A very belated post indeed but the past 2 months have been somewhat frenzy. While 2017 definitely flew by, November and December was a whirlwind. Suddenly, it was Christmas and the New Year and before I knew it, it was the end of another posting for me. It was a memorable December for 2017 and a sweet ending to a year that saw a lot of changes, challenges and anxiety. I think in 2017, The Boy and I have l learnt the importance of being good men in a storm, and I’ve never clung onto that so strongly as compared to now.
January saw me coming back to the hospital in a different way, and seeing medical cases in a completely different light (the people in my inner circle would know what I mean, given that you guys know what kind of work I’m involved in now HAHA). It’s also the start of planning of many happy events in the year 2018 and 2019 and to me, it feels like the good kind of busy. Something is also brewing in terms of where our kitchen adventures are taking us, but that would take some time so this is just a little one-sentence teaser!
No matter how little I would be sleeping over the holidays, I will always make sure to do home-made Christmas favours. Because yes I like to torture myself and I’m a sadist, but more importantly it’s just a lot more meaningful than recycled Christmas presents from previous years. I’m not a person who is very big on presents and gifts, but I’m big on home-made favours. Of course, home-made favours from me would definitely be some form of food. There was a year I made small beautiful bottles of apple jam and I remember everyone being so surprised at the idea of home-made goods and I’ve never forgotten those smiles.
In 2017, I decided to imbue my favourite breakfast food onto everyone – granola. I bought top-grade matcha powder when I was in Hokkaido because it was so affordable and I’ve been adding matcha to EVERYTHING. I’ve been experimenting with breads and babkas and my kitchen has even birthed a sweet and filling matcha-black sesame babka that will be up on the blog soon! I’m dreaming of matcha black-sesame cheesecakes now but I digress. This 2017, I did a real simple matcha-Dark Chocolate Granola for the friends and family that never let me forget I was not alone in this life.
I think the problem with matcha powder is that it tends to make things very dry and powdery. In that sense, “the more the merrier” simply does not work with matcha powder. A little sprinkle of matcha is enough to turn the mixture the beautiful vibrant green it is, and give the subtle in-depth green-tea flavour. Spamming it with your granola, cheesecake, breads, cookies, brownies etc. will only yield an odd powdery texture with the hints of bitterness that some people may not appreciate. Some tips with working with matcha:
1. ALWAYS sift the powder before adding it to anything. This removes/sifts away the clumps that may be found in the matcha powder. Baking a clump of matcha powder is not tasty at all. Trust me
2. Make sure you mix the matcha powder well into the other ingredients. It’s preferable to mix it with the dry ingredients before adding any wet ingredients cos the wet ingredients will clump it again. Mix thoroughly and make sure the matcha powder coats everything (esp. the rolled oats in this granola recipe)
3. Overbaked matcha does carry a burnt green tea toast – NOT roasted green tea like hojicha. Overbaking it loses its fragrance and has an intense bitterness and no surprises, it just looks like charred green tea powder AKA black powder.
4. Spend a little more to get a good quality matcha powder. Cheap matcha powder has a distinct ‘plastic’/synthetic taste that lacks the earthiness of green tea. You won’t regret the extra few dollars spent as it would go a long long way.
I’ve put up a classic granola recipe (see here: https://www.theweekendkitchen.club/single-post/2017/06/01/Classic-Granoloa) and this is similar, just that mixing the dry ingredients first before adding the honey is a really important step. Add whatever you feel like adding, but my basic rule is to add some seeds/nuts, some form of dried fruits (like dried apricots or cranberries, banana chips or freeze dried strawberries even), and something indulgent (for this case, I added a mini dark chocolate chips). I also add my nuts only after adding the matcha to make sure my nuts retain their original colours. I like variety of colours and did not like everything to be completed coated in matcha so hence that decision. But if you’re truly a matcha fiend and like your almonds and seeds tasting like matcha, please go ahead!
Most importantly, go and make it. Your mornings will thank you for it, and so will your snack times.
MATCHA-DARK CHOCOLATE GRANOLA:
The great thing about this recipe is you can add as much dry ingredients (like nuts, seeds, fruits etc) as you want. The ratio of rolled oats to the other essential ingredients is listed below.
Seeds - sunflower seeds / pumpkin seeds / flax seeds/ Chia seeds / sesame seeds
Nuts - almond silvers / chopped cashews / walnuts / pistachios / pecans / chopped macadamias
Dried fruits - cranberries / dried blue berries / banana chips / dried figs / dried dates/ banana chips/ freeze dried strawberries
Honey (be sure to use natural pure honey which has no additional sweeteners or sugars in them)
Pure vanilla extract
When you’re feeling indulgent
Peanut butter cups/chips
Maple syrup - an indulgent substitute for honey
Golden ratio that you need to remember for this recipe is:
2 cups of rolled oats = ¼ cup brown sugar = 2 tablespoons of matcha powder = 2 tablespoons of olive oil
Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C
Toss all the dry ingredients (EXCEPT the nuts/seeds) in a large bowl and mix well. Sift the matcha powder into the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. It is important to make sure that the rolled oats and other dry ingredients are coated well.
Add the nuts/seeds into the mixture and mix well
Add in 1-2 teaspoons of vanilla extract and mix
Add in the olive oil and brown sugar (as per the golden ratio depending on how much rolled oats you use)
Drizzle the beautiful messy pile with unsweetened honey – give it a good glug. Add enough to ensure everything is coated, but not too much till it becomes clumps or until there’s honey left over in the mixing bowl
Spread the mixture evenly onto a parchment sheet and bake at 170 degrees for about 20 to 25 minutes until golden and toasty. Every 8-10 minutes, take the baking tray out and stir the granola to make sure everything browns evenly.
Remove from the oven and cool on the parchment sheet. The granola will start to crisp up when cooling down
Once cooled completely, mix in the dried fruits. Mix in the meltables (such as dark chocolate chips) as well.
Store in an airtight container and it should last for about a week at room temperature. My personal favourite way to eat granola is with Greek yoghurt, fresh fruits and more honey. However, feel free to eat it plain as a snack, to use it as a topping for desserts and even French toasts with berry compotes etc.!