Towpath's Oatmeal with Walnuts, Butter and Demerara Sugar

Towpath's Oatmeal with Walnuts and Butter

A few years ago, I made an orange-scented Tuscan olive oil cake that I loved so much, simple yet perfect. The recipe came from Towpath, the seasonal East London cafe owned by Lori De Mori and Laura Jackson, and was included in The London Cookbook by Aleksandra Crapanzano. I'd heard about Towpath from Rachel and Brian and various other discerning people over the years, but without having ever been there myself, I just thought it was a cafe with nice food in London. Not much mystery there.

Well, in the meantime, Lori and Laura published their own cookbook, Towpath: Recipes and Stories, and I was sent a copy by their publisher Chelsea Green in the fall. Upon reading the book, it's safe to say that I was wrong to think of Towpath as just a café with nice food in London. The book makes clear that Towpath is more than that; it is a family, an institution, a state of mind. Idiosyncratic, personal, completely unique. My travel fantasies have taken on baroque proportions over the past 12 months (whose haven't, I ask you?), but I'm particularly fond of the one in which we travel around the United Kingdom, alternating between exploring small towns and cities and hiking in vast tracts of wild countryside, and a stop at Towpath features centrally in this fantasy.

The Towpath cookbook is organized by month, because Towpath closes from November until March (usually) and because the kitchen's cooking hews so closely to the seasons. The book's recipes toggle between restaurant-y dishes with various components (though always appealingly rustic and largely approachable) and simple meals doable for any level of home cook. It skews Italian (Lori De Mori has a home in Tuscany), but with lots of other Mediterranean influences and the kinds of "new English" flavors that have become a hallmark of recipes from England over the past 20 years. In between the recipes are little essays about the restaurant itself and its quirky community of revolving employees and ever-loyal patrons. For anyone who's ever dreamed of opening a cafe or restaurant that is an extension of their home, Towpath is that dream come to life.

I've made lots of things from the pages of the book, including a Tuscan beef stew (peposo) and a Neapolitan sausage ragù, and I've so many earmarked things to get to (including pickled radicchio with toasted breadcrumbs and mozzarella, which sounds like the summer dinner of my dreams), but funnily enough, the recipe that has had the most effect on me is one of the simplest things in the book. It's barely a recipe, more an idea, the oatmeal (porridge, here) with walnuts and butter and raw sugar.

It's the first recipe in the book, for March, when Towpath opens again after a long winter break. It's been on their menu since the beginning. I know it seems prosaic, but for me, the recipe unlocked the potential of eating oatmeal, transforming it from something dutiful and humdrum into something I crave. (Oatmeal!)

Towpath uses pinhead oats, while I stick with rolled oats. They cook them with milk, I cook them with water. But the oats, either way, are salted, then topped with toasted walnuts, a lump of butter (my American grandmother buttered her oatmeal, so I love this touch) and a sprinkle of raw (demerara) sugar. The interplay of textures, from the creamy oats to the toasty, velvety walnuts to the sparkly crunch of the raw sugar that keeps its integrity as you eat, is a delight. The balance of sweetness and saltiness with the homey oats, rich butter and earthy walnuts is, too. I love this breakfast and the ritual of making it (scooping out a spoonful of soft butter, cracking the walnuts with satisfaction, the final scattering of the coarse-grained and glittering sugar).

Now, when I think of oatmeal for breakfast, it is Towpath's way and only Towpath's way; you can keep your berries and milk, your cinnamon and apples, your chia seeds and maple syrup. It's walnuts, butter and raw sugar forever for me.

Note: This post includes affiliate links and I may earn a commission if you purchase through them, at no cost to you. I use affiliate links only for products I love and companies I trust. Thank you.

Oatmeal with Butter, Walnuts and Demerara Sugar
Adapted from Towpath: Recipes and Stories
Serves 1
Print this recipe!

