Trialing homemade toasted muesli

There is such a large variation of breakfasts available, especially in Australia where the options between savoury and sweet breakfasts are many. Oats were not (and still are not) a popular choice of breakfast in France. Here is how I ended up recently trialing homemade toasted muesli.

A few years ago, I would not have considered a savoury breakfast before the clock showed at least 10 am. Now, I don’t mind a fresh piece of bread with avocado and ham early in the morning, yum!

I grew up on bread and butter, or rather bread and jam or bread and honey, as I was not a big fan of butter when growing up. Forget Nutella. Nutella didn’t make its way into my mother’s kitchen until many years later. We used to make a chocolate spreadable out of a can of condensed milk and a tablet of chocolate. If you ask me now, I would not put that recipe on this blog.  Back to now, most mornings I leave the house quite early – to avoid some traffic knots – and have breakfast a bit later.  I have been trying out a few brands of muesli and toasted muesli.  Of course, curiosity obliging, I gave a try doing toasted muesli.

muesli homemade

How to make your own toasted muesli?

The key is to define upfront the flavour(s) you want as dominant and the “medium” you are after.

Flavours:

Do you want nuts as the dominant flavour? Or is it dry fruits? Is it berries? Keep one dominant flavour and then build round it.

Each main flavour will dictate the rest of the ingredients.  For example, if you want dry fruits such as cranberries and apricots, you would not add more than two types of nuts as it will become a very “busy” muesli and will lack the simplicity of good simple things. With cranberries and apricots, you may consider adding shredded coconuts, maybe some almonds and possibly some chia seeds.

Medium:

Typically muesli uses rolled oats. Commercial mueslis are composed of between 60% (for the gluten free ones) to 80% (more often) of rolled oats and other cereals flours (by weight).  If you are gluten intolerant, you could choose to use buckwheat based cereals or a mix of corn flakes or puffed rice.

My first toasted muesli mix were quite heavy on nuts and seeds.  I would now aim at 60% oats.

Other ingredients:

Some recipes do not add anything else than the medium, nuts, seeds, fruits. I like to add a little oil and honey (not much) and a pinch of salt. It adds a lot to the flavour and to the colour!

So, how to go about it?

Well, this is pretty simple, get a big baking tray out.  Cut large nuts (almond, hazelnuts and up size-wise) to smaller chunks. Cut dry fruits similarly. Place all dry ingredients in the tray.  Warm up a little the honey and oil, pour over and with your hands “massage” it through. Then, all you have left to do is bake the muesli in the oven while keeping an eye on it and mixing from time to time.

The recipe? Check HERE.

Note: you can add the dry fruits after the baking if you don’t like them too hard.

A few  ideas of combinations

Combinations for toasted muesli are endless. Here are a few I tried or some which jump to my mind.

Go nuts muesli!   Oats (50%), hazelnuts, walnuts, chia seeds, coconut, macadamia nuts.  You can use almond there too, almonds and I don’t agree well, so I would only put very little or avoid them. That muesli was quite nutritious.

Fig and apricot muesli: oats (60%), hazelnuts, macadamia, dry apricots, dry figs, pepitas.

muesli homemade

Northern america muesli: oats (60%), dry cranberries, dry apricots, coconut, chia seeds, almonds.

Chocoholic muesli: oats (70%), hazelnuts, almond or walnut, cocoa powder, chopped dark chocolate (to add at the end).

 And the price bit?

On my last muesli, I calculated that to come to the same price as a box at the supermarket, I would need to have 40% oats and plenty nuts (hazelnuts and macadamia are quite expensive). And that was using supermarket based ingredients i.e. no bulk price considerations!

I also calculated that is you use 60%, your cost become half of the commercial cost. So definitely worth it!

muesli homemade
Five minutes peace !
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Figs and nuts Toasted Muesli

If you want to control what goes into your toasted muesli (and also half the price of the supermarket box), you can make your own.  It does not require specific equipment: an oven and a small food processor, a chopping board and a knife.  You can even do without the food processor.

