Baking | Multigrain Granola … breakfast o’clock! #glutenfree #healthy #DIY

“All happiness depends on a leisurely breakfast.”
John Gunther

Multigrain GranolaMultigrain Granola … this is what flavours the mornings our end these days, and it doesn’t seem to change. I have made granola every single week for the past 4 weeks, and its gratifying to see the better half reach out for it. I had forgotten how easy granola, the ‘hippie’ food of the Sixties, was to make at home.Multigrain Granola  I was born in the late Sixties of this “cultural decade” which also saw a paradigm change in the world – the Beatles, the first step on the moon, the Vietnam war, the assassination of JFK, womens liberation movements.  My Sixties saw the good old Pye tuned to BBC World Service every morning, the Hare Rama  Krishna movement gaining fame thanks to  George Harrison, blackouts during war, no television, hopscotch and hide ‘n seek…

Wild Indian figs {goolar}My Sixties and Seveties also saw loads of naturally growing foodstuff  - mulberries, wild dates, jamun {Java plum}, ber {jujube/ Indian plum}, mangoes, tamarind, wild berries, wild figs. We would cram everything into our little mouths!The Sixties also saw the ‘hippie’ movement and a revival of natural, healthy foods in everyday diet, and a shunning of processed and sugary foods.Multigrain Granola My first tryst with breakfast creal began with the Gluten Free Chocolate Granola in 2011. Someway along the way, breakfast options for the dieting diva changed into smoothies, and granola got left behind. Of late, the husband has tired of ‘eggs in breakfast‘. He’s also off wheat as being gluten free makes him feel better.

Whole foodThat’s where granola stepped in! With the weather becoming increasingly warm, a make ahead, on the go ‘cold’ breakfast has won over egg! Topped with seasonal fruit like mulberries, fresh figs, strawberries, banana even better. Of late, my involvement with oats {and other whole grains} has been huge thanks to developing recipes and doing a TV cookshow for Saffola Oats. Suddenly anything and everything oats seems like a recipe opportunity. 

Multigrain Granola

Both granola and muesli contain a mixture of grains (such as oats), nuts, dried fruit and sometimes bran and wheat germ. Muesli may contain sugar and dried-milk solids, but it can be unsweetened. Granola is typically toasted with honey and oil, resulting in a crisp texture and sweet glaze not found in muesli. Because granola contains the addition of honey and oil, it tends to have a higher sugar and fat content. As a result, granola is, on average, higher in calories than muesli. 

Jordans Perfect Morning v10

Click here for a range of Jordan’s cerealsBoth granola and muesli offer nutritional benefits. Both have fiber from the grains, fruits and nuts. In addition, the dried fruits provide antioxidants, while the nuts offer healthy fats. Topping either muesli or granola with low-fat milk, soy milk or yogurt makes for a nutritionally balanced, filling breakfast. 

Multigrain Granola  Along came a huge bowl and in went the oats, followed by popped amaranth. I use amaranth quite often these days I have plenty on hand, both flour and popped. In also went some puffed rice which is available at just about every corner store here. Nuts and raisins are always welcome. I also threw in some melon seeds, the remainder of some last used in Savoury  Hungarian Kalács & Twisted Buns.

Strawberry & Cape Gooseberry Quark Mousse vintageGranola and toasted cereal is always nice to have on hand for a quick snack, to top yogurt and fruit, to make granola bars, and even to make a layered fruit dessert. In the Strawberry & Cape Gooseberry Quark Mousse above, I tossed some granola into melted chocolate, let it harden and then used it in the layered dessert!

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Baking |Kumquat Quark Cheesecake with a Date Almond Kumquat Base … gluten free, healthy and delicious

“The only way cheese is dessert is when it’s followed by the word cake.”
Michele Gorman

Kumquat Quark Cheesecake 1Kumquat Quark Cheesecake with a Date Almond Kumquat Base... a cheesecake that happened because I had a good batch of homemade quark even though I had Quark Mousse with Balsamic Roasted Strawberries in mind. Also because I still had the large bag of sweet moist dates that I had brought back from a recent trip to Mumbai. They needed to go somewhere, preferably someplace exciting.

KumquatsKumquatsDid I need any more reasons? Well no, but inspiration leaps out of the most colourful places! So the not so heavily laden anymore kumquat shrub had a last few kumquats that were turning a brilliant orange and had got Coco’s glad eye! How could I not play spoil sport?

Kumquats and CocoThe base of the cheesecake is inspired from one of my favourite hang outs, The Kitchn, that had shared a beautiful and ever so simple kumquat tart a while ago. Interestingly the base was made up of almonds, dates and oats.

Kumquat Quark Cheesecake 3I’ve been on a whole grain oaty sort of a drive of late, so the idea held instant appeal. The base is super simple as promised … so I had to veer off course! That is inherently me! I decided to flavour the base with some part kumquat and threw in 2 deseeded whole orange babies!