1/3 - 1/2 cup rolled oats (depending on how hungry you are)
Pinch of salt
5 - 8 walnuts (depending on how hungry you are)
1 to 2 teaspoons salted or unsalted butter
2 teaspoons raw (demerara) sugar

1. Place the oats in a small sauce pan with twice as much water. Add the salt. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring, until the oatmeal is the consistency you like. Scrape into a serving bowl.

2. Crack the walnuts and crumble them with your fingers over the oatmeal. Top with the butter and sugar.

3. Eat. The recipe is easily doubled, tripled or quadrupled.

Genevieve Ko's Whole-Grain Banana Yogurt Muffins

Genevieve Ko's Whole-Grain Banana Yogurt Muffins

I would like to paint a quick picture for you. I am sitting at my computer which is set up on our dining table in our dining room. I call it our dining room because there's a big table that seats many people in it and if we host a party or special dinner or have people over for tea, that's where we go. But it's also my work space. And obviously, we haven't hosted anyone in quite a long time, so the dining table has turned into a repository of my work, the ubiquitous tangle of tech wires and bills overlapping with Hugo's loose leaf papers and school folders, since this is also where he ends up when school is online. Today, in this second week of Easter vacation, Hugo has a friend over and while the three boys dutifully played in the boys' room all morning, they migrated here sometime around lunch. Now, as I sit here, the sounds of fierce battles of the lionhearted knights in their carefully constructed forts reverberating all around me, I am trying to compose this post.

I often think about what I'll miss when the children are grown. I anticipate the heartache I'll feel about not having their soft, floppy limbs and sweet milky cheeks and their delicate voices around anymore, but I also find myself wondering about which things I won't miss. Will there be things I won't miss? It's hard to imagine. (Actually, wait, cleaning bottoms, that I will not miss.) Even now, when I'm trying to work and I can barely think straight, it thrills me to hear them playing, so engrossed in their world, the little snippets of phrase that are directly lifted from our own conversations. It makes me happy to listen to them, to think that they chose this room in order to be close to me, that they still are so unselfconscious and free to lose themselves in their role playing, the way their manners, that we spend so much time drilling into them and often despair over, do reliably rise to the surface when a friend is there and they suddenly know how to be generous and kind and polite without any prodding.

But, just to be clear, writing these two paragraphs has taken me over almost two hours. Every time a thought comes to me, it competes with the noise and the noise usually wins. It's all fine and good to wax poetic about the joys of small children, but when it comes to writing and finding the space and silence I need to write things more involved than a blog post, I am usually at the end of my rope. Yesterday, Max took the children to his parents' for the day and I spent hours (hours!) working on my novel and it felt so good, so deeply, satisfyingly good. Will I, one day, when they are grown, miss the way they kept me from the work I wanted so desperately to do? I like to think I won't, but I am a sentimental goon and I can very much see myself weeping over precisely this one day in the far-off future. Motherhood is a kick in the pants, isn't it.

But enough about me. Let's get to the muffins before any more time goes by. These muffins! I love them so. They are so very...muffin-y. You know how most muffins are basically just cupcakes? These muffins are muffins. They're wholesome and not too sweet (well, the way I make them, at least) and they use up overripe bananas and they're very nice made with regular whole-wheat flour and they're very nice made with a GF blend. The yogurt, honey and oil make them incredibly moist and tender, with only a faint tanginess. The recipe comes from Genevieve Ko, talented recipe developer, my old Forest Hills neighbor, and newly made senior editor at the New York Times Food section. Hooray!

In the photo above, I used only coconut to sprinkle them with, but usually I'll do a mix of black sesame seeds on some, pumpkin seeds on others, and coconut on the remaining ones and the combination of variously topped muffins on the serving platter at breakfast is so very pretty. I've been making these muffins for a few years now and they never fail to deliver. The original recipe calls for twice as much sugar as I use. With less sugar, the flavors of the other ingredients come through more and I think it makes the muffins taste better.

The two older boys have left for the playground now, and the little one is left behind. He's working on the castle they abandoned and he is very focused, his lower lip pushed out in concentration, sitting in the pool of sunlight that is cast over the sprawl of toys. It is quiet once again, for a moment or two. I can feel the détente within myself. How long will it last? It's not a question to ask or answer now, when every second counts.

