Tag Archives: breakfast

Bircher Muesli

birchermeusli 1

I had my first bircher muesli in Switzerland. Bircher Muesli is a hearty alpine favorite and a breakfast staple. No wonder: it’s a healthy, satisfying and refreshing start to any day. The technique to bircher muesli is an overnight soaking of oats, steeped in milk or yogurt. Just before serving additional ingredients such as grated apple, dried fruit and nuts are folded in. Feel free to experiment with extra ingredients and toppings such as chia seeds, pepitas, dried cranberries, and fresh berries. If you are feeling luxurious, a dollop or two of whipped cream may also be gently folded in at the end (I call this the I-am-on-holiday ingredient).

Bircher Muesli
Serves 2

1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup apple juice
1/2 cup whole milk plain yogurt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 green apple, cored and grated
1/4 cup chopped almonds
1/4 cup raisins
Shaved unsweetened coconut
Honey (optional)

Mix the oats, apple juice, yogurt and cinnamon in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight.
Before serving, stir in the grated apple, half of the raisins and almonds. If too thick, thin with additional yogurt or milk to desired consistency. (If you are on holiday, then add the whipped cream).
Serve garnished with remaining nuts, raisins and the coconut. Drizzle with a little honey if desired.

Apple Cinnamon Cake with Raisins and Walnuts

apple cake tastefood

~ Apple Cinnamon Cake with Raisins and Walnuts ~

When things get busy and stressful, I head to the kitchen. Mind you, I’m normally in my kitchen anyway, developing and testing recipes, preparing meals for clients, and always making a dinner of some sort. But that’s not what I’m talking about. My to-do list is seemingly endless right now, and this weekend I needed a break. So I put aside my oil splotched recipe notes, shopping lists and white board (yes, I have a white board in my kitchen) and closed my laptop. I  asked my son what I should bake – something sweet, something frivolous, something unplanned. He instantly asked for an apple cinnamon cake I used to bake, and I knew exactly which one he meant. It’s a simple crusty-topped cake studded with fruit and nuts that my kids love and I used to make for afternoon coffee and tea – when I actually used to have afternoon coffee and tea in another life we lived in Europe.

The recipe I used back then was from an old Gourmet magazine and sadly long misplaced or packed. But I remembered seeing a recipe over at Food52 for a classic, popular cake they loved which closely resembled my memory of this cake. That I could find, and here it is:

Apple Cake with Raisins and Walnuts

adapted from Food52 and a distant family memory

1 1/2 cups vegetable oil, such as grape seed
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
6 tart apples, peeled, cored, cut in coarse chunks
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup raisins

Heat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 9 by 12-inch baking pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper and butter the parchment.
Beat the oil and sugar in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until light, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix well.
Whisk the flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt in a bowl. Add to the batter and mix to combine. Stir in the apples, walnuts and raisins. Pour into the prepared pan, smoothing the top with a spatula. Bake until a toothpick inserted comes clean, about 1 hour. Transfer to a rack to cool completely. Serve at room temperature. (The flavors will develop once the cake has cooled).
Cut in pieces and serve sprinkled with powdered sugar.

Homemade Granola

granola tastefood

~ Homemade Granola and Greek Yogurt with Plum Compote ~

Whenever I can I make my own granola – and you should too. It’s easy to prepare and you can mix and match your favorite grains, nuts and dried fruit to your taste, while avoiding excess sugars and additives. The only downside is that it never lasts long enough in our house before it’s gobbled up. So make a double – or triple – batch if you can.

Homemade Granola

Substitute other nuts and seeds such as walnuts, pecans, flax, sunflower and pumpkin seeds. Other dried fruit such as cranberries, chopped apricots and blueberries may be substituted for the raisins. Add after baking so they won’t burn in the oven.

Makes about 4 cups

2 cups old fashioned oats
1 cup chopped or sliced raw almonds or other nuts
1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
1/4 cup wheat germ
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup or honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 300°F (160°C) Combine oats, nuts, coconut, wheat germ, cinnamon and salt in a bowl. Whisk the sugar, syrup and vanilla in a small bowl until combined. Pour over the oats and stir to coat. Spread on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake until golden brown, stirring once or twice, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and cool. Add the raisins. Store in an air-tight container for up to 1 week.

To prepare a yogurt parfait, layer granola with fresh fruit or fruit compote and greek-style yogurt.