This recipe uses some dry fruits and nuts.  Feel free to adapt the ingredients, for example you may want more nuts of various kinds and no dry fruits, or you may substitute the apricots with shredded coconut.  I did not write down my first attempt to toasted muesli, it was a lot of nuts, chia seeds and coconut.  One guiding rule: use (based on weight) round 60% weight of rolled oats. Commercial toasted muesli are most often 80% rolled oats.

muesli homemade

Ingredients:
  • 750 g rolled oats
  • 150 g dry apricots
  • 150 g dry figs
  • 150 g pepitas
  • 150 g hazelnuts
  • 150 g raw macadamia
  • 1/4 cup olive oil (use any good vegetable oil of your choice)
  • 1/4 cup of liquid honey
  • 1/2 tsp salt
Method:
  1. With a large knife, cut the figs in strips and the apricots in small pieces up to 5 mm long
  2. Place the nuts (macadamia and hazelnuts) in a small food processor and blend to reach small to medium size. For example, you want each hazelnut cut at least in two and each macadamia at least in four.  I find that there will be some full nuts left and I will cut those with the knife on the chopping board.  There may be a few full nuts left, that’s all right.
  3. In a large baking tray, place all dry ingredients, roughly mix.
  4. Put the honey and oil in a small ball, heat up 15 seconds in the microwave and pour over the mix.  Using your hands, coat all the ingredients as much as you can.
  5. The, bake on 180-200°C. After 10 minutes, use a fork to move the muesli around. Repeat every 10 minutes until toasted.
  6. Once cooled down, transfer in a storage jar .

muesli homemade

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Seeking the right crumpet recipe

For the last two weeks we have been trialing crumpets recipes.  Why now? First because this has always been on my mind, but never a top priority.  At the moment, we are hosting my French niece. She has discovered crumpets with friends of ours while staying with them for a few weeks (I sent her there in June to ensure a full English immersion).  Stating the obvious, crumpets are an english breakfast item.  No chance to find them in France in supermarkets! We decided she may as well go home with a recipe that works well. So we have been actively seeking the right recipe!

crumpet

The first go at crumpets was with a recipe out of an internet search, far from being a success.  The next go was using a recipe from my yellow cooking notebook.  I do not recall where that recipe came from, I had scribbled it on a piece of paper a couple of years ago, inserted it in one of the plastic sleeves, and it was there waiting for the right day!  The “yellow notebook” is the second one of the type, there is also a red one, now full.

After that, I did another internet search and decided to put to the test three recipes simultaneously:

The comparative test

First I brought back all recipes to 200 mL of milk.  This is expected to produce 6 crumpets of 10 cm diameter. Plenty to trial with and judge!

As indicated below, the main difference is in the amount of yeast and the use of butter or not.  The Jamie Oliver’s recipe has slightly more flour. As a result that dough is a little tighter.

 Yellow book recipeJamie Oliver recipeGourmet Travellers recipe
Milk200 mL200 mL200 mL
Plain flour125 g150 g125 g
Butter 1 tbsp (10 g)None10 g
dry yeast7 g4 g2 g
bicarbonate soda1/2 tsp1/4 tsp1/4 tsp
salt1/2 tspNoneNone
white sugar1 tsp1/2 tsp1/2 tsp
oil/butter for cookingoiloilbutter

The verdict:

crumpet

As represented in the above photo from left to right.

Yellow book recipe: Very good, very tasty, more complex flavour (due to the butter and the strong flavour brought by the fresh yeast

Jamie Oliver’s crumpets: Very good. closer in taste to commercial crumpets (the dough is a bit heavy)

Gourmet Travellers’ recipe: surprisingly chewy, not my favourite, but the dough is a pleasure to work with (perfect consistency)

The cooking:

I used my crepe pans, perfect for that. I had some non-stick crumpet rings.

We wanted to try the with and without flipping the crumpet methods. The benefit of not flipping it is to keep the bubbles open at the top so when you place butter, honey, jam or maple syrup over the crumpet, it all falls into the holes. Double yummy!

I found that flipping the crumpets ensures that they are cooked on both sides, it is a nice finish look also.  When we did not cook them on the other side, we have had some dryer results and a few burnt bottom ones.  It may be worth looking into using a lid so the steam can be cooking the top part of the crumpet.

crumpet
The second crumpet from the left was left cooking slowly without turning it over.

The winning recipe:

Personally, I am quite happy with the recipe that was in my yellow book.  I however find the ratio of yeast to flour a bit high and may reduce it in the future. For indication 7 g would be used with 250 g of flour.

