Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. How many times have you heard that??? While we may find it boring, it is absolutely true. It's been scientifically proven that people who eat a nutritious breakfast tend to have more energy throughout the day and are also likely to have less problems with their weight. As a teenager I used to skip breakfast whenever I could. I just thought it was a waste of precious sleeping time. It wasn't rebellion or anything like that it was just a matter of fact. I much preferred to have some quick bite, like a Mars bar or sugary cereal (empty calories, my friends). Nowadays I pay more attention to what I put im my body and I have to say I grew to love breakfast. Actually it's my favourite meal of the day. Especially the loooooong, weekend breakfast, that is usually a 3 or 4 course affair around this household. OK, that sounds more like brunch, doesn't it? I've been known to still be in my PJ's at 3pm, with a warm almond croissant in one hand a double shot latte in the other.
But that only happens on the weekends. On a weekday, when time is of the essence granola is my saviour. This particular granola has oats,nuts, honey and all the goodness of dates and figs. I added honey and lemon juice for moisture, but you can also use any kind of cordial you have at hand. (Blackberry an lime cordial is brilliant for this job). You may also want to have different nuts and seeds. With this one anything goes. Really. Did I mention that oats are good for you? They can help reduce cholesterol, reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and they are low GI foods, providing a steady release of energy throughout the day.
Quince is one of those fruits that you either love or hate. I belong to the quince lovers category. This wonderfully aromatic fruit is widely used in Middle Eastern cooking, in tagines ans sweets. You can't go wrong with paring lamb and quince.
The Spanish have a great concoction as well. It's called dulce de membrillo or quince cheese. It is served with thick slices of Manchego cheese. Heaven!!!
When raw, quince has a very hard and grainy flesh. Practically inedible. But once it's cooked it turns into this silky, smooth, and soft marvel of a fruit.
You can serve the poached quince with different kinds of granola or muesli, or just plain vanilla ice-cream. Add a thin crisp cookie and you hit a home run.
Fig and date granola
3 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup almonds
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup dates, chopped
1/2 cup figs, chopped
4 tbsp honey
juice of half a lemon
Preheat oven to 350F. Mix oats, almonds,pumpkin seeds with honey and lemon juice in a large bowl.(Mixture should be slightly wet. Add more honey if need be). Line a large cookie sheet with aluminum foil. Pour mixture on the cookie sheet and bake for about 15 minutes or until golden. Remove from oven and mix in chopped dates and figs. Cool completely. Store in an airtight container. Serve with poached quince, thick yogurt and honey.
Cardamom and ginger poached quince
4 large quince
1 cup sugar
5 cups water
2 cm piece of ginger
3 cardamom pods
juice of half a lemon
Peel, halve and core quince. Cut in 1 inch slices. Place quince slices in a large pot along with all the other ingredients. Bring to a simmer. Keep at a low simmer uncovered and cook for about 1 and 1/2 hours, or until the fruit is soft. Take off the heat, and lift quince pieces out of the poaching liquid. Place poaching liquid back on the stove and simmer for about an hour, until the the liquid is reduced to a wonderfully fragrant thick syrup. Remove ginger and cardamom. Discard. Put quince pieces back into the syrup and cool completely, before refrigerating.
Enjoy the aroma that has just filled your house!