 

Sunday Pancakes

Pancake syrup tf

Years ago, I started a simple family food tradition. We lived in Switzerland, where the kids were born, and I wanted to share with them a tradition from my American childhood: Sunday pancakes. Not Swedish pancakes, not French crepes, but good old American-style pancakes doused with maple syrup. Each Sunday, I would make our pancakes from scratch (no such thing as a mix in Europe) and the kids would help out, stirring the batter, flipping the cakes, arguing over who would stand on the stool next to the stove. Eventually my children didn’t need a stool, and then they lost interest in making the pancakes, but they never lost interest in eating them. We moved from Switzerland to London and eventually to Copenhagen, and with each move, we packed our belongings, our memories and our family traditions, only to un-pack and arrange them in our new home, carefully placing and comforting ourselves with the familiar while reassuring ourselves with ritual. The first morning we woke in our new house, we would make Sunday pancakes, even if it was Monday or any other day, because some rituals are that important.

These are the pancakes I made this Sunday morning. When I can, I try to slip some healthy grains into our pancakes, because, after all, I am a mother. I received a box of goodies from the folks at Kamutᴿ last week, including a package of flour. Kamutᴿ is a brand of khorasan wheat, an ancient grain related to durum wheat. It’s low in gluten and high in protein and minerals, including selenium, an antioxidant. The grains are nutty and chewy, a bit like squeaky farro, while the flour adds density and a rich buttery flavor to baked goods. Most importantly, it passed this morning’s pancake-taste-test, when I substituted Kamutᴿ flour for the whole wheat flour I normally use. It can be tricky messing with family tradition.

Sunday Pancakes
Serves 4.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup Kamutᴿ flour (or whole wheat flour)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 large egg, lightly whisked
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus extra for cooking

Whisk the flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a large bowl. Whisk the buttermilk, egg and butter together in a separate bowl. Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl with the flour. Stir to combine without over-mixing. Melt a teaspoon of butter in a skillet over medium heat. Scoop or pour large spoonfuls of the batter into pan. Cook the pancakes until golden brown on both sides and cooked through, flipping once. Serve warm with maple syrup.

If you like this, you might enjoy these TasteFood recipes:
Homemade Granola Bars
Apple Bran Muffins
Banana Coconut Bread

Full disclosure – I received a box of Kamutᴿ  ingredients free of charge. My opinions are entirely my own.

Cooking for your Health: Homemade Granola Bars

In this installment of Cooking for your Health, the theme is brain food: Healthy high energy snack food that’s a perfect pick-me-up during the work or school day or following a workout, providing a nutritional boost of energy which improves concentration and stamina. A diet rich in iron, B vitamins, essential fatty acids and complex carbohydrates comprises a winning menu for your brain, increasing focus and memory. While nailing the nutrition may be easier to accomplish when preparing a sit-down meal, it’s often difficult to find in a snack when you are grabbing food on the go. What can you eat that’s portable, delicious and healthy? Look no further than these homemade granola bars.

The beauty of homemade granola bars is that you can pick and choose your ingredients, omitting excess sugars, fat and additives without sacrificing flavor. These granola bars are studded with dried fruit and nuts, including anti-oxidant rich blueberries and almonds, B-vitamin heavy lifters oats, coconut and wheat germ, and coconut oil which provides lauric acid, known for its anti-oxidant and antibacterial properties. Come to think about it, snacking never felt or tasted so good.

Homemade Granola Bars

Feel free to substitute the fruit with other dried fruit such as raisins, cherries, dates or figs to your taste. Walnuts may be used in place of the almonds. Recipe adapted from Ina Garten. Makes approximately 24 small bars.

2 cups old fashioned oats
3/4 cup coarsely chopped raw almonds
1/2 cup unsweetened grated coconut
1/2 cup raw wheat germ
3 tablespoons coconut oil or unsalted butter
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/3 cup honey
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup dried blueberries
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup chopped dried apricots

Preheat the oven to 350 F/180 C. Butter a 9 inch by 12 inch (20 x 30 cm.) baking pan. Line with parchment and butter the parchment. Toss oats, almonds, coconut and wheat germ together in a bowl. Pour onto a rimmed baking sheet and spread evenly. Bake until fragrant and lightly toasted, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from oven and reduce temperature to 300 F/150 C. Heat coconut oil, brown sugar and honey in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and whisk in the vanilla, cinnamon and salt. Pour over the oats, mixing to thoroughly combine. Stir in the dried fruit. Spread batter in the prepared pan, spreading to firmly and evenly distribute. Bake in oven until golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove and cool completely in pan until firm, at least 2 hours. Cut into squares or rectangles. Store at room temperature in an airtight container.

Yogurt Parfaits with Rhubarb Compote and Almond Granola

~ Rhubarb Compote, Almond Granola, Greek Yogurt ~

Every morning I remind my kids to eat breakfast – and then I don’t eat one myself. I confess that a strong cappuccino is enough to propel me out the door each day, when I know - I know – it’s not smart. How to change my ways and correct this parental double standard? Well, if I had the fixings for this yogurt parfait in my refrigerator each morning, you can bet I would eat it. The good news is  the compote and granola are easy to make in large quantities ahead of time. So no excuses. Eat your breakfast.

