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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

"Mornin' Mash is the Truth!"

Those words were chatted to me enthusiastically after sharing my new go-to breakfast with my workplace BFF. He was referring to what most of Europe (and beyond) might call Bircher Müesli: a "mash up" of raw oats and raisins softened and plumped by a long soak in citrus juices and/or yogurt (or some other type of dairy), then embellished with endless combinations of fruits, nuts, and natural sweeteners. Absolutely refreshing and perfectly filling (in an appetite-curbing, good way), this is first-meal-of-the-day virtue at its humblest. It resembles a sort of cold oatmeal or soft, chewy granola, but with way, WAY better texture and flavor! I like to mix in mashed banana or homemade jam or applesauce to give it a bit of sweetness. I added mashed pawpaw fruit when that was in season! Pumpkin butter or apple butter or my pear butter would be a nice seasonal choice also. A jar of homemade granola always sits on my kitchen counter, so I sprinkle on a bit of that too for added crunch. If you don't eat breakfast in the car while driving to work like I do each morning, a drizzle of honey would be an excellent touch. I should also mention this is a great make ahead deal that with minimal advanced prep work should see you through a week's worth of breakfasts, helping you get out the door just a wee bit faster. Varying your toppings should keep you from getting bored.

I was introduced to Bircher Müesli several years ago at a hotel breakfast bar in Sydney and was happy to find it again when I traveled this summer to Hamburg and Oslo. European hotels' complimentary breakfasts (even the budget-friendly ones) knock the socks off of what's considered a "continental breakfast" in the States. Across the pond you will find generous spreads with much more healthy, non-processed options. Since returning home, I found a recipe in my Gourmet Magazine cookbook that I've been tweaking here and there and was eager to post my variations. Then David Lebovitz beat me to the punch with a post on Bircher Müesli last week! With that, I almost wasn't going to post my recipe, but then I thought twice. Perhaps ::shudder:: you don't know of his blog or have never heard of this recipe or of Maximilian Bircher-Benner, the Swiss equivalent of the Michigan health-enthusiast/inventor of corn flakes, John Harvey Kellogg. Everyone deserves a little morning goodness. I'm happy to do my part!

Bircher Müesli
makes 16 cups; serves 8-10

1 lemon
1 juicing orange
1 grapefruit
1½ cups steel cut oats (Irish oats)
3 cups old fashioned rolled oats
⅔ cup raisins
1 quart whole milk, plain yogurt

Toppings and Mix-ins:
sliced or mashed banana
coarsely grated apples
toasted nuts
fresh berries

Finely grate zest from lemon and orange. Squeeze juice from all of the fruits to obtain about 1½ - 2 cups of citrus juice. Combine the zest, juice, oats, raisins, and yogurt in a large re-sealable container. Stir until thoroughly mixed. Refrigerate covered for at least eight hours to allow the oats to soften.

When hungry, portion out servings into individual bowls and top as desired.

Bircher Müesli will keep for about a week, covered tightly and refrigerated.

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