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Archive for the ‘Bread and baking.’ Category

I had the best breakfast EVER when I was visiting Iceland last month. The Laundromat Cafe is a quirky little place in Reykjavik where you can have an amazing meal and wash your clothes at the same time. I ordered ‘The Clean Breakfast’, which consisted of lots of healthy, healthy food – and came with a little dish of Greek-yogurt-like cheese drizzled with honey and topped with a crunchy, freshly made muesli (basically, an unbaked granola). After messing around with a few recipes, I settled upon this one, for a delicious – and baked – knock-off. It doesn’t last for very long in my pantry. Here’s how to do it!

  • 4 cups dry oatmeal
  • 3/4 cups oat bran (I like Bob’s Red Mill – in the cereal section)
  • 3/4 cups wheat germ (Kretschmer’s!)
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped almonds
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tbsp. maple syrup
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325F. Combine oatmeal through pecans in a large mixing bowl. Combine oil through vanilla extract in a small saucepan and heat over medium flame, stirring to make a syrup (you don’t need to bring this to a boil).

Pour syrup over oatmeal mixture and stir quickly and thoroughly, making sure all the crumbly bits have a little syrup on them. Spread out onto a quarter-sheet baking pan (or two standard cookie sheets) and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and stir so there aren’t any bits that get too browned. Return to oven and bake another 10 minutes.

Remove pan(s) from oven and set on the counter to cool completely. When cooled, break up with a spatula and store in an airtight container.

DELICIOUS spooned over some honey-drizzled Greek yogurt and berries. Enjoy!

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Impossible to resist!

With the abundance of summer produce comes a deluge of those lovely plump berries that suddenly seem to be juicier and sweeter when June rolls around. There are only so many bowls of cereal with blueberries one can eat, although I must confess, I’ve yet to reach my limit. Just the same, here’s a great recipe you can whip up in under a half hour, from pantry to breakfast table (or afternoon tea!). Makes a perfect dozen, and they freeze like a dream.

for the muffins:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1/3 cup milk
1 cup fresh blueberries (more if you’d like)
1/2 cup white sugar

for the streusel:

1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup butter (half a stick), melted
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400F. Combine 1/2 cup sugar, 1/3 cup flour, and cinnamon in small mixing bowl. Pour in melted butter; stir and set aside.

In a one-cup measure, pour in the milk and then the oil; crack in the egg and beat lightly with a fork; set aside.

In medium mixing bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups flour, 3/4 cup sugar, salt, and baking soda. Stir wet ingredients into dry and then fold in blueberries.

Spoon batter into paper-lined muffin cups. Top with the streusel. Bake for 20 minutes and then allow to cool on rack in pan for 10 minutes. Remove muffins from tin and allow to cool completely (if you can wait that long!) or serve warm.

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My grandmother, Genevieve Zuchowska Zablotny, used to make this bread for the Easter holiday. All the Polish women in the neighborhood had similar recipes handed down from their mother or grandmother. My childhood friend, Alice, lived two doors down from my grandmother; she and I would carry loaves wrapped in tea towels across the street to the rectory so that they could be blessed by one of the priests. We’d have fits if a crumb fell to the ground – they were now HOLY loaves. Oh boy, funny memories.

I’ve attached my grandmother’s recipe. Note that it calls for FIVE POUNDS of flour. Yup, a whole sack. Her recipe makes six loaves. The first time I made this bread, I was a novice baker, it was my first attempt at bread baking, and I had no idea what a gigantic mound of dough this concoction produced. ‘Overwhelmed’ was an understatement. I’ve condensed the recipe down to make one loaf. Here’s how.

But wait! There’s more!

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This bread is a delight with a big bowl of beef or lamb stew, or just about anything that’s been cooked for hours in a velvety gravy. I’ve made this many times, believe me, I wouldn’t lead you astray. And if you happen to have a record album of old Irish rebel songs playing in the background as you’re kneading, so much the better. Happy St. Patrick’s Day, all!

2 tbsp dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1 tbsp sugar
7 oz. Guinness stout
2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp butter
1 tsp caraway seeds
2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp powdered ginger (don’t leave this out; it really makes a difference!)
1 tbsp butter (to brush on loaf after baking)

But wait! There’s more!

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Homemade croutons.

I realize you can buy them at the grocery. And yes, they cost maybe $.99 for a box. But they have nothing on what you can make yourself. This task is exponentially easier if you have a loaf (or half) of homemade bread sitting around getting stale. You could bake a loaf for this purpose, and I must admit, I have actually done so.

But wait! There’s more!

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While I was writing up my introductory note to all of you, I was in the process of making a loaf of rye bread. It was going through its second rise, and I abandoned it. Cruel, but true. Remember that guy who ended up taking Rizzo to the dance in ‘Grease’? That’s what it reminded me of: a pock-marked, over-inflated mess full of hot air. Had I gotten up from the computer, walked three paces and put that dough in the already preheated oven, it would’ve turned out perfectly. It’s kind of hard to screw up a rye bread, but I figured out how. That being said, here’s a no-fail recipe that will knock your socks off, and impress the hell out of any eastern European relatives you might have.

But wait! There’s more!

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