Yogurt Parfaits with Rhubarb Compote and Almond Granola

This is delicious for breakfast, lunch or a snack. Feel free to double the quantities so you have extra on hand for breakfasts during the week.

For the Rhubarb Compote:
Makes about 2 cups

2 pounds rhubarb stalks, ends trimmed, cut in 1/2-inch pieces
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

For the Almond Granola:
Makes about 4 cups

2 cups oats
1 cup almonds, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut
1/4 cup wheat germ
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup grapeseed oil
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup raisins

Greek-style yogurt

Prepare the compote:
Combine all of the ingredients in a large saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until the sugar dissolves and the rhubarb begins to release its juice. Simmer, partially covered, until rhubarb is soft, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and cool completely. Compote may be made up to 3 days in advance. Cover and refrigerate until use.

Prepare the granola:
Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 300 F (150 C). Toss the oats, almonds, coconut, wheat germ, cinnamon and salt together in a large bowl. Whisk oil, honey, maple syrup, brown sugar and vanilla together in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves. Add to the oats and toss to thoroughly coat. Spread the granola on the baking pan. Bake until toasted golden brown, jiggling the pan once or twice, about 30 minutes. Remove and cool. Transfer to a bowl and toss with the raisins. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to one week.

To assemble the parfaits, spoon alternating layers of yogurt, compote and granola in a glass, finishing with a topping of granola.

Apple Bran Muffins

I rarely bake muffins, but when I do, I try to make them healthy. Muffins are often mini-cakes, packed with sugar and fat, which to some extent can’t be avoided if you wish to eat a muffin that doesn’t resemble a hockey puck or bird food. To compensate, I try to reduce the sugar and fat and add healthy grains, cereal, fruit and nuts. Today I had a request for homemade muffins from my son who is home sick from school. Since he hasn’t had much of an appetite, I couldn’t resist trying to whip up a batch of Apple Bran Muffins. They are reasonably healthy for a muffin, while sufficiently naughty to indulge a craving for something moist and sweet.

This is a recipe that is inspired by one I have used from Ina Garten in the past. While she incorporates bananas into her muffins, I have substituted grated apple for sweetness and moistness. I like to make mini-muffins, which are better sized for snacking.

Apple Bran Muffins
Makes approximately 20 mini-muffins

1 cup unprocessed wheat bran
1 cup buttermilk, shaken
1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/4 cup unsulphured molasses
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup raisins
1 cup grated apple, packed
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Place paper liners into a mini-muffin tin. Combine the bran and buttermilk and set aside. Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy, 3-4 minutes. With the mixer on low, add eggs, one at a time, mixing well. Add the molasses and vanilla. Add the buttermilk and mix to combine.
Sift the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a bowl. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the dry ingredients until just combined. Don’t overmix. Fold in the raisins, apple and walnuts, if using. Spoon the batter into the muffin cups, filling them. Bake in the oven until a tester comes out clean, about 20 minutes. (If using a large muffin tin, baking time will be longer, about 30 minutes.)

More muffins? You might enjoy these:
Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins from Annie’s Eats
Chai Carrot Pear Muffins from Family Fresh Cooking
Huckleberry Muffins from Honest Food
Meyer Lemon Muffins from Gastronomy Blog

Rise and Shine: Yogurt, Plum and Granola Parfait

~ Spiced Plum Compote, Maple Granola, Greek Yogurt ~

If you need a reason to get up in the morning, then try this sumptuous breakfast parfait. A slick of stewed plums swirls through clouds of rich greek yogurt flecked with nuggets of granola. If it weren’t so early in the morning, you might be tempted to call this dessert.

Spiced Plum Compote
Not overly sweet, this rich plum stew is delicious with yogurt. If you are calling this dessert, do not hesitate to ladle some over a bowl of ice cream, too.
Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

1 pound plums, pitted, sliced
1/4 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 cinnamon stick
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon salt

Combine all of the ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until the plums soften and the compote thickens, about 20 minutes. Cool, cover and refrigerate until use. The flavors will develop with time. (May be refrigerated for up to 3 days.)

Granola
Feel free to fiddle with the ingredients. Substitute or add hazelnuts, pecans, flax, dried cranberries … you get the picture.
Makes about 2 cups.

1 cup old fashioned oats
1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup chopped almonds
2 tablespoons wheat germ
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 300°F (160°C). Combine the oats, coconut, almonds, wheat germ, sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl. Whisk maple syrup and vegetable oil together in a small bowl. Drizzle over the oats and toss to combine. Spread in a baking pan lined with parchment paper. Bake until golden brown, about 30  minutes, stirring once or twice. Remove from oven and cool. Add the raisins. Store in an air-tight container for up to 1 week.

To assemble parfaits:
Alternate plum compote, granola and whole milk Greek-style yogurt in a bowl or glass. Serve for breakfast, lunch or whenever you please.