Monday, November 9, 2009

The Beauty of Bircher Muesli

In our house we predominantly have cereal for breakfast during the week. During summer I favour Bircher Muesli, whereas in winter, we naturally eat a lot of porridge.  I always look forward to when the time comes around to make Bircher Muesli again as there's nothing better or more suited to my tastes than having a bowl of oats, fruit and yoghurt for breakfast in summer.

As with many well known foods the modern versions that we know bear little resembelance to the original, and so it is with Bircher Muesli.  The original actually used very little oats and was made with cream, whereas it is accepted that modern versions are made with yoghurt.  Apart from the basics of oats, fruit and yoghurt you can pretty much improvise with Bircher Muesli and this is what I like about it.

I always make a large quantity of the basic mix and then I top it with whatever fruit I feel like each day.  Nuts are optional but a very nice addition.  The bowl of muesli keeps for several days in the fridge and couldn't make breakfast much easier to manage really.

Bircher Muesli


2 cups of rolled oats
1 - 1½ cups of fruit juice (any flavour, but apple works well)
3 tbs of slivered almonds
3 tbs of sunflower seeds
2 tbs of flax seeds
Cinnamon, to taste
2 tbs sultanas or other dried fruit (optional)

For Serving:
2 desert spoons of low fat natural yoghurt or sheep’s milk yoghurt
Your choice of chopped fresh fruit, dried fruit and nuts.


Add all the dry ingredients to a bowl and then add the fruit juice. A pyrex bowl with a plastic lid is ideal.
Mix everything together so that all the dry ingredients are wet and then cover and leave in the fridge overnight.

To Serve:

Add yoghurt to ½ cup of muesli and stir to combine in a bowl. Then add chopped fresh fruit, dried fruit and nuts as desired.

Some suggestions are - mango and macadamias, pear and roasted hazelnuts, apple and walnuts or almonds, barberries and pistachios, strawberries, blueberries and pecans.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Chicken and Corn Chowder

I just bought the Jamie Oliver iphone application (yes I'm addicted to the app store like so many others) called 20 Minute Meals. It's a good little app with easy recipes, a shopping list function, basic instructions and videos of basic kitchen techniques. Very nice if you're a fan of Jamie.

There was a recipe for Chilli Corn Chowder in the Soups section which I've used as the basis for this recipe but I thought it would be really nice with chicken in it and I opted for fresh corn instead of the frozen corn kernels that Jamie uses in his recipe. I also used coriander instead of thyme, because that's what I had in the fridge, as well as making some other adjustments to make it a little more healthy and low GI. For instance, I used turnip instead of potato to thicken the soup and I gave the sour cream a miss.

The result was a tasty but quick dinner that's a prefect spring dish; fresh, with a bit of zing to it from the chilli, but completely comforting at the same time.

Chicken and Corn Chowder Recipe


4 cobs of corn
2 large skinless organic chicken breast fillets
1 litre of salt reduced vegetable stock
1 medium turnip, grated and the liquid squeezed out
1 small brown onion, chopped
1 stick of celery, chopped
2 small red chillies (1 1/2 for soup; the rest de-seeded and thinly sliced for garnish)
1 cup of coriander (plus extra for garnish)
3 spring onions (for garnish)
freshly ground black pepper and sea salt flakes, to taste
a splash of milk


Pour the stock into a large saucepan and bring to the boil and turn it down to a simmer. Trim the chicken fillets of any remaining visible fat and then add them to the stock to poach for about 10 to 12 minutes. When poached remove the chicken, set aside to cool a little, and then chop the chicken roughly.

Meanwhile, in a fry pan sauté the onion, celery and chilli gently for about 10 minutes until the vegetables are soft and the onion is translucent. Also, steam the corn cobs in the microwave until the kernels are bright yellow and tender, remove, cool a little in cold water until cool enough to handle and then with a sharp knife cut off the kernels.

Add the corn kernels to the saucepan with the stock in it, the grated turnip, the sautéed vegetable mixture and the coriander. Let it simmer gently for a few minutes, add the chopped chicken back in and let it simmer for a minute more but not more than that or the chicken will overcook.

Take the soup off the heat and process in a food processor briefly but leave the texture so that its a little rustic. Add a little milk to get the consistency right. You could also use a stab mixer here as well. Season to taste, and then ladle into bowls. Top each bowl with coriander leaves, chopped spring onions and finely sliced chilli.

Serves 6.