When I was in college, way back in the 1970s, homemade granola was a hippie delight. As I recall, it was rooted in rolled oats and wheat germ and powered by applesauce, honey and brown sugar.
Dried cherries and cranberries were years away.
Making granola today is an exercise in experimentation, because there are so many readily available nuts and sweet additions to tinker with. Back in the day, we used vegetable oil in our granola; today it's extra-virgin olive oil, which adds an earthy lushness.
For a first-time effort, a New York Times adaptation of Eleven Madison Park restaurant's granola recipe is a good place to start. So #CookClub recipe No. 13 is Olive Oil Granola that's fairly straightforward but has lots of room for tinkering.
It's wonderful as a topping for yogurt or just as a snack. It's good in milk, too, but it will lose its crunch more quickly than commercial cereals.
What you really need to know is to watch it carefully as it bakes so that it doesn't burn. It can go from just-right to black in a matter of minutes. I use the coconut as my signal. The large flakes go in pure white and when they are golden, the granola is done. Also, don't wait for the mixture to harden in the oven, it will do that as it cools.
Add the dried fruit — cherries, craisins or raisins — after the granola has cooled.
I will be eager to hear about your experience.
Join us online!
To participate in #CookClub online, the key is to remember #CookClub because that's how you'll want to tag everything. You'll have two weekends to make the recipe and post a photo on Instagram with your comments. The next recipe will be announced March 31 at tampabay.com/cooking.
Photos and comments of the Olive Oil Granola are due by 6 p.m. March 30. Some of the photos and comments will be printed in the Tampa Bay Times Taste section April 2.
As part of the #CookClub conversation, join us from 7 to 8 p.m. Thursdays for a live #CookClub chat on Twitter.
Olive Oil Granola
Deadline for photos and comments on Instagram is 6 p.m. March 30. Tag them #CookClub.
2 3⁄4 cups rolled oats
1 cup shelled pistachios
1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1/3 cup pumpkin seeds
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 cup dried cherries
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a large bowl, mix together the oats, pistachios, coconut, pumpkin seeds and salt.
In a small saucepan set over low heat, warm the sugar, maple syrup and olive oil, stirring until the sugar has just dissolved, then remove from heat. Fold liquids into the mixture of oats, making sure to coat the dry ingredients well.
Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat, and spread granola over it. Bake until dry and light golden, 35 to 40 minutes, stirring granola a few times along the way.
Remove granola from oven, and allow to cool for at least 30 minutes, then mix in dried cherries. Cool completely before transferring to a storage container.
Makes about 6 cups.
Source: Adapted by the New York Times from Eleven Madison Park restaurant, New York