Saturday, 2 June 2007
Making muesli is one of the comforting rituals in my life, along with composting and watching the ABC's Gardening Australia at 6.30 on a Saturday night. Its a rock'n'roll lifestyle I've forsaken to pursue a dream in London. The ritual involves going to the Vic markets in North Melbourne to fill my bags (recycled paper bags in order to feel optimum smugness in the organic section) with oats, barley, nuts, seeds, and dried fruit, mixing it all together with my hands in a big bowl then spreading it out on trays to slowly toast in the oven. The house smells like an Anzac cookie for hours (or burnt muesli if you become distracted and forget about it which I do with annoying frequency). Finally, and this is the best part, you tip the muesli into a big glass jar and sit it on your kitchen bench to admire: a breakfast of champions.
Now that I'm in London and don't have ready access to a good food market I do my gathering at the Spice Shop just off Portobello Rd in Nottinghill
and the new Wholefoods on High Street Kensington which, while lacking the earthiness of a food market, does have an impressive supply of muesli ingredients and more importantly, excellent people watching opportunities. This is where the beautiful residents of Nottinghill and Chelsea hand pick their organic free range eggs and select cheeses (cave matured?) for their fabulous dinner parties.
Here are a few of my recent experiments - still perfecting the ratio of nuts to fruit and grains and the different styles of raw, toasted, bircher or a combination of toasted and raw.
Muesli (Serves 6)
4 cups of rolled oats
2 cups rolled barley or rye flakes
1/2 cup wheatgerm
1 cup of almonds roughly chopped
3/4 cup sunflower seeds
3/4 cup pepitas
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1 cup or so of dried fruit (dates, sultanas, pawpaw, mango)
Mix all together. Serve with fresh fruit and yoghurt or milk.
Toasted Muesli (Granola)
Once you have made your base muesli (but before you add the dried fruit) you can make it sweet and toasty. There are a few ways to sweeten it; with fruit juice, sugar, honey or maple syrup. Most recipes use about 1/2 cup of oil when toasting the muesli but I don't think you really need to and I sometimes feel that you can taste the oil. So here's what I do.
In a saucepan, heat 1/2 cup apple or pear juice with 1 tbls sunflower oil, and half a cup of honey or maple syrup, few drops of vanilla extract and pinch of cinnamon. Bring to the boil and then pour over the muesli in a large bowl and mix together to make sure all the muesli is coated. If mixture is too wet, add more oats.
Spread out evenly on a couple of baking trays and bake in a slow oven (140 degrees) for about 1-1+1/2 hours. You really need to keep an eye on it and stir it every 15 minutes or so. It will be an even golden colour when its done. Allow to cool completely on the trays before adding dried fruit.
Bircher (Serves 4)
2 cups of rolled oats soaked in 1 cup apple or pear juice overnight.
1/2 cup yoghurt
1 apple or pear grated
2 tbls chopped almonds
pinch of ground Cinnamon
squeeze of lemon
small handful of raisins
Mix all ingredients together and serve.