baked oatmeal with apples, rhubarb, almonds, and pepitas

autumn, breakfast, desserts, spring, sweet, winterFieldandForest1 Comment
baked oatmeal | field + forest

I know, I know... what, pray-tell, is this apple and nut-crumbly topped thing doing here in May. Would you believe that the Northern Utah high desert, land of the fourteen-day spring, has developed a Seattle-esque languor of thunderstorms and wind? That we've been slathering on sunscreen in the morning only to throw on our rain shells and boots in the afternoon (or vice versa)? That I haven't had to water my garden once in the past week and a half? That the ski resorts have closed for the season even though we've had an additional 16 inches of snow in the mountains in past 72 hours?

It is crazy-town.

But it's reinvigorated our desire for baked and braised and stick-to-your-ribs things for the time being, as we are feeling these feelings of homebody-ness and the need for thick socks and weekend mornings spent on the carpet with bowl food and Calvin & Hobbes anthologies. This oatmeal has been in the back of my mind since I received this book as a gift two years ago, and I am face-palming myself for not making it earlier. The original recipe calls for bananas and walnuts, but I'd encourage you to try this version while rhubarb is in season. It is like eating apple crumble and creme brulée and oatmeal all at the same time, and it has just enough cinnamon and nutmeg to make it feel warm and cozy even when eaten leftover straight out of the fridge.

Baked Oatmeal with Apples, Rhubarb, Almonds, and Pepitas
adapted from Heidi Swanson - serves 6 generously, or 12 as part of a larger brunch spread
This is the dream brunch dish, as you can prep the rhubarb compote the night before, and then easily prep the rest of the ingredients in the morning. Put it in the oven about a half-hour before the meal is slated to begin (it cooks for closer to 40 minutes, but in my experience people are generally a few minutes late to brunch), and it will fill your kitchen with all sorts of lovely smells before people arrive. I've given you proportions for an 8-inch by 8-inch baking dish, but you can easily 1 1/2 or double the recipe to suit your headcount or available baking dish size. I ended up 1 1/2-ing the recipe to fill my oval baking dish; if you do the same, aim for 5-6 apples instead of 3-4.

2 cups rolled oats (not instant oats)
1/2 cup pepitas (raw pumpkin seeds)
2 tablespoons flax seeds
2 tablespoons chia seeds
1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon natural cane sugar (granulated sugar), divided
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups milk
1 large egg
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3-4 large apples (Fuji, Pippin and McIntosh apples will all keep their shape when cooked) cored and cut into 1/2-inch thick wedges or slices
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Rhubarb Compote (recipe follows)
1/3 cup sliced almonds
2 tablespoons chopped crystalized ginger, optional

To serve:
Fresh fruit or berries (blueberries, strawberries, or blackberries would all be delicious)

Preheat the oven to 375˚F/190˚C with a rack in the top third of the oven. Generously butter an 8-inch square baking dish, and set aside.

In a bowl, mix together the rolled oats, pepitas, flax seeds, chia seeds, 1/3 cup sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, and salt.

In another bowl, whisk together the milk, egg, half of the melted butter, and vanilla.

In a third bowl, combine the apple slices with the remaining tablespoon of sugar and the lemon juice, and toss to combine. Arrange the apples in the bottom of the buttered baking dish. Spoon the rhubarb compote over the apples (make sure it is distributed relatively evenly). Cover the fruit with the oat mixture. Slowly drizzle the milk-egg mixture over the oats, and gently give the baking dish a couple of thwacks on the counter so the milk evenly soaks the oats. Scatter the sliced almonds and the crystalized ginger, if using, across the top.

Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until the top is nicely golden and the oat mixture is set. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool for a few minutes. Drizzle the remaining melted butter over the top, and serve warm with yogurt and fresh fruit.

