lightly toast walnuts in a skillet and set aside.
Puree peppers with walnuts with a stick blender and set aside.
Cook pasta according to package instructions.
In a pot over medium heat, drizzle in the olive oil, and saute the garlic and garlic greens till soft. Pour in pepper puree and stir together. Add plenty of salt and pepper – for some reason this sauce needs it.
Pour in cream and stir over low heat to combine. Add the cooked pasta and stir again. Taste for additional seasoning if needed. Place pasta in a comfortingly large bowl and sprinkle your fresh herb of choice over the top, as well as lots of shaved Parmesan.
…Then smile as you dig in to this bright, cheerful and super-quick pasta… in true ‘edible symphony’ style!!

♥ Thank you for stopping by ♥

Don’t miss a post

Please wait...

Subscribe to my newsletter

Want to be notified when the article is published? Do enter your email address and name below to be the first to know.
%d bloggers like this: