Tag Archive for Grains

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

I love thick, chewy oatmeal raisin cookies. This recipe makes them. Try it, you’ll love them too.


Oatmeal Raisin Cookies (about 12 – 16)
Slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen

The last trick to getting a really thick, chewy cookie is to chill the dough before you bake it. You can scoop it and then chill it, or, if you’re like us, scoop it, freeze them and store them in a freezer bag so you can bake them as you wish. I find they’re always thicker when baked from the cold — only a couple extra minutes baking is needed.

115 g butter, softened
125 g brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
95 g flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
120 g rolled oats
120 g raisins

In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, egg and vanilla until smooth. Add flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt, stir this in. Stir in the oats and raisins.
To make the cookies extra thick and chewy, you need to chill the dough. Either chill it and then scoop it, or scoop the cookies on a tray and chill the whole thing. Or scoop them, freeze them and bake them if you want cookies (takes a few minutes extra baking).
Preheat the oven to 175C. Place the cookies about 5 cm apart on a baking sheet lined with baking paper. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Take them out when golden at the edges, but still a little undercooked on top. Let them sit on the hot baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a rack to cool.

Whole Grain Oat Bread

A simple whole wheat bread with a twist: it has some rolled oats added. They aren’t really noticeable in the end product, but seem to keep the bread fresh for longer. It freezes really well, I slice it when cooled after baking, store in a ziplock bag in the freezer and pop a slice in the toaster when I want some. The dough is supposed to be really forgiving too, you can proof it at room temperature and bake immediately, or place in the fridge and leave for up to five days for a more complex flavour. As a variation you could use other kinds of rolled grains.


Whole Grain Oat Bread (1 bread)
Slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen

320 g whole-wheat flour
80 g rolled oats
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 egg
25 g oil (I used rapeseed)
145 ml lukewarm water
145 ml lukewarm milk (or use more water instead)
7 g dry yeast (1 sachet)

Combine water, milk and sugar in a bowl, then mix in the yeast. Add egg and oil and mix. Add the flour, oats and salt, and stir for 1 minute. The dough will be wet, that’s fine. Let it rest for 5 minutes.
Mix for another 2 minutes. The dough should be smooth, supple and slightly sticky. If it is still very wet, add a little more flour. If it is very stiff, add a little more water. I found I had to add quite some flour to create a nice dough.
Mix for another 4 minutes.
Dump onto your workbench, knead a few times, then form into a ball. Place back in the bowl, cover with cling film and either let it proof for about an hour at room temperature (until doubled) or place in the fridge and leave there for up to five days. Make sure you take the dough from the fridge early enough when you want to bake the bread (about 3 hours before baking).
Take the dough from the bowl and place on a floured workbench. Flatten gently into a rough rectangle. Fold in the sides so that it is roughly the with of a bread loaf pan. Roll the dough, and place this log into the loaf pan, seam side down. Leave to proof at room temperature for about an hour, or until it has risen a few cm above the rim of the baking pan. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 175C.
Bake the bread for 35-40 minutes, or until it sounds hollow when tapped. Remove the bread from the tin and let cool on a rack.

Oatmeal Drop Scones

I really loved the idea of these, but they were a bit disappointing. Still tasty, but a bit boring. I expect they will be a lot more interesting when you fry them in a large knob of butter.


Oatmeal Drop Scones (makes about 25)
From Vegetarian Living

150 g fine oatmeal
400 ml buttermilk

75 g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 tbsp runny honey
pinch of salt
1 egg
up to 50 ml milk

Mix the oatmeal with the buttermilk and leave to soak for a few hours or overnight.
Add the flour and baking soda and mix well. Add the honey, salt and egg and mix. Add enough milk to make a nice batter (consistency of double cream).
Heat a frying pan, drop dollops of the batter in it, and leave to spread out by itself. Cook for about 2-3 minutes on medium heat, then turn over and cook for another minute. Repeat with the remaining batter.
Serve immediately with butter, jam, honey, maple syrup or golden syrup

Italian Soup

Weird but true: parmesan rinds give a wonderful flavour to soup. You can hoard parmesan rinds the whole year (store them in a resealable bag in the freezer) and finally make something like this. But if you can’t wait this long, don’t have a freezer, or will certainly forget those rinds in your freezer, you can easily add them to a “normal” recipe to perk it up.
I’m not sure how Italian this recipe really is, but it is inspired on loads of Italian recipes I’ve seen, and it gives me an Italian vibe. Because of the beans and barley it is a meal in itself, and I would describe the flavour as robust and savoury. The amounts of the ingredients are not that important, so I don’t give measurements in the recipe. Just do what you think is right, that is what I did too, and that is why I’ve got no clue how much I used from everything.