The full method is HERE.

crumpet

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Crumpets

After trialing a few recipes to make sure my 16 years old niece who has become a fan of this little hot cakes could reproduce crumpets in France, I am putting here my pick of the recipes trialed.

If you want to read about the comparative testing, go to the post dedicated to it HERE.

Otherwise, get some flour, sugar, yeast, milk, salt, bicarbonate of soda and a little butter and get cooking!

Makes 6 medium crumpets.

Ingredients:
  • 200 mL of milk
  • 125 g of flour
  • 1 tbsp of butter chopped (10 g)
  • 7 g of dry yeast
  • ½ tsp of salt
  • ½ tsp of sodium bicarbonate
  • 1 tsp of white sugar
Method:
  1. Warm up half of the milk with butter and sugar. Add the remaining milk.  Why do it in two go, you may ask? This will ensure the temperature of the mix is initially hot enough to melt the butter and sugar but with the total volume of milk just warm. The yeast would not like it otherwise!
  2.  Add the yeast. Set aside for 10 minutes.
  3. Add together the flour, sodium bicarbonate and salt.
  4. Mix well (use a whisk) until completely smooth.
  5. Set aside for 45 minutes.
  6. Use non-stick crumpets rings.
  7. Oil the bottom of a crepe frypan or non stick fry pan slightly. Heat up the frypan then reduce to ¾ heat.
  8. Add 2 tablespoons of batter in each ring. When bubbles come up and have popped up regularly over the surface of the crumpet (2 to 3 minutes), remove the ring (it should come undone pretty easily by just pulling it up. If the crumpet is not fully cooked on the top, flip back and lightly cook for 10-15 seconds.

crumpet

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Stewed rhubarb

Use this as a dessert served with a biscuit or as a part of breakfast.

Ingredients:
  • 1 bunch of rhubarb stalks, leaves removes, cleaned, ends trimmed and cut in 5 cm length
  • White sugar
Method:
Preparation of the rhubarb

This is something you can get your child to help with, it is fun.

rhubard stalk preparation

  1. Cut the leaves and discard.

 

 

 

 

rhubard stalk preparation

2. Rinse/wash the stalks.

 

 

 

 

rhubard stalk preparation

3. Cut the bottom part of each stalk and pull any stringy skin that comes with it

 

 

 

Cooking:

Just cut in 5 cm pieces, place in a saucepan, stewed rhubarbadd water until mid-heigth (of the rhubarb) and cook gently for about 15 minutes. When stirred it should come apart,  add some white sugar to taste. Keeps well in the fridge for a week in an airtight container.

 

Use:

Use for dessert as such, served with a biscuit or use for breakfast with yoghurt and oats.

Want to use rhubarb another way? Check out the roasted rhubarb and rhubarb tarte.

 

 

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Rhubarb, yoghurt and cereals

Impress for the weekend or for a change of breakfast with this rhubarb, yoghurt and cereal breakfast bowl.  I have plated mine with oats and pepitas, feel free to vary those ingredients.

rhubarb, yoghurt & cereal

Quantities are given as an indication.

Ingredients:
  • Stewed rhubard (at least 1/2 cup per person).  It will already be sweetened.
  • Greek yoghurt (unsweetened) – 1 cup
  • oats (uncooked) – 1/2 cup to one cup
  • pepitas – 1/4 cup
  • Milk of your choice to pour around.
Method:
  1. In a deep plate or large bowl, plate the yoghurt and pile on top the stewed rhubarb. Add the oats around and sprinkle the pepitas over the oats.
  2. Serve with milk.

rhubarb, yoghurt & cereal

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Free range eggs now formally defined in Australia

Free range eggs have now a formal definition in Australia.  The controversy was not new, and a definition has been a long time coming. A number of brands claim to be “free range”, alas, for the poor customer, there was (until now) no way to know the veracity of the claim, especially when you pay a premium for “free range eggs”, for some brands, that premium can mean over $10 a dozen.

One of the not so free range eggs brands apparentlyOne of the not so free range eggs brands apparently

Of course, the hens are free range,…not the eggs!

The new definition of what free range eggs imply is well received by some, not so well by others. I am not going to go into the controversy of what should be done when breeding hens and which brands are better than others, it is a personal issue on what is acceptable to you.  I find that this definition is a starting point, for those who think it is not good enough, well, marketing and imagination can be used wisely.

