Walnut Anise Biscotti

Truthfully, I'm not much of a cookie person (Gasp!). I'd much rather have bowl of ice cream or a slice of pie if I'm going to indulge in a sweet, but biscotti have a special place in my heart for two reasons:

1. Growing up I would make biscotti for my dad because he IS a cookie person. He likes the whole gamut - chocolate chip cookies, peanut butter cookies, snickerdoodles, molasses, etc... etc... and of course biscotti. The first time I made them for him, though, I don't think he really understand what I was saying. Bis-cot-ti. In his snow and mountain driven mind they were Big Skis, both in shape and in name. So now biscotti will always remind me of my dad and his love for cookies and skiing.

2. They're Italian and everything from Italy tastes good. Right? Pasta, espresso, gelato, pizza, affogato, mozzarella, wine,  I could go on and on. I have yet to make my way across the Italian border, but when I do, I will most definitely be eating some Italian biscotti (among many other delicious things...). Italy is very, very high in my 'top places to go' list

Despite not being 'cookie person', these biscotti were gone in about three days. With the help of Noah, of course, who is a 'cookie person', like my dad. They're just the right blend between crisp and crunchy, but not so crumbly that they dolefully fall apart after dunking a hot cup of tea or coffee (big pet peeve). I learned a nifty trick from Cook's Illustrated Baking Book to process the sugar and eggs in a food processor before mixing in the flour so that air gets incorporated into the dough. This makes the biscotti light and airy rather than dense and tooth-shattering. Big win. Even if cookies aren't your favorite treat, I highly recommend giving these a try. You'll thank me later :)  

// Walnut Anise Biscotti // makes about 20 cookies
This recipe is adapted from one of my favorite baking guides - Cook's Illustrated Baking Book. The reason I like this book (and their other books) so much is because they go into why a recipe works, not just how to a recipe is put together. For these light and crunchy biscotti, the secret is to process the eggs and sugar in the food processor so that air is incorporated into the dough. Without this air, the cookies would be much more dense and heavy. If you don't have a food processor, you could try beating the eggs and sugar with a handheld mixer.
1 1/4 cup walnuts, lightly toasted
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup cane sugar
4 tablespoons butter, melted
2 teaspoons anise powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg white

For the glaze:
1 cup confectioners sugar
2-3 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon orange zest for garnish (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 325° and adjust rack to the middle of oven. Prepare a baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper

2. Pulse 1 cup of walnuts in a food processor until coarsely ground, about 8-10 pulses. Remove walnuts from food processor and set aside in a bowl until needed. Process remaining 1/4 cup of walnuts until finely ground, about 45 seconds. Add flours, baking soda, and salt. Process until well mixed. Transfer flour mixture to another bowl and set aside

3. Add 2 eggs to empty food processor and process until light in color, about 3 minutes. While motor is running, slowly add maple syrup and sugar. Process for a few seconds then add melted butter, anise, and vanilla. Process until well combined, about 15 seconds. Transfer egg mixture to a medium bowl. Add half of the flour mixture to the eggs and gently fold it in. Repeat for second half of flour, being careful to not over mix. Fold in roughly chopped walnuts

4. Divide dough in half and gently form each piece into a 6-8 x 3 inch rectangle. Smooth down the tops and sides as best you can then brush tops with egg white. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until loaves are golden brown and just beginning to crack on top. Remove loaves from oven and let cool on sheet for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, use a serrated knife to cut loaves into 1/2-inch slices. Place slices on a wire rack, cut-side down, and bake for another 30-35 minutes, flipping slices halfway through. Let cool completely

5. To make the glaze, whisk together the confectioners sugar and orange juice in a small bowl. Glaze biscotti after they're cool and garnish with orange zest if desired. 

