Category Archives: Breakfast

Gluten-Free Baking Class? Yes Please!

Hi Everyone, Ally here, I am excited make a guest appearance on Kelley’s fantastic food blog!

As you know from Kelley’s recent post she and EPC have had a very busy month or so thanks to Coco, the new adorable addition to their family. In the midst of her hectic month Kelley did make time to attend a Gluten-Free Baking Class, with me, at the City Arts Centre. It was her idea, because she loves baking, and I am the lucky Celiac friend who often benefits from her passion for new foods.

There were 11 of us in the class, all ladies, about a 50/50 split between “there for their own health or interest” and “there for their husband’s gluten intolerance.”

“Where are all the husbands?” Kelley wondered aloud.

After brief introductions and a short overview by our instructor, Jody Shenkarek (former co-owner of the fabulous Cafe Mosaics), we split up into groups of 2 or 3 and headed into the large kitchen to test our baking skills. Each group had chosen two of the recipes in the handout provided so that by the end of the evening we would be able to sample a bit of everything.

Kelley and I were joined by a lovely older lady named Jean and the three of us set to work mixing up a batch of  Basic Gluten Free Flour Mix.  We made a double batch to provide the basic ingredients for most of the groups. Rather than sifting we mixed the Basic Flour ingredients with a whisk which certainly did the trick.
Our group’s first recipe was for Basic Scones, which was very exciting! Both Kelley and I  love scones!

Baking by committee in a crowded kitchen had its challenges but we managed to gather all the ingredients measure them properly and keep track. In the recipe it says to flour a surface and your hands when splitting the dough into two batches. Well, the GF flour mix doesn’t behave like regular wheat flour so Jody, our instructor, took over – simply plopping the halved dough right onto the parchment and using slightly floured hands to shape it. It provided a good “teachable moment” for her.

Our scones turned out perfect and all three of us were quite pleased.

I have since made these scones at home adding an eighth of a cup (1/8 C) defrosted frozen blueberries to one half, and sprinkling chopped pistachios and mission figs on top of the second half. They turned out delicious! However the berries added a lot of moisture so the scones needed an extra
3 to 5 minutes to fully cook and brown nicely. Personally I think you should experiment with the options – I used to love Berry and White Chocolate, or Cheese and Spinach scones – from Good Earth Café in Calgary. The Basic Scone recipe is straightforward and easy to experiment with, so don’t be afraid to get creative.

Once our scones were in line for the oven, we set to work on the Nut Crackers. I will continue with this recipe in Part 2 of Gluten-Free Baking Class!

Stay tuned.

Basic Gluten Free Flour Mix (makes 6 cups of basic mix)

4 Cups Superfine Brown Rice Flour
1 & 1/3 Cups Potato Starch (NOT potato flour)
2/3 Cup Tapioca flour (which is a.k.a. tapioca starch)

  • Sift in bowl or put into an extra-large Ziplock bag and shake to mix – keep remainder refrigerated!

Caution: when measuring, pour into measuring cup rather than scooping it – Then level off the top with a knife.
This will avoid packing it too densely and mixing  up the proportions.

Basic Scones (makes 1 dozen)

3/4 cup of plain yogurt (I used plain dessert tofu with no problems!)
3/4 cup milk (substitute rice or soy milk to make them dairy-free)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3 cups Basic Gluten Free Flour mix (see above)
3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoon baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1/3 cup canola oil

  • Preheat oven to 400 F.
  • Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper (NOT wax paper)
  • In a small bowl, whisk together yogurt, lemon & milk – set aside
  • In a large bowl whisk together all other (dry) ingredients.
  • Once it is well mixed add the wet ingredients and the oil, using a wooden spoon until it is well combined but still clumpy.
  • Divide the dough in half and plop onto cookie sheet – flour your hands and the top of the dough shape into two (6 inch diameter) discs (add optional ingredients to the top at this point if not added already)
  • Cut each disc into 6 “pie” slices and then bake in the centre of the oven for 15 to 17 minutes – transfer to a cooling rack and serve warm.

Optional ingredients: berries – 1 cup, chocolate chips ¾ cup

Recipes adapted from The Allergen Free Bakers Handbook by Cybele Pascal.

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Nut Free (or not) Fruit-Sweetened Granola Bars

My friend asked me about 4 months ago if I knew any recipes for nut-free granola bars.  Since I am so remiss in getting around to whipping some up, I decided to post two delicious nut-free recipes.  In this case, the granola part of the bars needs to be made first as it provides the base for the fruit-sweetened bars.

