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Toasted Oats with Fruit & Spice

by on September 29, 2013
 

We made the transition as a family in the winter of two thousand and twelve.

Shortly before our New Year’s Day brunch.

It was my idea. My vision, and I wasn’t quite sure how they would take it but I was intent on trying anyway.

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Perfect bowl of oatmeal, drizzled with agave syrup

See my children grew up eating a lot of soft, cereal-like food. Once the toddling stages were past, I couldn’t force convince them to have anything that remotely resembled mush. No mashed potatoes, no polenta, and definitely no oatmeal.

Till that December when I returned home, fresh from New York….and only a few hours from Christmas morning.

New York had changed me. To be honest and specific, NoMA had. The ‘social’ restaurant North of Manhattan and run by Chef Bill Rosenberg.

It sparked off a relationship with oatmeal that I didn’t have before.

Granted I’d always eaten it, but I’d never varied the way I had it. I had oats with milk and sugar. Sometimes with toast, sometimes with moin-moin. And that was it. No dried fruit, no nuts. No spices and definitely no fresh fruit. No apples. Bananas, stone fruit or  berries. Nothing. Just regular old oatmeal.

The children too fell in love with it. Thank God. They began to have oatmeal once or twice a week – with spice, and brown sugar and maple syrup. Sometimes with a berry sauce, sometimes without.

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Mise en place

Then for brunch, ‘Simply Scratch’  introduced me to ‘dessert’, bruleed oatmeal, with fruit and spice. It was heavenly but…..

Still, it didn’t push me into the realm of ‘oatmeal unlimited’. Till I got the doctor’s orders – lots of heart-healthy oatmeal!

So I began to add copious amounts to my pancake batter.

But that Friday, I sat thinking……of what else I could do to my oatmeal. Why not toast it? Why not toast it in a skillet. Everything together, in one go – oats, spice, fruit, nuts? I love toasting things. I love the depth of flavour it brings.

And so I tried it….and fell in LOVE. With the flavours and with the bite in texture.

And that’s what I bring to you today: Toasted oatmeal with fruits, nuts and spice.

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My favourite brand

The beautiful thing is how free you can be to create whatever combination works for you.

So do you have a relationship with oatmeal? {Well you ought to if you don’t.}

How do you like it: Cooked, or plain? Sweetened? Fresh fruit or dried, peanut butter even?
Baked, with brown sugar, caramelized top too?
Or tossed in muesli, toasted in granola, or soaked in Swiss bircher.
Patted into a flapjack. Perhaps?
Well, here’s to a ground-breaking fit in the oats domain.
How about toasted in a dry pan, with a pinch of salt, cardamom pods, roughly crushed nuts and chunks of apple.
Toss, shake, stir, cook.
 Splash of milk, water too.  And breakfast’s ready.
 
You can use whatever oats you want – slow-cook or quick. 
You can use whatever fruit you like or have to hand.
If you hate ground cinnamon, its not over. Sub tonka beans, vanilla essence, chai spice even.
Any dried fruits would do. Your regular ‘fruit-cake’ combo, with candied citrus and glace cherries (perfect for Christmas….)? Hate raisins but love cranberries and blueberries? Go for it!
Whatever you want……

Toasted Oatmeal with Fruit, Nuts and Spice

Yield: 4 – 6 portions

Ingredients
2 cups quick-cook/instant oats
1 whole apple (pears, stone fruit), chopped
2 – 3 tablespoons whole nuts (almonds, pecans, walnuts, etc), roughly chopped
2 tablespoons dried fruit (cranberries, blueberries, raisins, currants, etc)
1/2 teaspoon spice, or to taste (cinnamon powder, ground cardamom, turmeric, etc)
Pinch of salt
1 cup milk: fresh or reconstituted powdered milk (I LOVE Soy)
1 cup water, room-temperature
Sweetener to taste: Sugar, Agave syrup, Maple syrup, etc
Preparation

Place a large skillet on medium heat.

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Put the following ingredients in. In no particular order – oats, apples, nuts, dried fruit, spices, and a pinch of salt.

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Part 1: the orchestra…..

I love the combination of cinnamon and apple, with a pinch of freshly ground cardamom. It is after all Fall. Autumn. Whatever you call it. My favourite season. A season in which apples and all things apple reign supreme. Apple sauce extraordinaire. And cakes and tarts. And trips to orchards, and primers on apple pectin. ‘Tis the celebrated season of the apple.

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Using a wooden spoon, stir the mixture to combine.

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Part 2: near symphonic…..

Continue stirring and tossing, for 8 – 10 minutes, till the oats take on a bronzed colour . At this point, you can choose to continue and cook up the entire batch {or you can remove what you don’t need right away and store it in the fridge (for a couple of days) or deep freezer (for a few weeks)}.

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For the full batch, use as much milk and water as you like.

Turn the heat down to low and add half the milk and half the water.

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Stir, to combine and continue to cook on low heat. It takes about 10 minutes for it to get to the consistency I like which is creamy but with some texture to the oats. Yours might take longer. Or shorter. Its up to you.

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Continue cooking, adding more liquid till you’re happy. (Permission given to adjust recipe. This should make for a tick!)

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Part 3: the symphony

And finally, it is ready. To eat. And to be photographed. And enjoyed.

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Part 4: Grand finale

And hopefully to make converts of the unbelieving.

My children LOVE it both ways – cooked and uncooked.

And so do I.

Happy autumn everyone :-).

Tell me how you like your cooked oatmeal – I’m looking to expand my repertoire.