November 6, 2012
Silencio is the name of a membership club that opened a little over a year ago in Paris, with creative help from David Lynch. It's built way underground, and the ambiance is quite eerie, with dim lighting and a Lynch-designed decor that's all smoked mirrors and faded gold*.
Access is reserved to members until midnight, when the place turns into a more classic nightclub, and during this first half of the evening, they get to watch films in the twenty-four-seat cinema, enjoy private concerts, or just hang out and drink cocktails at the bar. And every Saturday night, from 8 till 10, a guest from the world of food is invited to host a tasting session and meet the members.
Two Saturdays ago, the guest was yours truly, and the theme I had chosen was superfoods: my idea was to serve four little dishes in which a maximum of ingredients would be foods that are notoriously good for you, offering a wide range of nutrients and possessing magical disease-fighting powers.
I approach this sort of thing with equal parts excitement and trepidation, and prepared as much as I could beforehand, drawing up multiple lists to steady me. Then, with my friend Mary** joining me to help, I spent the afternoon cooking in the club's galley kitchen.
The tasting started with kale chips, since kale is newly available in Paris and Kristen, of the Kale Project, had kindly helped me procure a few bunches of dinosaur kale and curly kale.
We moved on to a sweet potato mash -- French-grown organic sweet potatoes roasted in the oven, mashed with the skin on and spiked with fresh ginger and lime juice -- topped with a savory granola made with mixed rolled grains, sunflower seeds, and hemp seeds.
Then came miniature pizzette, on a no-knead dough of einkorn wheat flour, topped with a little ricotta, thinly sliced broccoli, and a dollop of squash seed pesto. And finally, dessert was two-bite servings of chocolate buckwheat cake.
The event went beautifully well, and I had a fun time skipping back and forth from the kitchen to the bar, chatting with visitors, telling them all about kale, and superfoods, and why you should eat them.
As a souvenir from that evening, I wanted to share the recipe for the savory granola I served as a topping for the mashed sweet potatoes. It is derived from this one, with a few modifications: I used mixed rolled grains, added some hemp seeds, used nutritional yeast rather than parmesan to make it dairy-free, and added some barley malt syrup so it would brown nicely in the oven. And I flavored it with the hot Cajun spice mix that was included in a sample Gastronomiz box I received in preparation for an article I'm writing about culinary subscription boxes.
The resulting granola can be served as a rather addictive snack with drinks, it can top any kind of vegetable -- especially mashed or steamed -- for a bit of textural contrast, and it does really well over a salad of grated carrots and beets.
Have you ever had or made savory granola? How was it served, or how did you use it?
* You can read more about the club's interior design in this interview with designer Raphael Navot.
** She's a food stylist and she's wonderful to work with. You should hire her!
- 300 grams (3 cups) mixed rolled grains
- 70 grams (1/2 cup) sunflower seeds
- 3 tablespoons hemp seeds
- 15 grams (1/4 cup) nutritional yeast (substitute freshly grated Parmesan cheese)
- 2 teaspoons Cajun spice mix (or other mix with a bit of heat to it)
- 1 teaspoon sea salt flakes (such as Maldon or kosher salt)
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon barley malt syrup (substitute molasses)
- 60 ml (1/4 cup) olive oil, plus more for greasing
- 1 egg white
Makes 4 cups.
Preheat the oven to 150°C (300°F) and grease a rimmed baking sheet with oil.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the rolled grains, sunflower and hemp seeds, nutritional yeast, spices, salt, and a few good turns of the pepper mill. Add the syrup, oil, and egg white, and stir until well combined.
Spread on the prepared baking sheet and bake until golden, about 20 minutes, stirring halfway through.
Let cool on the baking sheet -- it will crisp up as it cools -- and transfer to an airtight container, where the granola will keep for up to a month.
Fresh Fava Beans, Two (Easier) Ways
Chestnut and Herb Canistrelli
Olive Oil and Black Pepper Tartine