Despite my love of oats, muesli has always had bit of a negative connotation for me. Why would I ever want that dry, sawdusty stuff when I could have deliciously toasted granola instead? It wasn’t until we were living in Sydney, where it’s a café breakfast staple, that I finally discovered Bircher muesli. Oh, Bircher muesli…where had you been all my life? Better late than never, I guess.
With Bircher muesli, dry oats are soaked for at least a couple hours (overnight’s best), eliminating the whole sawdust thing. While you could use any number of liquids (such as OJ, milk or water) as your soaking medium, I prefer the light, neutral sweetness of apple juice. Next you add in lots of tasty bits…yogurt, fruit and nuts. Here I used grated red apple, along with strawberries, blackberries, sliced almonds, hazelnuts and unsweetened coconut flakes, but it’s really anything goes with the fruit and nuts. (Sliced peaches are incredible in this, as is rhubarb compote!) To me, the grated apple is the only really essential fruit, both for moisture and texture, so I would definitely not omit that. I’ve used all types of apples in the past, though, red or green..whatever you have…grate them skin-on.
This is such an easy and and satisfying breakfast, and a great way for oat lovers to get our fix when it’s hot outside. Thank you Maximilian Bircher-Benner!
Bircher Muesli– makes 2 large or 3 small servings
1 cup rolled oats (the “old-fashioned” kind)
½ cup + 2 T unsweetened apple juice
½ of a coarsely grated apple
5 oz plain yogurt
pinch of ground cinnamon
handful of toasted nuts and/or coconut flakes
handful of fresh berries and/or sliced stonefruit
honey or maple syrup for drizzling
-Put the oats and apple juice in a lidded container and leave in the refrigerator to soak overnight.
-The next morning, stir the grated apple, cinnamon, yogurt and half of the toasted nuts and/or coconut into the soaked oats. Spoon into bowls and top with fruit and remaining nuts. Drizzle with honey or maple syrup.
Sounds weird, right? Maybe even a little gross? No, bear with me…it’s good. Honest.
R and I were in Shanghai in August. It’s a crazy city– crowded, and with tons of new construction going up all over the place. In the middle of it all, I ran into someone I used to work with in New York years ago in my past life as an investment banker. But that’s a different story.
As a break from stuffing ourselves with crab xiao long bao , we headed over to a “western” cafe in Pudong called Slice for breakfast one morning. I wanted to go there because I had read that a Shanghai-based baker from New Zealand named Dean Brettschneider makes the breads. I am a big fan of his book Taste (and am searching secondhand bookstores for his previous and now out-of-print book Baker…if anyone has it, are you taking bids?), so I naturally wanted to try his stuff. I happily munched away on the best bagel and rye bread I’ve had since leaving NYC, while Rich ordered this couscous stuff off the menu. It had dried fruit and nuts, yogurt on top and just a touch of sweetness.
I was poking through the pantry the other day, and noticed that I had just enough couscous left for one person. Why not make breakfast couscous with it the next morning? I completely eyeballed everything, so I won’t give a hard and fast recipe, just a basic guideline.
this would also be good with some sweet spices, like a pinch of cinnamon or cardamom, mixed in
-Make as much couscous as you like (for one serving, I used 1/2 cup of dried couscous), according to package instructions, but add a touch of honey to the hot water so it can be absorbed into the couscous along with the liquid.
-Put as much dried fruit as you want to use (I used a handful of dried apricots, chopped, and some dried cherries) into a small bowl and cover with boiling water to plump while the couscous sits.
-When your couscous has absorbed the water and softened, fluff it up with a fork. Drain the dried fruit and mix into the couscous.
-Portion into serving bowls.
-Sprinkle with nuts (I used chopped almonds, but pistachios would be great, too) and top with a couple of spoonfuls of plain yogurt.
-Drizzle honey on top.