Whole-Grain Banana Yogurt Muffins
Makes 12 muffins
Note: To make these gluten-free, replace the whole-wheat flour with 75 grams oat flour, 50 grams of sorghum flour and 25 grams of all-purpose gluten-free flour.
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1 1/4 cups/150 grams whole-wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (from about 2 large bananas)
1/2 cup/120 milliliters plain whole-milk yogurt
1 large egg
1/3 cup/65 grams light brown sugar
1/4 cup/60 milliliters neutral oil, like sunflower or canola
1/4 cup/60 milliliters honey
Rolled oats, seeds, chopped nuts or grated coconut, for sprinkling (optional)

1. Heat oven to 375°F/190°C. Line a 12-cup standard muffin tin with paper liners or generously grease (with nonstick cooking spray or butter).

2. In a large bowl, whisk the flour(s), baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk the bananas, yogurt, egg, brown sugar, oil and honey until just smooth.

3. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and gently stir just until no streaks of flour remain. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups. Sprinkle on toppings if you’d like.

4. Bake until a toothpick inserted into a center muffin comes out clean, 20 to 23 minutes.

5. Cool in the tin on a rack for 5 minutes, unmold and cool completely or serve warm.

Aachener Poschweck


Joanie's beautiful Easter wreath, taken one Easter Sunday years ago when we were at her house for breakfast. The table was set with boiled eggs and tea, a sweet yeasted bread crafted into the shape of a proud rooster and plenty of sweet butter and homemade jams to spread on. The sweet sunshine filtered into her living room, casting lines of shadows against the portrait of her mother. It was such a nice morning.

This year, it's hard to work up the enthusiasm to celebrate a time of rebirth and new beginnings. Our circumscribed days are growing ever more so. We were warned these would be the hardest months and that has, so far, turned out to be true, at least for me. The days crawl by, not like last spring, when the one saving grace amidst all the fear and uncertainty was the speed with which the days were finished. This time around, the children are at each others' throats, the adults are tired and worn out, and a sentiment akin to hopelessness is settling into the cracks. But sometimes traditions are there if only to hold onto, white-knuckled, in a bid to spread some semblance of normality.

Today is Maundy Thursday, also known as Gründonnerstag in Germany. You're supposed to eat green things today, boiled potatoes with herb sauce, for example, or the Grüner Kuchen in Classic German Baking, a hearty, savory dish of yeasted dough topped with bacon, parsley and scallions.

On Easter Sunday, Germans celebrate with beautiful breakfast tables, usually starring a sweet yeasted bread of some kind, plaited into a wreath. (Joanie's animal sculptures are one of a kind.) If you want to make something special for your Easter Sunday breakfast, you could make the Rosinenzopf in Classic German Baking and either leave it as a regular loaf or roll the dough pieces slightly longer, then craft a braided wreath out of the dough instead (make a long braid, then form into a circle and weave the ends together, before brushing the whole thing with an egg wash.) If you have large bunny cookie cutters, you can skip the wreath and make individual sweet bunnies. Take the Rosinenzopf dough, but leave out the raisins, and roll out the dough to a rectangle that's about an inch thick. Use the cutter to cut out bunnies, transfer them to a prepared baking sheet, brush them with egg wash, decorate them with pearl sugar and raisins and then bake up into these golden delights.

Easter bunny

And if you're feeling like either of those ideas isn't quite "EASTER!" enough for you, let me suggest the fantastic Aachener Poschweck, a sweet loaf from Aachen that has been made for Easter since medieval times. It's a sweet enriched dough, but you don't just add raisins, you also add chopped almonds and sugar cubes. The cubes, in the heat of the oven, sort of melt into these crusty little geodes which are a delight to find in your slice, and also a delight to eat. The loaf is quite an impressive one to serve at an Easter breakfast, and should be thickly sliced and served with butter and jam or honey. (It can also be eaten as is...) The interplay of rich yeasted dough and crunchy bits of sugar is reminiscent of waffles from Liège (which is just 40 miles away from Aachen).