How To Make Overnight Oats

When I discovered the awesomeness of overnight oats sometime near the beginning of my trudge towards my Masters degree, it was game-changing. I was still vegetarian at the time (a whole other post) and I didn't really eat eggs or dairy (I know. How the times have changed), so breakfasts were pretty lame. Think plain oatmeal, peanut butter-banana toast, or maybe a tofu scramble if I had time. But when I made my first overnight oats that were 1. delicious 2. portable and 3. crazy quick to make I knew I was on to something worth experimenting with. After all, I was in school full-time and working 20 hours so that left very little time to cook (which I find ironic because I was working toward my Masters in Nutrition...). I digress. The truth is, though, that I'm not very good at writing down recipes. I kind of just throw everything together and hope it works out (I'm a bit more controlled when it comes to baking, but not much). So that's why it's taken me almost 5 years to come up with a 'overnight oats formula'. But I finally did and here it is! 

The great thing about overnight oats (aka bircher muesli or soaked oatmeal) is that they are completely customizable to your tastes and/or what's on hand in the fridge and pantry. Which, in our kitchen, means there are probably 1000 different possible combinations. One of my favorites, though, is blueberries, almonds, coconut, and chia seeds. This is the flavor combo that I've used for this post, but feel free to be creative and daring! I often use The Flavor Bible to come up with interesting ideas:
- Raspberry, mint, coconut butter, ginger
- Figs, reduced balsamic, walnuts, vanilla, marscapone
- Cherries, dark chocolate, chili pepper
- Kiwi, coconut milk, pineapple, mango, macademia nut

So many options! What's your favorite? 

// Overnight Oats: A Formula // - serves 1
If you're a busy student like I was or find it hard to fit in breakfast during the busy work week, overnight oats are for you. They're so simple and easy not to mention delicious and filling. And there is really no limit to the number of different flavor combos you can create for overnight oats. Try experimenting with different fruits, nuts, seeds, nut butters, milks, spices, and even rolled grains like rye, barley, or spelt. The options are endless!  

1/2 cup rolled oats (not quick-cooking or steel cut)
1/3 cup fresh fruit
1/4 cup mix-ins (dried fruit, nuts, seeds, etc...)
1 teaspoon sweetener or 1 large date chopped  
Pinch of salt
3/4 cup milk of your choice
2 tablespoons plain yogurt
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract or other extract

1. Place all ingredients in a small bowl or mason jar and mix well. Cover and place in fridge overnight. That's it! 

Spain part 3: Southern France + Rosemary Cornmeal Pancakes with Red Wine Figs

It was never our plan to go to France. It actually never even crossed our minds until we got to Zarautz. Our plan was to explore as much of Spain as we could in three short weeks without feeling rushed. Crossing a border was not something we had even considered. But in Zaratuz we found ourselves at a crossroad. We could drive 8 hours south to Granada (our original plan) to experience southern Spain’s frenzied Easter celebrations or we could… we weren’t sure, but we knew that spending a whole day in the car driving from north coast to south coast wasn’t very appealing. It just didn’t feel right. But what to do? After going back and forth for hours, we eventually asked our airbnb host what she would do for a week before needing to be back in Barcelona for a flight out. Hands down, she said go back through Southern France. So that’s what we did.

Once we entered France, the mood and atmosphere changed immensely. The north coast of Spain is very laid back, open, and easy going. The villages are painted in light tones like beige, terra cotta, and white and people are always out and about. Southern France - the part that borders the Pyrenees - is dark and almost sinister in a beautiful way. The tiny cluster of houses that make up the villages are roofed with a dark, glossy shale and have an eerie abandoned feel to them, almost like they haven’t been touched since medieval times. 

