Maple-Pecan Granola and Pluot Jam for Video Filming Crew
I spent an entire day filming a video announcing the new Williams-Sonoma cookbook: Cooking at Home. This volume offers classic recipes, with modern flavor twists, and is packed with helpful cooking tips. It features over 1000 recipes, including many dishes from the 5 Williams-Sonoma books I have written.
The filming took place in my kitchen, and the crew of 7 people began arriving in the early morning. I am not capable of welcoming people into my home without serving good food, so I laid out a nourishing breakfast that I had designed during the week. Video preparations were demanding, leaving little time to devote to the meal; the breakfast was easy, partially homemade, and entirely delicious.
To get ready, I headed straight to Harry’s Berries at the Wednesday Santa Monica Farmers’ Market, for tender, sweet Gaviota Strawberries. I then picked up supple mission figs. When I got home, I mixed sugar, cardamom and fresh lemon juice into chunks of organic yellow pluots, and let them macerate overnight.
The next evening, I baked a big batch of the crunchy maple-pecan granola Steve eats most mornings, and stored it in a glass cookie jar that is pretty enough for the breakfast table. While the cereal baked, the pluot mixture boiled until it turned into an old fashioned jam. This creation was inspired by an easy to follow formula in The Art of Preserving, a new book by Rick Field, Rebecca Courchesne and Lisa Atwood. I reduced the lemon juice called for in the recipe to ¼ cup, to allow the fruit flavor to star; and added a rounded ¼ teaspoon of freshly crushed cardamom seeds, for an alluring accent.
After a dawn Nordic walk through our neighborhood on Saturday, we put out the granola, berries, figs, and jam plus yogurt, milk, toast, and butter. Steve made a pot of coffee, and all was ready when the makeup and hair artist arrived at 7:30. The video art director snagged the bowl of figs to use as a prop, but the remainder of the breakfast provided a satisfying start to our 12 hour day.
Vermont maple syrup, fresh pecans, and a generous amount of pure vanilla make this crunchy cereal a favorite in my house. It is not rich or overly sweet, and it is so easy, the ingredients can be combined in the time it takes the oven to heat. For variations, I like to replace the pecans with walnuts or hazelnuts, and use 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg instead of the cinnamon.
Makes about 5 cups
4 cups (1 pound) gluten-free oats
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
1/3 cup (packed) brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1/3 cup maple syrup (preferably grade B, for richer flavor)
1/3 cup canola oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 300°F. Combine the oats, pecans, sugar, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl and mix well. Add the syrup, oil, and vanilla and stir to mix well.Transfer the oat mixture to a heavy large rimmed baking sheet.
Bake the granola until fragrant and toasted, about 1 hour. Stir well, and then cool completely. Store in an airtight container.
Pluot Cardamom Jam
This jewel tone jam was inspired by the Plum Jam recipe on page 36 of The Art of Preserving, by Rick Field, Rebecca Courchesne, and Lisa Atwood. I cooked a batch of plum jam, following the recipe in the book; the results were beautiful and tasty, but the lemon overpowered the delicate fruit flavors. When I made this version with organic yellow pluots, I reduced the lemon juice slightly, and added freshly crushed cardamom.
To make the jam during a busy week, I divided the procedure into two steps: I cut the fruit and mixed it with the sugar and cardamom one evening, and then boiled the mixture into a scrumptious preserve the next night. I spooned the jam into hot jars, but left out processing them in a water bath, to save time and mess. When prepared this way, store the condiment in the refrigerator, or serve right away.
Makes about 5 cups
3 pounds pluots or plums, halved, pitted, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 cups organic sugar
¼ teaspoon (rounded) coarsely crushed or ground cardamom seeds
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
5 8-ounce canning jars, washed
Combine the fruit, sugar and cardamom in a large nonmetal bowl. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Or, cover and refrigerate overnight.
Place 2 small plates in the freezer
Transfer the fruit mixture to a large, deep, nonaluminum saucepan. Add the lemon juice. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently until the sugar dissolves completely. Reduce the heat to medium and cook uncovered 25 minutes, stirring frequently.
Meanwhile, pour boiling water into the canning jars to heat.
Remove the pan from the heat, spoon 1 teaspoon jam onto one of the chilled plates and return to the freezer for 2 minutes. Nudge the jam gently with a finger; it is ready if it wrinkles. If it does not wrinkle, continue to cook the jam 5 minutes longer, remove from the heat and test again. When the jam tests done, remove the pan from the heat, and skim any foam from the surface. Drain and dry the jars and ladle the hot jam into the jars. Cover and let cool to room temperature. Store in the refrigerator.