Aachener Poschweck

If you can find fresh yeast, this is the time to use it - it will give your Poschweck the puff power it needs and an exceptionally fluffy, flavorful crumb. (Instant yeast will be fine, your loaf will just be slightly less exuberant, let's say.)

I'll be taking a little break from blogging for the long Easter weekend. I hope you are all hanging in there in one way or another. I'll see you back here next week.

Note: This post includes affiliate links and I may earn a commission if you purchase through them, at no cost to you. I use affiliate links only for products I love and companies I trust. Thank you.

Aachener Poschweck
Makes one 11-inch/28-centimeter loaf

For the loaf:
3/4 cup (100 g) chopped, blanched almonds
1 1/2 ounces (42 g) fresh yeast, or 2 teaspoons instant yeast
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 cup (240 ml) whole milk, lukewarm

4 cups (500 g) all-purpose flour, scooped and leveled, plus more for kneading
11 tablespoons (150 g) unsalted high-fat, European-style butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 egg yolks
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (140 g) raisins
1 cup (125 g) sugar cubes

For the egg wash:
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 teaspoons whole milk

1. Place the chopped almonds in a dry skillet and toast over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until pale golden and fragrant, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

2. Crumble the yeast into a medium bowl and add the sugar. Whisk in the milk until the yeast dissolves. Cover the bowl with a dishcloth and set aside for 15 minutes. If using instant yeast, skip this step and simply add the yeast to the flour and other ingredients in the next step.

3. Place the flour in a large mixing bowl and make a well in the middle. Cube the butter and place in the well. Add the vanilla extract to the yeast mixture and pour and scrape it all into the well. Before mixing, add the egg yolks and the salt. Using your hands, mix everything together and knead in the bowl until the dough comes together. Then scrape out onto a lightly floured surface and continue to knead, adding flour only if necessary, until the dough is smooth, 3 to 5 minutes more. You want the dough to remain as light and floppy as possible, so resist the urge to add additional flour, unless absolutely necessary, for example if the dough still is sticky after several minutes of kneading. The more you knead, the less sticky the dough should become. At the end of kneading, the dough should no longer be sticky. Form into a ball and set aside on the work surface to relax for a few minutes.

4. Gently roll out the dough until it is about an inch thick. Place the raisins, toasted almonds, and sugar cubes on the surface of the dough. Gather the dough up and around the fillings and knead them in until well distributed throughout the dough. This will be unwieldy at first, but as you keep going, the dough will start to come together again. Form the dough into a ball and put back into the mixing bowl. Cover with the dishcloth and place in a warm, draft-free spot for 1 hour.

5. After 1 hour, preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Gently push down the dough to knead through once, and then shape into a 9-inch-/23-centimeter-long loaf that is about 5 inches wide in the middle. Place on the baking sheet.

6. To make the egg wash: Whisk the egg yolk with the sugar in a small bowl. Whisk in the milk. Brush the loaf evenly all over with the egg wash. Using a very sharp (ideally serrated) knife, slash the top of the loaf three times diagonally. Set aside in a warm, draft-free spot for 15 minutes.

7. Bake for 45 minutes, or until the Poschweck is a rich, deep golden-brown and sounds hollow when tapped. Place the sheet on a rack and let the loaf cool completely before serving in thick slices. The bread is best eaten the day it is made, but leftovers can be lightly toasted for a very special next-day breakfast.

Elise Bauer's Blueberry Buckwheat Pancakes

Blueberry Buckwheat Pancakes

Ever since Hugo was born, I've been trying to find my pancake recipe. You know, the kind of pancake you can make every week and never tire of, the one that turns out consistently every time, the one that pleases everyone at your table? I've cooked my way through countless recipes, from blogs and books and newspaper clippings, and found a few gems along the way, sure, but they were never quite right as an evergreen.

