Monday, March 26, 2007

Espresso and Granola on a Monday Morning

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Seems fitting for a gloomy Monday doesn't it? Two great things to start the day off right.

First off, please excuse me while I take a minute to rave about my Nespresso D90 Espresso machine. A couple of months ago, I sampled a shot from one of these machines at Bloomingdales and I was hooked. The coffee was excellent, and the machine reminded me of something I saw in Paris years ago - when these things were still years away from hitting the U.S. market. The deal on Amazon was an open box machine for about 1/3 off the price and no tax (the same way I got my KitchenAid mixer!) I was a little worried that it was too good to be true, but I've had no problems. I use it every day at work - usually to make a double and sometimes a triple if it's a particularly rough day! The only drawback, is that you have to order the capsules from the Nespresso website, and they are .49 apiece. I don't consider that to be too bad, since I would probably order 2-3 bucks worth of coffee a day if I had to go downstairs or to a coffee bar, and Extraordinary Desserts - the only place within striking distance for a good espresso - charges about $4.00 for a double. (I know!!)

I've also been meaning to post about this recipe for one of my new favorite things to make at home. I've become a huge fan of Orangette since I first ran across it last year, and I've found lots of great recipes in Molly's trove titled "Les Recettes d'Orangette." One of them is a recipe for homemade granola, based on the recipe from Rancho la Puerta, a famous spa just south of the border here. It's crunchy, not too sweet and very satisfying - a perfect breakfast.
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The first time I made it, I didn't have exactly the ingredients on hand that were called for, but I did a little substituting with pretty good success. I've found that the real trick is to bake it for the right amount of time - too little and it won't get crunchy - too long and it tastes a little too "toasted." My oven is famously unreliable, so I usually get some burned edges no matter what.

Since the first effort I've tried a few variations and they've all been good. I've added chopped candied ginger, tried slivered and sliced almonds (the sliced are crunchier) substituted agave nectar for some of the honey and varied the seasonings a bit. I also like to add a cup of dried currants. Surprisingly they don't dry out too much in the long baking time. I've been trying to figure out how to get more orange flavor into it - despite the addition of orange zest, juice and even a little orange oil - it seems to disappear. Still I keep trying, and I like that each batch is a little different from the next. It's really good with Trader Joe's organic plain yogurt, or milk.

Molly's original version and the method can be found here.

Enjoy and Happy Monday!


  1. Ooh! Opened box deals, that always gets my frugal side. I got my 6qt kitchenaid the exact same way, too. (I missed out on Amazon's ice cream maker though :/)

    I guess buying the espresso in little pouches makes things easier, eh? Did you see David Lebovitz's post about espresso last week?

    As for your oven, do you have a thermometer in it? I'm pretty sure all ovens are unreliable, the thermometer will help you out a little bit.

  2. I've finally given up on my oven. I have a thermometer in there and have discovered that it just keeps getting hotter... and hotter... and hotter... No wonder I burn everything that has to bake for more than 20 minutes!!!

  3. Must admit when I saw "Monday morning" and that picture, I thought "oh no, it can't be that bad that you've resorted to Guinness as a breakfast drink" ... then again...Guinness is good for you...:)


  4. I usually add my dried fruit when there are about five minutes left in the oven. You might want to try that with the orange zest so it doesn't dry out as much.

  5. Jef - open box deals are the
    best, aren't they? The Nespresso pods are really cool - they come in these neat little sleeves, 10 to a box. The only problem is one is never enough...

    I wish I could solve my problem with a thermometer, but it still heats really unevenly. One of these days we'll remodel..

    Mendy - I had that happen to me before actually - the temperature regulator burned out, and I just kept burning stuff. Finally I tested it and it was broken - luckily we were renting so they just replaced it!

    Jasmine - well it hasn't come to that yet... but you never know! :-)

    Liz - I like that idea - but it might be hard to stir the orange zest in after the granola has already hardened. I have been thinking about adding some lightly candied orange zest to give it a little boost - so maybe I'll try adding that toward the end.