Our first night in France was spent in Ore. Not because Ore is a popular destination town or because somebody suggested that we should go there, but because Ore was where I found an airbnb within driving distance from the border. We really had no idea where to go or what to do in France nor do either of us speak French. We were kind of like fish out of water, but that’s how we tend to travel, for better or worse. One day at a time. Ore turned out to be great, though, albeit a bit deserted. We spent the early evening exploring the narrow stone streets that were devoid of human life (where was everyone?) and were captivated by a gothic graveyard that looked like it came straight out of a Tim Burton movie. Definitely eerie, but beautiful in an haunting sort of way 

The real highlight for us in France, though, was a total unexpected gem. After Ore, we continued east along the north side of the Pyrenees passing through small village after small village until we came to Galey, home of L’Ancienne Bergerie Bed & Breakfast hosted by Becks and Kevin. The B&B is actually a converted barn that has been beautifully and meticulously restored inside and out. It sits on a ridge overlooking the cloud-encased Pyrenees and dark shale roofs of Augirein below. The surrounding area is a honeycomb of miles and miles of great hiking trails that we explored and got lost in. We only spent one night at the B&B, but I could have stayed a week. Becks - an unofficial chef - prepared a five-course dinner for Noah and I and a Spanish couple visiting from Barcelona (their third time there). We drank Kevin’s homemade herbal wine for an aperitif then sat down for the feast. The first course was toast with local foie gras followed by braised rabbit, local camembert goat cheese from a fromagerie we stumbled across on one of our walks (baby goats galore!), wine poached pears, and lots of red wine. It was decadent! Not staying another night at L’Ancienne Bergerie might be our only regret of the trip…

Our last three days in France were a little rushed, mainly because it was Easter and we didn’t have any airbnb’s booked. We ended up spending one night in Sete during the height of a tall ships festival, which was fun, but the small city was insanely packed with people. For our last night in France we continued south along the coast to Collioure, a whitewashed coastal town recommended to us by the Spanish couple at the B&B. We really liked Collioure for its lazy atmosphere, good food, and artistic current - we definitely could have spent more time here as well. Our last French meal was at the outdoor patio of La Cuisine Comptoir who’s red wine poached figs were the inspiration of this posts recipe. They were so simple, but so delicious and a perfect ending for our Spain/France sojourn.

// Rosemary Cornmeal Pancakes with Red Wine Figs // - makes about 10-12 pancakes
This recipe was inspired by a dessert we had in Collioure, France. The dessert was just red wine poached figs, fresh cinnamon whipped cream, and candied walnuts, but it was one of our favorite dishes we had on the trip. So simple, but so delicious! While this recipe isn't quite the same rendering, it's no less satisfying. Perfect for a weekend breakfast or brunch. The figs can be made a couple of days in advance and kept in the fridge for 1-2 weeks

For the red wine figs:
1 pint fresh figs, about 8 whole
1 cup red wine
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt

For the pancakes:
3/4 cup cornmeal
1 cup spelt flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon rosemary, finely chopped
2 large eggs
3/4 cup milk
1/3 cup plain yogurt
1 tablespoon flaxseed, ground
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 tablespoon maple syrup
Butter or oil for cooking

For the walnut-honey syrup:
1/2 cup walnut pieces, toasted
1/2 cup honey
2 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 inch piece rosemary

Plain yogurt or creme fraiche to serve

1. Cut the figs in half lengthwise and place cut-side down in a deep glass or ceramic baking dish. In a small bowl or measuring cup, combine the red wine, maple syrup, vanilla, and salt. Pour red wine mixture over figs and let soak for at least 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 375°. Bake figs for 20-25 minutes, then flip so cut-side is facing up and bake for another 20 minutes. Remove figs from oven and let cool slightly. With a slotted spoon transfer figs to a bowl. Pour remaining red wine sauce into a small saucepan and heat over medium-low heat until thick and syrupy, about 10-20 minutes. Let cool then pour sauce over figs and set aside

2) For the pancakes, combine the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, salt, and rosemary in a large bowl and mix well. In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, yogurt, flaxseed, melted butter, and maple syrup. Slowly fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Melt 2 teaspoons of butter or oil in a skillet over medium heat. Pour 1/4 cup cupfuls of batter onto skillet and cook until bubbles form on top and edges turn golden brown. Flip and cook until browned on the other side and cooked through. Keep pancakes warm in oven set at lowest temperature

