Tag Archives: oats

Apricot and cinnamon breakfast muffins.

Of course, you can eat these beyond breakfast time. I made them because I was told I am borderline anaemic the other day, and apricots are a good source of iron. Not as good as a rare-cooked steak served with green leafy veg and washed down with a Guinness and an orange juice, but possibly easier to carry in your bag. These are very filling, not particularly sweet and keep me going if I can’t be bothered to eat lunch. Well, until about 4pm. I love how chewy the top apricot goes.

This recipe is from the free little newspaper Waitrose provides each week.

It makes 12 and you need to allow a little time for soaking the apricots.

You need:

250g dried apricots, I prefer the organic variety here as they have less stuff on them, it does mean they are quite dark though and not all zesty bright.

1 large orange, juice and zest

275g self raising flour (I used some wholemeal too)

2tsp baking powder

2tsp cinnamon

75g porridge oats, plus a bit extra for sprinkling

150g caster sugar

285ml buttermilk or kefir milk if you make it

2 medium eggs

50g butter, melted

3 tablespoons of apricot preserve

You also need a muffin tin lined with muffin cases.

Method

Reserve 12 of the apricots. Roughly chop the rest and put them to soak in the orange juice and zest. I do this the night before, but 30 mins is fine.

Preheat the oven to 200C. Mix together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, oats and sugar. In a separate large bowl mix together the buttermilk, eggs and butter and add the soaked apricots sand orange zest/juice. Now add the dry ingredients and mix until must blended.

Divide amongst the paper cases – you’ll find the mixture is quite up to the top but don’t worry as it doesn’t rise much (despite the self raising flour AND baking powder). If you like use those fancy tulip-shaped muffin cases that look like someone artfully folded some baking paper, the ones that cost about £20 for ten (exaggeration).

Place a whole apricot atop each muffin and sprinkle with some porridge oats (this makes the muffins look good!). Cook in the oven for 18-20 mins. When still warm, mix the apricot jam with a tiny bit of boiling water and brush over the top for a lovely glaze. I wish I could tell you my children loved these. They didn’t. But my partner did!

 

Advertisements

Lovely, nutty tasting (but with no nuts) poppy seed oatcakes

These are wonderfully nutty tasting, and you’ll be convinced there are nuts therein. But there are no nuts. They are very frangible, so don’t roll them too thin, and when cooked don’t be too rough with them. Lovely with some cheese, of course, but I also sometimes have them for breakfast with some almond butter and a smidge of apricot jam on top.

Being full of oats ‘n’ seeds, they are particularly good for you, too.

(Note: I’ve put these under gluten free, oats are naturally gluten free but some have gluten in due to the manufacturing process so look at the packet your oats come in.)

These are from Hugh F-W’s Light and Easy book.

150g medium oatmeal

150g porridge oats (not the jumbo variety, if you have those, give them a quick spin in a food processor)

One tablespoon of ground linseeds

One tablespoon of poppy seeds

One tablespoon of sunflower or pumpkin seeds, or half of each

half a teaspoon of salt

75ml of sunflower or other tasteless oil

You will also need 100-150ml of boiled water

Baking parchment

 

Oven to 180C.

Put all the ingredients, save for the oil and water, into a bowl. Make a well in the middle and now add the oil and mix the ingredients around. Add 100ml of just boiled water and mix to a sticky wet dough, if you need to, add up to 50ml more but try not to if possible. This will seem like an unpromising dough and won’t be like a smooth dough, such as you may be used to.

Now you need two sheets of baking parchment to roll the dough out. Not too thin. Cut into squares – just free form with a knife, you don’t need to be madly exact. Hugh recommends cutting the square in two so you get triangles and I like this shape, too.

Don’t be tempted to use a cookie cutter. But do ball up and re-roll any off cuts. I shaped the last one by hand, in a butter-patting style.

Put on baking parchment lined baking tray and cook for 20-25 mins until just coloured. These give out a lot of steam (cos of the water) so be careful when you open the oven. You don’t want them too cook too much and be too dark, but equally they do need to be cooked so if your oven is temperamental, check after 15 minutes. The surface should be dry – no bubbling bits of steam – but not too coloured. Mine took about 22 minutes in a quite fierce oven. You may need to cook in two batches, I did.

This makes about 20-24, depending, on course, on the size.

 

Adding kefir and oats to sourdough

Last year I was given some kefir from my friend Becky. Don’t ask me too much about kefir, cos I’m still learning about it. It’s basically something that looks like a small, glutinous brain, which you put in milk (I have milk kefir you can also get water kefir) and it does something to the milk after a day or so which you can then drink or put in smoothies and it has magical qualities.

Something like that.

Every day, however, I fear I am going to poison everyone with sour milk, which is what it tastes like. This isn’t helped by my partner saying “What IS this stuff? Are you sure it’s safe?”

It doesn’t really taste great on its own. I originally started it because my eldest has eczema and it’s a battle to keep her probiotics/prebiotic level high (this is another, long story). But we channel Gwynnie whilst we imbibe it.

