Friday, January 29, 2016

Swiss Breakfast Oats

This is a little make-ahead breakfast that I first tasted at a little coffee shop in downtown Chicago four years ago. I searched for recipes but didn't find any that were quite the same taste as I remembered. So after some trial and error and modifying recipes from all over the web, I came up with a version that is exactly what I hoped for. This breakfast oat mixture is made before bedtime so it's ready to eat in the morning with very little prep. I hope you enjoy it. It's a bit like rice pudding and is adaptable to whatever mix-ins you like. I use walnuts, but pecans are also good with dried blueberries. Always add bananas at serving time. For a little variety, I mix half old-fashioned rolled oats and half rolled rye flakes from Eden Organic. Rye flakes work just like rolled oats even for cooked breakfast cereal and have a nice nutty flavor. Be sure you don't use quick cooking oats!

Swiss Breakfast Oats
1 c. old fashioned rolled oats (or half oats/half rye)
1 c. plain lowfat Greek yogurt (or vanilla, then skip the honey)
1 c. milk, almond milk, or other milk substitute. (I use almond milk)
1/2 T. honey 
1 apple, cored and chopped (you can peel if you like, but I like the color and texture of the peel)
2 T. chopped walnuts (+/-)
2 T. raisins (optional)

1 banana, sliced

Combine the oats, yogurt, milk, honey, apples, walnuts, and raisins in a bowl with a tight fitting lid. Store in the refrigerator overnight, or at least 8 hours. Add banana to the oats just before eating. If you only plan to eat a portion of it, slice bananas on top of your serving, as pictured, and garnish with some more walnuts. The oats keep in the refrigerator up to 3 days. It never lasts that long in my house.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Grandma Lally's Cottage Cheese cake (Schmierkuchen)

Don't get me wrong, I love a good New York style cheesecake as much as anyone. More than anyone, really. But when I want a soul-satisfying comfort food dessert, I think of my Grandma Lally's cottage cheese cake, or Schmierkuchen. Every time I visited she'd have one in the freezer for me to take home. I think of her when I make these. They are primarily cottage cheese and prunes, so not for the faint of heart. But if you like a rustic style dessert with a custard like filling and warm cinnamon flavor, this is for you. You could use a frozen sweet bread dough for the crust, but trust me when I say, the batter-style crust in this recipe is easy and totally worth the extra step. Plus you don't have to plan ahead to thaw a loaf of frozen dough, which I am all for.

Grandma Lally's Cottage Cheese cake
Crust:
3/4 c. granulated white sugar
1/4 c. soft shortening
1 large egg
1/2 c. milk (2% or whole)
1-1/2 c.unbleached flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
Filling:
1-1/2 lb (24oz) cottage cheese
1 c. granulated white sugar
2 T. lemon juice
1/4 c. unbleached flour
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
4 eggs, beaten
1 c. milk (2% or whole)
Pinch of salt
Topping:
1 lb. bag of pitted prunes, quartered
cinnamon

Simmer the prunes in a small sauce pan with a little water. Heat just to softened, cool and drain. Set aside.

Mix sugar, shortening and egg with your stand mixer until fluffy. Stir in the milk. Sift together all the dry ingredients. Stir into batter. Butter the bottoms and sides of two 9" cake pans (You could also use pie pans). Divide the batter in two equal portions and spread evenly in the bottom and sides of the cake pans.

Mix together all filling ingredients. Pour an equal amount into each of the two crust-lined cake pans. Dot with an equal amount of the cooled prunes on each pan. Sprinkle with cinnamon.

Bake at 325° for 1 hour or until set. The outer edge of the crust will be a nice golden brown. Serve warm or cold.

Enjoy!