Archive for August, 2012



All images © Dina Avila 2012

Although simple, this recipe will take a little time to make. Give yourself about an hour or so. It’s methodical, nutty and oh so delicious. The beautiful thing about granola is that it is versatile and I advise that you use my recipe as a simple guide. Open your spice drawer and pull out whatever sounds good in the moment. I really don’t think you could go wrong…except maybe if you accidentally dust your granola with dried parsley flakes. I could be wrong.

The method for this granola comes from…can you guess? Yes, Good to the Grain. It’s just that I can rely on Kim for a solid recipe and she never lets me down.

And yes, I heart her.


Simply Granola

Adapted from Good to the Grain by Kim Boyce
Words of warning: This is good, really good. In fact, I’d offer that it’s even better nibbled straight out of the jar.
If you use the cardamom pods prepare yourself for the occasional little surprise burst of cardamom when eating. 


1 cup raw pumpkin seeds
4 cups rolled oats or combination of oats, rye and barley flakes
1 cup raw sunflower seeds
3/4 cup walnuts, broken or coarsely chopped
1/2 cup crushed almonds
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1 tablespoon flax seeds
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
About 7 cardamom pods, crushed with mortar and pestle
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup brown rice syrup or honey
1/2 cup raw rapadura sugar or brown sugar
3/4 stick butter
3/4 teaspoon sea salt (use a whole teaspoon if you omit the vanilla salt)

Vanilla salt, optional

Warm your oven to 325.
Spread your pumpkin seeds in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast for about 15 minutes. Let cool.
Stir all of the dry ingredients with your hands or a wooden spoon in a large bowl.

Place a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat and add the butter, sugar and brown rice syrup.
Give it a quick stir and let come to an even simmer. About 5 minutes.
Remove from heat and stir the syrup into your dry mix.
Use a spatula to scrape out all the sticky bits and stir your mix thoroughly. You want every flake to be evenly coated.

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Spread your granola out into and even layer and place both sheets in your oven.
Dust with the vanilla salt, if using.
Place two cooling racks on your counter.
Bake for about 10 minutes, remove pans, remembering which pan was on the top rack, and give the granola a good stir.
I find stirring in a spiral helps rotate the inner granola to the outer edge and vice versa.
Place the cookie sheets back in the oven making sure to put the pan that was on the top rack on the second rack, and vice versa.
Bake for another 10 minutes.
Do the above one more time so you’ve baked your granola for a total of 30 minutes.

Let cool completely and store in airtight jars for about a week. If it even makes it that long.


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Blog post with recipe coming very soon but I thought I’d share one of my favorites from a little jaunt to Sauvie Island yesterday….

Sauvie Island

© Dina Avila 2012

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Chickpea and Farro Salad

Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

Blueberry Tart

I’ve been meaning to make this for you for about a week now, but it got hot. Panting, melting, kitchen sweltering, air conditioner barely making a dent, 100 degrees hot. So, I waited. I waited until my arugula and mint wilted and for the mercury to drop. I waited until the farro dish evolved from a recipe inspired from a recent salad post on What Katie Ate, to its own entity as the ingredients wilted or shifted or were simply eaten. I had a burst of energy around 5 o’clock yesterday and, although it was much cooler than it has been, late afternoon is the warmest part of the day in our kitchen and I decided I’d set to slow roasting tomatoes and onions in the oven, baking a blueberry tart and using just about every burner on the stove top. There was sweat, but it was worth it. As I sat in front of the fan eating this salad I thought to myself (and out loud on twitter) how on earth can something be so incredible healthy but taste so good that it should be bad for you?

I think the magic ingredient in this dish is the roasted cherry tomatoes. Oh, God, yes.

I lifted the roasted tomato recipe directly out of the pages of Super Natural Every Day, by Heidi Swanson. I remembered the chatter on the internet when her book came out last summer and everyone was pretty much freaking out about her roasted cherry tomato recipe. Go out, buy, pick, trade for a pint of cherry tomatoes and roast them like this. It is crack.


Roasted Cherry Tomatoes with Chickpea and Farro Salad

Let your intuition guide you with these recipes, as I did mine.
Some of the measurements are estimates.
The key with the farro is to pour the just cooked farro into
a sieve and place over a pot in your sink. Let it drain for several minutes
until perfectly dry before tossing with the other ingredients.


For the tomatoes:

One pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 olive oil
1 tablespoon raw cane sugar
Sea salt

For the onions:

One large Walla Walla, or other onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup olive oil
Sea Salt

For the salad:

Warm ingredients:

One teaspoon whole cumin
One cup farro, cooked and drained
One cup chickpeas, cooked
1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup raw walnuts, broken
Red Pepper Flakes
Lemon Zest
Salt and Pepper

Cool ingredients:

Half of a cucumber, julienned
2-3 carrots, julienned
Half a bunch of cilantro, stems removed and leaves torn
Juice from one lemon
Ricotta Salata, optional
Smoked Sea Salt

To roast the tomatoes and onions:

Place your oven racks on the top and second positions in your oven.
Warm your oven to 350.
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Toss tomatoes with olive oil, sugar and salt until well covered and place cut side up on one of the baking sheets.
Toss the onions with the olive oil and salt. Lay in an even layer on the second baking sheet.
Place tomatoes on the top rack and onions on the second.
Roast for about 45 minutes until the tomatoes start to crinkle and caramelize on the edges and until the onions start to char.
Remove from the oven and let cool.

