Granula

Granola is a popular healthy breakfast cereal + snack that has a nuttier history than the pile of pecans and almonds in its recipe. 

Here's a tad bit of granola history: Briefly, granola's roots trace back to the mid 1800s beginning with an American physician and minister named Dr. Sylvester Graham (preaching temperance & nutrition) who created the Graham Cracker. Then Dr. Jackson in 1863 took Dr. Graham’s cracker one step further by grinding up this whole wheat biscuit into smaller pieces then baked it, which became known as “Granula”. Sound familiar? 

That was when Dr. Kellogg’s whole wheat breakfast food was renamed “Granola” because of a pending lawsuit initiated by Dr. Graham regarding his trademark rights to the Granula name. BTW, Dr. Kellogg’s Granola cereal never really caught on commercially. But, in 1898 granola was the inspiration for Charles Post’s Grape Nuts Cereal.  

Not all healthier cereal was Kellogg's inspired though. A similar cereal by the Swiss Dr. Bircher-Benner created the popular Swiss cereal Muesli in the 1900s, after hiking in the Swiss alps. Birchermüsli Complet is still a popular food served especially on hot summer evenings. It's a combo of whole grains with fruits, nuts, topped with some good Swiss cream and yogurt. 

Like Dr. Bircher-Benner’s Muesli, granola is delicious beyond the breakfast table. It is a great midday snack alone, and is also good topped on ice cream. Granola makes a taste baking topper on fresh summer fruits like peaches, just bake as you would a cobbler. Or, simply prepare a fresh berry parfait or Creamy Rice Pudding from George Hirsch Lifestyle TV Series as a more elegant cool summer dessert!

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Today, granola recipes are as varied as our imagination and is so easy to make your own. Start with rolled oats (not quick cooking oats).

Spices may include cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom; orange zest, and crystallized ginger.

Nuts or seeds; may include almonds, cashews, pecans, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds and pecans.

Other additions may include coconut, cranberries, raisins, dates, peanut butter, pure maple syrup, honey or brown sugar. I almost hate to say it  - even chocolate chips. Just use very good quality chocolate.

George's Granola

About 12 servings 

chefgeorgehirsch.com | from George Hirsch Living it UP! cookbook

2 cups rice cereal

2 cups bran cereal

2 cups rolled oats (not quick-cooking or instant)

1 cup raisins or any combination dried fruit

1/2 cup pecans chopped

1/2 cup honey

Optional for flavor: 2 Tablespoons butter, melted 

2 teaspoons cinnamon

Vegetable spray

Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees. 

Spray vegetable spray on a nonstick roasting pan. 

Combine the rice cereal, bran, rolled oats, pecans, cinnamon, melted butter, and honey. 

Bake for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, then remove from the oven. Granola should brown evenly and the browner it becomes, the crunchier and nuttier the granola will taste. Use caution not to burn. Mix in the raisins. Cool completely and store in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator for up to one week. 

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Beacon of Light

Our Nations Beacon of Light, honoring those who serve and have served.

A National Historic Landmark, the Montauk Point Lighthouse is located on the eastern most point on Long Island, New York. It is the oldest lighthouse in New York State. The Second Congress, under President George Washington, authorized the Lighthouse in 1792. Construction began on June 7, 1796 and was completed on November 5, 1796.

About this beacon and military significance. Civilian keepers maintained the lighthouse until World War ll, when the U.S. Army took it over as part of the Eastern Coastal Defense Shield. Adjacent to the lighthouse, Camp Hero was opened by the Army in 1942 and was heavily fortified with huge guns during the war. Those gun emplacements and concrete observation bunkers are still visible as a reminder of our freedom due to the bravery of those who serve.

Never taking for granted the freedom and beauty of American shores, I have been drawn since a child to the Montauk Lighthouse towering structure. Years ago my culinary students won one of many gold medals in culinary competition from the Société Culinaire Philanthropique for an all Long Island theme submission in food and pastry based on local food and geography. Our table stood apart from the competition as the Lighthouse was replicated in pastillage sugar work.