Which means breakfast time and snack time are both covered!

I do not have much to say about these bars (aside from the fact that they are delicious!) other than they can be nut-free or not.  I did decide to add almonds for EPC and I, but a mix of pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds would work just as well.

They are chewy, reminiscent of a Lara Bar, but with less structural integrity.  In response, I wrapped each bar separately and stored them in the fridge.

Oh yeah, they can also be made to suit vegans and Celiacs alike!

Seed and Dried Fruit Granola
adapted from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian

6 cups of rolled oats (not quick oats) (for gluten-free use Only Oats rolled oats)
3/4 cup of raw sunflower seeds
2/3 cup of raw pumpkin seeds
1/3 cup of sesame seeds
1/4 cup of poppy seeds
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/4 cup of honey (substitute maple syrup for vegan granola)
1/4 cup of maple syrup
1/4 cup oil
1 cup of  dried fruit, such as raisins, chopped apricots, and tart cherries

  • Preheat the oven to 300°F
  • Heat a large pot over medium low heat.  Add the oats and stir until fragrant, about 5 minutes
  • Add the seed mixture and cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally
  • Pour the roasted oats and seeds into a large (9X13) casserole dish and add the cinnamon, oil, honey and maple syrup.  Stir well to mix
  • Take 1/3 of the mixture and spread out on a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan (this step is optional, but it produces a more crunchy and darker granola which offers a nice contrast to the lighter cooked granola in the casserole)
  • Put the casserole dish and the cookie sheet into the oven and bake for 20 minutes stirring halfway through.
  • Remove from the oven and stir in the fruit.

This makes about 7 cups of granola.  When cool, store in an airtight container.

Fruit-Sweetened Granola Bars
adapted from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian

1 1/2 cup of mixed dried fruit.  I used about equal amounts of raisins, apricots, and apples
1/4 cup of oil
1/2 cup water
2 cups of Seed and Dried Fruit Granola
1 cups of seeds or nuts of your choice. I used almonds.

  • Add granola and seeds or nuts to a large bowl
  • Put the dried fruit mixture, oil and water into a food processor and blend until smooth.
  • Scrape the fruit mixture in a small pot and warm on the stove top.   When hot pour over the granola mixture and stir well to coat.
  • Line a 8 x 8 square pan with cling wrap and press the mixture into the pan.
  • Cool in the fridge for 1-2 hours until firm and slice into 12-16 bars.

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All in a day’s work: The Best Granola (so far) and Flourless Oatmeal Cookies

Well, I got tired of store-bought cereal again, so I decided to make some granola.

This time, I did not follow a recipe. I took the method from my Mom’s granola recipe and added whatever nuts and seeds I had lying around. I added dried blueberries instead of the usual raisins and took advantage of the rich buckwheat honey I picked up from Lola Canola’s booth at the Downtown Farmer’s Market.

Delicious: what a treat the blueberries were and adding buckwheat honey gave the granola a subtle touch of  caramel-like sweetness.

This is definitely the best granola I have ever made!

Having The Best Granola for breakfast on Tuesday morning will make the end of the long weekend a bit easier to bear.

Since I had so much luck with oats Sunday morning, I decided to make some oatmeal cookies in the evening (I was in a baking mood, so I whipped up a batch of Carob Cashew Brownies too!)

The oatmeal cookies were delicious and very filling.  I tried to eat two, but I had to struggle through the second one.  I figure this cookie will make a great (and fairly healthy) afternoon snack.  It will satisfy a sweet craving, without being too sweet and fill me up until dinner.

Although the recipe calls for wheat bran, you may be able to make these celiac friendly by substituting in Only Oats oat bran in place of the wheat bran.  I haven’t tried it, so I can’t say for sure, but if you do try it let me know.

Being flourless, these are not a doughy cookie.  You need to form and flatten the cookies with moistened hands, so it requires a bit more work that the traditional dollop on a cookie sheet, but they are still nice and chewy – even more so, because there isn’t any flour to get in the way of the oats.