Warm olive oil and cumin seeds in a large skillet.
Add the chickpeas and stir around a bit to coat with the oil.
Let the chickpeas cook for a few minutes and then stir in the pumpkin seeds and walnuts.
Season with paprika and red pepper flakes to taste.
Zest a lemon into the chickpeas and stir.
Season with salt and pepper.
Let cook for about 8 minutes, tossing occasionally, until the chickpeas start to crisp.
Remove from heat and let cool.

Once the tomatoes, onions, farro and chickpeas cool to room temperature, toss everything together with the carrots, cucumber, a squeeze of lemon, ricotta salata and dust with the smoked sea salt.

Blueberry Tart


About two pints blueberries, rinsed
Zest and juice from one lemon
1/4 cup sugar, more or less depending on the sweetness of your berries
Butter, cubed
Ground ginger, optional
Tart dough from this recipe

Place blueberries in a medium-sized skillet over medium heat.
Add lemons juice and zest and dot with chunks of butter.
Dust with ginger and stir to coat berries.
Reduce heat to medium-low and let cook at a very gentle simmer for about 10 minutes.
Roll out tart dough and place on top of berries tucking in the edges and cutting off any loose bits.
Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes rotating halfway through until your crust is golden.
Let cool a bit before serving. Makes an excellent breakfast, too.

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Zucchini Soup with Tarragon Croutons

Zucchini Soup with Tarragon Croutons

I sat down with a bowl of this soup last night and thought of the possibilities. I ate it steaming with chunks of bacon and, I dare share, bacon fat still warm from the skillet, dimpled with homemade croutons. I thought about how it would be the perfect chilled summer picnic soup laced with a generous squeeze of lemon and infused with fresh mint leaves. I want to serve it to friends with chunks of roasted chicken on the side with extra croutons to pop in their mouths at will. Perhaps poured over cooked farro with a dollop of spicy harissa on top. I love soups like this. We have Amanda Hesser to thank for this soup. She found inspiration from the pages of Craig Claiborne and was kind enough to share with us in The Essential New York Times Cookbook.

I took a few liberties with Amanda’s recipe. Swapping out the onion for my ever-present shallots. The original recipe calls for curry powder which I surprisingly have none, but I had enough curry components to fib it satisfactorily. This is incredibly simple to throw together. The only time sapper is the cooking time. The zucchini simmers on the stove for a whopping 45 minutes, but that gives you time to make your croutons and perhaps file your nails.

I apologize for not being around, folks. Life has gotten beautifully busy with photography gigs and, as always, my blog is the first to suffer. I blame summertime a little bit, too. When it’s perpetually sunny, as it has been, I have a very small window of time to shoot in beautiful light. Right around 10 o’clock the sun comes around our building and bounces a horridly putrid light off of the artist warehouse across the alley from us and into our kitchen. Yes, I try to get up earlier, but, well, we know how that goes. Especially when you’re married to an incurable night owl whom you love spending time with. Even if he keeps you up until midnight. :)

I hope all is well with all of you and you’ve been having a lovely and relaxing summer!


Zucchini Soup with Tarragon Croutons

Adapted from the New York Times Essential Cookbook by Amanda Hesser.
Consider shaking out the loose crumbs when making your croutons.
Not doing so could cause them cook faster than the large chunks and burn.
If you have curry powder on hand, by all means, use it. Just omit all of the spices
through chili powder, except for the ground ginger.


5 Zucchini, cut into chunks
2-3 Shallots, thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground sumac
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
3 cups chicken broth
3 tablespoons raw long grain brown rice
1 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk or cream
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Dried chive blossoms, tarragon, fresh mint, optional

For the croutons:

About three cups day old bread, cubed
3 tablespoons butter
Fresh tarragon, or herb of your choice
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


Stir the zucchini and all of the spices into a large pot.
Add the chicken broth and rice.
Bring to a boil, cover and let simmer for 45 minutes.
Puree the cooked soup in your blender.
Add the milk and season with salt and pepper.
Serve warm or cold with croutons and a sprinkling of dried chive blossoms.

For the croutons:

Melt the butter over medium-high heat in a large skillet.
Dust with salt and pepper.
Place the bread chunks in the pan in a single layer.
Once the bread starts to brown, toss and brown the other side.
Add more chunks of butter as needed if the bread looks to be drying out in the pan.
Let cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

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