Saturday, May 13, 2017

Cookbook review + recipe: Earl Grey and Strawberry Granola from Heather Crosby's YumUniverse Pantry to Plate

I was provided with a copy of YumUniverse Pantry To Plate: Improvise Meals You Love – from What You Have in order to write this review. My opinions are my own.

I think we can all agree that there are a lot of cookbooks out there. What's more, many of us don't use the ones we have - especially if you are like me and struggle to follow recipes exactly. I will bookmark recipes in my cookbooks with the best of intentions, but even if I do make them (and often I don't!), I tend to adapt the recipe and use it for inspiration rather than as a step-by-step guide. In this context, I am truly delighted to share today's cookbook review. Heather Crosby has developed a novel "recipe playbook" that is perfectly suited to those of us who like to mix and match recipe ideas.

© Heather Crosby, 2017

YumUniverse Pantry To Plate: Improvise Meals You Love – from What You Have is a plant-based, gluten-free guide that provides 30 recipe templates as well as specific recipe examples. For example, Heather outlines the wet, dry and add-in ingredients you can combine to make breakfast cookies and then offers two specific cookie recipes for inspiration (Banana Chocolate Chip and Pumpkin-Pecan). In total, there are nearly 100 recipes to go with the 30 templates, across the following categories:

  • Breakfast scrambles
  • Granola
  • Pancakes and waffles
  • Muffins
  • Warm cereals
  • Breakfast cookies
  • Compotes and fruit butters
  • Coconut yogurt
  • Dairy free milks
  • Crackers
  • Amazeballs
  • Probiotic cream cheese
  • Dips and spreads
  • Crunchies (like roasted chickpeas)
  • Fermented veggies
  • Bites and tots
  • Veggie fries
  • Soups
  • Cheesy comfort food
  • Epic salads
  • Mmmaki (sushi rolls)
  • Tacos and wraps
  • 'Banzo bakes
  • Veggie burgers
  • Hand pies
  • Cookies
  • Nice crispy bars
  • Sneaky brownies
  • Nice cream
  • Crisps and crumbles

Amazing, right?! The book also includes some general chapters, including 'Tips and Tricks' for easier cooking, 'Basic Cooking Techniques' (with a guide to cooking different grains and legumes from scratch) and 'Creating Rich Flavor' (how to use herbs and spices to capture the flavors of different cuisines). All of the recipes have photos, the layout is gorgeous, and there is a handy conversion guide at the rear so you can switch from American to Metric units. The recipes themselves also give measurements in both cups and grams.

The book is plant-based rather than vegan, so some recipes use honey, but the templates mean you can always substitute ingredients to suit your cupboards and tastes. By and large the recipes use regular, whole food ingredients (rather than commercial products that can be expensive or hard to find outside of large specialist stores) and the recipes are well set out and easy to follow.

Earl Grey and Strawberry Granola
Image © 
Heather Crosby, 2017

I opted to test and review the Earl Grey and Strawberry Granola. This is one of three granola recipes provided to complement a general granola template, the others being Dark Chocolate, Cherry and Brazil Nut, and Coconut, Mango and Macadamia. I rarely make or eat granola cereals so this was a good option for me to test, both for novelty and because I have quite exacting standards for granola (or toasted muesli as it tends to be called in the UK).

I made a half batch of the recipe but otherwise followed it fairly closely. I emptied out a Rooibos Earl Grey tea bag rather than grinding tea leaves, and used a mix of nuts and seeds to suit what I had to hand. As I have honey occasionally I did use it here. I left out the freeze dried strawberries though, because they are expensive to buy and fresh British strawberries are in season. Thus, I served my granola with fresh berries on top.

I found the granola easy to make and the flavors delightfully layered. Each mouthful would provide a subtle backdrop of Earl Grey, offset with the sharpness of orange, the sweetness of honey, and the pleasing crunch of the nuts and seeds. I enjoyed with non-dairy milk and layered with yogurt as pictured above. Heather also recommends serving it on top of frozen banana softserve (Nice Cream), which would make a delicious dessert. All in all - I loved the granola and it confirmed my pleasure in Heather's book. I am delighted to share the recipe with you.

Earl Grey & Strawberry Granola
Serves 8+

Black tea with the citrus burst of bergamot oil combines with vanilla and strawberry for a unique twist on startingthe day. Look for rooibos-based Earl Grey tea if you want a decaf version. Serve with Coconut Yogurt, homemade Dairy-Free Milk, or some Nice Cream (all recipes in the book).

·         3 cups (240 g) rolled oats
·         1 cup (240 ml) raw, unpasteurized honey
·         ¾ cup (105 g) raw, unsalted almonds, chopped
·         ½ cup (70 g) raw, unsalted sunflower seeds
·         ¼ cup (30 g) raw, unsalted pepitas
·         ¼ cup (60 ml) extra virgin olive oil
·         1 tablespoon Earl Grey tea leaves, ground in coffee/spice grinder
·         1 teaspoon grated orange zest
·         ¾ teaspoon sea salt
·         1 cup (20 g) dried strawberries

Preheat the oven to 300°F (150°C). In a large bowl, combine the oats, honey, almonds, sunflower seeds, pepitas, olive oil, tea, zest, and salt. Spread the mixture on a rimmed baking sheet in an even layer roughly 1⁄4 inch (6 mm) thick. Give it a light press and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, until toasty, golden brown.

Once cooled, transfer the granola to a large bowl and break apart; fold in the strawberries. Store in an airtight container in the pantry or fridge for 4 to 8 weeks. 

Recipe from YumUniverse Pantry to Plate  © Heather Crosby, 2017. Photographs copyright © Heather Crosby, 2017. Reprinted by permission of the publisher, The Experiment. Available wherever books are sold.

I was provided with a copy of Heather's book as part of this review, but my enthusiasm is entirely my own. I genuinely can't think of anything I would change about the book!

Are you prone to adapting recipes and taking a mix-and-match approach?


  1. My approach to cooking is very much like your - seeking inspiration and adapting, though I have to confess, I am quite pleased with myself in this year I have cooked many bookmarked recipes inc. yours and some from cookbooks, but still...will cook the way you do. I will see if I can find the cookbook locally at a bookshop to flick and see if it is somethign i would use, seems like I would as it is plant based. I was wondering, would you have been able to replace the honey with maple or agave syrup? The granola looks good. I am not a drinker of Earl Grey, but if I was making this I would perhaps try it with Darjeeling.

    1. I think maple or agave syrup plus Darjeeling would be lovely. In the 'template' for granola Heather lists maple syrup, brown rice syrup and blackstrap molasses as alternatives to honey, but I'm sure agave would work too.

  2. I really like the sound of this cookbook because I tend to look at what is in the fridge and even when I have the best of intentions to follow a recipe I often change it - templates sounds like a great way for cookbooks to inspire without boxing me in! The granola sounds delicious. And I am a little jealous of you having strawberries in season (my sister said today she had to go to a few shops to find fresh berries and then they were expensive)

    1. In season strawberries are definitely one of the perks of living in Britain in spring and summer. But then again, you get a summer of stone fruit, so I guess it evens out eventually :-) I hope you've got some good apples to tide you into winter.

  3. Looks great! I may have to pick up a copy! I agree though - i have piles of cookbooks that I always plan on using :)


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