3) To make the honey-walnut syrup, combine the walnuts, honey, water, vanilla, and rosemary piece in a small saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat until honey dissolves and the mixture starts to bubble ferociously. Cook 1 minute more then remove from heat

4) To serve, top pancakes with yogurt or creme fraiche, fig halves, and honey-walnut syrup

Spain part 2: Basque Country + A Spanish Tortilla

Welcome to Spain part 2! After exploring Barcelona by foot and bike for a few days, we rented a car and headed west toward wine and Basque Country. Our first stop was Logrono where we got our first taste of real Spanish (or Basque) tapas called pintxos. We sampled them according to tradition - hopping from bar to bar (each bar is known for its special pintxos) and with copious amounts of red wine. If you aren't familiar with pintxos, they're basically little bites of food skewered on top of crusty baguette slices with a toothpick. Bars display plates loaded with a wide variety of colorful pintxos on their countertops and patrons choose the ones that they want. You pay for the toothpicks later. The great thing about pintxos is that wine is basically free. Seriously! Single pintxos cost anywhere between 2-6 euros and you usually get a half glass of wine with that :) Truthfully, though, Noah and I were a bit disappointed with our pintxos experience in Logrono. There were only a few amazing standouts - freshly grilled fish and turkey and buttery mushrooms with a tiny shrimp on top. The rest of the pintxos were ok, but that was probably because they sat out on countertops for hours to accommodate the tourists who eat between 5-7pm and the locals who eat any time after 9pm. Definitely go for the pintxos that are grilled or sautéed to order! Another pintxo peculiarity that dismayed us was that after ordering, the pintxos get zapped in a microwave. We'd point to a tasty looking one that had beautiful ribbons of Iberico ham on top and before we could say "no microwave" into the microwave it went for 60 long seconds. The ham (or whatever else was on top) would come out sad looking and defeated. Sigh. Again, go for the pintxos that are fresh. 

After Logrono, we made a pit stop in the medieval defense-turned-wine town of Laguardia. No cars are allowed in the walled area, so we spent the rainy, chilly afternoon walking the narrow stone streets and ducking into little bodegas for snacks and wine. A bodega is basically a wine cellar that serves pintxos and local - often made-in-house - wine. Underneath Laguardia is a honeycomb of wine cellars and we decided to visit the caves of Carlos San Pedro Perez de Vinaspre for a wine tour. Unfortunately, the next tour wasn't in English, but it was really cool to see the musty, moldy old cellar where their wine is made and aged. Coming from a country where almost everything food-related is sterile and stainless steel, it was striking to see the balls of mold on the walls and bottles caked in grime. These people know the benefits of good bacteria! 

After leaving Laguardia, we headed north to the heart of beautiful Basque country. We passed epic landscapes of vibrant green hills, abandoned stone villages, and densely wooded forests. Basque country is easily one of the prettiest places I've visited yet and that's just from seeing it during early spring. We'd love to go back in summer! Our stop for the next three nights was in a tiny, tiny town called Elortza. We had booked an airbnb there mainly because the host has two donkeys and I have a huge soft spot the furry beasts. This stop turned out to be one of our favorite highlights from the trip. Phil - our host - took us on a day hike with the donkeys (Momo and Django) into the surrounding hills and we explored the depths of a crystal-studded limestone cave. Amazing! Hiking with donkeys is not a rushed affair, so we took our time and enjoyed the fresh air and Basque countryside. The recipe inspired by this leg of our trip is a Spanish tortilla that Momo made every effort to eat when we stopped for lunch atop a steep bluff overlooking the valley. Who knew donkeys liked eggs and potatoes?! 