Italian Soup

Italian Soup

olive oil
pancetta, cubed/sliced
onion, cubed
carrot, cubed
celery, cubed
garlic, sliced
a few parmesan rinds
stock cubes
some sprigs of thyme
a few bay leafs

pearl barley (small handful per person)
can of cannellini beans (a small one is enough for 2 people)
chopped flat-leaf parsley
shavings of parmesan

Heat a large pan with a glug of olive oil. Add the pancetta, sweat for a bit. Then add the onion, cook until translucent. Add carrot and celery, cook until slightly soft and possibly a bit caramelized. Add the garlic and cook for a few minutes longer, taking care not to burn it.
Add water, the parmesan rinds, stock cubes, thyme and bay, and leave to simmer for at least half an hour.
Add the pearl barley and cook until soft. Add the cannellini beans and warm trough. Serve, garnished with the parsley and parmesan shavings.

Chicken and Barley Soup

A deliciously soothing and warming soup. It does take a while to prepare, but it keeps well, so make a large pot and freeze portions for later. And of course, there are few things that smell better than a pot of chicken stock bubbling away on the stove, or onions that are gently caramelizing.

Chicken and Barley Soup

Chicken and Barley Soup (serves 4 + leftovers)
Adapted from “Leon – Ingredients & Recipes”

2 chicken legs
2 carrots
2 small onions, peeled
2 sticks of celery
1 leek, washed
6 cloves of garlic, peeled
4 bay leaves
a few whole peppercorns
a few pieces of mace
a few sprigs of thyme
a few sprigs of flat leaf parsley, with stalks
150 g pearl barley
250 g button mushrooms
salt and pepper
Optional: butter and/or olive oil (use if your chicken did not release enough fat)
Optional: crusty bread to serve the soup with

Chop 1 carrot, 1 onion, the celery and the green part of the leek coarsely. Smash 3 of the garlic cloves. Crush the peppercorns coarsely. Cut the stalks from the parsley, set the leaves aside for later. Remove the stalks from the mushrooms, set the tops aside for later. Throw in a stock pot, together with the bay leaves, mace and thyme. Heat a frying pan and place the chicken legs in it. Fry, turning regularly, until the skin is crisp and brown all around. Reserve the pan and the fat that came out of the chicken skin for later. Place the chicken legs on top of the vegetables in the stock pot, add 1.5 liter water and bring to a simmer. Simmer for about an hour.
Meanwhile, dice the second carrot and the second onion. Thinly slice the white part of the leek. Finely mince the 3 garlic cloves that were left. Pour half of the chicken fat into a (sauce)pan (large enough to accommodate the stock later on) and heat. Add the onion and a generous sprinkle of salt, fry until soft and translucent. Then add the carrot, leek and garlic. Sauté on low heat until very soft and golden. This will take about 30 minutes.
Take the chicken from the stock and set aside to cool. Pour the stock through a strainer into the pan with the caramelized vegetables, discard the vegetables from the stock. Add the pearl barley and leave to simmer for another hour.
Meanwhile, slice the mushrooms thinly and chop the parsley leaves finely. Heat the pan you used for the chicken with the reserved fat in it and fry the mushrooms until they are golden. Pick the meat of the chicken bones and chop it into pieces (discard the skin if you prefer). Check if your barley is tender, if not cook for a bit longer, if it is, add the mushrooms, parsley and chicken to the soup. Check for seasoning and add salt and pepper to adjust it. If the soup is a bit thick (can happen especially with the leftovers) you can add some extra water. Serve hot.

Super salad

A very delicious salad, also perfect as something light and healthy to counteract all the indulgence of Christmas and New Years Eve. It keeps quite well, so if you make a bit extra, you can use it as lunch the next day.

