What I'm cooking this weekend

I love reading cookbooks and cooking magazines. Given my way I'd have a whole library in my home dedicated to cookbooks and a big comfy chair where I could spend hours reading. The Internet has also expanded my horizons. Just the mere thought of a dish, maybe a few ingredients and I can set off on a search and pull back any number of possibilities.

And what's absolutely the best is having foodie friends who share recipes. Just such a friend recently shared a recipe with a comment that simply stated, "This is the best granola we've ever had..." He was talking about a recipe that appeared on NYTimes.com for Olive Oil Granola with Dried Apricots and Pistachios. The comment from my friend was enough to make me want to try it out but the title of the recipe was intriguing too. After reading the accompanying article, I was hooked. Of course I substituted a few of the ingredients - I had to put my own personal stamp on it. Instead of apricots and pistachios I used dried cranberries and sliced almonds. A couple of my friends had difficulty finding coconut chips and resorted to breaking open fresh coconuts and using the food processor to break down the meat (being lazy I would have left it out). I was able to find unsweetened, organic coconut chips in the baking aisle of my local Whole Foods. I also discovered that I didn't have ground cardamom and ended up breaking open cardamom pods (I have them on hand for Indian dishes) and grinding up the little seeds in my mortar and pestle. As a result I think this batch has a more intense cardamom flavor but I love it. It's a great recipe and I have to agree with my friend, this is the best granola I've ever had.

The other recipe I made was Tangy Frozen Greek Yogurt (this recipe courtesy of the Internet). Now I'm not one to buy many appliances that have limited use, especially given my limited storage options. Somehow I was convinced to purchase an ice cream maker and now I feel compelled to use it. Thus far I've only made lemon sorbet so I felt the need to expand my repertoire. Again, I did some substitutions and I'm not sure they were the correct decisions. Instead of full-fat yogurt I used fat-free. I also didn't have corn syrup on hand so I used honey - yogurt and honey seemed like a classic combination. And finally I ended up using lime instead of lemon juice because that's all I had in the fruit bin. I just finished making the batch in the machine and now it's firming up in the freezer. The texture seems fine but the honey is definitely overwhelming - I like it but it's just a little too much. The next time I make it I will use half honey/half corn syrup and probably keep the lime because it goes well with the honey.

Well, it's Saturday morning and I still have a weekend open to try more things. The possibilities include watermelon sorbet, zucchini whoopie pies, ratatouille, or maybe some kind of summer vegetable gratin. As Jacques would say, "Happy Cooking!"

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