Our kitchen was busy on this rainy Saturday morning as I taught a cooking class to a group of children from our elementary school as a donation to the school’s annual silent auction fundraiser! We made brunch fare: Brazilian cheese balls (pão-de-queijo), yogurt parfaits and omelets. Kids ages ranged from 6 to 9 and some were more familiar with cooking than others, but they were all engaged, especially when I asked who wanted to crack an egg:
I loved how the more experienced and older kids were assisting the younger ones and how they worked well together and independently.
Their favorite parts were cutting fruit, cracking eggs, rolling the cheese balls and cooking the eggs with me on the stove top. When they were cutting fruit, they quickly knew what to do when I said that the right size to cut was the size they you would like to eat their fruit, layered with the yogurt and granola in the cups I gave them.
My absolute favorite part is seeing how they do not think they are going to like something but they do, or when they don’t like one ingredient by itself but they like it in the recipe. And granola was just that. When presented with Brazil nuts, cashews or pecans by themselves, a couple of the kids were reluctant to try, but they all followed the rule of trying everything and they were pleasently surprised.
I’ve been tweaking my granola recipes with coconut oil, maple syrup, honey, brown sugar and all kinds of nuts and different baking times and oven temperatures, but this one recipe got my own kids’ thumbs-up, which is why I decided to share in my cooking class and here.
It is based on Chef Dayn Smith’s recipe from the Houndstooth Restaurant at Glenn Gordon Manor, a stunning place overlooking the Shennandoah National Park where we recently stayed for a night. Service is stellar and they graciously share the delicious breakfast recipes with their guests – lucky me. I changed the recipe for a much lesser cooking time at slightly higher temperature and stirring once. I also reduced the salt and half the almonds and cashews and added pepitas, Brazil nuts and pecans and used unsweetened shredded coconut flakes.
The recipe makes a lot, which is great if you can’t live a day without granola like myself. Granola makes a great edible gift – make a big batch and give some to your friends and family in bags or jars! You can experiment using different nuts and seeds and find out what you and your family like best. You can also add granola and fresh fruit to your ice cream for a crunchy taste.
NUTTY GRANOLA (adapted from Chef Dayn Smith’s granola recipe served at the Glenn Gordon Manor)
Yields: 6 cups
6 cups of rolled oats
2 cups of sliced almonds
1 cup of cashews
1/2 cup of pecans
1/2 cup of Brazil nuts
1 1/2 cup of unsweetened shredded coconut
1/4 cup of pumpkin seeds
2/3 cup of brown sugar
2/3 cup of maple syrup
1/2 cup of vegetable oil
1 teaspoon of salt
1.Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. Chop cashews, pecans and Brazil nuts. Combine oats, nuts, seeds and sugar in a large bowl and stir.
3. In a smaller bowl, whisk together maple syrup, vegetable oil and salt.
4. Pour syrup on top of other ingredients and stir well. Make sure nuts and oats are coated with the syrup mixture.
5. Distribute granola evenly on 2 baking sheets and put them in the oven. Bake for about 25 minutes or until golden brown, stirring once after 15 minutes (or the edges will burn!). Start checking after 20 minutes.
6. Remove from oven and let the granola cool for about 10 minutes before using or storing it.