Super Salad

Super salad (serves 2)
Adapted from “Leon – Ingredients and Recipes”

125 g couscous
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp cumin
zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
1 vegetable stock cube

1 head of broccoli, in florets
2-3 fillets smoked mackerel, skin and bones removed, flaked
1/4 cup almonds, toasted and coarsely chopped
1/4 cup dried apricots, chopped
1/4 cup raisins
2 tbsp dill, finely chopped
50 g (baby) spinach
salt and pepper
extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice

Bring 125 ml (check the package if this is the appropriate amount of water for your couscous) water to the boil, dissolve the stock cube in it and add olive oil, cumin and lemon juice/zest. Add the couscous, stir, cover and set aside off the heat. After 10 minutes, use a fork to break up the couscous and to fluff it up.
Meanwhile, cook the broccoli.
Add the broccoli, mackerel, almonds, apricots, raisins, dill and spinach to the couscous (or transfer everything, including the couscous, to a big bowl/serving plate) and carefully mix. Add salt and pepper to taste, and dress with a little more olive oil and lemon juice if you like.

Note: because I like to use the whole broccoli, and I don’t like the stalk on its own, I always cut my broccoli in such a way that there is a bit of stalk on each floret. Obviously, this causes the florets to be rather long, and makes it difficult to mix them through the salad. Therefore, I served them on the side (as you can see on the photo). If you want to have the broccoli mixed through the salad, slice them into smaller florets.

Coconut-pineapple baked oatmeal

I made baked oatmeal in a few different flavours before, and I keep loving the concept. You can make it in advance, it has whole grains and fruit, and it makes a tasty, filling breakfast. Therefore I decided to make a new flavour variation, perfect for summer (or when you want to be reminded of summer): coconut and pineapple.
This variation is quite firm, I guess you could even eat it as a bar instead of from a bowl. I find that the pineapple makes the whole thing sweet enough (and lovely pineapple-y), I like my breakfast not too sweet. If you like sweet, add some sugar. Or drizzle with honey when serving. I like to eat it with some yoghurt, but I think it would be delicious with a splash of coconut milk too, to even further enhance the coconut flavour.

Coconut Pinapple Baked Oatmeal

Coconut-pineapple-vanilla baked oatmeal (6 portions)

1/2 cup grated coconut
2 1/2 cup oats
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 cup puréed pineapple (I puréed the pineapple from a 425 g can of pineapple on juice, and used the juice for another purposes)
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup coconut milk (from a can)

Preheat the oven to 175C.
Mix dry ingredients in one bowl, wet ingredients in the other, then combine. Mix well, pour into a 20×20 cm baking dish and cover with aluminium foil. Place in the oven, bake for 20 minutes, then remove the aluminium foil and bake for another 20 minutes. Leave to cool.
Cover well with aluminium foil or cling film and store for a maximum of 5 days in the fridge.

Pearl barley porridge (pancakes)

A delicious breakfast, a bit different than normal, so perfect for preventing a breakfast rut. Make a batch, keep in the fridge, and take a portion for breakfast everyday. You can serve it warm (microwave it with a bit of extra milk to make it porridgy again), serve it cold with fresh fruit and milk, or make it in delicious pancakes as a special treat.

Pearl Barley Porridge Pancakes

Pearl porridge with dried berries (4 portions)
Adapted from a recipe from the course “The New Nordic Diet – from Gastronomy to Health (University of Copenhagen via Coursera)”

100 g pearl barley
500 ml milk
2 tbsp sugar
pinch of salt
pinch of cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
100 g dried berries (cherries, cranberries, lingonberries, blueberries, raisins, etc)
Optional: tbsp flax seeds

Rinse the pearl barley. Put the pearl barley, milk, sugar, salt, cinnamon and vanilla in a saucepan. Bring to the boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes. Stir often, certainly at the last bit of cooking, because it tends to stick to the bottom of the pan. Mix in the dried berries and flax seeds if using. Serve immediately, or leave to cool and store in the fridge. Keeps for about 5 days.

Pearl barley porridge pancakes

1/4 recipe pearl barley porridge with dried berries
splash of milk
1 egg
some flour
a pinch of baking powder
1/2 apple, in very small cubes
a knob of butter
Optional: maple syrup, cinnamon sugar or blackcurrant marmalade to serve

There are no exact measurements for this recipe, just add the amounts that feel right.
Thin the porridge with a splash of milk and the egg. Add enough flour to make it a batter (optional, use a bit of protein powder together with some flour to add more protein to the recipe), then stir through the baking powder and apple.
Heat a skillet, grease with a little butter. Scoop spoons of the batter in the pan, cook on medium-low heat until the top has bubbles and gets dryer, then turn over and cook for another minute. If the bottom burns while the top doesn’t get dry, use a lid on your pan. The pancakes get dark quite fast.
Serve immediately, with the accompaniment of your choice.

