Thursday, September 07, 2006

From muffins to soup and finishing with a bannock... but what's a bannock?

We really liked the Spiced Zucchini Bars with Cranberries and Pecans, so I was looking around for another sweet dish to try and use up the rest of the leftover zucchini from tonight's dinner. This time I opted to make some muffins!

Cranberry and Zucchini-Lemon Muffins have a deep golden base, but the tall crowns remain a light blonde with the colors of red and green streaking throughout. These are a bit different than your normal sweet muffins as the outside is more dry with the insides remaining moist from the shredded zucchini. They kind of reminded me of a moist cornbread in texture. The flavor from the lemon zest went well with the dried cranberries and zucchini, but I would probably increase it to a full tablespoon for a bit more punch. With these muffins being mildly sweet, they would be a good mid-morning or late afternoon pick-me-up snack.

Two parts to dinner tonight - let's start with the Simple Chicken and Oat Groat Soup. While I have used steel cut oats before (weekend morning oatmeal!) I have not cooked with the whole oat groat before. The soup begins by simmering the oats just until tender, about 45 minutes - be sure to watch the time on these as you don't want them to turn mushy. Onion, celery and carrots form the base flavors, with zucchini and garlic added in when they begin to soften. The plump chewy groats, chicken broth, chopped chicken, green beans, fresh thyme and fire roasted tomatoes are then added in and go for a quick 10 minute cook so the flavors can meld together. Green peas and fresh basil are added in and then the soup is ready to serve. Because of the oats, this soup is very hearty with a variety of textures and flavors from the vegetables to keep it interesting. I can't wait to make this new favorite comfort dish in the dead of winter for a heart-warming soup to keep us going in the frigid cold.

To go with the soup tonight, I made some funky Cheese-Onion Bannocks. These are savory Scottish oatcakes (think mini scones) that can be quickly prepared as most of the work is done in a food processor. After a quick saute of onions cool down, the flour and rolled oats called for in the recipe are processed until coarse. Try not to process too long as you want the oats to retain some texture. Butter, Parmesan and the cool onions are then pulsed in. This dry mixture is then hand mixed with a couple egg whites and water. Once combined, the sticky mixture is divided, formed into rounds and cut into small triangles. Baked until golden, the oatcakes are dense, chewy and just dry enough to be eagerly dipped in a warm soup. At first bite, they may seem a little plain - but as you chew, the sweetness from the onions and the sharp nutty cheese flavor start to reveal themselves. The serving size is small, so you may want to plan on 2 or 3 per person.


  1. I had bannock once in Saskatchawn. It looked nothing like yours, yours looks way better. What I had was a big mass of whiteflour grossness.

  2. Man...what is next for zucchini in your cream?

  3. I am so glad to see a review of the soup and the bannocks, I want to try them soon. Just waiting for the weather to cool down a bit for the soup, but the bannock I have on the menu for tomorrow!
    Today I made the oat-coatted chicken tenders from the same CL article and really liked it, the oats made a nice coating!
    Can't wait to try these other recipes next!

  4. Joe - You have beautiful bannocks. (Sorry. I couldn't resist). But seriously, they do seem like a great alternative to croutons for soups.

  5. Good afternoon Joe

    As you say, a bannock is an oakcake. They are usually rolled quite thinly as there is a lot of eating in them and they can either be shaped in circles or triangles. These were made to be used instead of bread.
    However, there is another bannock called a Selkirk Bannock (named after the town of Selkirk, which is like a fruit cake and very nice. I attach a link showing the recipe. It is the same shape as the one that you made!

    Hope everything is going well for you and Jeff.

    Regards Anne (from Sunny Edinburgh!)

  6. Your photography is great, Joe! Now, I haven't read your entire blog, but do you do photography on the side? The muffins look chock full of goodness. Way cool.

    Also, I can't believe you lived in A.V.! Funny enough, I used to live in Tempe as I went to ASU for a year. Living in Arizona made me realize everything I LOVE about Minnesota. Apple Valley has grown so much over the last few years, it's crazy. Ryan and I joke about how much time it takes just to get "out" of Apple Valley with all the traffic.

    Have a great weekend!


  7. The cranberry zucchini lemon combo sounds great. I'm always looking for new zucchini recipes!

  8. Randi - That sounds unpleasant!

    Wheresmymind - Don't tempt me!

    Ana - I have the tender recipe set aside too, will hopefully get to it soon!

    Ed - Hee hee!

    Anne - Thanks for the link! Good info!

    Crystal - Not really, just for the blog! We had a good time living in MN, I grew up in Southern MN and moved up to the cities after graduating!

    Mary - Thanks!

  9. Joe, I wanted to make this soup but don't have oat groats, do you think it would work with steel cut oats??

  10. Ana - I would probably use wheat berries or brown rice before using steel cut oats - they wouldn't give you the same texture as they are much finer.

  11. Wheat berries, why didn't I think of that! I love them and have it at home!
    Thanks Joe!!!