Sunday, January 12, 2014


I've always liked granola in all forms: homemade, store bought, raw, baked, bars, loose cereals, shards and clusters for snacking...

This time the aim was a granola bar in muffin form, containing many of my favorite granola accoutrements.
I wanted something potentially portable, certainly substantial and filling, good with a cup of coffee or tea, for breakfast or a snack, not sticky, not tooth-achingly sweet. 
Instead they turn out to be lightly sweet, with a toasty, almost brown-sugary caramel flavor. 

The bit of batter helps hold together the oats, nuts, and coconut, without being the more common sticky "glue" that holds many granola bars together.
Really, the texture is pretty nice: nubbly with a bit of crunch, craggy, a little crumbly.  
And in the end I even think they're pretty to look at.

Because I didn't particularly want to make an extra trip to the store, I went with what I came up with after going through the grain stashes and some of the pantry staples at home. Luckily it didn't turn out too shabby. 

By this time I've made the recipe twice, and I'm thinking about other things I could do with it. 
In truth, and I suppose it's the easiest way to go, I mostly found myself thinking of particular granola flavors I enjoy. 
Perhaps another time I'll end up adding dried fruit (blueberries, cranberries, cherries, chopped apricots) or a mashed banana, maybe switch up the nuts and seeds. 
Then again, the basics are always good...

As they cool, the muffins end up with a crust- but a crust that easily gives way to an oat-packed interior without difficulty- dense without being rock hard.
And actually (coincidentally, and happily), this project ended up tasting very similar to one of my all-time most favorite granolas.

makes 12 standard-sized muffins
based on a recipe from Heidi Swanson's Super Natural Every Day

2 1/2 c (260g) old-fashioned rolled oats (GF if that's what you're looking for)
1/3 c (74g) raw millet
1 c (128g) sorghum flour
1/2 c (62g) teff flour
1/2 c (52g) tapioca flour
1/3 c (53g) sunflower seeds
1/2 c (42g) shredded coconut
1/2 c (84g) raw sugar (turbinado, or brown sugar if you don't have raw) 
1 t (3g) cinnamon
1 t (6g) baking powder
1 1/2 t (10g) salt
1/3 c (80ml) honey
1/3 c (80g) coconut oil
5 T (72g) unsalted butter
2 large eggs, lightly beaten

Preheat the oven to 325F/160C.
Grease a 12-hole standard-sized muffin tin with coconut oil or butter (alternatively, place cupcake papers into the muffin tin).
Place the honey, coconut oil, and butter in a small saucepan and heat on low, stirring frequently, until just melted and well-combined. 
In a large bowl, combine the oats, millet, sorghum flour, teff flour, tapioca flour, sunflower seeds, shredded coconut, raw sugar, cinnamon, baking powder and salt. Stir well to combine.
Pour the honey mixture over the oat mixture, and mix with a spatula until homogenous.
Beat the eggs lightly in a small bowl and pour over the oat batter. Mix and fold in the eggs until everything comes together and the mixture is thoroughly combined.
Divide the mixture among the prepared muffin holes.
Bake 30-35 minutes, or until the muffins have risen and the tops and sides are golden.
Remove the pan from the oven to a wire rack and let the muffins cool 10-15 minutes.
(Initially the muffins are soft and crumbly- too delicate to remove from the pan successfully, so they require a little cooling time so that they firm up enough so each can be extracted in one piece.)
Gently run a knife along the perimeter of each muffin and remove from the pan to cool on a wire rack.
The muffins can be stored several days at room temperature in an airtight container (otherwise, they would probably freeze well for another day).

Friday, January 3, 2014

Thai Red Curry Sweet Potato Soup with Lentils

I know I've said it before: I love soup.
But I love it most especially in the wintertime.
It makes a comforting sort of meal, it can be filling, or just a little warming.
As much as I love it, I could never understand a friend who absolutely hated it. There are so many kinds of soup, how can you hate a whole genre of food (if we have the ability to use the word 'genre' as far as food classifications go...).

However, I think it was decided that the texture was a problem for her (especially broths). But there again, I'm confused since there's more than one soup texture and so much soupy variety.
Eating a whole dinner with a spoon? Was that it?
I couldn't tell you, I don't know.
I would have thought she was a picky (boring?) eater, but that's not necessarily so- she loved mushrooms, which can be a hotly contested food in the love vs. hate argument.

Anyway... it's all incredibly interesting stuff to everyone, I'm sure.

Just a quick little snippet, but I wanted to post this recipe for a new-ish soup favorite with some wonderful flavors.
It includes lots of warmth and freshness with a bit of heat (though it doesn't linger too long if you're concerned about that), plus some zip from the fresh ginger and lime.

There's a bit of pleasant "pop" from the lentils. If you're concerned about the color, you are of course welcome to choose red lentils for your version (better camouflage).

Thai Red Curry Sweet Potato Soup with Lentils
Adapted from a Donna Hay Recipe
serves 4-8

1 T (15 ml) veg oil or coconut oil
1/2 c (60 g) minced shallots 
3 cloves garlic, smashed and roughly minced
1 1/2 T (24 g) finely grated fresh ginger
1/4 c (55 g) Thai red curry paste
1 qt/1 L chicken or vegetable broth
1 can (400 ml) coconut milk
scant 2 lb (850 g) sweet potato, peeled and chopped into rough cubes
3 T (45 ml) fresh lime juice
1/2 c dry lentils (105 g)

To serve (as desired):
chopped cilantro
fresh limes
chili paste

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallot and saute for a few minutes until softened. Add the garlic and ginger and saute for about a minute to warm through. Add the curry paste and cook for another minute.  Pour in the broth and coconut milk, add the sweet potato and lime juice, and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer about 30 minutes, or until the sweet potato is tender. 

While the soup cooks, work on the lentils. 
Rinse the lentils with cool water, add to a saucepan, and cover with about 2 inches of water. Add a bit of salt and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat and simmer about 30 minutes or until the lentils are cooked, but still firm (if you're not familiar with your particular type of lentils, this could take anywhere from 20-40 minutes or so... it's recommended that you test them after the first 20 minutes). 
Drain the lentils and set aside. 

When the sweet potato is fork-tender,  remove the pan from the heat and puree the mixture with an immersion blender until smooth (or carefully in batches in a blender on the countertop).
Taste for seasonings and add salt and pepper as necessary. 
Stir the lentils through the warm soup or add them to individual bowls, and serve the flavorful garnishes alongside.