Pear Hazelnut Bread

Pear-Hazelnut Bread

Pear-Hazelnut Bread

Quick breads often meet my need for something sweet, without a guilt trip about how many calories I’m ingesting.  Of course not all of them meet that description, but this one is a nice compromise between a little sweetness and something you feel good about eating for breakfast.  It bakes up nice and hearty, with shredded pears and chopped hazelnuts folded into a cardamom-scented batter.

This bread would be a welcome addition to a holiday brunch or just nice to have with your morning’s coffee, on an average day.  Although, in my opinion, no day is average when it starts with a home-baked bread or muffin.

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Fresh, firm pears are needed for this recipe, so when they are grated you will not have a pile of mush.  I like Bosc pears but firm Bartletts work well also.  Wait to prepare them until you’re ready to put the bread together or the shredded fruit will turn brown.

While the original recipe for this bread called for 1  1/2 cups white all-purpose flour, I use a mixture of whole grains to make a total of  1 1/2 cups.  Examples are oats, spelt flour, whole wheat flour, and barley flakes.  The proportions should be about 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour, and 1/4 cup something else like oats or barley flakes.  This will give you a bread that is tender with good texture.   Toasting the hazelnuts in the oven for about 5 minutes improves their nutty flavor, but watch them carefully so they don’t get too browned.

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PEAR-HAZELNUT BREAD

Yield:   1  9″x5″ loaf

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup shredded, peeled, ripe pears that are still firm (about 2 )
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil, or coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup plain low-fat yogurt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups flour (see recommended types above)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  •  1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest
  • 1 cup chopped toasted hazelnuts

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Directions:

1.  Preheat the oven to 350*F.  and line a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on two sides.  Coat well with cooking spray and set aside.

2.  Whisk together the vegetable oil, yogurt, eggs, and vanilla together well.  Stir in the shredded pears.

3.  Whisk together all the dry ingredients,  adding in the chopped nuts also.

Whisk together all the dry ingredients.

Whisk together all the dry ingredients.

4.  Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ones, mixing just to moisten thoroughly.

Mixing wet ingredients into dry.

Mixing wet ingredients into dry.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and bake for 55 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.  Test carefully as the top of this loaf may brown and look done while the center is still moist because of the pears.

5.  Let cool in the pan for about an hour, then remove from pan and transfer to a rack to cool completely.

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SOURCE:   Adapted from Whole Grain Mornings by Megan Gordon

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Whole Grain Pancake Mix

Whole grain pancake mix makes delicious pancakes.

Whole grain pancake mix makes delicious pancakes.

As far as I knew Bisquick was the only game in town.  Bisquick reminds me of weekend mornings, in the kitchen with my Mom, making pancakes, waffles, or shortcake biscuits.  While the ingredients of that well-known mix leave much to be desired  (hydrogenated oils, UGH!), I don’t have any hard feelings against it, as nothing beat the ease of having a mix already to go.

Now-a-days, however, I make most everything from scratch, but it is so convenient to have a mix on hand to speed things up.  So periodically I make up a batch of pancake mix, and I also use it for waffles.  I keep it in an air-tight jar in my cupboard.  Up until recently, the extent to which I included whole grains in my redi-mix had been limited to whole wheat flour as part of the flour total.  Now I have extended myself to include other whole grains, and I’m finding that I really like that hearty, toothsome quality they provide.  If you prefer a more uniform, smooth pancake, you can grind oats down in a processor before adding them, but I encourage you to try this mixture of flour and whole grains as a ready-to-go mix, for a new taste in your morning pancakes (or waffles).  I love this mix so much, I don’t think I’ll ever make pancakes any other way again.

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WHOLE GRAIN PANCAKE OR WAFFLE MIX

Yield:   Makes about 4 cups; enough for 4 batches of pancakes

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup /120 g unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup / 120g white whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup/ 100 g oat  flour
  • 1/2 cup / 60 g spelt flour
  • 3/4 cup /75 g rolled oats
  • 3 tablespoons natural cane sugar
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1.  In a large bowl, stir together all the ingredients.  Scoop into a large resealable plastic bag or large glass jar and store for 6 to 8 weeks.  Refrigerate for longer shelf life ( 3 – 4 months).  Give the mix a good stir before using it to integrate any ingredients that may have settled.

Use this mix to make pancakes or waffles.

Use this mix to make pancakes or waffles.

Stop back again tomorrow when I’ll have a recipe for whole-grain buttermilk waffles (or pancakes).

SOURCE:   adapted from Whole Grain Mornings

Brown Rice Pilaf

Brown Rice Pilaf

Brown Rice Pilaf

In my attempts to add more fibre and whole grains to our diet, I’ve turned to brown rice.  Brown rice is unpolished rice, with only the husk removed.  Up until fairly recent I did not cook brown rice because it seemed to take a long while to cook.   Now, however, there are several ways to get this wholesome grain into your diet without the time involved in cooking it.  It is available in a package as pre-cooked and only involves heating it up in the microwave (such as Uncle Ben’s).  This same company also makes a boil-in-the-bag brown rice that only takes 10 minutes to cook.  With this kind of convenience, there is no reason to avoid brown rice any longer.