I also discovered a few things about myself. For example, I am not, nor will I ever be, the kind of person who will willingly separate and beat egg whites for pancakes on a Sunday morning! Turns out light-as-air pancakes aren't as important to me as being able to mix a batter quickly, while there are still cobwebs in my eyes, and my hangry children are banging their forks against the table. As long as the pancakes turn out tender and fluffy, that's plenty good for me.

Also, apparently buckwheat is a non-negotiable factor in my pancakes! I've tried whole wheat, cornmeal, oat flour and ground nuts in my batter. And you know what, they're all fine. But to me, nothing beats the hearty, old-fashioned flavor of a buckwheat pancake. (To be accurate, I actually use a blend of buckwheat and all-purpose flour - or gluten-free all-purpose - because the children like it best, but who knows, some day, when they're older, I'll try to slide a 100% buckwheat pancake past them. I'll let you know how it goes.)

Mix-ins? For me, nothing beats a blueberry. Frozen or fresh, it doesn't matter, though I love the marbled swirls that frozen berries give the batter.

Finally, while we're all bullied into thinking that buttermilk is best for pancakes, it turns out that in these pancakes, a mixture of three quarters yogurt and a quarter milk makes for the thickest, most tender pancakes.

Now. Pancakes, like all food, are personal! These are the conditions of my favorite pancake, but yours may look different. If that is the case, ignore this post and peace be with you! But if you are still on the hunt for your favorite weekly pancake, may I humbly suggest you try this one? I first found the recipe on Simply Recipes a long time ago, fiddled with the recipe until it produced the pancakes I liked best, and then committed it to the side of my fridge, where it still lives today.

We make these nearly every week. They're nicely balanced and tender, not too sweet, so they don't give you that slightly sweaty, sick feeling that other pancakes can, and delicious in a little pool of maple syrup. I fork them hot from the pan onto everyone's plates and keep cooking while the others dig in. The children love them, as do we.

Maybe you will too.

Blueberry Buckwheat Pancakes (optionally gluten-free)
Serves 4 (about 14 pancakes)
Print this recipe!

3 tablespoons (43 grams) unsalted butter
3/4 cup (100 grams) buckwheat flour
3/4 cup (100 grams) all-purpose flour or all-purpose gluten-free flour blend
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 egg
1 1/2 cups (350 grams) whole-milk yogurt
1/2 cup (150 grams) whole milk
Generous handful frozen blueberries (fresh, if you have them)
Vegetable oil for coating the pan
Butter, for serving (optional)
Maple syrup for serving

1. Melt the butter and set aside to cool slightly.

2. In one bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar, salt and baking soda. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, yogurt, milk and melted butter.

3. Whisk the liquid mixture into the dry ingredients until just combined. Do not overbeat. Gently fold in the blueberries.

4. Place a nonstick skillet over a medium-high flame. Put a drizzle of oil on the pan and spread it around evenly with a paper towel. Ladle the batter into the hot skillet to create about 3 5-inch pancakes. Reduce the heat slightly. Cook for 2-3 minutes, until air bubbles appear on the surface on the pancake. Flip and cook the other side until done, another 1 to 2 minutes. Repeat with more oil, if needed, and the remaining batter.

5. Serve the pancakes as they come off the pan, or keep them warm in the oven until ready to serve, topped with butter (if desired) and maple syrup.

Catherine Newman's Ricotta and Spinach Frittatine


Here's a funny-well-not-really anecdote for you:

Our morning routine is very rushed. Hugo has to be up by 6:10 at the latest to have enough time to get dressed, eat breakfast, brush his teeth and get out the door (with shoes, jacket and scarf on, preferably) by 6:55 to catch the school bus. While the boys have their breakfast, their dad's showering and getting dressed (he has to leave at the same time Hugo does and has a nearly 2-hour commute each way), I'm chatting with them, packing Hugo's snack box and pounding down some kind of hot drink to keep from falling over.

