Everything falls into place – Raw muesli bars

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I spoke with my grand-mère last night. We settled on soup, mostly. Vegetables and a few spoonfuls of lentils or split peas. And citrouille [pumpkin] cooked with its skin on in a light bouillon.

Yes, the approaching winter means soup for dinner. It also means a half-past-three dusk and long evenings at home.
Kalle has been tying flies and installing new operating systems on his computer (he does that, weekly, if not more). And I’ve been baking, reading, and embroidering.
If I had been told that I’d find the one person on this planet who loves to spend evenings at home as much as I do, I wouldn’t have believed it.

But I once read something that went along the lines of: “Everything falls into place”. And like many other words, I think, these have stuck with me ever since. Not unlike my collection of old Pyrex glasses.

It does, indeed. Fall into place.
At times, you’ll forget what place even mean. There will be chaos, and hopefully, laughters too. And then, there will be mornings like today.

Depending on what day you’d come here, you’d either encounter autumn – the dark light, the raindrops against the windows of our patio; or winter – the crisp blue air, the frost.

Today is of the latter sort. A walk right after dawn, where the sky was purple and the ground glimmering under the street lights. A cup of tea, which I always end up forgetting about. A couple of rice cakes topped with avocado and more lemon pepper than you’d think is necessary.
But no matter how much I love to talk about breakfast, I think avocado on toast has been discussed enough (although I can only urge you to try it on rice cakes).

Muesli bars have too? Yes, I have no excuse for the recipe I’m telling you about today. It is what it is. And perhaps more; a staple in our house.

Raw muesli bars

I’ve been making these bars for a couple of years. In fact, more often than not, you’d find a few stashed in an airtight container in the second draw of my freezer.

The recipe itself is more of a bare-bones: oats, dates or some other dried fruits, nut butter, agave (although maple syrup or honey make an excellent substitute), nuts and seeds.
You could switch the cashew for pecans, or the pumpkin seeds for coconut flakes. Add a tablespoon of cocoa powder, or even a handful of cocoa nibs (you should try with apricots instead of dates; in which case, I’d also throw in a few pistachios).

In any case, I hope these bars will fill your freezer and your quatre-heures [literally: four o’clock (as in afternoon tea)].

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Raw muesli bars

makes 12-14

300 g pitted dates
300 g oats
200 g whole almonds
100 g pumpkin seeds
100 g sunflower seeds
10 g flaky sea salt
180 g (raw) nut butter
120 g agave syrup
375 g cashew nuts

Line a baking tray with baking paper.

Soak the dates in boiling water for 15 minutes.

In the meantime, combine the oats, almonds, seeds, and salt into a large bowl. Set aside until needed.

Drain the dates and place in a blender, along with the nut butter (I love to make it with raw peanut butter) and agave syrup.
Blitz until smooth. Then, add the cashew and give it a quick blitz, juts enough to break them down into smaller pieces.

Scrape the date mixture over the oats and using clean hands, mix until it comes together. It will take a little while, but eventually will! If the dough feels a little bit too dry after 5 minutes of mixing, add a tbsp or two of extra nut butter. Or if it feels too sticky, simply mix in a little more oats.

Tip the muesli over the prepared baking tray and flatten into a rectangle, around 2 cm thick. Place in the fridge for at least 20 minutes, then slice into squares.
These will keep for up to a week in the fridge or up to a month in the freezer.

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On Kitchenaids

kitchenaid-illustration

We’ve now been in Sweden for almost eight months. Many of those were made of snow. And a little summer too. There are now golden leaves everywhere around us. And some mornings, the ground keeps its beautiful frost for hours after the sun rises.

Yes, I’ve told you before, I’m looking forward my first Swedish Christmas!

I have a few things on my wish-list, and one of them is a Kitchenaid. Now, I have one in France that I got for my birthday years ago; and really, I want it to stay there so that I can bake with my mother and Aïda whenever we visit.
It’s ice-blue and wonderful.

This time around, I’ve been hesitating in between four colours: pistachio, pale yellow (called majestic yellow on the KA website), yellow and terracotta.
For the photoshoot of my book – Paris Pastry Club – we had a pistachio green KitchenAid and I fell in love with it a little. However, I absolutely adore both of the yellow ones. And I think the terracotta KA, with its vibrant colour and slightly different (terracotta-like, I assume) texture would look wonderful in a white kitchen too!

Ahh decisions! If you have a KitchenAid, which colour is it? Or if you dream about one, which colour would it be?

Which Kitchenaid should I get?

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kitchenaid-colours

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On fields of frost, counting to Christmas and a green smoothie

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Stories from the recent past:
I’ve finally developed my last two rolls of film, which had some pictures I took back in London! You can see two of them above.

The first, taken in Chislehurst, when Kalle and I decided to take the train and stop at a random station. We ended up spending the day at a small pub there, cosying up by a fireplace, and with a few mulled ciders on our table.

The second was taken when my friend Eliot took me to the smallest Vietnamese restaurant for a pho right before K. and I left for Sweden. We walked past Yauatcha on our way back and ended up buying a few pastries, which got eaten on the big stone stairs right behind Carnaby street.

The last picture was taken in Kusmark, by the outdoor fireplace on the hill that overlooks the river, where someone had collected pinecones in a jar. There was something oddly nostalgic about it. But the next time we went, they were gone, so I think I might never find out why.

This morning, we had the first frost that lasted past six am. It was wonderful to walk by the river, crunchy leaves – that glisten with every sun ray – under our boots. Now a little over eleven hours later, the temperature has – again – dropped to -3°C. I have wool socks on my feet and fairy lights turned on by the window. A song about fields of gold has been in my head since the morning and a cup of tea, that’s too hot to drink but never too hot for my fingers to be wrapped around.

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Yes, it’s about to be my very first full winter in Sweden and really, I think I’ve never embraced the cold as much as I currently do. I still need to explore the causes – within and around me – of this autumnal-bliss feel, but right now, I’m making the most of every moment.

As a result of the recent temperature shift, I have started to count day until Christmas, which for the first time – I know for sure – will be spent under the snow.

I remember that growing up in the south of France, my sister – Aïda – and I made wishes every Christmas eve for a snowfall to happen overnight. It did. Once.
And of course, la Côte d’Azur being as such, the snowflakes melted as soon as they hit the ground. Now, the only wish I have for Christmas is for my family to be able to come and visit me in the winter, perhaps next year so we can discover the Swedish Christmas traditions. The ones I don’t know yet but that Kalle told me about: St Lucia, the advent, the candles, the lussekatter [saffron buns], and many more.

Also, I might or might have not bought too many vintage glass Christmas ornaments. However, is there such a thing as having too many Christmas ornaments?

My absolute favourite breakfast these days is a smoothie. It has banana, almond milk, young spinach leaves and a generous sprinkle of cinnamon. Sometimes, I’ll add a handful of oats or a tablespoon of cocoa powder. Sometimes, I’ll drop a few of the raspberries we picked over the summer – and that I froze into small plastic bags exactly for this purpose. Most of the time, I like to have it as it is.

smoothie

Banana, almond milk, spinach and cinnamon smoothie

makes 1 big smoothie

1 banana
250 mL almond milk
a handful of spinach
1 tsp ground cinnamon

Blitz all the ingredients until smooth. Drink while watching the frost melt as the sun rises.

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