The last leg of our journey through Basque country was along the northern Bay of Biscay coast from Elantxobe - a tiny fishing town built into steep coastal hills that slide into the ocean - to Zarautz, one of our favorite towns that we visited in Spain. The road between the two towns is rugged and beautiful, dotted with small villages with names like Ea and Lekeitio. Zarautz is a mid-size town right on the coast with a great, laid back feel and a gigantic sandy beach. We didn't spend much time in the popular San Sebastion, but I got the feeling that Zarautz was sort of like its lesser known cousin with amazing boutique shops and great restaurants. Our airbnb host sent us on a great walk from the town center of Zarautz along backroads to the neighboring town of Getaria. We passed an abandoned and graffitied coliseum that definitely looked out of place amid the vineyards and sheep pastures, but would be a perfect venue for a music or skateboarding video. I practiced my handstands. In Getaria, we spent a few hours walking around, had a fantastic lunch, then walked back along the coastal footpath to Zarautz, taking some time to sit on the rocks and watch the ocean splash at our feet 

Next up: Southern France and a decadent breakfast

// Spanish Tortilla // serves 6-8
A Spanish tortilla isn't what you normally think of when you hear 'tortilla'. Most people think of Latin American tortillas made out of flour or corn and food like quesadillas, tacos, fajitas, etc... But a Spanish tortilla has neither flour or corn - it's made almost entirely of potatoes, eggs, onion, and olive oil. It's kind of like a frittata, but better. A note about the olive oil: this recipe calls for 1 1/2 cups of olive oil. Don't freak out, you don't actually consume all that oil, it's just used to fry the potatoes and onions and the rest is saved for another use (like salad dressings). I added kale to this recipe because I'm a greens fanatic, but feel free to leave it out for a more traditional version. Oh, and watch out for donkeys - they like Spanish tortillas.

1 1/2 cups olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, about 1 1/2 cups sliced
2 pounds yukon gold or russet potatoes
2 1/4 teaspoons salt (2 teaspoons if you're sensitive to salt)
8 eggs
1/2 cup packed parsley, chopped
6 large lacinato kale leaves, roughly chopped (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Gently heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed deep frying pan or skillet. When the oil is shimmering, add the onion slices and cook for 8-10 minutes or until they're translucent, but not super soft. Stir often

2. While the onions are cooking, peel the potatoes and cut them into 1/4" thick rounds. Add the potatoes and salt to the onions and oil. Try to submerge the potatoes as best you can under the oil for even cooking. Cover and cook for 15-20 minutes over low heat, checking on the potatoes every so often to make sure they're all cooking evenly (i.e. stir and flip as needed). The potatoes are done when they can be easily pierced with a  fork or knife. With a slotted spoon, transfer onions and potatoes into a colander placed over a bowl to catch the extra oil. Pour out remaining oil from pan and save for another use

3. Crack eggs into a large bowl and whisk until well combined. Whisk in most of the parsley and all of the kale if using (reserve some parsley for garnish). Add 3 tablespoons of oil back into the frying pan and turn heat on low. Layer onions and potatoes in the skillet, flattening them out as best you can. Pour eggs over onions and potatoes and cook for about 15 minutes over medium-low heat. Gently pull away the sides of the tortilla from the pan with a spatula to allow eggs to run over the side and cook. When eggs are mostly done, place tortilla in oven to finish cooking for 3-5 minutes. Turn oven on to broil and broil top for 1-2 minutes. Remove tortilla from oven, let cool 5 minutes then either flip tortilla upside down onto a plate or slide it out of the pan. Serve warm or at room temperature 

Apple Pie Baked Oatmeal

This baked oatmeal is like eating apple pie for breakfast. Seriously. But a little bit healthier (although there is always a place for a hefty slice of apple pie in my diet, perhaps even for breakfast).  It has a layer of syrupy apple pie filling and heavy dose of fall spices like cinnamon and ginger. Plus I added pecan pieces for crunch. Sold yet? The oats make this a stay-with-you kind of breakfast, but it's not super dense or gummy like some baked oatmeals can be. In short, it's a pretty much the perfect fall breakfast. The only thing it's missing is a big scoop of vanilla ice cream on top, which you're more than welcome to add. A dollop of Greek yogurt would would be second best. And the powdered sugar is really just for show - it makes a nice picture - but isn't necessary if you're in a hurry. 

