And all I brought back were two bags of Rancho Gordo beans, some chili powder, and a dog-eared (but still precious) Madhur Jaffrey cookbook.
Yes, it's true, Jonathan and I took yet another trip to San Francisco, the city that foodie dreams are made of. And although I only brought back a small smattering of the city's good things to eat, rest assured that while I was there, I did my fair share of sampling and seeking. I savored my favorite Slanted Door salad on two separate occasions, devoured my mandatory loaf of Acme cranberry-walnut, witnessed the making of (and then taste-tested) fresh Cowgirl Creamery cheese, and stopped by the Bi-Rite Creamery for the yummiest, zingiest ginger ice cream imaginable.
Oh, and I also languished in the Sonoma dusk just long enough to enjoy a splendid meal at Estate, and shared my first-ever Zuni roast chicken, preceded by a subtle mint-black lentil soup.
So yes, my fair share indeed. I wish I had some lovely, candid, mouth-full photos to share with you as a San Francisco souvenir, but sometimes eating just has to be about the eating and enjoying, you know what I mean?
But, in addition to my Rancho Gordos, I did bring back a little something to share with you all. Less tangible or crumb-y than, say, an Acme boule, but still worthwhile. On my Saturday jaunt at the Ferry Building farmers market, I sampled one of my favorite non-homemade granolas: Galaxy Granola. They were offering tastes of a new product, little granola clusters (intended for snacking), that were studded with grains of quinoa.
Now, I love quinoa, but I was skeptical. Quinoa granola seemed a bit, well, crunchy. Too crunchy. Like break-your-teeth-from-eating-raw-quinoa crunchy. But I was amazed at how pleasantly-textured this granola was. Crunchy, but in a good way, and with that subtle taste of quinoa, to boot.
All of which is to say that my souvenir is merely the idea - encouragement, even - to add some quinoa to your next batch of homemade granola. Once home - happy to be back, but rather hungry - I gave the quinoa granola thing a try.
I've been tweaking a new granola flavor combination recently, so it seemed fitting to add quinoa to the recipe. This granola takes its inspiration from another breakfast favorite: buttermilk pancakes. Blueberry-buttermilk pancakes, to be precise. With maple syrup.
Now, the ingredients for this granola are a bit out of the ordinary, but really not that hard to come by. The space-ageish freeze-dried blueberries are from Trader Joe's, and buttermilk powder is widely available. And because I am in love with malted barley, I had to add some of that, too. If you can't find it, try brown rice syrup or extra maple syrup. The other ingredients are standards in my pantry, but other nuts/seeds can be substituted.
Pulverized freeze-dried blueberries = blueberry powder
For me, the blueberry powder (which is made by crushing freeze-dried blueberries with a rolling pin) is the best part of this recipe. The granola is surprisingly blueberry-y, and berries are a nice and nutritious way to add some sweetness. And the buttermilk? Yum. Now, I won't say that the quinoa makes a marked difference in the flavor of the granola, but it's a nice textural element, and besides, it's quinoa! What's not to love? Not that I'm keeping track, but this recipe is also chock-full of nutritious stuff: oats, flax, berries, quinoa, pumpkin seeds...
As always, this recipe is only minimally sweetened, so add more maple syrup if you like a sweeter granola.
The gift of granola: what better way to celebrate the world's premier hippie/foodie/earthy-crunchy city? Enjoy!
Why cry over spilled milk when you have fresh granola?
Blueberry Buttermilk Granola (your pancakes will be jealous!)
1 1/2 c. rolled oats (not quick or instant)
1 c. puffed brown rice cereal
1/4 - 1/3 c. sliced almonds and/or pumpkin seeds
3 tbs. quinoa, uncooked
2 tbs. each flaxseed meal and wheat germ (or oat bran)
2 tsp. dried buttermilk powder
generous 1/4 c. freeze-dried blueberries
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/4 c. egg whites (I use pasteurized)
1 tbs. barley malt syrup
1-3 tbs. maple syrup
1 tbs. almond or peanut butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Line a baking sheet with foil, and preheat the oven to 325 F. Mix together oats, pumpkin seeds, nuts, and quinoa, and spread evenly on baking sheet. Toast in the oven for about 10 min., until nuts and pumpkin seeds are just starting to turn golden. Meanwhile, make the blueberry powder. Place freeze-dried berries in a zip-top bag, and use a rolling pin to crush them into a fine powder. In a large bowl, mix together remaining dry ingredients, buttermilk powder, spices, salt, and blueberry powder. Remove oat mixture from oven and incorporate into dry ingredients. In a small bowl, whisk together egg white, sweeteners, nut butter, and vanilla extract. Pour wet mixture into dry ingredients and use a rubber spatula to mix thoroughly, but carefully. All dry ingredients should be evenly coated with wet mixture. Lightly oil the foil-lined baking sheet, and pour granola mixture onto it. Spread evenly and bake in the 325 F oven for about 15 min. After 15 min., check and stir granola, and then continue baking until just crisp and starting to brown slightly, stirring and checking every 5-8 min. (be careful, granola can burn very quickly!). Baking time should be about 25 min., total. Allow to cool fully, then store in an air-tight container in the freezer.