After baking, my next favourite “thing” to make in the kitchen is muesli or granola. The flavour combinations are endless and almost everyone in our family has a different preference. Mopp & Miss M fall into raptures over a bowl of Berry Berry Muesli while Mr M happily scoffs the Date & Vanilla Muesli all by himself. The Anster, Mr L and myself have whatever is in the cereal container at the time. This fig muesli is one of my favourites. Figs are a polarising fruit – some people melt at a mere mention of a fresh fig but others think they’re seedy, gritty and bland. I’m not so fond of them raw but cooked or in jam, I’m in the first category. Continue reading
This berry muesli is inspired by a particular brand of muesli that my teenagers inhale at the rate of (almost) a box per day. As I make home-made muesli regularly, I checked out the ingredients to figure out why they liked this muesli more than my other muesli mixes. I believe it is the absence of nuts and coconut and the abundance of berries that make this muesli a hit. I have recreated the berry muesli using the ingredients on the box as a guide.
Each time I make the muesli it turns out a little bit different depending on my muesli ingredient stocks. Cereal flakes can be a mix of Special K Original, Mesa Sunrise Flakes, Ancient Grain Flakes and Heritage Flakes which include flakes of rice, whole wheat, whole grain oats, corn, flake, quinoa, amaranth, barley & spelt. I buy whatever is on special. The muesli can be made with all Special K Original but I like the layering of flavours when the other flakes are included in the cereal. You could also use brown rice flakes and coconut flakes (although I purposely leave coconut out of this particular muesli mix as that is how the teens prefer it). By using some regular grains (wheat and oats) along with the more expensive grains (quinoa, amaranth etc) it balances out the cost. If budget is of less concern than health, use all organic, ancient, or heritage flakes.
The natural bran flakes (these are similar to corn flakes but made from bran as opposed to these) can be substituted for bran sticks, or oat bran. I have used wheat bran flakes such as you would use in bran muffins but prefer the other type of bran flakes (like you find in Sultana Bran Cereal). I have linked through to the particular products I use, but you can use any brand you wish. The natural bran flakes I have been using (Sanitarium Fibre Life Bran Flakes) don’t appear to be available any longer (I am waiting on confirmation from Sanitarium on that) but I have found that our local Bulk Bins also sells bran flakes. These appear to be the same sort of bran flakes as used in Sultana Bran – they are much larger than the Fibre Life ones.
As for the berry syrup – I use Giffard strawberry syrup as I could by it locally. That is no longer the case so I will probably swap to a NZ made strawberry syrup such as this or a raspberry one such as this. However any berry flavoured syrup or cordial will work, blackcurrant is nice as is raspberry & rhubarb. If you haven’t any flavoured syrup, it is very easy to make (see here) or use honey or golden syrup. For the jam I use any berry flavoured jam, either mixed berry or a plain raspberry or boysenberry. I have also used plum jam and a grape jam I made that wasn’t appreciated as a toast topping. I increase this recipe by half again and it fills a 5 litre cereal container.
NB: I have received no free product or compensation for any of the products mentioned in this post.
While preparing my regular recipe for our local paper The Gisborne Herald, I went into the local shops I frequent to make sure all the ingredients were still available. A while ago I had purchased a large bottle of Giffard Strawberry Syrup and had plans to add the Peach Syrup to my pantry. However, as it often goes, products come and products go. And the Giffard range of syrups has disappeared from our local stockist which upset my muesli plans.
So what to do….. I had a search all around our fair city for another Strawberry syrup that would suffice. Other than the Barkers Fruit Syrups (in particular the Squeezed Rhubarb with Raspberry & Rosehip, which isn’t Strawberry but is a red berry fruit so was a good option in my mind), or Baker Halls & Co Fruit Syrups (I have used the Apple & Pomegranate in my homemade muesli), the next best option was the Raspberry & Boysenberry Compote from The Dollop Kitchen. It must be fairly popular compote as the shelf was empty.
Other ideas were to buy strawberry jam and heat it until liquid (I often use jam in my muesli as it is a great way to use up jam flavours that the kids haven’t appreciated); use a icecream topping such as Delmaine Strawberry Topping or try to track down some Milkshake Syrup (such as Supreme or Six Barrel Soda Co. – the later requiring a trip to Napier or Havelock North). I could order online but I needed it, like, yesterday and I also wanted something available locally. On another note, the Raspberry & Lemon or Cherry & Pomegranate from Six Barrel Soda Co. both sound really good, maybe I’ll order some anyway).
