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Archive for the ‘Breakfast’ Category

Some time ago, my sister-in-law, K, posted a recipe for Almond Milk on her blog.  The first few times I made it myself I flipped back to her recipe, but after a few batches I found that I was able to remember the simple and delicious recipe without peeking.  Now I keep homemade almond milk in my refrigerator almost all the time.

What makes this recipe so wonderful is the simple list of ingredients and the ease with which they can be combined to make a flavorful and healthy drink.  Almonds, water, a bit of sweetener (I use agave nectar or maple syrup) and vanilla, and a pinch of salt, whirled in the blender and strained through cheesecloth,

and there you are — creamy, smooth, slightly sweet and nutty — the perfect glass of almond milk.

For me, nothing tastes better on homemade (or any other kind) granola.

Here are the details:

Almond Milk

1 cup whole almonds (I use organic)
4 cups water
2 tablespoons agave nectar or maple syrup (you can add more or less sweetener to taste)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pinch kosher salt

Combine all ingredients in a blender.  Blend at the highest speed for about 2 minutes, until all of the almonds are pulverized.

Pour through a strainer lined with cheesecloth.  Gather the cheesecloth and squeeze until all of the liquid is extracted.

Pour into a jar and refrigerate.  Almond milk keeps, refrigerated, for about 3 days.

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I may have mentioned this once before (or maybe not) but in our house, S is the official breakfast chef.  On the weekends he is usually up before I am, rifling the pages of his many breakfast cookbooks and searching the pantry and fridge for breakfast supplies.  Before he starts cooking he puts Steal Away by Charlie Haden on the stereo (I know I have told you that before) and the mellow tunes and fragrant smells usually draw me out of bed, ready to eat.

Lately, he’s been even more enthusiastic than usual, excited to put our new stove top and oven through their paces.

This morning he settled on a recipe from one of his favorite breakfast books, The Big Book of Breakfast: Serious Comfort Food for Any Time of the Day, for a Dutch Baby pancake.

That’s one of those airy, puffy baked pancakes that you make in the oven and serve topped with fruit (or whatever else sounds good at the time).

Dutch Baby (German Pancake)
(from The Big Book of Breakfast by Maryana Vollstedt)
Serves 2

3 large eggs
½ cup all purpose flour
½ cup milk
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  In a medium bowl, whisk eggs.  Add flour slowly and whisk until blended.  Whisk in milk and salt.

In a large oven proof skillet (a black cast iron skillet works well; today S used a big, deep Dutch oven) over medium heat, melt butter.  Pour batter into skillet and place the skillet in the oven.

Bake until the pancake is lightly browned and puffed, about 20 minutes.

Remove from oven.  Loosen edges with a knife and turn out onto a plate.

Serve immediately, sprinkled with powdered sugar, topped with fruit and drizzled with maple syrup.  Or whatever other toppings you like!

Even if you’re not a practiced breakfast maker, I recommend this recipe.  It’s easy, tasty and looks lovely on the plate, too!

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Making granola at home

I have to be honest.  This didn’t begin as a post about granola.  In fact, I was searching for a recipe for healthy, home-made granola bars.  The crunchy kind.

After a long search I found a recipe that looked promising in the Baking Illustrated cookbook, another source that I frequently turn to when looking for baking ideas.  After reading the recipe, of course I felt the need to make some changes.

I started by substituting some Bob’s Red Mill Muesli cereal for some of oats called for in the original recipe.  Mixing this with the oats prior to toasting them added a few more grains and, I hoped, some extra nutrition and flavor.

While the grains were toasting, I heated maple syrup (which I used instead of the honey the original recipe listed) with brown sugar

and chopped some walnuts.

At the last minute, I also added some wheat germ as I mixed the toasted grains with the maple-brown sugar syrup and nuts.  The mixture was nice and sticky as it went into the oven for the final baking.

I’m not sure if the maple syrup-for-honey substitution was the cause, or if I just didn’t press the mixture into the pan firmly enough

but I ended up with wonderful, crunchy, maple-walnut granola instead of granola bars.  Not what I had been aiming for, but incredibly good all the same.  I’ll definitely be making it again soon.

I’m going to get some milk and eat some right now!

Maple-Walnut Granola

5 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
2 cups Bob’s Red Mill Muesli Cereal
½ cup canola oil
½ teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups whole walnuts
¾ cup maple syrup
¾ cup packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup toasted wheat germ

Place an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Line an 18 x 12 inch rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Combine the oats, Muesli cereal, canola oil and salt in a large bowl and mix until oats and cereal are evenly coated.

Spread the mixture into an even layer on the baking sheet (reserve the bowl for later) and bake, stirring every 10 minutes, until the oats are pale gold in color and smell toasty, about 30 minutes.

Remove from the oven and lower the heat to 300 degrees F.

While the oats are toasting, place the nuts in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped (about 10 1 second pulses). Remove ½ of the nuts and continue to process the remaining nuts until finely ground.  Mix the coarse and fine nuts together in a small bowl and set aside.

Combine the maple syrup and the brown sugar in a small sauce pan over medium heat and cook, stirring often, until the brown sugar is completely dissolved, about 5 minutes.  Add the vanilla and set aside.

Combine the toasted oats with the nuts, wheat germ and maple syrup mixture and stir until everything is evenly coated.

Pour the mixture into the rimmed baking sheet and spread evenly.

Bake until golden, about 45 – 50 minutes.

Cool completely before storing in an air-tight container.

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