Hugo's favorite weekday breakfast are toasted English muffins with peanut butter and jam. We don't always have English muffins around, and on those days, he's happy enough to settle for whatever bread we do have (it's usually some kind of dark German rye thing), as long as it's spread with PB & J. (Occasionally, he will decide it's butter instead of PB that he wants. That is fine!) Bruno's favorite breakfast is oatmeal with frozen blueberries. That child will plow through an adult portion first thing, then basically refuse to eat more than a bite of this and that at lunch and dinner. Small mercies.

Now, this morning, since there were no English muffins, I decided to make oatmeal for both boys. I do have to grudgingly admit that I sort of had an inkling (oh, ho ho ho) there was going to be some kind of pushback (ha ha haaa), so I pumped up the oatmeal with chopped apples and cinnamon and brown sugar (which I usually never add), added frozen blueberries for good measure, even drizzled the top with maple syrup. All their favorite things! What lucky boys! They were definitely going to gobble this up, weren't they? I ignored my misgivings, dished it up, place the bowls on the table and...then...

Both children contemplated their breakfast. Hugo made a face and asked me where his English muffin was. "There are none. This is your breakfast today!" I grinned in what I hoped was an encouraging way, but I suspect was slightly more maniacal. Who knows; I was still feeling pretty chipper in that moment. You know, pride cometh before a fall and all that. I mean, Hugo used to love oatmeal with blueberries, just like his baby brother! Two years ago, yeah, but still! What could go wrong?

He took a tentative bite, while Bruno dug in briefly. Then Hugo put down his spoon and refused to eat anymore. Bruno watched and followed suit. And then my head exploded. Parenthood! Ain't it a kick in the head?


The reason I'm telling you this is because I feel like the recipe I actually want to share today is exactly the same kind of thing as that lovely oatmeal: on the face of it absolutely harmless and tasty, yet still a total minefield waiting to happen. Nevertheless, I promise you that you will want these little ricotta-spinach frittatine for your back pocket. Even if your crazy children won't eat them, YOU will. And you can bring them to any school buffet, bake sale, book club potluck, WHATEVER, and they'll be the first thing eaten and grown-ups will pester you for the recipe. Ask me how I know.

The recipe comes from my beloved Catherine Newman, who writes a column about low-carb recipes for, which is a website for people with diabetes, which I do not have, but Catherine's recipes are always very good and also family-friendly so I follow her everywhere she goes and cook almost anything she tells me to. Especially these mini cheese-and-vegetable frittatine.

The frittatine are made with eggs, a lot of grated cheese, ricotta and some vegetables and herbs. I've used spinach and broccoli, both to rave reviews. I've used grated Cheddar and grated Gouda, both to rave reviews. What I'm trying to say is that they are very flexible things. They're easy to make, bake up cute in muffin tins and store well in the fridge. I love how portable they are and how much flavor is packed into each little round. I use less ricotta and cheese than Catherine does, but to no ill-effect. These are versatile and easy and I love them, yes, I do.

The first time I made them, they were for a school buffet, but I gave the first two to Hugo and Bruno to see if they liked them. I was pretty sure they would! Spoiler alert: They did not. Fair enough. Luckily, I thought they were scrumptious. And at the school buffet, they were gone in minutes. Vindication! A pathetic one, but still. My sense is that if your children like cheese and scrambled eggs, there's a good chance they'll like them. But they might not. In that case, try to be better than me and just appreciate the fact that you now have a batch of delicious cheesy vegetable egg bites for your breakfast all week.

Off to buy more English muffins, maybe two packages, now.

Catherine Newman's Ricotta and Spinach Frittatine
Makes 12 mini frittatine
Adapted from

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
3 eggs
250 grams (8.8 ounces) whole-milk ricotta
1 heaping cup grated cheddar, gouda or mozzarella
1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan
3 cups chopped baby spinach (around 6 ounces) or equal amount of steamed, chopped broccoli or frozen spinach
1-2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh herbs (like parsley, chives, basil or a lesser amount of thyme or marjoram)
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Black pepper

1. Heat the oven to 350 and grease the 12 wells of a standard muffin tin.

2. Heat the oil in a small skillet over medium heat and sauté the onion until soft and browning, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic, cook another minute, then add the spinach and cook until just wilted, about 1 minute.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, then add the cheeses and stir. Add the vegetables, the herbs, and the salt and pepper, and stir well.