The only other option was to make some strawberry syrup. I make fruit syrups regularly as they are easy and use three ingredients: fruit, sugar, water. So here is my strawberry syrup recipe (the muesli recipe is coming in the next few posts). I have used frozen strawberries as NZ-grown frozen strawberries were preferable to tasteless imported fresh strawberries. This coming summer I will make sure I freeze plenty of strawberries so I can whip up this syrup. I thought about adding a vanilla pod, or some black pepper. Both are well suited to strawberries but I decided in this instance to stay with simple strawberry. It doesn’t get much better than that.
The syrup can be used in many ways – not just in muesli. Put a tablespoon in a glass and top up with cold milk for a strawberry milk drink, or add some vanilla icecream and use the blender to make a strawberry milk shake. We use it to flavour our natural unsweetened yoghurt and serve with muesli for breakfast. It is also nice with vanilla ice-cream.
In the latest Australian Women’s Weekly issue (New Zealand edition (November 2015)), Nigella speaks about the therapy of baking. I don’t often buy the AWW as I have to limit my magazine purchases in order to keep to my assigned budget but occasionally something on the cover calls out to me. Most often it is a kiwi food writer or chef and I always buy the December issue because I LOVE the recipes. In my experience, AWW recipes are very good and so they should be, triple tested and all. I triple test my own recipes because I want them to be as “good” and fail-safe (and because the piglets in my house eat all the baking as I’ve forgotten I need to take photo’s. I still haven’t posted my Apple Caramel Slice recipe because as soon as I make it, it is demolished).
This breakfast salad is loosely based on Swiss Bircher Muesli but uses quinoa (pronounced keen-wa) instead of rolled oats. It is a lovely fresh breakfast, perfect for sunny but cool Spring mornings. Continue reading
I found a recipe in a cute little book called The Best of Apples. It has 22 apple recipes, some of which I am keen to try, others not so much. I discovered a recipe for Breakfast Apple Shake that seemed easy enough. We like smoothies & shakes but I have discovered I like them a lot less thick that a lot of recipes specify. Not as thin as juice, but I don’t like a mouthful of sludge either (tasty, fragrant sludge but still sludge). This recipe is inspired by the recipe in the cookbook. Continue reading
AFB Honey English Muffins
Here in New Zealand we can buy English muffin splits in a pack of six. They are quite yummy and come plain or flavoured with fruit or cheese. The teens in my house have recently discovered these and pile them into the trolley if they happen to be accompanying me on a grocery shop.
As part of my recent interest in reducing refined sugar in our diet, and trying to eliminate processed food products, I dug out a treasure of a cookery book: Joy with Honey by Doris Mech. Published in 1979, and sprinkled throughout with biblical references, I discover new delights within this unassuming book every time I read it.
Of particular interest is the section on how to convert recipes to using honey. More on that later as I have already put that new found knowledge to good experimental use with an AFB Chocolate Honey cake but more on that later….
While breakfast is reputed to be the most important meal of the day, it is a meal I approach with little enthusiasm. My system is so busy trying to wake up that planning and cooking a meal is beyond possible. Cold cereal is not an attractive option for me, and toast & jam soon gets boring. If I could imagine up a silent overnight kitchen assistant that cleaned benches, washed dishes and left a pot of warm porridge on the stove, I would.
The next best option is to create a large pot of porridge on a weekend morning when the start to the day is a little more forgiving. This week I have had warm porridge just a microwave reheat away and it is helping me try and form new habits of breakfasting before 10am and on proper food (instead of 3 cups of strong coffee). Continue reading
Apple Muesli / Granola
Apple muesli for most people brings to mind Bircher Muesli – rolled oats soaked overnight in apple juice, then freshly grated apple stirred just prior to eating. It is a most delicious breakfast particularly when smothered with homemade natural unsweetened yoghurt. However, this apple muesli is a toasted muesli, also known as granola. We have a small but very prolific apple tree of unknown parentage in our back yard. Before we gave the tree a haircut, it would produce so many apples that branches would break away from the tree under the weight of the fruit. Every year I mean to Continue reading