Friday, January 21, 2011

Raspberry Mousse

Has the grey of winter got you down?  I am so over the leafless tress, frozen earth, and washed out surroundings.  I need color!  I have just the thing to bring a smile to your face and leave you feeling like you have just tasted a little bit of summer.  Although there are several steps involved in this raspberry mousse recipe, it's rather simple to whip up and unbelievably refreshing and delicious.  I found some sweet, diminutive chocolate coated waffle cups in the grocery store that were the perfect vessel for the mousse.  Little chocolate cups also would be terrific.  And naturally, you can skip the edible cups all together and simply dig into the bowl with a spoon.  Just saying.

Raspberry Mousse
Adapted from Food and Wine

2 sheets husblas (Danish gelatin) or 2t unflavored powdered gelatin

400g frozen raspberries or 2 10oz. bags, thawed

150g sugar or 3/4c

2 large egg whites (pasteurized)

1/4 liter (2 1/2dl) or 1/2c heavy cream


1.  Place husblas in a dish of cold water and let sit 5 minutes until soft and pliable.  Remove from water, add to a saucepan with 2T warm water.  Heat over medium-low heat 2-3 minutes until gelatin has dissolved.

2.  Place all but 1/2c of thawed berries and 1/2c sugar in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until well combined.  Reserve 1/2c berries for later.

3.  Strain berries through a sieve, discard seeds.  Whisk in the dissolved gelatin. Set aside

4.  In a bowl over a pot of simmering water, whisk the egg whites and remaining 1/4c sugar.  Whisk until mixture is warm to the touch.  Remove from heat and, using a hand mixer, beat on medium-high until mixture is glossy and still peaks form.

5.  Fold the egg whites into the berry puree.

6.  In the same bowl that you mixed the egg whites, add the heavy cream and mix until firm.

7.  Incorporate the cream into the raspberry mixture.

8.  Using a spoon or potato masher, crush the 1/2 reserved berries.  Carefully fold into the mousse.

9.  Refrigerate until set, minimum 1 hour or overnight.

10.  If desired, decorate with chocolate ganache swirls.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Oat Soda Bread

I just realized that in the two years I've been blogging about food, I haven't been very good or consistent about categorizing my recipes. When I type a new post there is a little box at the bottom that says Label.  In it I should assign one of my self-created categories (baked goods, main dish, and so on)...but often I forget. So along with a host of other resolutions for 2011, I resolve to label my posts!

One of the reasons I bring this up is that in this post you will hear about a new spin on Irish Soda Bread, one of my all time favorite quick breads.  So as I hurriedly scanned my archives for said soda bread recipe, I couldn't find it.  Sure, I could spend the rest of the day going through each post, but I can think of a million other things I'd rather be doing.  So you can see why it is important to label and categorize recipes in a food blog.

When I saw Oat Soda Bread here, I knew I had to make it.  After all, I am one of the worlds greatest lovers of oatmeal.  Not to mention bread. And at five total ingredients, who doesn't have time to make this?  I assure you that you'll love it.  Heidi topped hers with a mix of seeds, while I threw a large handful of caraway seeds into mine, but it's perfectly delicious without seeds of any kind.  Keep in mind that this bread is made with oat flour which you can purchase or make yourself (see directions).

I've been reading so much lately about cooking from scratch, getting back to basics with our relationship to food, and making simple healthy foods that preserve not just our bodies and minds but the planet as well. If you haven't been in the kitchen in a while or have vowed to do more cooking at home instead of eating out or buying everything pre-made, here's a great recipe to get started.

My personal favorite is to spread a thick slice with butter, drizzle with a little honey, and sprinkle sea salt flakes over the top.  Serve with a cup of milky coffee and you have my version of the perfect cozy breakfast.

Oat Soda Bread
Adapted ever so slightly from 101 Cookbooks

2c old fashioned oats
2 1/4c all purpose flour plus extra for kneading
1 3/4t baking soda
1 1/4t fine grain sea salt (regular salt works fine if you don't have sea salt)
1 3/4c buttermilk plus 2T for brushing the top before baking
1T caraway seeds (optional)


1.  Place oats into the bowl of a food processor and pulse until you have a fine powder (a little grainy is fine).

2.  Mix oats with flour, soda, salt, and caraway.

3.  Make a well in the center and add gradually add buttermilk.  You might find that you don't need the full 1 3/4c so go slowly.  Conversely, if your dough seems too dry, add a tiny bit more buttermilk until you have a somewhat sticky but workable dough.

4.  With floured hands, pick up the dough and form it into a round (try and get some height with don't want a flat round) on a parchment lined baking sheet.

5.  With a sharp knife, cut an X into the top and brush with buttermilk.

6.  Bake in a 400F/205C oven for 30 minutes--on the middle rack.

7.  After 30 minutes, carefully and quickly move the rack up a level and bake 20 minutes more until the top has a nice, dark brown crust.  To test for doneness, carefully lift up the bottom and knock on it.  If it sounds hollow, your bread is done.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Homemade Granola Bars

My three-year-old son has gone bananas for commercial granola bars. Eschewing his routine items of choice (cornflakes or oatmeal), he's even savored them for breakfast.  I wince a little every time I reach into the box for one.  Thankfully, they contain no preservatives or E numbers, but they're not exactly all natural or as low in sugar as I'd like them to be.

So when I ran across this recipe I knew it was time to make my own.  A granola bar that I can feel better about giving to my child.  It still has some fun stuff like chocolate chips and honey, but it's also loaded with plenty of wholesome goodness such as rolled oats, nuts, a variety of seeds, and dried fruit.  What's more, this is a great one to tweak as you see fit.  Substitute other dried fruits, nuts, and even sweeteners.  For example, maple or agave syrup would be great instead of honey.

If you are looking for a recipe to make with your kids, this is an excellent one, too.  They'll love pouring the different ingredients into a big bowl and then using a wooden spoon to mix it all together before you (it takes a strong grown up hand) stir in the wet mix and combine.

By the way, the date-prune-honey butter would make a delicious spread on warm scones or biscuits. So think about making two batches - one for the granola bars and one to keep in your fridge.

Homemade Granola Bars
Inspired by Julie at Dinner with Julie

Wet Mix
1/2c butter, cut in small pieces
1/2c honey
1/4c prunes, chopped
1/4c dates, chopped

Dry Mix
3c rolled oats (the old fashioned kind)
1c walnuts, coarsely chopped
1/4c flour
1/4c (scant) brown sugar
1/2c dried cranberries or cherries
1/2c pumpkin seeds
1/2c unsweetened shredded coconut
1/4c sesame seeds
1/8c poppy seeds
1t baking soda


Preheat oven to 325F

1.  In a food processor pulse the prunes and dates for 1 minute.  You might end up with a big sticky mass, but that's okay.

2.  Add butter a little at a time and pulse some more.  Incorporate well.

3.  With machine running, add honey through top opening.  Mix 1 minute.  Set aside.

4.  Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl and stir well.

5.  Fold in wet mix until dry mix is well coated and moist throughout.

6.  Turn into a 9" x13" parchment-lined pan and press down with your hands.

7.  Bake 30 minutes.  Let cool in pan 30 minutes; remove (with paper) to cooling rack.

8.  When completely cool, cut into bars.  It is important to not try to cut into bars until completely cool - otherwise you risk little pieces falling off.