Simply Breakfast

October 31, 2012 Comments Off on Simply Breakfast

While traveling, I was spoiled when it came to breakfast. I miss farm-fresh milk, eggs, and butter; substantial loaves of homemade bread; and jams made with local, seasonal fruits.

I especially miss Europe’s abundance of stellar bakeries.

Though there’s one thing I don’t miss at all: having to milk a cow or several goats before I can eat my breakfast.

Since I’ve come home, I’ve enjoyed some equally satisfying breakfasts. I may not be on a farm or in a sprawling metropolis, but I have a kitchen to play in and lovely people who appreciate (and tolerate) my culinary experiments.

Lately, I’ve been making a lot of grains for breakfast. First granola, then porridge, and now muslei.

There are many reasons why people still praise Kim Boyce’s Good to the Grain two years since its initial release. It’s brilliantly organized (each chapter focuses on a specific grain) and beautifully photographed, and the recipes strike the balance between nourishing, feel-good fare and honest-to-goodness comfort food.

This recipe for muslei is one of my favorites in the book. Most muslei is simply a combination of toasted oats, dried fruits and nuts, and a bit of wheat or oat bran. This version, on the other hand, calls for rye and quinoa flakes. The contrast in flavors and textures works to great effect here. Rye flakes are hearty and have a distinct, slightly malty taste. Quinoa flakes are delicate in flavor and texture. Together, the two cereals balance each other out.

Definitely seek out rye and quinoa flakes. I managed to find them in the bulk section of Whole Foods. Otherwise, old-fashioned, thick-rolled oats will do.

The toasted hazelnuts add richness and warmth. Like most nuts and seeds, hazelnuts need to be toasted in order to maximize their flavor. I tossed the hazelnuts in extra-virgin coconut oil before toasting. I tend to favor extra-virgin coconut oil for cooking these days for its high smoke point, nutritional benefits, and decadent taste.

I added some pumpkin and sunflower seeds for extra protein and, of course, crunch. Free to experiment with different kinds of nuts and seeds. On that note, the original recipe also calls for dried cherries and dried cranberries, but I substituted prunes and dried zante currants. I imagine you could use whichever dried fruits you like best.

Eat muslei as you would a bowl of cereal, with the yogurt or milk of your choice. My favorite way? A bit of goat’s milk yogurt, chunks of fresh pear, and a sprinkling of smoked salt to enhance the already wonderful flavors.

Toasted Rye, Quinoa, and Hazelnut Muslei (adapted from Kim Boyce’s Good to the Grain)

Yields 4 cups

–1 cup whole, raw hazelnuts

–1 cup mixed raw sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds

–1 heaping knob of extra-virgin coconut oil

–Sea salt to taste

–2 cups rye flakes

–1/4 cup wheat bran + 1 tablespoon

–1/2 cup quinoa flakes

–1/3 cup prunes

–1/3 cup dried zante currants

–Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread out hazelnuts on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Use your hands to coat the hazelnuts with extra virgin coconut oil. Sprinkle with salt and place in the oven, until the nuts are a few shades darker and smell fragrant. About 10-15 minutes.

–Once the hazelnuts are toasted, remove from the oven to cool. Spread the rye flakes into a single layer on another parchment-lined baking sheet. Place in the oven to toast for 10 minutes.

–Toast the sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds briefly in the oven, no more than 10 minutes. It’s optional to coat them in extra-virgin coconut oil beforehand.

–Don’t worry about removing the all of the hazelnuts’ papery skins after toasting. Leave most of them on for a rustic touch. I like to remove some of the skins by gathering about half of the hazelnuts in a dish towel, folding the towel into a parcel, and rubbing the sides of the parcel back and forth. The skins will slip off this way.

–Roughly chop the hazelnuts. Leave some whole.

–Chop the prunes into quarters and place in a small bowl with the currants and the extra tablespoon of wheat bran. Toss until all pieces of dried fruit are coated with bran. This prevents the dried fruit from clumping together.

–Place the hazelnuts, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, dried fruit, quinoa flakes, remaining quarter-cup of wheat bran, and rye flakes into a large bowl. Mix until all ingredients are combined. Store in an airtight container for seven to ten days.

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