Let me introduce you to the most addictive snack to come out of my kitchen thus far: savory granola. Sounds funky, looks goofy, tastes like a cheese-and-herb cracker with the volume turned to 11. For a salty-crunch addict like me, this is daydreamy stuff.
I love finding out that sweet foods don’t have to be sweet. I held off on making granola for a long time, because the sheer amount of liquid sweetener needed to bind it together made my gut tangle uneasily. Then the all-knowing internet offered up the suggestion to replace the sweetener with egg white, and the sugary-chewy notes with cheesy-herbal ones. I gave it a whirl, and came away with a cookie sheet full of crisp, fragrant, salty-savory oats and nuts, coated oh-so-delicately with Italian seasoning and Parmesan cheese. The smell alone made my chilly little apartment a little cuddlier and warmer.
Of course, I stuck my paws in as soon as it came out of the oven. At first, there was a shiver of cognitive dissonance, as I teased out the flavors of hazelnut and pecan and almond and oat from the cracker-like seasoning. But it didn’t take long for my brain to register something good, and I was hooked. It’s a little hard to believe how healthy this stuff is, because it tastes like a total cheesy-snack indulgence.
This granola is looser and crumblier than its sweet cousins, making it more like confetti than clusters. I imagine it would be a terrific addition to a cheese board or an hors d’oeuvres spread. It makes a glorious gluten-free alternative to croutons, especially on top of a rich, creamy soup. I haven’t tried it with tomato soup yet, but I expect the clouds will open and beams of light will descend. You could use this instead of seasoned breadcrumbs on top of a gratin or casserole; for breakfast, you could sprinkle it over baked or fried eggs, or mix it with yogurt. And when it comes to out-of-hand nibbling, it might be the best secret office snack in existence. I can slip a jar into a desk drawer, shake out a handful or two of granola in the morning, and go happily for hours without a rumble of hunger. That’s pretty special.
I can’t believe it. This blog is well into its second year, and I haven’t written about onion jam yet.
This is the secret recipe I keep in my (metaphorical) back pocket. It’s my chosen way of winning friends and influencing people. I think I’ve made it for every shindig I’ve hosted for the past two years. My friend Anthony is so smitten with it that he brings a bag of onions every time I invite him to a party.
Onion jam is, well, my jam.
It’s Super Bowl (and Puppy Bowl) season again. And, right on cue, I’m craving a new kind of crunchy snack.
I first discovered crispy chickpeas at a holiday party this past December, and I’ve become just the eensiest bit obsessed with them. When chickpeas are roasted at high temperatures, they turn deep golden and so crisp they shatter between your teeth. They’re lighter than chips, yet meatier and more satisfying. And they’re fiendishly addictive, especially when tossed with a blend of smoky spices and eaten out of hand in front of the TV.
It seems I’ve turned my search for potato chip alternatives into a multi-part series. So let’s call this the Salty Crunch Saga, Part 2.
Once again, we start with leftovers. I had a few handfuls of grated Parmesan left over from making pesto, and not a whole lotta idea how to put it to use. So it just sat in the fridge, for a week, slowly taking on the texture and general appearance of shredded Styrofoam. Finally I pulled the bowl out and resolved to, y’know, do something with it.
I remembered, one time, long ago, some Food Network chef on some Food Network show had mounded grated Parm on a baking sheet and turned it into crackers. Hmmm, I said. I wonder, I said. So I tried it. The result was amazing, crisp and lacy and delicate–and it turns out the Italians have been in on this secret for eons.
Potato chips. Potaaaaaaaaato chips. Potato. Chips. I bet you’re craving them right now.
As far as I’m concerned, the salted deep-fried potato slice is the best evidence we have that evil forces exist in this world. Only a truly diabolical being could have invented something so ludicrously addictive. And they’ve hooked me. I’m a goner. When I’m plunked on the couch, with something inane on the teevee, all I want is a salty crunch traveling in a constant stream from lap to mouth.
But then come the consequences. The raving, gnawing salt-and-starch craving, roaring for more and more and more. Then the crash, the descending gray fog, the heavy eyelids, the sudden and overwhelming need to sink my bloated carcass into the couch cushions and sleep for an eternity. And, eventually, the circumference of my lower half, pushing wider and wider against the waistband of my jeans.
Clearly, something better is in order–something salty, crunchy, compulsion-forming, that won’t send my poor overworked pancreas into screaming fits. And, once again, it’s Mark Bittman to the rescue.
So I don’t care about football. At all. I’ve been known to refer to a certain Sunday as “the Stupid Bowl.” The Puppy Bowl, on the other hand, is a delight in the wasteland of cable TV. My friends say that fuzzy baby animals are my kryptonite, and I can’t really argue. I have a tendency to dissolve into uncontrollable gibberish. It’s pretty disgusting.
The chicken wings I made for yesterday’s Super/Stupid/Puppy Bowl party, however? Not disgusting at all. (See what I did there?)