I've always liked baked oatmeal, but haven't made it in awhile. We've been super busy around here so I thought it would be good to have for early mornings before work or errands. Especially since the mornings around here have have been a bit gray and drizzly. Per usual for the PNW :) While the oatmeal was baking it filled our apartment with aromas of apple pie and cinnamon and made me realize how much I love this time of year when comfort foods make their way into the kitchen and onto our plates.  

// Apple Pie Baked Oatmeal // Serves 6-8
Baked oatmeal needs to be served warm, ideally fresh from the oven. Just thinking about eating cold oatmeal gives me the shivers... As with most of my recipes, this one is adaptable to your tastes and preferences. Experiment with different spices, nuts,  fruit, etc... You could also substitute the milk for a non-dairy milk and swap out the eggs for a banana. 

For the apples:
1 tablespoon butter
1 3/4 lb apples (about 6 small)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons tapioca pearls
1 cup pecan pieces

2 cups oats (not quick cooking)
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons ground flaxseed (optional)
2 eggs
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups milk
4 tablespoons butter, melted

1 apple, peeled, cored, and cut into slices
Powdered sugar to serve

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 9x9" baking dish and set aside

2. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a medium pot. Add the apples, lemon juice, brown sugar, cinnamon, and tapioca. Cover and cook over medium heat for 10-12 minutes, until apples are soft. Remove from heat and stir in pecan pieces. Set aside

2. In a large bowl, combine the oats, cinnamon, ginger, baking powder, salt, and flaxseeds. Stir to combine. 

3. In a smaller bowl whisk together the eggs, brown sugar, vanilla extract, milk, and melted butter. Slowly add the wet mixture to the oat mixture and stir until well combined. 

4. Spoon about 1/3 of the oatmeal into the prepared baking dish. Add 1/2 of the apples on top, spreading them out as best as you can. Top with another 1/3 of the oatmeal, then the rest of the apples, then the remaining 1/3 oatmeal. Press the apple slices into the top for decoration

5. Bake at 375 for 35-40 minutes, or until top is golden brown

Blueberry Oat Scones

Whoever said scones were easy? Easy to make, yes - they usually only require +/- 15 minutes to throw together and another +/- 15 minutes to bake - but trying to develop a recipe from scratch? Not so easy. I spent numerous mornings (and evenings) mixing flour and making a mess of the kitchen trying to make a perfect scone. In all, I think I made 5 or 6 batches over the past 3 months and each one failed in their own way (they were edible, but not perfect). Mostly they were too cake-like. Scones should be flaky and tender, not have the consistency of a muffin. They should also have a crisp top so that when you bite into them the tops crumble a little bit and give your teeth something to crunch on. Scones should also be light instead of heavy and only subtly sweet. So many variables to get right! In the end, I finally consulted my new favorite cookbook: "Cook's Illustrated: the science of good cooking." If you don't have this brilliant kitchen reference, I highly recommend it. Not only does it contain a ton of crazy-good recipes, it also tells you why a recipe works. Take the scones, for example. The blurb after the blueberry scone recipe tells you that grating the frozen butter keeps it colder than it would if you rubbed the butter into the dough with your fingers. Just like in making a flaky pie crust, you need to keep the butter cold! I also learned that folding the dough helps to make layers of "striated flakes" kind of like puff pastry. You don't want to work the dough too much or else it will become tough, not tender, but you want to fold it a couple times to make layers that then make delicious, flaky scones.   

Once I read the why of scone-making, my scones turned out infinitely better. I played with the recipe a bit, substituting some white flour for whole wheat pastry flour and adding maple syrup because I'm from Vermont and maple syrup makes everything better. The scones came out light, tender, and exploding with flavor (thanks, in part, to the gigantic, delicious blueberries we picked this summer). I think the only thing I would change next time would be to brush the tops with a bit of milk instead of butter. I think they would stay crisper.    