Rhubarb Compote (makes 1 1/2 cups)

2 cups sliced rhubarb (about 3-4 stalks)
1/4 cup sugar
a generous pinch of cinnamon

Combine the rhubarb, sugar, cinnamon, and a splash of water in a heavy-bottomed pot. Set the pot over low heat and bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the rhubarb begins to break down and turns rosy in color, about 10 minutes, adding more water if necessary to keep it from burning on the bottom of the pan. Taste, and add more sugar if necessary (I like my compote slightly tart).

triple-ginger cookies

desserts, vegetarian, winterFieldandForest2 Comments

This post is short, as is fitting when you find a recipe which is exemplary and needs no embellishment. You can wait to make these in celebration of a winter holiday, but really, what is the point in waiting? If you make the dough in the morning, you can roll and bake them at night and have almost immediate cookie gratification. And then, the next morning, you can crumble one into your muesli because that is one of the pleasures of being a grown up.

Triple-Ginger Snaps
lightly adapted from Miette

Notes: you don't even really need the icing on these (in fact, I almost prefer them without), but they add to the presentation and make for a festive addition to your holiday cookie repertoire.  Baking the cookies for 12 minutes instead of 10 will give you a more traditional, snappier texture, though I like the slightly soft texture of the 10-minute cookies.

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour or gluten-free all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon ground ginger
generous 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
scant 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup lightly packed golden brown sugar
2 tablespoons honey
4 tablespoons molasses
2 teaspoons fresh ginger purée (make by grating fresh ginger root on a microplane)
1/2 cup finely minced candied ginger
PTIONAL: turbinado sugar for sprinkling or royal icing (see recipe below) for decorating

Sift together the flours with the salt and spices, and set aside.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and sugar on low speed until fluffy, 4 to 5 minutes.  Add the honey, molasses, and fresh ginger purée and mix until fully incorporated.

Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture in three additions, scraping down the bowl and beating just to combine after each addition, stopping after the last addition when very little of the flour is still visible and the dough is smoother and forming into a mass.  Briefly mix in the candied ginger until it is evenly distributed in the dough.  Form the dough into a disk, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 days before rolling.

Preheat the oven to 350˚F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Roll the dough on a lightly floured surface to about 1/4 inch thick.  Cut with a 3-inch round or scalloped round cutter and place on baking sheets about 1/2 inch apart.  Sprinkle each cookie with turbinado sugar if desired.  Bake until deeply browned, 10-12 minutes (I baked mine for 10, and loved the texture).  Remove to a wire rack to cool.  Decorate with royal icing if desired, and store in airtight containers for up to two weeks.

Royal Icing
adapted from Alton Brown - Makes about 3 cups

3 pasteurized egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups powdered sugar

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the egg whites and vanilla together until frothy.  Gradually add the powdered sugar and beat on low speed until the sugar is incorporated and the mixture is shiny.  Turn the speed up to high and beat for about 5-7 minutes, or until the mixture forms stiff, glossy peaks.  Add food coloring if desired.  For immediate use, transfer to a piping bag or plastic squeeze container.  Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Notes: do not eat too much of the icing on its own; doing so will give you a thorough sugar hangover and you'll need to sit down for a while.  This has been the Voice of Experience.

remedy wassail with lemon, orange, and ginger

autumn, drinks, vegetarian, winterFieldandForestComment

My throat started itching today.  Just a little, but enough for me to notice and think "Whoa, there, let's nip this in the bud before it turns into something else."  I've been trying to take note of how I am feeling physically this week, as things are very (very) busy in our lives and my body has a tendency to go-go-go-STOP when I let things like sleep and exercise slide.  Which I have, so itchy throat mystery solved.

I've taken a leaf out of my friend Bryan's book and made a batch of wassail to keep in the fridge and heat up when I need a quick boost. (Hi, confused Jewish friends! You probably don't know what wassail is, but apparently there is a Christmas carol about it? And it is a festive drink that people used to have on hand to serve to Christmas carolers? Yeah, I didn't know that either. I also kept spelling it like "wassel" since I'm pretty sure that's how it is pronounced, and now that I've looked it up, I can't help but say "wasSAIL" in my head as I am writing this. Today has been quite the cultural education.) My version is made with apple cider heated with orange and lemon slices and spiked with cinnamon, cloves, and fresh ginger. It is mulled cider's bright and citrusy cousin, and it is working wonderfully to cut through all the fuss going on inside of my nose and throat.

