Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Maple Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Muffins

Yes, I'm back to oats again. I'm a firm believer in the gut healing, soothing properties of this grain, and try to use it in anything that I can. These are delicious, moist muffins that make you want to eat them all at one sitting....DON'T!
1 egg
1 cup half and half (or skim milk if you are diet conscious)
1/2 cup of brown sugar (I like to use coconut sugar because of the caramel taste)
1 tablespoon good quality Maple Syrup
1/3 cup shortening
1 large tablespoon of Greek style yogurt
juice from 1/2 of a lime
1 cup old fashioned oats
1 1/3 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
pinch of cinnamon
pinch of allspice
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup dark chocolate morsels
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Measure dry ingredients (flour, oats,  baking powder, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, and chocolate morsels) in a bowl. Mix with a whisk and set aside.
3. Cream together the shortening and sugar. Add the half and half, the juice of half a lime, and the yogurt, egg and maple syrup and whisk until light in color. 
4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until just combined. Do not over mix.
5. Fill 12 foil line standard sized muffin liners about 3/4 full. Bake for 20 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean (there may be some staining from the melted chocolate but that's ok).
6. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Store in an airtight container. They can also be frozen and reheated in a microwave.

Monday, 10 December 2018

Spiced Apple and Oat Bran Breakfast cakes

Nothing says Christmas like the smell and taste of apples, cinnamon, and butterscotch! These are not really muffins even though they are baked in muffin liners. They are more like English  "rock cakes" or Jamaican "Toto". The oat bran makes them a bit dry and gritty but since they are for health and not intended to be sweet, soft, moist muffins, laden with fat and sugar, it's a trade off! If you like them a bit sweeter, spread with a dollop of your favorite jam or jelly.

3 oz all purpose flour
5 oz whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
4 oz oat bran
1 tablespoon Arrowroot flour
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon allspice
½ teaspoon nutmeg
2 oz flax meal
3 oz brown sugar
2 eggs
 2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon molasses
1 teaspoon orange extract
2/3 cup milk or half and half
2/3 cup Greek style yogurt
4 oz butter
1 small Granny Smith apple, peeled and shredded
1/3 cup butterscotch morsels
1.      Weigh and mix together all the dry ingredients and spices. Add the butterscotch morsels to the mixture and set aside.
2.      Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit
3.      In a small saucepan, add the sugar, milk or half and half, orange extract, butter, maple syrup and molasses. Slowly bring to a boil and remove from stove. Add the shredded apple to the mixture and set aside to cool.
4.      Whisk the eggs and the yogurt together until pale in color. Add in the liquid mixture and mix. Add the flour mixture all at once and mix together with a wooden spoon until just combined. Do not over mix.
5.      Divide the mixture evenly between 22 foil lined muffin cups that are paper lined. They do not need to be greased.
6.      Bake for 15-20 minutes until tops are browned and a cake tester inserted in the muffin comes out clean.

Saturday, 8 December 2018

Steel Cut Oat and Flax Muffins

There are many recipes available for oatmeal muffins but I wanted to come up with one that uses steel cut oats. I find that type of oats to be more satisfying than rolled oats, and certainly keeps you feeling full much longer. In addition, I like the nutty, slightly chewy texture that it imparts to whatever it's used to make. Preparing the steel cut oats takes longer than rolled oats as they do require a lengthy cooking time on the stove top but the result is worth it. I have made the addition of molasses optional but use it if you prefer a dark oatmeal muffin.
1 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons flax meal
2 tablespoons dry shredded unsweetened coconut
1/4 cup dried sour cherries (or cranberries)
1 egg
1/3 cup half and half (or skimmed milk if you are diet conscious)
1/2 cup Greek style yogurt
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/3 cup shortening
1/2 cup steel cut oats, uncooked
4 cups water
1 teaspoon orange extract or 1/2 tablespoon freshly grated orange zest
1-2 tablespoons molasses (optional, depending on preference)
1. Bring the water to a boil then add the steel cut oats. Cook slowly for about 1/2 hour until the oats are soft but not mushy.
2. While the oats are cooking, mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, dried coconut, flax meal, and cherries in a separate bowl. Set aside.
3. When the oats are cooked, drain using a sieve and set aside to cool. Discard the water used to cook the oats.
4. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
5. In a bowl, place the shortening, yogurt, brown sugar, egg, orange extract, molasses (if using), and milk. Whisk all together until blended.
6. Add the dry ingredients all at once and mix with a wooden spoon until just moistened, and the mixture comes together. Don't over mix or take too long with this stage.
7. Fill 10 foil, paper lined muffin cups ( I use the jumbo size) about 2/3 full. Bake in oven for 20-25 minutes until tops are brown and a cake tester inserted into the muffin comes out clean.
8. Remove from oven, cool and store in an airtight container. The muffins may also be frozen for longer storage. To reheat the frozen muffins, I move them from the freezer and allow to thaw in the refrigerator overnight. I then warm them up in the microwave.