How are free range eggs defined elsewhere?

Lets get into the new  definition of free range eggs and look over the oceans at what is done elsewhere.

In Australia, free range eggs must come from hens that have meaningful and regular access to an outdoor range, with a stocking density of up to 10,000 birds per hectare.  One hectare being 100 m x 100 m, this means 1 square metre per hen outside.  Interestingly, it seems the density indoors is unknown.

And in Europe? Europe has a European standard which defines the different categories of eggs.  A free range eggs requires:

  • compulsory continuous daytime access to open air runs, AND
  • the outdoor area is solely to be used for the hens, with limitations on dual use of the land, AND
  • a maximum density of 2,500 birds per hectare, in other words 4 square metres per hen (at all time, i.e. indoor and outdoor).

You got it,  free range eggs in Europe are definitely more free range than in Australia!

And in the US? In the US, there is no regulatory standard for eggs.  “Free range” is used when the hens are free to roam inside and have access to an outdoor area.

Using eggs everyday

These recipes are quite timely, I did not prepare them on purpose for this post, they are life example from this week in my family.

Blue cheese and asparagus quiche

I like a quiche from time to time, it is light to digest and comes under many sorts.  When I was a child I only liked the cheese quiche, I did not like at all the quiche Lorraine!  Now, things are different.  Quiche can incorporate vegetables, either in the main mix, for example grated zucchinis (finely grated) or grated carrots either on top where it can also serve as decoration.  Make it look like a landscape!  Try asian mushrooms on top, I really like the enoki mushrooms. Use a combination of them, it will be great, guaranteed!   This week, Ambrine was helping me make the quiche, I had green asparagus and the remaining of a large basket of cherry tomatoes from my mother in law’s garden in the NSW Southern Highlands. The recipe is here.

Before Baking:

quiche in the making

Just BAKED

cheese and asparagus quiche

 

To make the quiche process a bit more rapid ahead of the meal, you can make the quiche in stages and prepare the pastry earlier the same day or the day before. You can even blind bake it earlier.

I serve the with a green salad.  And dessert was a fruit salad.

Dinner on the table
Dinner on the table

Eggs for breakfast, today, using a microwave coddler

This is another child friendly recipe.  This is all about the fun of  little vessel called “coddlers” used to cook eggs.  Coddlers are, traditionally, English porcelain egg cups with a metal lead.  Very British! Egg coddlers have been used in England since the 1800s. The original name for an egg coddler was pipkin. My sister sent me a microwave version of them for a recent Christmas, what a great find! The advantage of the microwave version is the cooking time, it cooks in 30 seconds whereas the ceramics ones are cooked in a bain marie, this takes for ages!

Microwave Coddler
Microwave Coddler

All you need to do is:

  1. Crack open the egg and gently put in the coddler
  2. Add salt, a teaspoon of cream, pepper if you want.  You can add many more things like cheese, spices, …
  3. Close the lid
  4. Place in the microwave for 30 seconds (this will depend on your microwave and requires a bit of trial and error)
  5. That is it! Bip! Ready!
Cooking an egg in a coddler
Cooking an egg in a coddler
Egg cooked in a coddler
Egg cooked in a coddler

 

 

 

 

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Coddler Eggs for breakfast

Coddler eggs for breakfast is another child friendly recipe.  This is all about the fun of  little vessel called “coddlers” used to cook eggs.  Coddlers are, traditionally, English porcelain egg cups with a metal lead.  Very Britishsh! Egg coddlers have been used in England since the 1800s. The original name for an egg coddler was pipkin. My sister sent me a microwave version of them for a recent Christmas, what a great find! The advantage of the microwave version is the cooking time, it cooks in 30 seconds whereas the ceramics ones are cooked in a bain marie, this takes for ages!

Microwave Coddler
Microwave Coddler

All you need to do is:

  1. Crack open the egg and gently put in the coddler
  2. Add salt, a teaspoon of cream, pepper if you want.  You can add many more things like cheese, spices, …
  3. Close the lid
  4. Place in the microwave for 30 seconds (this will depend on your microwave and requires a bit of trial and error)
  5. That is it! Bip! Ready!
Cooking an egg in a coddler
Cooking an egg in a coddler
Egg cooked in a coddler
Egg cooked in a coddler
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