// Blueberry Oat Scones // makes 6-8 scones
As I mentioned above, the key to making good scones is to keep everything cold, which is why I say to put everything in the fridge until it's needed. If I know I'm going to make a batch in the morning, I'll throw a stick of butter in the freezer the night before so it's nice and frozen. You can also play around with different flavorings such as other berry types, almond extract, orange zest, dried fruit, etc... These scones are best eaten fresh out of the oven with a good cup of coffee.

 8 tablespoons (1 stick) of frozen, unsalted butter
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup oats
1 tablespoon sugar
2 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup sour cream
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

2 tablespoons butter (or whole milk)
1 tablespoon coarse sugar
2 tablespoons oats

1. Place a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet

2. Grate frozen butter into a small bowl using the medium-sized holes that look like raindrops. Try to hold on to the wrapper as much as possible to prevent your warm hands from touching the butter. Place grated butter back into the freezer until needed

3. In a large bowl, combine the flours, oats, 1 tablespoon of sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir well, then place bowl in the refrigerator until needed

4. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the milk, sour cream, maple syrup, vanilla, and lemon zest. Whisk until well combined. Place bowl in refrigerator until needed. 

5. Clean off a large space on your counter and dust liberally with flour. Keep bag/container of flour handy so you can dust your hands. Take the flour mixture and butter out of the fridge/freezer and toss the butter gently into the flour mixture with your fingers. The butter pieces should be well coated. With a rubber spatula, barely stir the milk mixture into the flour. The dough should look quite raggedy and a bit wet

6. Dump the dough onto the floured surface and pat into a rectangle. You may need to dust your hands with flour to prevent them from sticking. Fold the dough in half, using a pastry cutter to unstick the bottom, then flatten the dough out into a rectangle again. Rotate a quarter turn clockwise. Fold, flatten, and rotate 3 more times, then place the dough on a plate and transfer to the freezer for 7-8 minutes.  

7. Preheat oven to 425°. While the oven is preheating, melt the two tablespoons of butter (if using) and set aside or measure out two tablespoons of milk. Measure out the coarse sugar and oats and have ready. Measure out the blueberries and keep in freezer until needed. 

8. When the oven is ready, take the dough and blueberries out of the freezer. Dust your surface lightly with some flour, and place the dough back on the counter. Work quickly! Pat dough into a 1/4 inch thick rectangle, then spread 1/2 of the blueberries lengthwise along the left edge of the dough and press them in firmly. Fold the left side of the dough (with blueberries) towards the center like folding a letter. Spread the remaining blueberries on the right edge of the dough and press them in firmly. Fold the right edge over the left to finish folding the "letter". You should have a long log with two layers of blueberries.

9. With a pastry cutter, cut the dough into 6-8 triangles. Transfer the scones to the prepared baking sheet. Brush the tops with the melted butter/milk and sprinkle with oats and coarse sugar. Bake at 425° for 18-22 minutes. The tops should be lightly browned and still soft when pressed. 

Blueberry Vanilla Granola

This granola is seriously addicting. Perfectly crunchy with just the right amount of sweetness and loaded with good stuff like blueberries and flaxseed. For the past two years, Noah and I have picked a ridiculous amount of blueberries at an organic farm just west of the North Cascades. The first year we stumbled upon the blueberry Eden was after a trip to Colonial Campsite for Noah's birthday. We spend 4 nights at a beautiful, secluded site and hiked one of the most amazing trails I've ever been on (see Noah's website for more details on our trip). We also got outsmarted by a conspiracy of ravens (yes, that's what a bunch of sneaky ravens are called) who efficiently swooped into our site and gobbled up an astonishing amount of packed away food while we were enjoying ciders on the beach. Plus one for the ravens.

But, back to the blueberries. After camping, we stopped at the farm on a whim and in a light drizzle, thinking we'd only pick a few pounds to take back to Seattle. But, the fruit was just too big and juicy and delicious to stop after a few pounds so we ended up picking about 30. Oops. We froze most of that first harvest, eating them with yogurt and in pancakes over the winter. Come July of this year, though, we were running low again, so we made the two-hour trek back to the little farm for more. This year we upped the harvest and brought in 46 lbs of blueberries. Again, we froze most of them, but I've been making scones (recipe to come!), pancakes, and shrubs as well as this granola out of the few blueberries that I dehydrated. It is soooo good.      

