Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Oatmeal Flax Clusters

These little cluster cookies are very addictive! They are packed with oats, flax and a variety of nuts and seeds. They are based on an old recipe for oatmeal cookies from a Betty Crocker cookbook from the 1960s but I have substantially modified the original recipe both in ingredients and method. In those days people were not as careful about the amounts of sugar or fats they consumed. The original recipe called for 1 cup of butter and 1 1/2 cups sugar. This would be considered too much by today's standards.

1 cup shortening
    3/4 cup brown sugar
    ¼ cup water
    1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1 large egg
    1 cup whole wheat flour
    1/2 cup oat bran
    1 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (not instant or quick cooking)
    1/2 cup flax meal
    1/4 cup sesame seeds
    1 cup dried cranberries
    1/2 to 1 cup of chopped nuts, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds
1.      Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
2.      Mix the sugar and water in a saucepan. Heat gently until sugar is completely dissolved. Let cool to room temperature
3.      In a large bowl, mix in the flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, oats, oat bran, flax meal, nuts and seeds, and dried fruit.
4.      Rub in the shortening with your hands until the mixture resembles a coarse meal
5.      Beat together the egg and vanilla extract. Add this to dry ingredients along with the sugar water. Mix until a dough forms.
6.      Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
7.      Scoop the dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheets. Flatten each ball of dough slightly. These cookies do not spread much.
8.      Bake the cookies for 15 minutes, until golden brown. Cool them on the baking sheets for 15 minutes or so. Decrease oven temperature to 250 degrees Fahrenheit then put the cookies back in the oven for another 20 minutes. Move them to a cooling rack to finish cooling.

Friday, 15 September 2017

Orange Banana Oat Breakfast Squares

These are very dense, heavy breakfast squares that certainly make for a very portable and filling breakfast. They are packed with oats, flax, and all bran for fiber. The orange and banana give it flavor. It does take a little preparation to make the orange puree but the payoff is worth it. With a cup of coffee in the morning, this will keep you feeling full till lunch.

1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup rolled oats
¼ cup All-Bran cereal
1/4 cup oat bran
¼ cup flax meal
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground coriander (optional)
1/3 cup oil
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup water
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 small ripe banana, mashed (the riper, the better)
1 small orange prepared as below
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup cranberries
1 small granny smith or other crisp, tart apple, coarsely shredded (optional but makes, and keeps the squares moist)
1. Grease or line a 9 x 9 square tin or pyrex baking dish with parchment paper. 
2. Combine dry ingredients (except sugar), nuts and cranberries in a bowl and set aside. Bring sugar and water to a boil. Simmer until at thin syrup stage (212 degrees Fahrenheit on a candy thermometer). Set aside and allow to cool. 
3. Wash the whole orange carefully. Trim about 1⁄2" from the tops and bottoms of oranges. Cover with water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Drain. Repeat boiling process twice more with fresh water. Again, cover the orange with cold water.  Bring the water to a rolling boil, lower the heat, and simmer with the cover on for about 1- 1 1/2 hours. Don’t try to rush this part as the prolonged boiling minimizes the bitterness of the skin and pith. Tip: I used a pressure cooker to do this in 30 minutes. Remove from heat but don’t flash cool, let it cool naturally until the pressure has dropped, and it is safe to open. Allow the orange to cool. The orange is “cooked” when the rind gives easily when pierced with a fork. This step can be done the day before and the puree kept in the fridge until ready to use. Remove the center, and seeds if any. Puree in a small blender. Set aside. 
4. Preheat oven to 350° F 
5. Using an electric mixer, beat oil, eggs & vanilla about 2 minutes. Add the syrup and mix well. Beat in banana, shredded apple (if using), and pulped orange until incorporated. 
6.  Add to the dry ingredients and mix with a wooden spoon by hand. The resulting "dough" will be very stiff. Spread evenly into pan lined with parchment paper and bake for 35 minutes. Let cool and cut into 9 squares.

Monday, 28 August 2017

Tropical Flavored All-Bran Muffins

These are delicious, moist bran muffins made with a variety of tropical flavors that remind me of my childhood in the Caribbean (Tamarind, dates, oranges, lemons). There is no added sugar other than that from the dates. The dates also help provide the moistness and additional fiber as well. They do require some preparation but are well worth the effort. They freeze well, and also defrost and reheat to their original state in the microwave.
3/4 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda

Juice and zest of 1 lemon
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups Kellogg's® All-Bran® Original cereal
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)
1 3/4 cups half and half
1 egg
1/4 cup vegetable oil
¼ cup yogurt
2 teaspoon orange extract
12 large Medjool dates finely chopped
1/2 tablespoon tamarind paste or concentrate (available from Asian stores or Amazon)

1.      Stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, nuts (if using) and salt. Set aside.
2.      Finely chop the dates and mix in with the half and half. Let stand for 20 minutes so that the dates can soften.
3.      Zest and juice the lemon. Place this in a small bowl and mix in the tamarind concentrate and orange extract.
4.      Pour the date and half and half mixture over the all-bran cereal.  Let stand about 2 minutes or until cereal softens.
5.      In the meantime, beat the yogurt, egg and oil well until thick and creamy looking.  Add the lemon mixture and make sure it’s mixed in. Add this mixture to the all bran and half and half, then add all to the flour mixture, stirring only until combined. Portion evenly into twelve 2 1/2-inch muffin pan cups (I use the foil lined, jumbo sized ones from Reynolds).
6.       Bake at 400° F about 20 minutes or until golden brown. A cake tester inserted should come out clean. Cool 10 minutes. Serve warm.

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Oat Blueberry Breakfast or Tea Wedges

These are hearty wedges that will keep you feeling full for a while! The texture and density is a cross between and English Scone and a Caribbean Rock Cake or Jamaican "Bullah"! The dough is messy and yukky to work with, and does get your hands dirty. It's best to have all ingredients measured and placed in little saucers and bowls so as not to have to keep washing your hands to avoid getting soft dough over everything else. When you are making it and have your hands almost elbow deep in soft dough, you will wonder why you're even making it. However when you have taken them out of the oven, and spread a split wedge with jam, clotted cream or cheese of your choice....you'll understand why you bothered! 

7 ozs whole wheat flour
1 oz oatmeal, oat bran or oat flour
2 tablespoons Old Fashioned Oats
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground allspice
2 ozs butter, diced up
1 oz white sugar
1 oz brown sugar
3 ozs blueberries, washed and dried on a paper towel
1 oz dried cranberries
4 tablespoons Greek style yogurt
4 fluid ozs half and half
Additional flour in a small bowl to use during the kneading process
1.      Heat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Mix the flour, oat preparation you have opted to use (meal, bran or flour), salt, spice, baking soda and powder into a large bowl. Rub in butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
2.      Mix the sugars and dried cranberries into the half and half. Add the blueberries to the dry mixture. Add the liquid along with the yogurt to the dry mixture. Mix to form a soft dough.
3.      Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and knead for a while until smooth and forms a ball. Roll the dough in the 2 tablespoons oats, making sure that the oats stick well to the surface, and shape the dough into an 8 inch round on the parchment paper lined baking sheet. Cut deeply into the round to divide into 6 wedges.
4.      Bake this for about 25-30 minutes until raised and nicely browned. Cool on a rack and cut fully into wedges when cool. Split open and serve with jam and cheese of your choice.