The thing with kefir is that you get lots of it to use up. We can only use so much in smoothies so I started thinking what else could I do with it? And then I decided to put it into my sourdough. Not loads, but about 60g (that’s all I get per yield) of it which I used as part of the ‘water’ element (I add 335g of liquid to 500g of flour so my kefir takes up some of the 335g, make sense?) And it works really well. It gives the loaf a lovely rise and you get a wonderfully moist crumb – less air holes I find (see photo below, the main photo shows the crumb after the first slice when there are more air bubbles), but a really nice sourdough for making sandwiches. And it’s tasty. Really tasty.

(I’m not pretending that any of the nutritional qualities of kefir are kept during the baking process.)

The other thing I’ve been adding is oats. I grind them up in my Nutribullet to make oat flour, and I don’t add more than 10% of the total flour content – so no more than 50g of the 500g of flour. (Oats don’t naturally contain gluten, but if you are coeliac do read this.)

Again this adds a lovely dimension to the bread. I made some the other day with oats and my children said the bread was “particularly delicious”.

I’ve also used kefir in place of buttermilk in my prune and almond loaf to great success.

IMG_1296

Chocolate and nut oat bars

I live in hope of finding some sort of cereal bar, that I can make, that my children will like. I think a good cereal bar is an excellent thing to be eaten when you don’t have much time, but need something that will keep you going. But so many bought cereal bars are full of crap.

Many years ago, I co-ran a parenting website called I Want My Mum (because that’s all I said when I was pregnant and not long after having my baby, “I want my mum, I want my mum!” I would lament. Luckily she wasn’t far). I posted a recipe on there for some sort of healthy cereal, chewy bar. Loads of people went crazy for it, saying that their children loved it.

Not mine. My children have never liked any sort of bar that I’ve made, but they look at the Kellogg’s Special K Raspberry and Chocolate bars with longing every time they go past them in the supermarket aisle.

So I saw these in my Dale Pinnock Healthy Every Day book. He’s the one I got the chocolate/coffee smoothie idea from. I adapted his recipe, changing the proportions and also, he said you should sandwich the chocolate/peanut butter layer in between the layers of oats. But this didn’t look great to me, and also, in a bid to entice my children, I thought it’d be better to coat the whole lot in chocolate. I even wrapped them up in little bags to make them look shop bought. Did they love them?

No.

The ungrateful bastards. But I really like them (just as well as I have about 18 of them now) and if you need a healthy but delicious, quite treaty snack, you can try these. Or, if you’re lucky, your children might like them.

65g unsalted butter

50g coconut oil

45g raw honey

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

300g porridge oat flakes

125g 70% cocoa chocolate

80g nut butter of choice – not one that’s full of sugar but if your nut butter doesn’t have salt in it you may want to add a pinch

Melt the  butter, coconut oil and honey in a pan. Add a pinch of sea salt if your nut butter doesn’t have it. When melted, add the vanilla extract and the oats, and coat everything.

In a bowl atop another pan of simmering water, melt the chocolate and nut butter. When melted, add to the oat mixture and stir really well.  Tip into a tin (I use one that’s about 20cm square but you can see how much mixture you have so use a tin accordingly. I line mine with baking parchment to make thing easier). Then just chill for an hour or two, cut into slices and offer to your children and when they refuse, sit down and eat the lot yourself whilst writing them out of your will.

IMG_1243

Toffee apple apple crumble

I have become slightly obsessed with this apple crumble. It appeared in Good Food magazine in October (I cannot find a link to it on line) and my photograph doesn’t do it justice. But it’s one of those puddings that, once served up, I itch to eat and cannot be bothered to really photograph.

I have made this a lot recently and my partner says it tastes really Christmassy. I agree, but it only really started tasting Christmassy as we got into late November…

The ingredients for the underneath bit:

100g raisins

100g pitted soft dates, chopped up

85g light muscovado sugar

3 tablespoons of dark rum (I have also used sherry or marsala)

25g unsalted butter

1 teaspoon of mixed spice

Zest and juice of one lemon

4 Bramley apples, about 800g in total, peeled and cored and cut into wedges or rings

The ingredients for the crumble topping:

125g plain flour (I mix a bit of wholemeal flour in there too)

100g unsalted butter

50g light muscovado sugar

3 tablespoons of jumbo oats

25g flaked almonds

What you do:

Heat the oven to 190C.

Put everything for the underneath bit, save for the apples and lemon juice, into a pan and cook on the hob until the butter has melted and the sugar is syrupy and it looks nice. Then toss into the pan (once off the heat) the apples with the lemon juice, mix around until all coated and put in a suitable oven proof dish. I use a Le Creuset thing that is approx 20cm square.

To make the topping I put the flour and butter into a food processor and go past the fine breadcrumb stage and pulse until big clumps form. Then I stir in the sugar, oats and almonds. Spread this on top of the fruit mixture. At first it will look like you don’t have enough mixture but don’t panic as it all works out. Cover with foil and then * put it into the oven for one hour in total, but for the first thirty minutes keep the foil on, then whip it off to let the crumble brown, for the last thirty.

