Parmesan Puff Pastry Twists

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I made these for the baby shower back in September but I think they would also serve as ideal morsels to tempt your guests to the Thanksgiving table.  These are so easy it feels like you’re cheating, and that’s why I love them the most.

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First thing you need to do is thaw a 17oz package of puff pastry in the fridge overnight.  I went with the one that comes in two pre-rolled sheets so that saved me even more time.  Preheat your oven to 400°F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

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Lightly beat up 1 egg and grab yourself a brush.

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Grate up a helluva lot of parmesan cheese.  Like, 1 1/2 cups parmesan.  That took a WHILE.

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Lay the puff pastry out on a work surface (this one comes already wrapped in its own parchment so I just used that) and slice it into 12 strips (you’ll end up with 24 if you use the whole package).

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Brush the strips with egg and then sprinkle with 1 tablespoon poppy or sesame seeds.

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Dredge the strips with grated parmesan (make sure to save half for the other sheet).

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I did another batch with parmesan and Tex-Mex spices and it was goooooood.

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Pick up each strip and twist it before placing it on the parchment for baking.

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The Tex-Mex pastry got too warm and stretched too much so I doubled the twisted strips and that worked out fine.

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Bake your strips for 15 minutes, until puffed and golden brown.  Eat warm or let them cool, but they’re best eaten the day they’re made.

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Smitten with Poppy Seed Lemon Cake

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I had eight egg yolks leftover from a previous recipe and I was originally going to make Momofuku’s crack pie (because the Pie had requested the same).  But then I realized that the recipe makes TWO pies, and I don’t really like the dish itself — it’s just too sweet for me. No way can I work through one of those pies, let alone two.  So I decided to make Smitten Kitchen’s Poppy Seed Lemon Cake instead.  Not to be mistaken for lemon poppy seed cake, this crumbly confection has a mere hint of citrus and a heckuva lot of crunchy seeds.

So if you want to go this route, get to it!  Preheat your oven to 325°F and then generously butter and flour a 8″ fluted Bundt or tube pan.

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Go ahead and butter the dull side of a 10″ piece of tin foil while you’re at it (helpful hint for North American readers, at least: foil comes in 12″ wide rolls, so if you tear off a near-perfect square you should be all right).

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Melt 2 sticks unsalted butter (1 cup, or 1/2lb) and set that aside to cool a bit.

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Scrub 2 large lemons and grate the zest from them.

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Now, in the bowl of your electric mixer, plop 1 whole egg, 8 egg yolks, and 2/3 cup granulated sugar.

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Beat that up on medium-high speed for about 8 minutes (I’m not even joking).  Watch how the mixture transforms to this pale and fluffy amazingness.  Beat in the lemon zest.

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Sift on top of that 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup corn starch, and a pinch of salt.

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Use a rubber spatula to fold that in.  The corn starch will make the spatula catch against the edges of the bowl but you must persist.

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Put the mixer on medium speed and trickle in the butter.

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And then add in 1/2 cup poppy seeds.  I know, it’s a lot of poppy seeds.  Don’t worry, it’s not going to get you high.

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Pour that into your prepared pan.

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Use the buttered tin foil to tightly seal the top of the pan (this keeps the cake from drying out and allows its own steam to make it a little fluffier).

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Bake that sucker for 45 minutes, until the cake begins to pull away from the sides of the pan and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.  Take the foil off and let the pan cool on a wire rack for about 15 minutes.

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Then invert the pan and let the cake fall out.  If you buttered the pan enough this won’t be a problem, but if it sticks, use a butter knife to gently pry it away from the sides of the pan.

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Let the cake cool for at least 30 minutes before serving (or it will fall apart on you).  Dust the top with icing sugar as decoration.

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Now, I didn’t feel right wasting the juice of those 2 lemons, so I heated up the juice, together with about 3 tablespoons of sugar, to make a wee glaze to go on top, to boost the lemony-ness of the cake, for those who were interested.

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I love me some Granola

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My morning meal usually consists of coffee, juice, yogurt, and granola.  Like I could eat that stuff every single day.

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Until now, I’ve been buying our granola, but it’s quite expensive for the amount you get and it’s full of all sorts of weird additives and the like that I don’t really want to put in my system.

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My mother used to make granola for us sometimes when we were kids, so I figured that I could probably do it myself if I tried.  And it’s easy.  And you can use what you’ve got in your cupboards, or what you can scoop up at the bulk food store.  Which means you can customize each batch.

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So preheat your oven to 350°F and get out a large rimmed baking sheet.  I took the precaution of lining mine with parchment paper, so stuff wouldn’t stick.

The majority of granolas start with a base of oats, about 4 cups.  I used four double handfuls, because I measured my tiny hands once and put together that’s about what they hold.  And thus ends my list of measurements for this recipe.  Because you can do whatever you want.  So what else have I got going on here?  In addition to the oats, I have bran, ground flax, shredded coconut, sliced almonds, nutmeg, cinnamon, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, lavender flowers (yes), and then a selection of dried fruits: apricots, mango, and raisins.

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Take all your happy dry ingredients (minus the fruits) and plop them in a bowl.

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Mix ’em up.

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In another bowl, add about 1/2 cup runny honey,

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about 1/2 cup maple syrup,

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and about 1/2 cup melted butter.

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*** EDIT: If you’d like granola that forms clumps (and that’s my favourite kind), whisk 1 or 2 egg whites into a froth and add them to the mixture as well.  The protein in the whites will stick everything together during the baking process.  Just use caution when stirring mid-bake, as the amount you stir will affect the size of the clumps you create. ***

Pour that golden loveliness into the dry mixture and stir until all the dry ingredients are coated.

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Spread that stuff out on your baking sheet and chuck that in the oven for about 40 minutes.

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Make sure to stir with a spatula every 10-15 minutes or so to keep the stuff on the bottom from burning.

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While that’s on the go, get your dried fruit ready. I chopped up the apricots and mango slices a little to make them easier to get on a spoon.

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Remove from the oven and let it cool in the pan, stirring it occasionally to break up the chunks.  The finer grained your ingredients are, and the more sticky wet ingredients you use, the chunkier your granola will be.

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While it’s still a little warm, stir in your dried fruit.

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Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks, and enjoy whenever you want!

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