What I’m Reading Today

The latest and greatest from your favorite newspaper food sections.  I’m feeling like these three recipes would make a seriously yummy late summer picnic. 

This post went up on the New York Times site a few days ago.  When I watched Mark Bittman’s video, I was sold.  Homemade Almond Apricot Granola Bars that really could not be any easier.  If you can make old fashioned Rice Krispy treats you can surely make these bars.  No baking involved!  His “glue” to pull together the (brown) rice cereal, almonds, granola, and apricots is melted almond butter and honey.  Clearly this recipe is a base that should inspire tons of variations-peanut butter, agave, dried cherries, raisins, pistachios, pecans, even mini chocolate chips if you want to go there.  In any case, making them yourself will leave you that much more confident about what’s going in the bars and, frankly, they look a whole lot tastier than anything from the store. 

I have a thing for roasted cauliflower.  Steam the stuff and I want nothing to do with it.  But, pop it in a hot oven and roast it until it caramelizes and I could eat it every night.  It’s no surprise I immediately fell for this salad in the LA Times, Curried Cauliflower Salad.  First you toast cashews with a little curry powder and maple syrup (see, you know it’s going to be good!).  Then the cauliflower is given some serious seasoning and roasted in a hot oven.  Add bell pepper, peas, dried apricot, and cilantro plus a very basic vinaigrette and this beauty comes together.  I also love the “refrigerate for a couple of hours” part-not only will it taste better but anything I can make in advance always finds a place in my repertoire.
Puff Pastry is a pantry staple.  You should always have a box in your freezer for go to tarts, both sweet and savory.  Find a good brand that’s made with as few ingredients as possible-preferably butter, flour, and salt.  That supermarket brand you’ve probably been buying for years?  Well, believe it or not it has no butter in it at all!  I’m fairly sure any French pastry chef would be appalled at the use of vegetable shortening instead of butter.  Dufour makes a lovely one and occasionally you can find an all butter version at Trader Joe’s (a great deal when its around).  In any case, if you’ve got some in your freezer, thaw it out, roll it into a rectangle, and use this recipe (from The Seattle Times via Everyday Food) to smother it in tomatoes and goat cheese.  A little grainy mustard and sour cream will be lovely with the sweet tomatoes and I think the tart could be served right out of the oven, pizza style, or cooled to room temperature.  Much like the granola bars, a sheet of puff pastry can become the base for infinite kitchen ideas.  
Happy Reading and Happy Cooking!
  
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