Montauk, A symbol of great fishing, it's beaches and surfing, the Lighthouse has been featured in the open of George Hirsch Lifestyle and several episodes of the TV series as a strong image of Long Island and our place in history. The Montauk Lightouse has been part of Long Island's land and seascape for over 200 years and still serves as an active aid to navigation and a beacon of light to all those who have served. 

Surf Casting off Montauk Point, from George Hirsch Lifestyle TV Series 

Surf Casting off Montauk Point, from George Hirsch Lifestyle TV Series 

More Facts:

- Fourth oldest active lighthouse in the United States

- Foundation is 13'deep and 9' thick

- Constructed of sandstone blocks from Connecticut, 8" high and varying in length from 18" high to 44"

- The walls are 6' thick at the base tapering to 3' thick at the top

- The height of the tower is 110' 6"

- There are 137 iron steps to the top of the tower

- The light flashes every 5 seconds and can be seen a distance of 19 nautical miles

For more information and to visit the National Historic Landmark, the Montauk Point Lighthouse 

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Mussels Provencale

Summer is minutes away, and many will seek fresh light dishes. That and coastal living makes me say “hello seafood.” My rule with cooking seafood is the simpler, the better; as well as believing in keeping it as local as possible. The classical way I learned to cook mussels years ago a la Moules Marinières, or mussels in the style of the sea, synonymous with summers in France. I have prepared many versions versions of this style all with success, key to the recipe is freshness.

These mussels were sourced and cooked within 2 hours of harvest. Walk don’t run! 

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Chef George Hirsch Mussels Provencale

Mussels Provencale

Makes four servings

chefgeorgehirsch.com | George Hirsch Living it UP! TV series and cookbook

2 pounds mussels, cleaned and remove beard

2 Tablespoons olive oil

8 cloves fresh garlic, pealed and chopped 

1/4 sweet white onion, chopped

1 green onion, chopped  

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 cup white wine

1 sprig fresh thyme

3 Tablespoons fresh parsley, washes & chopped 

1 Tablespoon fresh basil, chopped

1 ripe tomato, cut into small pieces 

Preheat a large sauce pot, large enough to hold the mussels. Add olive oil, garlic, onion, and hot pepper flakes. Cook for 1 minute. Add mussels and white wine. Cover pot and cook until mussels open, about 4-5 minutes. Shake pot to mix up mussels.

Remove mussels with a slotted skimmer, leaving all the juice in pot. Add parsley, basil, and tomatoes. Bring mussel juice to a boil and reduce juice by half. 

Caution to not over cook the mussels because they will become dry and rubbery. Remember to discard any that do not open as this indicates that the mussel was dead and will most likely be spoiled.

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George Hirsch Mussels Provencale with Dipping Sauce

Good tip: The jewel in eating mussels is to get the right balance of the mussel meat with the fantastic broth juices that come from cooking the mussels with wine, garlic and herbs. No utensils needed, use the mussel's shell as your spoon. Pick up the freshly steamed mussel in the opened hinged ‘valve’ (the shell). Break the valve in-half, discard one half of the shell. With the second half valve (shell) that now has the mussel meat, dip the half-shell and mussel meat into the warm broth scooping up just the right amount of juice to meat. Now, politely slurp the mussel along with the broth in the same mouthful. Mouth watering. Heaven! Sometimes I see others do a dip using a fork, but they are missing the gold, the broth!

Try this next time you prepare mussels, instead of using a fork and dipping into the broth that will just slide off your mussel meat. What to do with empty shells? I have observed other connoisseurs of mussel eating that includes arranging the eaten empty half valves into unique patterns on plates. 

Simple and ready in minutes. But do yourself a favor, have plenty of good bread on hand to dip and soak up any leftover broth. Summer - here we come!

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