The Best Granola (so far)

6 cups of large flake oats (not instant or quick oats)
2 cups of barley flakes
1/3 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/3 cup sesame seeds
2/3 cup of coarsely chopped whole almonds with the skins still on
1/3 cup of raw cashews coarsely chopped
1/3 cup of oat bran
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Grated zest of one orange
1/4 cup of oil
1/2 cup of honey (approximate)
1 cup of dried blueberries

  • Preheat oven to 350°C
  • In a large baking dish combine barley flakes, oatmeal, oat bran, cinnamon, seeds and nuts.
  • Add orange zest and stir
  • Pour oil into measuring cup up to 1/4 cup measure.  Top up with honey to 2/3 cup measure.
  • Stir well to mix.
  • Optional: Take some of the mixture and place on a cookie sheet about 1 layer thick (this will give you some granola that is extra brown and crispy).
  • Bake for 15 minutes at 350°C.  Remove from the oven and stir.
  • Bake for 10 minutes more and stir again.
  • Add blueberries and bake for 5 minutes more.
  • Let cool and store in an air-tight container.

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Flourless Oatmeal Cookies – adapted from Uprisings: the whole grain bakers’ book

3 eggs
3/4 cup of warmed honey (I heated it on the stove top for a few minutes)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup applesauce
4 1/2 cups large flake oats (not instant)
1 1/4 cups wheat germ
3/4 cup milk powder
3/4 cup medium unsweetened coconut flakes
1/3 cup of chopped walnuts
1/3 cup chopped raw cashews
2/3 cup currants
Grated zest of one orange

  • In a medium bowl beat together 3 eggs.
  • Add oil and applesauce and stir together.
  • In a large bowl add oats, wheat germ, milk powder, coconut, nuts, currants, and orange rind.
  • Stir mixture and let sit for 25 minutes.  This will help the cookies stick together.
  • Preheat the oven to 325°C
  • Using your hands, roll the dough into a ball and shape into a flat cookie about 1/4 – 1/2 inch thick and press onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet,  firming up the cookie edges if needed.
  • Bake at 325°C for 15 minutes until lightly brown

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Bircher Muesli – our new weekend tradition

The first time I had Bircher muesli was on my honeymoon.  Our favourite Toronto hotel is connected to the Eaton Centre’s food court.  I know that a food court does not sound that appetizing, but that is where we found this great place by the name of Richtree that sells Bircher muesli.  It is there that I tried the not quite oatmeal, not quite granola breakfast treat.

Fast forward 1 year later.

We are back in Toronto for a few days  and go over to our friend’s house for breakfast before biking out to the beach for a picnic.  Guess what delicious delight she has made for us?  That is right. Bircher muesli. She had been eating it on her last trip to Europe and liked it so much she thought she would make it for us that morning.

Of course her muesli was exponentially better than the stuff from Richtree (like most restaurant food it had too much sugar).  She used the recipe from the fantastic Rebar cookbook, which I have and seems to a common book on fellow vegetarian’s shelves

My Toronto friend always has great ideas and suggestions.  After all, she was the one who introduced me to the wonderful Toronto restaurant Fresh, and for that I will be eternally grateful. Now she got me on a bircher muesli kick, so I owe her big time.

Now that we are back in Edmonton I decided that I would follow her lead and whip up a batch for EPC and I for breakfast Sunday morning.

After the first bite he declared that the muesli was f*&@ing awesome.

Fresh blueberries and fresh peaches were great combined with the sesame seeds, sunflower seeds and almonds.  I think when summer fruit is no longer available I will give it a try with frozen berries and the more traditional apple.

So if you want something different for breakfast give Bircher muesli a try!

Bircher Muesli

This needs to be started the night before!

1 cup large flake oats, not instant (to make gluten-free use certified gluten-free oats such as Only Oats)
1 peach, chopped
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 cup plain yogurt
2 tablespoons chopped or sliced almonds
2 tablespoon sunflower seeds
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1 cup fresh berries (if using frozen thaw them overnight in the fridge)

  • Place oats in a boil and cover them with 1 1/2 cups of water.  Cover and leave to sit on the counter overnight.
  • In the morning (or the night before) toast the nuts in a toaster oven or in a heated skillet until lightly brown. Reserve.
  • Add the remaining ingredients and stir well.
  • Divide between two bowls and enjoy

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Sunny Boy Muffins and Strawberry Jam

What a busy couple of weeks.

First there was my in-laws’ family reunion, followed by EPC’s Aunt and three cousins staying with us for a few days, topped off with strawberry picking and preserving, and then a BBQ at EPC’s Dad’s place.

I certainly got a lot done, but man am I tired!