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This recipe for rice pilaf using brown rice included two additional ingredients that I particularly love:  mushrooms and leeks.  Nuts may also be added such as almonds or pecans, providing a little additional crunch.  Rice pilaf is a great go-with served with just about any kind of meat or fish, or as a side dish in a meatless meal.  Using the rice as a base you can add whatever additional ingredients suit your fancy and turn out a dish that is nutritious and enjoyable all rolled into one.

BROWN RICE PILAF WITH ALMONDS

Yield:   Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 (8.8 oz.) package pre-cooked whole-grain brown rice, or a bag of boil-in-the-bag brown rice
  • 2 tsp. olive oilIMG_0142
  • 1 medium size leek, sliced white and light green parts
  • 2 cups shiitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 Tbsp. sliced almonds
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper

Directions:

Cook the brown rice according to package directions.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the olive oil to the pan and swirl to coat.  Add the thinly sliced leek and the mushrooms and sauté for 4 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally.

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Add 1/4 cup water, scraping pan to loosen browned bits.  Stir in the almonds, salt and pepper.

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Stir in the cooked rice, and stir to blend.

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Transfer to serving dish.

Brown Rice Pilaf with Almonds

Brown Rice Pilaf with Almonds

SOURCE:   Cooking Light

Pear and Hazelnut Muffins

Pear and Hazelnut Muffins

Pear and Hazelnut Muffins

In just one week’s time I came across three references to a new cookbook called Whole Grain Morning, by Megan Gordon.  So I had to find out what all the fuss was about.  I went to my local big box bookstore and there it was!.  Thumbing through it, I found so many interesting recipes for breakfast dishes, all including a variety of grains, that I had to make it mine. It is a well-known fact that your morning meal is the opportune time to load in most of your whole grain needs for the day. Gordon gives many delicious ideas in her book for doing just that.  This recipe for pear and hazelnut muffins is only the first of what will most likely be many recipes that I make from this book.

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Muffins can be a fusion of many flavors and ingredients, some you wouldn’t think to put together, but somehow they work.  And sometimes a muffin will  be sweet and cake like resembling dessert.   I keep some funny little rules in my head to make the distinction whether a muffin should be breakfast food  or eaten at another time, like afternoon tea.  The rules that run through my head go something like this:

Whole grains and oats = breakfast

White flour = cake

An egg or two = breakfast

Lots of eggs = cake

Natural sweeteners = breakfast

White sugar = cake

Unsaturated fats = breakfast

Butter = cake

After running through the ingredient list I tally the marks and make a determination as to whether I can pull this off as breakfast.  When in doubt or the marks are equal, throw in some bacon, and that definitely swings it over to the side of breakfast.  😀

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The Pear and Hazelnut Muffins from Megan Gordon’s beautiful book came out strongly in the breakfast category with oats, whole wheat flour, fruit and nuts.  It might have remained there, except for the fact that I  added some chocolate.  It seemed to me that when you say the words, “pear and hazelnut”, together, something seems to be missing–add the words, “chocolate chunks”  and now it becomes a complete sentence.  Oh, oh, I guess I need to add chocolate to my list of ingredients acceptable for breakfast.  Try as I might, I can’t help tinkering with a recipe.  If you’re happy with the recipe sans the chocolate, go for it!!!

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Whether you have these for breakfast or dessert, you won’t have any regrets.  The combination of ingredients produces a complex flavor that’s far beyond what you would expect to be having for breakfast — grated pear, toasted hazelnuts, vanilla, butter, oats and, yes, chocolate chunks all tangled together in a crunchy muffin that tastes amazing even a day or two after it is baked.

PEAR AND HAZELNUT MUFFINS

Yield:  Theoretically, 12 muffins, but I got 18.

Ingredients:

  • 2 small-medium pears
  • 6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cooled slightlyIMG_6218
  • 2/3 cup natural cane sugar, such as Turbinado, or light brown sugar
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cardamom (can replace this with 1/4 tsp. cinnamon)
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 tsp. Kosher salt
  • 1 cup toasted hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chunks or chips (optional)

Directions:

1.  Heat oven to 425*F.  Butter a standard 12-cup muffin tin or line it with papers.**  Have a second tin ready in case you need it,

2.  Peel, (if you desire, or can be skipped) pears, then halve and core them.  Grate pears on the large holes of a box grater into a large bowl.  You should have about a cup, grated. Note:  I got this much with just one medium pear.  Stir in the melted butter, sugar, buttermilk, eggs and vanilla until combined.

3.  In a separate bowl, stir together the oats, flours, baking soda, baking powder, spices, salt, all but 1/2 cup nuts, and chocolate chunks, if using.  Gently fold this dry mixture into the wet batter until just combined; do not overmix.

4.  Fill muffin cups almost full and sprinkle with the reserved 1/2 cup nuts. ( I overlooked this step, and added all the nuts to the batter, so my pics do not show any nuts on top of the muffins,)

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Place muffins in oven and immediately reduce the heat to 375*F.  Bake for 20 – 25 minutes, or until tops are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of one comes out batter-free.

5.  Cool muffins in pans for 10 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack.  Muffins will keep for 2 days at room temperature in an airtight container.

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**Point of information:  I just bought these parchment paper muffin liners for the first time, and they were wonderful at keeping the muffins from sticking to the paper. The liner removed cleanly with no torn muffins or crumbs clinging to the paper.  P.S. I get no compensation for this unsolicited plug.

Parchment Paper Muffin Liners

Parchment Paper Muffin Liners

SOURCE:  Whole Grain Mornings,  Megan Gordon