Fire roasted oats with Cape Cod cranberries and maple fried butternut squash seeds

There are two families of granola: the crisp, sweet oat clusters of the store, and the loose, chewy variety made at home. While both have their place, my family has always been of the homemade school. As kids, my sister and I were packed off to camp or school with tins of slow roasted oats and slivered almonds. “It’s heart healthy,” my mother would petition. “Chuck eats it every morning!”

Chuck was our surrogate grandfather of sorts. Following a serious heart attack in the late seventies, he embarked on a strict regimen of daily granola. Almost thirty years later, he is 89 and going strong.

Much as I like Chuck’s granola, I had occasion recently to begin experimenting with my own. I choose to roast the oats over a wood stove rather than in an oven, which allowed the oats to stay chewy while still toasting enough to become dry and slightly brittle. I added dried Cape Cod cranberries and substituted a batch of butternut squash seeds for the more traditional slivered almonds. The result is a chewy, ever so slightly honey tinged cereal with the sweet earthy flavor of rolled oats and Cape fruits.


Serves 12

Fire up woodstove, burn on low.

Spread 6 cups oats across a 13 by 9 baking pan.

Over low heat, combine 1/2 cup honey and 1/2 cup walnut oil in a saucepan.

Pour melted honey and hot oil over oats, stirring until all are coated and the liquid has been absorbed.

Depending on the temperature of your stovetop, place the pan directly on its surface or position on a slightly elevated iron trivet. Roast the oats over low heat until lightly toasted, one to two hours, stirring often.

Let cool and add 2 cups dried cranberries and 1 cup maple fried butternut squash seeds. Serve over plain Greek yogurt and top with a splash of fresh milk or a dollop of apple butter.


Wash and dry one cup butternut squash seeds. This will require several squash; pumpkin seeds can be used as an alternative or together with squash seeds.

Over medium high heat, fry seeds in 2 to 3 tablespoons hot oil. After 10 to 15 minutes or when the seeds begin to turn golden brown, turn off heat and drizzle maple syrup over seeds to taste.

Let cool and refrigerate in a glass jar.


Wellfleet littlenecks on the half shell with chorizo and spinach

Wellfleet littlenecks are always a delicacy. The clams that Gourmet magazine calls the "most prized littlenecks in all of New England" are plump, briny, and full of flavor. Jazzed up with an exotic chorizo and spinach topping, they enter the realm of the ethereal.

The choice between various embutidos, as the Spaniards refer to their array of sweet paprika and pork sausages, is an important one—too spicy and the broth will overpower the clams; too mild and the dish will lose its kick. A soft chorizo with a high proportion of fat, a hint of garlic, and a deep red color (indicating a good amount of pimentón, or smoked paprika) will yield the best results.

Spinach can be substituted with beet greens or endives, and for an exercise in true Spanish decadency, finely chopped olives can be sprinkled on top as a last minute addition.

All said and done, so long as you know how to wield a clam knife, this appetizer shouldn't take more than 20 minutes to prepare.

Serves 4

Preheat oven to 350.

Shuck 18 Littlenecks and arrange on the half shell in a 13 by 9 Pyrex baking dish.

Cut 8 ounces of chorizo (removing plastic casing if necessary) into large pieces and sauté over high heat for several minutes, until the fat begins to separate from the pork.

Add two tablespoons of butter; continue cooking on high until the pork fat and butter form a rich broth.

Add one cup chopped spinach; wilt and remove from heat.

Top Littlenecks liberally with chorizo, spinach, and broth, allowing extra liquid to spill over into pan. Cook 3-5 minutes to combine flavors. Serve hot on a flat platter with a shallow lip.


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All text, photographs, and other original material copyright 2008-2010 by Elspeth Hay unless otherwise noted.