4. Divide the mixture in the muffin cups and bake 15-20 minutes until puffed, deeply golden, and set. Eat right away or refrigerate.

Alison Roman's Savory Granola


Tap, tap, tap. Clears throat.

Hi! Happy new year! What's new with you?

How's that for sidling back here after 6 months of radio silence? Smooth, right?

So here's where I've been...right here! Trying to get Hugo to practice the piano. Making sure Bruno doesn't electrocute himself since he has a predilection for sucking on electrical cables plugged into sockets. Up to my eyeballs in baby life and parental leave - Max took two months off this summer so we hightailed it to my mother in Italy - and school-kid life, because Hugo started school in September. It's been very busy and satisfying and all-encompassing and wonderful. And Bruno is the sweetest little angel baby, all smiles and soft skin and cuddles. Having him around just feels so good. Next week he turns one and I am totally gutted. Time rolls on and breaks our hearts...


Also practicing the piano!

But you are here for recipes, not for a mother bellyaching about her baby growing up, so let me tell you about this most wondrous discovery I made all the way back in October (but is still going strong in January, locked up in a nice, airtight jar in my pantry): Alison Roman's savory granola, found in the pages of her first cookbook, Dining In (currently, everyone is all in on her chocolate chunk shortbread recipe, which, it being January, just makes me so happy. Piss off, green smoothie cult!).

Try as I might, regular granola, no matter how many seeds or how much olive oil gets thrown in there, just isn't my thing. It's too sweet for breakfast, too rich to start the day. I want to like it and God knows there are enough enticing recipes online to satisfy almost every single person on this planet, and yet it's just...not what I want to eat. Savory granola, though, is a whole other barrel of fish. Salty, spicy and kind of weird, it's kind of brilliant. Alison packs her recipe full of fennel seeds and Aleppo pepper and nigella seeds (kalonji, my favorite word!) and soy sauce and buckwheat groats, for crying out loud. It's nutty and spicy and crunchy, keeps for far longer than the recipe indicates, and tastes fantastic when layered as follows:

Chopped cherry tomatoes and peeled cucumbers, well-salted and generously soaked in really good olive oil; super-creamy plain yogurt (full-fat is the only way to go, folks, but not Greek, at least not for me), then some generous handfuls of savory granola. You want the tomato-cuke juices to pool at the bottom of the bowl with the olive oil, so that each bite is sort of saucy, creamy, and crunchy at the same time. Err on the side of more olive oil in this breakfast bowl, not less.

And for the umpteenth time, let us all give thanks that botanists developed cherry tomatoes to be delicious at all times of the year so that this nice little breakfast can also be enjoyed in the depths of winter. Thank you, science!

The awful thing about not blogging for so long, besides making me feel wracked with guilt and weirdly lazy, is that it makes it extra hard to get back into the saddle again. But I have missed you all very much and I just wanted to say thanks to all those who kept checking in and welcome to all those who found their way here while I was off changing diapers and sleep-training. You're all great. Can't wait to fire this place up again this year.

Note: This post includes an affiliate link and I may earn a commission if you purchase through it, at no cost to you. I use affiliate links only for products I love and companies I trust. Thank you.

Alison Roman's Savory Granola
Adapted from Dining In

1½ cups rolled oats
1 cup raw sunflower seeds
1 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1 cup buckwheat groats
½ cup flaxseeds
½ cup black or white sesame seeds
¼ cup nigella seed (if unavailable, use more black or white sesame seeds)
3 large egg whites
⅓ cup olive oil, peanut oil, or grapeseed oil
¼ cup maple syrup
¼ cup caraway or fennel seed
1-2 tablespoons Aleppo pepper
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 325°F/160°C. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Combine the oats, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, buckwheat, flaxseeds, sesame seeds, nigella seed, egg whites, oil, maple syrup, caraway seed, Aleppo pepper, soy sauce, and salt in a medium bowl and toss to mix until everything is evenly coated. Season with plenty of black pepper.

