Saturday, May 21, 2016

Parfaits in Strawberry Season

A splash of deep red, amidst a white background, dotted with earthy browns. I am a dessert, who am I? Why, a parfait of course. I am delicious, healthy and loaded with nutrients.

Parfaits have to be my favorite breakfast on hot summer days. All you need is homemade yogurt, homemade granola, and loads of fresh summer berries. To assemble a parfait is easy. A bit of planning and it can be your go to breakfast on any day really. I make my weekly batch of yogurt on a Sunday typically. Many people ask me where I get my starter culture from. I normally rely on store bought yogurt that contains only cultured milk. Mind you, not buttermilk, but store bought yogurt whose only ingredient is pasteurized milk that is cultured. Typically, for two cups of milk that has been brought to a gentle boil and cooled, I used about 4 tablespoons of yogurt. Remember to remove any cream that you see on top of the milk that has been boiled and cooled. This thin layer should be removed before adding the yogurt to the milk. I tend to place the milk that has the yogurt mixed in it, in the oven, with the light on for about 6 to 8 hours. There should be no lumps of the yogurt in the milk. The heat from the oven light is enough to help the bacteria in the yogurt to ferment the milk. The yogurt sets really well. That's it! Once you get your first batch of home made yogurt, your culture remains if you make yogurt regularly. It is that simple.

Homemade granola is equally easy. I use about 1.5 cups of rolled oats with 1/8 cup of honey, 1/8 cup of sunflower oil and about 1 teaspoon of cinnamon. I mix these ingredients with my hand in a glass baking dish, and toast the oats at about 350 F until they are lightly browned. I tend to mix the oats around several times. I also often add various nuts like almonds and walnuts to the oats as they roast in the oven. Once the oats are done, just remove the baking dish from the oven and add a 1/4 cup of raisins and a 1/4 cup of chopped dried figs to this oat and nut ensemble. Voila! Your home made granola is ready. Cool this granola to room temperature and store in an airtight box. It should last a week or so. This volume will make about six single serving parfaits each with a 1/4 cup of granola or so.

To assemble to parfait, I use dessert cups and layer the granola with yogurt, add chopped strawberries and then drizzle some honey on top.


Monday, May 9, 2016

Hello Breakfast!

Time flies, or may be runs, perhaps does this really dramatic sprint...and boom! A year has gone by. I have been busy, but who isn't right? It has been a wonderfully productive year though. New recipes, new ideas and loads of new posts coming along I promise!

I really have been meaning to do a series of posts on oatmeal, rolled oats, oat bran, you name it. Breakfast specific mind you. I kind of started that trend with the oats dosa recipe, but this post is all about a breakfast full of warm oatmeal loaded with dried fruits, nuts and fresh fruit like green apples. Oh, and loads of cinnamon. This breakfast option is a big hit with my little one, and it gives us a lot of energy for busy mornings on weekends. Delicious to the core, here are my go to staples for a warm breakfast dish.

To prepare oat meal just follow the directions on the package. I stick to Bob's Red Mill rolled oats (organic), or their oat bran (organic). Loaded with fiber, protein and iron, the porridge can be made with water. I add the cinnamon powder when the oats are cooking in the water. I add milk only before serving. Chopped dried dates and figs, slivered almonds and chopped walnuts, and diced fresh apples, complete the meal for me. No added sugar mind you, but honey drizzled on the fruit make for a mouth watering meal. You can't go wrong.