Friday, May 22, 2015

Berry Crumble Bars

I am a creature of habit, made even more so by having kids. My life as family chef is so much easier when I know that Mondays and Tuesdays are steel cut oat or Greek-style yogurt mornings, Wednesdays are for smoothies and Thursdays and Fridays are for hard-boiled eggs. I am eternally thankful that both kids love eggs as much as their parents and that we can get top-quality pastured eggs from Green Bow Farm thanks to their egg CSA. I like to serve our morning eggs with fruit (most often grapefruit in winter) and some sort of baked good such as Applesauce Quinoa or Flax Bran muffins (or those delectable Cinnamon Sugar Biscuits). In the depressing shoulder season between fall and winter fruits and early strawberries, I often combine the fruit and baked good into one by making these berry crumble bars (also known as crumble bumble bars for some season).

My recipe is taken from Megan Gordon's Blueberry Breakfast Bars posted on The Kitchn. I made a very few adjustments based on my own preferences, such as using cinnamon instead of lemon in the filling, and substituting pepitas for the sesame seeds. The kids love these bars and the adults in the family think they're pretty great, too. I think that they'd be tasty mixed into some thick full-fat yogurt, as well, and they're delicious on their own alongside a large cup of tea for an afternoon pick-me-up.

INGREDIENTS

Filling
12 oz berries of any type, fresh or frozen--I don't bother to thaw first
1/4 c sugar (I used coconut sugar but any type would do)
2 TBSP ground flax (or you could use 3 TBSP flour)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
Splash of water if the berries are frozen

Crumble crust
50 g rolled oats
100 g rye flakes (or any combination of any flakes)
60 g almonds (Gordon specifies sliced but I've used whole with no issues; I just pulsed them a few times before adding the other ingredients)
30 g pepitas, pecans or sesame seeds
120 g whole wheat flour (soft or hard wheat or spelt though the bars might be a bit crumblier with spelt)
1/2 c (75 g) sugar (Gordon calls for light brown sugar but I've also used just plain sugar with no problems)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp kosher salt
3/4 tsp baking powder
8 TBSP (115 g) unsalted butter, cold and cut into small cubes
1 large egg, beaten
2-4 TBSP ice water

DIRECTIONS
  1. Grease an 8-inch square pan and preheat the oven to 350F
  2. Place all of the filling ingredients in a small saucepan and heat over medium, stirring a few times, until the mixture is bubbly. If you're using frozen berries, add a splash of water to help them not stick to the pan and stir more frequently at the beginning. Set aside
  3. If using whole nuts, process them briefly in the food processor until they're chopped medium fine
  4. Add the remaining ingredients up to the butter and pulse together until blended and chopped fine
  5. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture looks like small peas
  6. Add the beaten egg and pulse until combined
  7. Add the water and pulse, starting with 2 TBSP. Expect the mixture still to look crumbly but it should be clumping together
  8. Press about 2/3 of the crumble crust as evenly as you can into the bottom of the prepared pan
  9. Pour over the berry filling
  10. Distribute the rest of the crumble mixture over the berries somewhat evenly
  11. Bake about 30 minutes, or until the topping is brown

Monday, May 4, 2015

Applesauce Quinoa Muffins

We are big fans of quinoa as a side dish here, but sometimes I overestimate what we need and am left with 1 or 2 cups of cooked quinoa for which I have no dinner or lunch plans. When this happens, I fold them into muffins!

I use my Flax Bran Muffin recipe and add some elements from the Applesauce Oatmeal Muffins to come up with something tasty.

This time I used coconut sugar (also known as palm sugar) because I figured the kids would enjoy the toffee quality it brings. I also ground my own soft wheat berries, hence the measurement in grams. I had 1 cup of quinoa and it worked fine, but don't hesitate to make the same recipe using up to 2 cups if that's what you've got. Finally, I used kefir in place of buttermilk, because that's what we've got in the house these days. These muffins rose very high so I think they liked the substitution.


INGREDIENTS
2 eggs
2 cups kefir or buttermilk
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups sugar (regular, raw or coconut)
1 cup unsweetened applesauce OR equivalent amount of cooked mashed sweet potato or pumpkin OR grated zucchini)
1/4 cup cooking oil or melted coconut oil (there are approx 13 g coconut oil to the TBSP so 52 g)
2 1/2 cups (300 g) whole wheat pastry flour (if desired, you can substitute 3/4 c. almond meal for 3/4 c flour)
3/4 cup ground flax seed (I use a coffee grinder and keep the whole flax seeds in the freezer)
1 cup oat bran
1 TBSP baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp assorted spices (I do a mix of cinnamon, ginger, cloves or allspice)
1-2 cups cooked quinoa
1 cup chopped nuts (a combination of walnuts and pecans is nice) optional
1/2 TBSP crumble topping per muffin (optional)

DIRECTIONS
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and prepare two 12-cup muffin tins
  2. In a large mixing bowl, lightly beat the eggs
  3. Add kefir, sugar, oil and applesauce. Stir until mixed.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, almond meal (if using), flax, oat bran, baking soda, salt and spices
  5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir until just mixed
  6. Stir in the quinoa
  7. Add the nuts and stir briefly
  8. Spoon the batter into the muffin tins (I load them pretty full)
  9. Top each muffin with 1/2 TBSP crumble topping if using
  10. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean (it's usually closer to 20 or even 22 minutes)
These muffins freeze beautifully. I defrost for 1 minute in the microwave and then toast them in the toaster oven on Medium for a crunchy-ish top