3. Spread the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet and bake, stirring every 15 minutes or so, until everything is golden brown and toasty, 45 to 55 minutes. Let cool completely and break any large clumps into smaller pieces before storing in glass jars or Ziploc bags. Will keep for at least a month.

Melissa Clark's Excellent White Bread


Omg omg omg, you guys, the baby's down. Asleep. In the bedroom. In the middle of the day! WHAT. I know!

I should go shower. But instead I will blog. It's like the good old days! Who knows how long I've got, ten minutes? 30? An hour? I've got the William Tell Overture blaring in my sleep-deprived brain and the computer open, so let's do this thing. Here goes!

So I made more bread. It seems to be the theme of the month! This time, it's Melissa Clark's recipe for Excellent White Bread. And it is indeed Excellent with a capital E. Totally, majestically excellent. I mean, check out that loaf up there! It's like Moby Dick sailing through my kitchen, or something.

It makes fantastic toast - all crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. It makes very decadent grilled cheese sandwiches. And I used it for baked French toast on the weekend and it was stupendous in that too. (Tangent: Want to impress Europeans? Make baked French toast. I don't know why, but every time I make it for guests, be they German, French, Belgian or Italian, their minds are blown. It's very neat. Maybe it's also the maple syrup? I don't know. Who cares! DO IT.)


If you are a novice to bread-making, let this recipe be your gateway drug. It is so easy and so foolproof. And I made it even more so with instant yeast (see this post, see this cookbook, yadda yadda). The original recipe calls for 1/3 cup of sugar, but this makes the bread too sweet for sandwiches (though it's pretty great for French toast). If you want a nice, neutral loaf of sandwich bread (or "toast bread", as the Germans call it), two tablespoons of sugar is plenty to give the bread a little oomph, but not too much.


Oooh, this is fun bread to make. The dough is firm and smooth and satiny and gorgeous and rises just as much as it's supposed to in all the different stages. The crumb is tight and cottony and looks practically store bought, if that's a compliment to you (if it's not, you know what I mean, right?). We chomped our way through one loaf (a full recipe baked in a verrrrry long loaf pan) in an alarmingly short period of time and my husband, who is genetically predisposed to dark, grainy, wholesome loaves, asked me specifically to make another loaf as soon as possible. He gets it: EX-CELL-ENT.

Aaaaand, the baby's awake.

Excellent White Bread
Adapted from Melissa Clark's recipe

Makes 2 loaves

5 to 6 cups/625 grams to 750 grams all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1 ½ cups/355 milliliters lukewarm milk
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon/15 grams salt
3 tablespoons/43 grams unsalted butter, soft, plus more for greasing bowl and pans and for brushing the tops of the loaves
2 eggs

1. In a large electric mixer bowl, place 5 cups of the flour. Add all of the remaining ingredients. Mix with the hook attachment on low speed, adding more flour if necessary, until dough is stiff and slightly tacky, 8 to10 minutes.

2. Grease a large bowl with butter and turn dough out into the bowl. Flip over dough so greased side is up, cover with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and set in a warm, draft-free spot (like a turned-off oven) until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Generously butter two 9-x-5 loaf pans.

3. When dough has doubled in size, turn it out onto floured surface and knead for 3 minutes. Return to greased bowl, cover and let rise again for 30 minutes.

4. Press down dough with your hand to expel the air. Divide dough in half and place each half into a loaf pan. Brush tops of loaves with remaining melted butter.

5. Cover and let rise until dough is just above the tops of pans, 45 minutes to 1 hour.

6. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Bake bread for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 20 to 30 minutes, or until loaves sound hollow when tapped, the tops are brown and the internal temperatures are 200 degrees. Remove loaves from pans and let cool on wire racks. The loaves will keep for at least three days at room temperature in a bread box.