Friday, November 22, 2013

Banana granola with raisins & walnuts

I haven't bought cereal in a while now, reaching instead for homemade granola with yogurt or milk and my morning coffee. I love the recipe I began making about a year ago, which gets its crunch from the addition of a whipped egg white (tip courtesy of the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook). But recently we had a few very ripe bananas, and instead of baking a loaf of banana bread, I decided to mash one into our weekly granola. Best decision!
naturally sweetened banana granola
full of grains and protein = happy start to the day
The consistency of the banana, mixed with a little tahini, oil, and honey, resulted in a perfectly crunchy, clumped together granola, without the addition of a whipped egg white. I added raisins and chopped walnuts after baking the granola, which gave it just the right level of sweetness and crunch. Feel free to leave out the coconut if that's not your bag, and to use peanut or another nut butter instead of tahini (ground sesame seeds) if you'd like. I've also used coconut oil in place of the rice bran oil, which is delicious. The ground flaxseed and chia seeds, along with the oats, add plenty of protein and fibre-- this stuff will keep you full till lunchtime. 
oats, ground flaxseeds, chia seeds, and coconut with banana, tahini, and honey
I'm also planning to try a sweet potato or pumpkin version of this granola later this month (just in time to cure any ex-pat Thanksgiving blues!)... I imagine a mashed sweet potato / pumpkin will offer a texture and sweetness similar to the banana in this recipe. I hope you enjoy this version as much as we did: the hubs has dubbed it the best granola yet.

Banana granola with raisins & walnuts
makes about 3 cups

1 large ripe banana (or 2 small bananas), mashed (about 3/4 cup)
1 tablespoon oil (rice bran oil or coconut oil work well)
1 tablespoon tahini (or peanut butter, almond butter, etc)
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch of freshly ground sea salt
3 cups rolled oats (not instant)
1/4 cup shredded coconut (unsweetened)
1/2 cup ground flaxseed
1/4 cup chia seeds
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup coursely chopped walnuts

In a large bowl, combine the banana, oil, tahini, honey, cinnamon, and salt. Stir well to combine. Add the remaining ingredients, and stir well so that everything is evenly coated in the banana mixture.

Spread the mixture evenly onto a large cookie sheet (or two medium sized cookie sheets). Bake at 150C / 300F for 30-35 minutes, or until lightly golden, taking the tray out halfway through the baking time to flip the granola over with a large spatula and stir it around a bit on the cookie sheet so that it bakes evenly. 

Remove from oven and allow to cool, then sprinkle the raisins and walnuts over the granola. Store in an airtight container for up to two weeks.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Japanese oatmeal with sesame & miso

This riff on miso porridge is one I have been mulling over for a while now and have been working up the courage to try. I knew the hubs would melt over the idea of a savory oatmeal seasoned with miso, as we're always having the savory/sweet breakfast food debate on the weekends. He prefers savory, my ideal is slightly sweet. Our compromise is usually pancakes with fried eggs on the side. But salty miso oatmeal, when my favorite version is a cinnamon-spiced mixture sweetened with a little honey or brown sugar (and preferably some roasted pumpkin thrown in), was going to be all him.
plain yogurt, toasted walnuts, sliced radishes = perfect miso oatmeal stir-ins
However. This recipe blew my socks off. The flavor is stunning, satisfying.  The cool radishes and toasty walnuts, stirred in with a little creamy yogurt on top of the salty oats, are the most delicious combination. The hubs wants to experiment with a poached egg on top, too, though we haven't yet ventured that far (he has done so now, and it is delicious!).

sesame oil toasted oats with miso make a satisfying, flavorful oatmeal
We've also discovered that thinly chopped celery and baby bok choy are very tasty additions. Chopped fresh herbs (parsley, basil, or dill) and toasted sesame seeds would also be great add-ins. If you don't have sesame oil on hand to toast the oats in the first step, use olive oil or butter instead. But make sure you toast them, it adds a rich, deep flavor to the finished bowl.
miso oatmeal topped with sliced celery and baby bok choy, with yogurt and toasted walnuts
It's going to take many more batches of Japanese oatmeal (as we've started calling it) until I grow tired of it and turn back to the sweeter variety. Trust me, you need to try this at least once. And somehow this seems the perfect breakfast for either the cooler fall whether you Northern hemisphere folks are experiencing, or our hotter, summery days down here in the southern half of the world. Happy November, all. 

Japanese Oatmeal
2 servings
inspired by 101 Cookbooks

3 teaspoons sesame oil
1 1/4 cups oats (make sure they're gluten-free if your cooking g-f)
2 cups water
2-3 teaspoons miso (I used shiro/white miso)

A selection of toppings to serve:
2-3 tablespoons plain/greek yogurt
1/3 cup chopped, toasted walnuts

1 thinly sliced large radish
1 5-inch piece of celery, thinly sliced
1 bunch baby bok choy, thinly sliced

Place a medium-sized pot on the stove and bring to medium-low heat. Add the sesame oil and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan. Add the oats, and cook, stirring occasionally to coat in the sesame oil, for about 6-7 minutes, until they have taken on a slight, light golden color and toasted scent. Add the water to the oats and bring to a slow simmer. Cook the oats, stirring occasionally, until the water is absorbed, about 6-7 minutes.

Place the miso in a separate small bowl, and add a few spoonfuls of the cooked oats to the miso. Stir to combine. Add this oat-miso mixture back to the cooked oats, and stir gently to evenly combine. Taste and add up to another teaspoon of miso if necessary. Remove oats from heat.

Serve immediately with a small dollop of yogurt, the chopped, toasted walnuts, and whatever other toppings you desire (thinly sliced radishes, celery, baby bok choy, etc).