Kumquat Quark CheesecakeThen ‘the panic of the kids‘ kicked in, them who might reject any overpowering taste of dates in the cheesecake base. It was some good quality cocoa powder, a precious stash of delightful Russian cocoa that a good friend once brought, that would add taste!

Kumquats and CocoNot one to leave good enough alone, my obsession worked. I loved the way the base came together in seconds. Cheesecake filling is always fun. Now always quark, full fat home made quark, and never cream cheese. I love the way it works in cheesecake.

Kumquat Quark Cheesecake You need to plan in advance if you want to bake the cheesecake {and a few days more if you want to make quark}. Let the cake chill in the fridge overnight, slowly  and happily! The flavours mature, the texture becomes smooth and beautiful. Of course you are rewarded with a dessert the minute you open the fridge.

Kumquat Quark Cheesecake This in turns leaves enough time and inspiration for topping it in a fun and colourful way. I opted for a candied kumquat vanilla with a bitter orange thai red chili marmalade. You can always skip the marmalade and use a berry conserve. Alternatively, make a plain vanilla cheesecake and top it with a berry glaze or compote.

Kumquat Quark Cheesecake Endless possibilities. Strawberries and pistachios. Salted butter caramel. Honeyed figs should be fun too! Maybe a Nutella topping with a smattering of hazelnuts? Or flavour the cheesecake with coffee and a coffee liqueur and drizzle a bittersweet runny ganache over it. Even better, an Irish cream sauce! Think out of the box and inside your pantry; amaze yourself! 

fruit of the seasonThat’s what I love about desserts like this. So versatile and such fun to make. I usually stick to fruit in season as they inspire me and often put me in panic mode since they’re going to be gone soon. The burst of colour adds to appeal. I love this version because I played around with ingredients and unintentionally ended up with a gluten free cheesecake.

Kumquat Quark Cheesecake in jarsSee I told you, endless possibilities! I did a few sans the base in little jam jars too. Topped them with Nutella, bitter kumquat marmalade and fresh quartered strawberries. They were polished clean within minutes amidst great praise. The daughter added strawberries to her cheesecake slice later as well!

Kumquat Quark Cheesecake The base isn’t your everyday light as air buttery biscuit base. This one is dense, flavourful and slightly chewy. The good thing is that it keeps the dessert gluten free. You could always use your favourite base instead!

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Baking | Roasted Red Bell Pepper Pesto … In season with bell peppers

“… the way we eat represents our most profound engagement with the natural world. Daily, our eating turns nature into culture, transforming the body of the world into our bodies and minds.” 
Michael Pollan

Roasted bell pepper pesto Roasted Red Bell Pepper Pesto is what my roasted bell peppers were headed for! It’s strange how winter in the subcontinent is different from winter in the west. Come winter and the local bazaars are flooded with the best of fresh produce. It’s the time of the year when colours paint the vegetable shops in brilliant hues. It’s time for bell peppers, celery, broccoli, strawberries, cape gooseberries, mustard greens, fenugreek, garlic greens, beets and beet greens, juicy tomatoes ... and of course truckloads of cauliflower!

herbs veggies fruitsThis year we’ve had a deluge of local bell peppers. At a dollar and a half a kilo, these beauties are a steal. I toss bell peppers into just about everything. The kids thankfully love them in every form, the dog is a willing accomplice too. Any obliging little bits that jump off the chopping board head straight into Coco’s greedy little mouth!

Roasted bell peppersEach time I bake something, I throw in a few peppers  to roast alongside. I love char grilling them; sometimes use the Air Fryer when the oven isn’t on! Roasted bell peppers work well in tossed into pastas, in salads, in sandwiches, on bruschetta, also in pasta sauces.

Roasted bell pepper pesto Which brings me to the pesto. It’s absolutely brilliant and so adaptable! Play around with the ingredients as you like. Use the pesto in a pasta sauce, as a sandwich spread, as a dip, thin it out as a salad dressing, add it to a chicken bake, in quesadillas, with kebabs, stuff it into roast potatoes, even add it to soup …. it never fails to please!

Roasted bell pepper pesto I LOVE it paired with peppery arugula which is growing with wild abandon in my very neglected patch. Add a little feta, maybe caramelised onions, some smoked chicken ham to please the kids …. and I’m in business! I love a good green pesto too, and you can well imagine where my next bunch of arugula is headed! What is your most fun way to use pesto? And which pesto do you love the most?

Nirlep Anodized CookwarePlease don’t forget to enter the ‘Nirlep Handi giveaway‘ if you have an Indian address. I’ve been cooking up a storm in mine. You could soon be doing the same very soon! The giveaway ends tomorrow!

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