Wednesday 1 October 2014

Get Your Oats

Summer seems to have come and gone since I last had time to catch up with my blog. It is not that I have not been cooking and photographing - I have, non-stop. I have also been down at my allotment as much as I possibly can and really, considering how little time I have had to put in this year, it has been a bumper crop. I have been overloaded with rhubarb, cucumbers, runner beans, courgettes and lots of lovely salad leaves to name just a few.

Last week I was asked to work on some seasonal recipes and photographs for the website of a new project. This is the very exciting Harborne Food School in Birmingham who's main aim is to educate people about healthier and more sustainable eating. I wrote a couple of seasonal recipes for them but my first priority was to use up some of my glut of rhubarb so I made a compote and served it with granola and a big dollop of greek yoghurt. As we all know, oats are a superfood and I make sure I have at least a bowl a day. Packed with antioxidants and fibre, they reduce cholesterol and contain manganese, a mineral that helps enzymes in bone formation. You'll also get good helpings of vitamin B1 and magnesium and most of all they fill you up with out filling you with calories.

Making your own granola may seem like a lot of effort but you get to control exactly what goes into it. A lot of the shop bought ones have a frightening amount of sugar. You should be able to get all of the ingredients in a health shop, if they are not in your supermarket. Play around with the ingredients and you can come up with something unique.

Finally, because I have never seen so many plums around as I did this year, a plum crumble. I have added some almonds and oats to the crumble mix to add a little extra goodness there as well.

Mixed Seed and Nut Honey Granola
Makes approx. 500g
2 tbsp. coconut oil
2 tsp. vanilla Bean Paste
2 tbsp. Maple Syrup
4 tbsp. honey
200g porridge oats, not the instant kind
100g rye flakes
25g sunflower seeds
25g pumpkin seeds
2 tbsp. sesame seeds or linseeds
50g chopped pecans
50g chopped almonds
Preheat your oven to 150C/130C fan/gas mark 2.
Mix the oil, vanilla and honey and Maple Syrup together in a large bowl.
Add in all of the remaining ingredients.
Mix everything really well together and then spread the mixture thinly and evenly on to two baking sheets.
Bake for 20 minutes. Check from time to time. If the oven seems too hot, turn it down. It should only be very light brown in colour. Break up the mixture and stir it around and bake for a further 5-10 minutes
Remove the baking trays and spread it evenly onto a flat dish to cool. It will crisp up as it cools.
After it has cooled, pour it into an airtight container and store in a cool dark place. It will keep for up to a month.
Rhubarb Compote
2 tbsp. honey
½ tsp vanilla bean extract or ½ vanilla pod split
500g rhubarb, trimmed, washed and cut into thin pieces no thinker than 1 cms

Place a pan over a low heat and add the honey and vanilla. Stir until the honey dissolves. Add the rhubarb. Bring it to a simmer and then cover the pan, cooking slowly for about 10 minutes or so, checking regularly. The rhubarb should break down into a puree. Remove the vanilla pod if you used one. Check the sweetness. Rhubarb varies and it may need a little more honey.
When cool store it in an airtight container in the fridge. It will keep for about a week.

Spoon 3 tbsp. of the rhubarb compote into a glass or bowl. Top with 125g pot of natural yoghurt and about 40g of the granola.

Oat and Almond Plum Crumble 
Serves 6.
650g plums
4 tbsp honey

For the crumble
130g plain flour
80g butter
40g light muscovado sugar
40g porridge oats
40g flaked almonds

Set the oven at 170C. 
Remove the stones from the plums and toss with the honey. Tip into a saucepan and cook over a medium heat for a bout 10 minutes until the plums begin to break down. Tip into a baking dish. Meanwhile make the crumble topping by rubbing the butter into the flour till it resembles fresh breadcrumbs. Lightly rub in the sugar and then stir in the almonds and the oats. Tip the oat-and-almond topping on to the fruit and bake for 30-35 minutes till the crust is crisp and golden. The fruit should be bubbling round the sides. Serve hot, with cream or ice-cream.

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