Wouldn't it be great to be an inventor? To invent something that people can use and really love? I'm thinking of food here. Not pancakes in an aerosol can (yes, it does exist) but perhaps a terrific new recipe for some variation on the standard pancake. Or what about a new and innovative pasta salad? I've been thinking about this idea a lot today: while I adapt and modify the majority of the recipes I use, I'm still wholly dependent on others for ideas. Once in awhile I will come up with something of my own, like Green Pasta, but it's not exactly the most original dish on the planet.
I understand that many of the food bloggers I follow are in the same boat, so I think the key is in how you tweak the recipe, reinvent it, and make it your own. This is where fun and originality come into play. But I applaud loudly for those individuals with extraordinary culinary skills who continually create new and exciting foodstuffs from which people like me get ideas.
In this spirit, I'll talk about one of my favorite snacks that I created (my very own self!) and also about a wonderful loaf of bread that is the brain child of the great Nigella Lawson. If you've read more than a couple of my posts you will know that I rely heavily on her for inspiration. I enjoy the way she speaks and writes, admire her creativity and originality, and love her approach to food. And while she has written numerous cook books, even Nigella Lawson borrows recipes and ideas from others from time to time!
This oat surprise snack is my version of a morning or afternoon pick-me-up. It uses quick-cooking dry oats as the base and there are plenty of ways to modify it and incorporate flavors you like. All you do is add the following ingredients to some dry oats: peanut butter, unsweetened coconut, and a drizzle of maple syrup. In place of the peanut butter, you can use almond butter, soy nut butter, or any other kind of nut butter. Raisins are a good addition and if you don't have or like maple syrup, use some honey. And of course, if you don't desire any sweetness, skip it altogether. Apart from the delicious mix of sweet and salty flavors, somehow the coconut really makes this for me.
1/4 quick-cooking oats
1.5T peanut butter (crunchy or creamy - I use the all-natural variety with some salt added)
1T unsweetened coconut flakes
1.5t maple syrup (or to taste)
1. Mix all ingredients together until you have a round blob looking thing and the oats are incorporated into the pb. You can leave it as it and eat it with a spoon, which is what I do, or roll into a ball with wetted palms. The more peanut butter you use the more of a solid ball you're likely to have.
Feeds one and is delightful with a cup of milky black tea. I'll include a photo the next time I make it.
The bread about which I spoke earlier is called Lazy Loaf. It's an absolute breeze to make and healthy to boot. It contains unsweetened muesli, something of which we have A LOT in Denmark. I've bought it in the States, but it's not as prevalent there. Sometimes the best kind is found in the bulk bins, if your American supermarket has those. This bread is heaven with apricot jam and makes a great snack to take on a hike or a bike ride.
LazyLoaf from Nigella Express by Nigella Lawson
2 3/4c wholewheat bread flour
2c unsugared muesli (do not use granola)
2.5t (1 package) rapid-rise or instant yeast
2t kosher salt or 1t table salt
1c 2% milk
1. Mix the flour, muesli, yeast, and salt in a bowl, then pour in the milk and water and stir to mix. It will be a thick porridge.
2. Transfer to a greased or silicon 2lb loaf pan. Place in a cold oven, turning it immediately on to 225F, and leave at this temperature for 45 minutes.
3. When the 45 minutes are up, turn the oven temp. up to 350F and leave for 1 hour [see my notes], by which time the bread should be golden and cooked through. Slip it out of the pan and although dense, it should feel slightly hollow when you knock it underneath.
4. Remove to a rack and let cool.
My notes: What a fantastic recipe: stir everything in a bowl, bake, and voila, you have a beautiful whole grain bread studded with raisins, big curls of dried coconut, hazelnuts, and whatever else your preferred brand of muesli contains. But here's the deal on the cooking time. After the 45 minutes were up, I checked the loaf and found it nicely brown and looking quite done. But I followed the instructions, increased the temperature, and set my timer for an hour. After 30 minutes, I checked it again and found the bread even darker and pulled away from the sides of the loaf pan. Moreover, when I removed it from the oven and took it out of the pan, it made that special hollow sound when I knocked on it. So I trusted my instincts and kept the bread out of the oven. I don't regret doing so, although I don't think it would have harmed the bread to cook it longer. Another fabulous thing about this bread is the crunchy crust. Love it.