Leave to stand for about 10mins before serving with custard or cream or ice cream or all three. Oink, oink.

It’s delicious and wonderfully comforting and warming. I hardly make crumble any other way now, although I might find it all a bit much come the spring time.

*note: you can easily make this a few hours ahead, assemble, cover with foil and then put it in the oven as you sit down to main course.

Apologies again for the not great pic…

The best granola you will ever taste

Home made granola – no dust
All wrapped in a little cellophane bag with a chic black ribbon. A nice present to take to someone if you’re stuck for ideas.

Granola is one of those things it’s so worth making yourself. The shop-bought stuff is either purse-clenchingly expensive or fairly full of dust-type ingredients. Or sometimes, both.

I first started making granola from a Nigella Lawson recipe. It was great. Then I started having babies and for the duration of my pregnancies, and about a year post-partum, all I wanted were two croissants and caffe latte (in a big bowl) for breakfast. Granola? Far too crunchy and munchy.

Then I got the first Ottolenghi cookbook and made his granola. And all other granolas faded into memory. I’ve been meaning to put this recipe up since last year, but some how never managed it. But I went to lunch at my friend Mary’s house the other week, to discuss the Global Agenda for Women and Children 2011 (you mean you don’t discuss stuff like this at lunch?). And I thought, what on earth can I bring her? I’m of the mind you can’t turn up for lunch empty handed. I didn’t want to bring a loaf of sourdough, cos so many people don’t eat wheat these days. I wondered if she’d think me terribly gauche if I turned up with some granola. I’d just made it. I have some nice cellophane bags and lots of ribbon. I asked my partner what he thought. “What can I bring?” I lamented. “What about some granola?” he ventured.

So I knew it was must be a good idea.

When I got there I was so glad I’d brought it as Mary said she loved granola and then, a few days later, she emailed me to say it was the best ever and it had all gone already.

Anyway, here is the recipe. The original recipe doesn’t call for linseeds, but as they are the highest vegetable source of omega 3s, I add ’em. I’m not always exact with the recipe. Sometimes I chuck more almonds in, or more brazils. You can tailor it to suit. But if you start really adding tons to the ‘dry stuff’ then it won’t be so gloriously crispy or tasty (because there won’t be so much wet stuff to coat it, of course you could just up that too, but I think if you play around with some things too much, you lose the essence of it), so don’t go crazy.

The dry stuff

60g whole, unskinned almonds
40g brazils
40g cashews
300g  rolled oats
120g seeds – mixture of sunflower/pumpkin/linseeds depending on what you like

The wet stuff

quarter of a teaspoon of salt (I use rock salt, ground up in a pestle and mortar, I think rock salt adds a sweeter, more complex taste, probably rubbish but that’s what I think)
3 tablespoons of water
4 tablespoons of olive oil (not the super virginal stuff)
120g maple syrup
120g honey

The after stuff

120g dried fruit – Ottolenghi originally asks for 60/60 of dried cranberries and blueberries, I use those and/or figs or raisins etc. Use your imagination and also what’s on offer.

Method

Preheat the oven to 140C. You’ll need two baking sheets lined with baking parchment.

Roughly chop the nuts and put them in a bowl. This is the hardest, for me, part of the recipe. I HATE HATE HATE chopping nuts. But don’t be tempted to do this in a food processor cos you’ll end up with tiny bits of nuts. And that’s really not what you want. When my mum is visiting, I ask her to do it for me and she’s great at it – you can tell she was a professional cook because she chops them evenly. I get all frustrated at the nuts richocheting off the chopping board and end up with tiny chopped bits and huge bits. But I tell myself it adds to the character of the granola.

To the nuts, add the seeds and the oats. Set to one side. This is the dry stuff.

In a sauce pan, put all the wet ingredients and put over a low heat until everything has melted together. You just need to heat things up gently. Pour the wet stuff over the dry stuff (DON’T ADD THE AFTER STUFF YET! THAT’S FOR AFTERS). Mix with a wooden spoon until everything is nicely coated and then divide up over the two trays. Don’t spread too thick a layer or the granola won’t crisp up. I put one on the top tray of the oven (don’t use a fan oven, just a regular oven is fine) and one on the bottom. It takes about 40 mins to be ready – the granola should be golden brown. Obviously the top tray is done quicker, so when that’s done put the bottom tray on the top shelf and give it like another 20 mins or so.

Then you just mix the cooked dry stuff with the after stuff. The granola will crisp up as it cools. Wait for it to be absolutely cool, then put in an air tight container. It keeps for weeks but it won’t last that long.

You can eat it as it is – like a snack. You can eat it just with yoghurt. I eat mine, of a morning, with a dollop of live yoghurt, a handful of fresh blueberries/fruit and some organic semi skimmed milk. I still drink a giant bowl of caffe latte too, since some habits die hard.

2016 update: I have smidged the recipe around a bit but it’s still very true to the original and, I think, still the best granola you can make.