Is this recipe traditional?  I honestly have no* idea.  But it is delicious, so hopefully that will speak for itself.

Makes 4 cups
This recipe scales wonderfully, so make as much or as little as you like.  Store leftover wassail in the fridge and enjoy cold or warmed.

4 cups apple cider (the best you can find)
2 cinnamon sticks, plus more for serving
3 whole cloves
1 orange (Valencia or navel), thinly sliced
1 Meyer lemon, thinly sliced
5 slices fresh ginger, each slice about the size and thickness of a nickel

Combine the cider and the rest of the ingredients in a small saucepan and set over medium-low heat.  Heat for 5-10 minutes, until the wassail barely comes to a simmer.  Strain the warm wassail into teacups or mugs, and serve with cinnamon sticks on the side.

Note: you can hold the wassail in a slow-cooker or over a low flame at a low heat, but keep in mind that the flavors will be stronger the longer the wassail is heated (which you might prefer), and the citrus will eventually begin to disintegrate.

*Well I just did some research, so now I have some idea. And apparently the traditional version has a lot of booze.  So no, it is not traditional, but it is better** for whatever ails you. **Arguably.

raw choco-muesli with blueberries and ginger

autumn, breakfast, snacks, spring, summer, vegetarian, winterFieldandForestComment

I studied abroad in Germany during the summer between my junior and senior years in college. While I did eat a lot of traditional German foods (and drink a lot of traditional German beverages), my diet mainly consisted of gelato (which was 1 euro a scoop and came in flavors like "French!" and "Smurf!") and muesli, which was served each morning in the Alban Stolz Haus where I was staying.  The morning muesli rotated each day, varying the nuts, seeds, and fruit mixed in with oats, but my FAVORITE muesli by far was what was known as choco-muesli. Yes, this is muesli with chocolate, and yes, it is as amazing as it sounds.

Choco-muesli is usually oats, a nut (the one served at ASH had almonds), and maybe one or two other rolled grains, plus tiny little squares of "light" or dark chocolate (or sometimes you could even get boooooooth, so delicioussssss).  And the chocolate was GOOD.  I know this because I kept a box in my room for mornings when I slept through breakfast and, on a particular night when I went out for some traditional German beverages, came home and ate all of the little squares of chocolate out of the muesli in the box. It was overwhelmingly enjoyable at the time, and also very disappointing the next morning when I woke up to realize that a) the traditional German beverages had caused me to sleep through breakfast, and b) I had eaten all of the chocolate out of my emergency muesli.

I packed two boxes of choco-muesli in my suitcase for my return trip, ended up eating half of one on the plane, and finished the other box-and-a-half within a week of arriving back home. It is rare that I find choco-muesli ready-made in the States (though I certainly stock up when I do), so I've been making my own version with raw cacao nibs and other goodies.  While it lacks the novelty of tiny, perfect chocolate squares and the sense of youthful gluttony that comes with eating candy for breakfast, I daresay I like this as much (if not better) than the original.

Raw Choco-Muesli with Ginger and Blueberries
makes 6-7 cups

2-3 cups rolled oats (depending on your preferred oat-to-nut ratio; you can always start with 2 cups and add more later!)
1 cup raw pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
1 cup coarsely chopped raw almonds
1 cup dried blueberries
1/2 cup raw cacao nibs
1/2 cup finely chopped candied ginger

Mix the ingredients together in a large bowl, and store in a lidded jar or airtight container.  Properly stored, the muesli will keep for up to 1 month.

Traditional Preparation (for one serving) - soak 1/2 cup muesli in liquid (milk, yogurt, quark, coconut milk, plant milk, juice, or water) in the fridge overnight.  Top with fresh fruit before serving.

Short-On-Time Preparation (for one serving) - soak 1/2 cup muesli in liquid for a minimum of 5 minutes (I usually start my muesli soaking right after I wake up, and it's ready in the time it takes me to wash my face and get dressed).