Stuffed courgette

It’s courgette-time. The courgette plants in our garden are not that productive unfortunately (or luckily?), but they do tend to grow courgettes simultaneously, so you always have more than one, or none. So new recipes that use a lot of courgette are always welcome, and this is my new star.
I usually grill courgette or eat it raw, so when I ate a dish with courgette that was cooked in bouillon in a restaurant when I was on vacation, it was a big inspiration. Courgette can be a bit bland, so flavouring it with a flavoursome bouillon helps a lot. And cooking gives the courgette a completely different texture than when you grill it or eat it raw, it is juicy but firm. Usually with filled vegetables you put them in the oven to cook, but that takes a long time and tends to make the vegetables dry, so lightly cooking the courgette was a great alternative (and also nice to not have to turn on the oven in hot weather).
Couscous spice mix was something I turned to as a shortcut: one of my go-to superfast to cook and not to heavy on the stomach meals is couscous cooked with bouillon, with a “sauce” of beef mince, a bag of precut Provençal vegetables and a packet of couscous spice mix. It’s on the table in 10 minutes max, and is delicious too. And I keep couscous, stock cubes and couscous spice mix in my pantry, and Provençal vegetables and beef mince in the freezer, so it’s a backup dinner as well. But because I like the spice mix, I use it in other dishes too.

Stuffed Courgette

Stuffed courgette (serves 2 generously, or 2 + leftovers for lunch)

3 courgettes
1 vegetable stock cube
150 g couscous
olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
250 g beef mince
3 tbsp couscous spice mix (amount necessary may differ with the kind of spice mix you use)

Remove top and bottom from the courgettes and half lengthways. Scoop out most of the flesh, chop this up into cubes and set aside.
Bring 250 ml of water to the boil in a pan that can contain the courgettes. Dissolve the stock cube in the water. Add the courgettes and place a lid on the pan. Cook for 5 minutes. Drain, but reserve the stock.
Place the couscous in a bowl or small pan. Reduce the stock to 150 ml, make sure it is boiling, then pour over the couscous. Cover the bowl or pan and set aside.
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a frying pan. Add the onion, sauté on low heat until soft and translucent. Turn up the heat, add the garlic and mince, and fry for a few minutes. Add the spice mixed and the chopped up courgette flesh, fry until fragrant and the courgette is cooked.
Scoop the filling into the courgette halves (you will have generous) and serve.

Summer couscous salad

Greek salad is a bit of a problem for me. I do like the idea, but I always find it tasting a bit raw and harsh (because of the raw paprika) and it tends to get very wet and soggy from the vegetables, draining away all the flavour of a dressing. Luckily, I found the solution: I made it into a couscous salad, roasted the paprika to make it a bit more mellow, and threw in some other ingredients that I like (roast courgette, almonds and dried apricots, some lettuce from my garden) to make it into a complete meal. Leftovers would be great for lunch the next day.

Summer Couscous

Summer couscous salad (serves 1 generously)

40 g couscous

1/2 courgette
1 red paprika
1 clove garlic
1/2 tbsp olive oil
few sprigs of oregano

2 tomatoes
1/2 cucumber
a few leaves of lettuce
50 g olives
75 g feta
30 g almonds, roasted
30 g apricots, sliced

Preheat the grill as high as it gets.
Cook the couscous according to the instructions on the packet (it varies between brands). I like to cook it in bouillon instead of water to give it more flavour.
Quarter the red paprika and discard the seeds. Place in a baking tin skin side up and place under the grill, meanwhile slice the courgette and grill the slices in a hot skillet. When the skin of the paprika is black, it is ready. Cover the baking tin with tinfoil and set aside to cool until manageable. Then peel of the skin. Slice in bite-sized strips. (for me, this is the easiest way to grill paprika). Crush the garlic, chop the oregano coarsely and place in a bowl together with the olive oil. Dump the paprika and the grilled courgette into the flavoured oil. Add the couscous and mix. Slice the tomato and cucumber in cubes and mix with the couscous-grilled vegetables mixture. Serve with the lettuce, feta, olives, almonds and apricots. Alternatively, serve the couscous-mix with the feta, olives, almonds and apricots mixed through, on a bed of lettuce.