Since we had company staying with us for a few days, I figured they needed something special for breakfast, so I made up some delicious Sunny Boy Whole Grain Muffins.  I have been on a Sunny Boy cereal kick for the last few weeks, so I decided to take a look at the recipes on their website and came across a wonderful looking recipe for hearty (read: non-cupcake style) muffins.

I loved the muffins and so did the relations.

We enjoyed them with a dollop of homemade nectarine jam gifted to me by a coworker, as I didn’t make the strawberry jam until the weekend after they left.

The muffin recipe wasn’t followed exactly, because I was in a hurry and wasn’t paying attention to what I was doing. This can be a disaster when you are baking, but fortunately the recipe was saved by the addition of some large flake oats to soak up the extra milk.  If you end up adding twice as much milk like I did, you can save the recipe by adding 2/3 cup large flake oats.  In addition, I swapped out the all purpose flour for whole wheat.

And now on to the sweet stuff.

The strawberries were incredible.

I picked 50$ worth of strawberries in 45 minutes.  Don’t ask me how many berries that equates to, but it was a lot and the picking was easy too.  In case you live in the Edmonton area, I picked my berries at South Windermere Gardens.

Aside from berries for eating and freezing, I was able to get two batches of jam. Both jam recipes come straight off the Bernardin website.  The first, No-Pectin Strawberry Jam (shown on the muffin pictured above) was made with the addition of unripe berries.

No pectin jams are nice, because you make them with a bit less sugar.  You still need to add sugar though.  I have made the mistake of trying to do it with less than the recommended amount of sugar and, trust me, it doesn’t really work so well.

The second jam I made was Strawberry Balsamic Jam.

It is to die for.

If you are looking for a different jam, this is the one to try.  Bernardin recommends serving it with cheese and crackers, but it is also great with plain yogourt, slathered on fresh bread or by the spoonful.

I can’t wait to serve it to guests this winter as a sweet addition to a cheese tray!

Sunny Boy Whole Grain Muffins

Bernardin No-Pectin Strawberry Jam

Bernardin Strawberry Balsamic Jam

Homemade Apple Cranberry Granola

Every morning I have granola and plain yogurt for breakfast.   EPC is more of a crunchy bits and flakes with milk kinda’ guy.  He also loves to mix different types of breakfast cereal into one bowl.  Whenever there is homemade granola in the house, you can be sure he has a bit buried beneath his favourite flake.

We regularly buy Nature’s Path, Dorset Cereals, and Alpen.  We find these to be high quality and not too sweet.  I have also been known to splurge and pick up a package of Bob’s Red Mill Muesli or Alberta-made  Highwood Crossing Granola from time to time.  However, every once and while I get tired of packaged granola (as good as they are) and get down to making my own granola.

My Mom got me started on granola making.  She always has a Tupperware container of homemade granola in her cupboard.  I used her recipe for years.  She picked it up while she and my Dad were staying at a bed and breakfast in Vermont.  I am guessing this would have been over 10 years ago, but perhaps longer.  I won’t be sharing this recipe with you today, but you can look forward to it in the not to distant future.

I have branched out with my granola making, so this recipe is a combination of a couple of different recipes I have tried  over the last year, with an emphasis on whatever nuts I had lying around in my cupboard.

Using a can of concentrated apple juice gives this granola a very “appley” taste (imagine all those flakes of oats swimming in and soaking up all that sweet apple goodness).  Most granola rely on honey or maple syrup to sweeten, so I thought I would offer up some variety in case you feel like expanding your homemade granola repertoire and trying something new.

Homemade Apple Cranberry Granola

6 cups of large flake oats (not quick oats)
1/4 cup oat bran
1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds, unsalted
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/4 cup raw cashews, toasted
1/2 cup raw almonds, roughly chopped
1/4 cup pecans
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 can concentrated apple juice, thawed
1/4 cup oil

1/2 cup unsweetened cranberries

  • Preheat oven to 350°C
  • In a large roasting pan or baking dish mix oats, nuts, seeds, and cinnamon.
  • In a bowl stir together thawed concentrated apple juice and oil.
  • Pour apple juice mixture over oat mixture and stir well until oat mixture is thoroughly coated.
  • Bake at 350°C for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and stir.
  • Return and bake for 30 more minutes.  Remove from oven and stir.
  • Return to the oven and after 10 minutes remove from oven and add cranberries.  Return to oven and bake 10 minutes more.
  • Let cool and store in airtight container

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