Monday, 10 September 2018

Steel Cut Oats Biscuits

I am always developing recipes for crisp, crunchy biscuits/cookies. This is one using steel cut oats, my latest passion in the world of oats. I like the nutty, chewy texture of the oats, and if I'm not in a hurry, I will lightly toast the oats before cooking them as this enhances the flavor of the finished product. These are not very sweet but can be made sweeter by increasing the amount of sugar and golden syrup. They will keep for quite a while in an airtight container.

100 grams steel cut oats., uncooked
450 grams self-rising flour
200 grams dark brown sugar (I like to use the ones with a strong caramel flavor e.g. coconut sugar, Colombian Panela, Mexican Piloncillo)
1 teaspoon salt
120 grams butter
120 grams Crisco
3-6 tablespoons golden syrup (depending on how sweet you like your cookies)
3 tablespoons half and half
1 cup puffed millet
1 teaspoon vanilla
1.      Bring about 6 cups water in a pot to boil. Add the steel cut oats and partially cook them for about 10-15 minutes until they are semi-chewy. Drain through a sieve, pressing out as much moisture as you can. Set aside.
2.      Combine the flour, salt, and puffed millet. Mix well and set aside.
3.      Melt the butter, shortening, vanilla, golden syrup, and half and half. Bring to a rolling boil then remove from heat.
4.      Mix the flour, millet, and the cooked oats together using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment. Add the butter mixture and lightly mix until the dough comes together. The dough should be soft and dry to touch.
5.      Drop by rounded tablespoons on to a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool while you are baking another batch.
6.      Decrease oven to 225 degrees Fahrenheit and put the cookies back in the oven to dry out for another 60-90 minutes until they are golden brown.Cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

Sunday, 2 September 2018

Kaak bi Haleeb

This is a traditional type of Kaak but it's not the soft variety that one usually with Kaak of this name. I have modified it by using a variety of flours, each of which bring a particular characteristic to the finished cookie, and drying it out in the oven to make it very crisp, almost like a rusk. This was the type favored by my family who grew up in a mountain village just outside of Beirut. Their recipe was much simpler, and used less ingredients. The hard, dry texture probably allowed it to keep for many weeks during a long, cold Winter. I remember one of my Great-Aunts telling me that they did dry a lot of food items in the Summer and Fall, including fruits, and dairy like "Lebneh", (Drained yogurt). This would be made into balls, thoroughly dried out then stored in Olive oil.

The different types of Kaak all look the same on the outside but their differences are from the texture and taste of each one. This version also uses "Myski", (Gum Arabic or Gum Mastic). It is used in Lebanese cooking mainly with pudding deserts like rice pudding ("M'halabeeh"), or Lebanese ice cream (Booza), much like one would use Xanthan Gum to provide texture to a variety of dishes. It is usually available in Greek or Lebanese stores.

The dough requires a lot of kneading to get it just right. It is for this reason that I would not recommend that you try this version without a stand mixer and dough hook. The consistency of the dough is important in determining texture. It has to be dry to touch, smooth, pliable to the point of being elastic (the gum mastic helps with this). During the kneading process, you may find that you have to add a small amount of additional flour to get the dough to the right consistency. The recipe involves a lot of risings, so it does take a while to make. However, this recipe does produce about 40 cookies that keep a long time in an airtight container.

2 cups bread flour
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups durum atta flour or semolina flour
½ cup arrowroot
1 cup  of  olive oil
1/2 cup of water + 1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup milk
2  teaspoons  of yeast
1 cup sugar
1 cup of sesame (toasted or untoasted)
1 egg
1 1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of mahlab 
1 tablespoon anise
1 tablespoon caraway
1 tablespoon fennel seed
1 teaspoon Myski (mastic gum)
2 tablespoons orange blossom water
  1. Place the flour, sugar, salt and all seeds in a mixing bowl. Combine the dry ingredients for a few seconds.
  2. Proof the yeast with 1/2 cup of warm water and the sugar for a few minutes.
  3. Add the oil to the ½ the flour mixture in the bowl of a stand mixer with dough hook attached,  and combine well until the flour particles are moistened.
  4. Add the yeast mixture, mix with the dough hook.
  5. Add the milk and remaining flour a little at a time until the dough comes together in a firm ball that is smooth, pliable, almost elastic and dry to touch. Let it rest for 15 minutes then knead again for about 3 minutes.
  6. Let it rest covered in a warm place for 1 hour. When doubled in size, beat it down and then let it rise again for at least one hour, until doubled in size
  7. When the dough has doubled in volume, form into 20 balls. Cover with a damp towel and let them rise.
  8. Lightly beat the egg and pour into a plate. Sprinkle the sesame seeds into another plate. Put them side by side.
  9. Cut each ball in two and form each half into a long rope. Press the ends to form a ring, dip in the beaten egg, and then in the plate with sesame seeds.
  10. Bake in a 375F oven for about 15-20 minutes till golden. Then reduce the oven to 175F and let them dry out for another 6-8 hours to dry out completely.