For many of us, the new year comes with resolutions to eat better. Alice Gamble wrote in with a request for a cracker recipe that used to be printed on the side of the Red River cereal box. We haven't found that one yet, but in the meantime, I turned up a good recipe for Red River Cereal bread. First produced here in Manitoba in 1924, Red River Cereal is a porridge mix of cracked wheat, cracked rye and flax that has become a bit of a cult food, both for its health benefits and its slightly nutty flavour. (I read many posts written by expatriates who rely on Canadian friends to bring them packages when they visit.)
Also this week, Judy Shkolny's request for grab-and-go healthy breakfast cookies was answered by Marj Birley, who sent in a family recipe for cookies packed with dried fruit and fibre.
We also start the year with new requests: Tec Voc High School's famous butter tarts, featured back in November, seem to have sparked more cravings. Alumna Kristina Blair is in search of a recipe for the school cafeteria's legendary cheese buns. And Arlene Rempel, on behalf of her sister, is looking for a recipe from Manitoba Hydro, probably published in the 1990s, for a hot fruit compote that contained peaches and raisins and was good served with ham or pork. Finally, I acquired a new madeleine pan over the holidays and would appreciate any good recipes for these little French butter cakes. (Proustian reveries optional.)
If you can help with a recipe request, have your own request, or a favourite recipe you'd like to share, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, fax it to 697-7412, or write to Recipe Swap, c/o Alison Gillmor, Winnipeg Free Press, 1355 Mountain Ave., Winnipeg, MB, R2X 3B6. Please include your first and last name, address and telephone number.
Red River Cereal Bread
500 ml (2 cups) Red River Cereal
675 ml (2 3/4 cups) boiling water
2 x 8 g packages active dry yeast (22 ml or 4 1/2 tsp total)
310 ml (1 1/4 cups) warm water (38-43 C or 100-110 F)
1 cup (250 ml) whole wheat bread flour
45 ml (3 tbsp) canola oil
30 ml (2 tbsp) maple syrup
30 ml (2 tbsp) molasses
15 ml (1 tbsp) brown sugar
13 ml (2 3/4 tsp) salt
1 ml (1/4 tsp) cinnamon
375 ml (1 1/2 cups) whole wheat flour
750-1135 ml (3-5 cups) white bread flour
Flour or wheat germ for dusting
In a large bowl, cover the Red River Cereal with boiling water. Stir once and let stand 30 minutes. In measuring cup, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water, stir and let stand 2 minutes. (Mixture should look a bit frothy.) Add 250 ml (1 cup) whole wheat bread flour to the cereal and mix.
Add the yeast mixture, and then add canola oil, maple syrup, molasses, brown sugar, salt and cinnamon, and stir. Fold in 375 ml (1 1/2 cups) whole wheat flour and 750 ml (3 cups) white bread flour and mix with a wooden spoon. Let stand 12 minutes.
Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead dough until it holds together and becomes smooth and somewhat elastic, about 10-12 minutes. Add in more white bread flour as needed to get the right consistency.
Form the dough into a ball and place in a large oiled bowl. Turn the dough to coat in oil. Cover with a damp tea towel and let rise in a warm place until almost doubled, about 45 minutes.
Gently deflate the dough and then place on a lightly floured work surface. Divide the dough in two and shape each part into a ball. Place balls on a large baking sheet and dust with flour or wheat germ. Cover with loosely with plastic wrap and let rise until almost doubled, 30-45 minutes. Preheat oven to 175 C (350 F). Bake loaves until done and medium brown, about 30-40 minutes. Cool well. Makes two medium loaves.
Adapted from a recipe by Marcy Goldman, at clabbergirl.com.
Tester's notes: I had good results with this recipe, getting loaves that were dense, moist, a little sweet and slightly chewy. The bread will keep well for a few days and tastes great toasted.
125 ml (1/2 cup) soft margarine
250 ml (1 cup) brown sugar
125 ml (1/2 cup) prune purée (see tester's notes)
250 ml (1 cup) unsweetened applesauce
500 ml (2 cups) original All-Bran cereal
375 ml (1 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
2 ml (1/2 tsp) baking soda
250 ml (1 cup) raisins (optional)
Preheat oven to 175 C (350 F). Lightly grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper. In a large bowl, cream margarine and sugar. Mix in egg and then stir in prune purée. Add the applesauce and stir. In a small bowl, whisk together flour and baking soda. Stir in All-Bran. Add to butter mixture and stir well. Add raisins (and, if desired, nuts or chocolate chips), or leave plain. Drop by heaping spoonfuls onto prepared cookie sheets and bake for about 15 minutes, or until bottoms are browned and tops seem done. Makes about 36 big cookies.
Tester's notes: These soft, moist cookies are a tasty, convenient way to eat All-Bran and dried plums (the new "rebranded" name for prunes). To make prune purée, take 250 ml (1 cup) prunes and 90 ml (6 tbsp) water and whir in a blender or food processor until puréed. (There will be flecks of prune skin, but these will blend easily into the baked cookies.)