//Blueberry Vanilla Granola// makes about 6 cups
The real vanilla bean makes a huge difference here (think freshly ground coffee vs instant), so don't skimp on that, please! I also love the taste of maple because I'm a Vermonter, especially in combination with blueberries and vanilla, but you could try honey instead. To get some clumps, don't stir the granola as it's baking or when it's cooling. 

4 cups rolled oats
1 cup pecans, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons whole flaxseed
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped out, discard pod
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup sunflower or safflower oil
1/2 cup dried coconut
1 cup dried blueberries

1. Preheat oven to 325°F. 

2. In a large bowl combine all of the ingredients except the dried blueberries. Stir well until everything is evenly coated.

3. Spread granola evenly onto a baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes or until granola is golden brown. It may need more or less time, so check often - it burns fast!

4. Remove granola from oven and sprinkle blueberries on top. Let sit until completely cool, then transfer to an airtight container. 

Triple Ginger Granola

Granola is a big staple in our house. We usually keep one or two half-gallon glass milk bottles filled with the stuff or if it’s not homemade, we have a bag or two that we can dip our hands into during a snack attack. We eat it for breakfast when we’ve hit the snooze button too many times and we eat it for dessert when trying to stay away from ice cream (or we put it on ice cream…). The point is, there needs to be granola in our cupboard. I usually don’t follow a recipe when I make a batch, I just pour some oats and mix-ins and some kind of liquid/fat into a big bowl, stir it around, and hope for the best. And usually it turns out ok, but usually not amazing like the ridiculously crunchy, cookie sized clusters at Portage Bay. Sigh. Maybe someday. This time around, though, I wanted to create a granola recipe that I knew I could come back to if I needed to make sure the end result was delicious. Not sure when or where that might happen (seriously), but you never know. It's always good to have a few solid recipes around, right?. But I have a feeling I won't stop experimenting with ingredients and ratios despite being satisfied with this recipe. I still haven’t figured out how to make it as good as Portage Bay's, but I think I did pretty well. It’s flavorful, crunchy, slightly spicy from the ginger, and delicious on top of yogurt - our favorite. Hope you enjoy it! 

// Triple Ginger Granola // Makes ~ 2 quarts
I used three variations of ginger in this recipe: fresh, dried, and candied. I like to experiment with different forms of the same ingredient because I think they each offer their own unique flavors and nuances. You could skip the grated ginger if you really wanted to, but add more ground in its place. 

3 1/2 cups oats
1 1/2 cups shredded coconut
3 tablespoons flaxseed, ground
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup applesauce
1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon honey
2 generous teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon dried ginger
Zest of 1 orange
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup pecans, chopped
*1 egg white beaten with 1 tsp sugar until foamy 

3/4 cup candied ginger, most of sugar rubbed off
1 cup dried cranberries 

1. Preheat oven to 325º
2. In a large mixing bowl, combine oats, coconut, flax, and salt. Mix well
3. Melt the coconut oil in a saucepan over low heat. Remove from heat and mix in applesauce and honey
4. Add coconut oil mixture to oats and stir until well combined. Add grated ginger, dried ginger, orange zest, vanilla, and pecans
5. In a small bowl beat the egg white and sugar with a whisk or electric beater. Add to granola when foamy and "white"  
6. Spread granola on two baking sheets and bake at 325º for 20 minutes. Remove from oven, stir to prevent edges from browning and bake for an additional 10-12 minutes. Keep an eye on it because it burns fast!
7. Remove granola from oven when lightly golden brown. Stir in candied ginger and dried cranberries 
8. Let cool completely before transferring to a storage container

*Note: the egg white is not necessary, but it does add a light crispness to the granola