We have been eating overnight oats for breakfast, lunch and dinner this week, as I have been testing different variations. So far, no one has complained. This version is adapted from a Cook’s Illustrated recipe. They sweetened the oats with brown sugar but I switched it for maple syrup. I also added chopped apples to the oats while they were cooking. Their recipe used shredded apples but I found that I liked the texture better with little bites of diced apple.
The final change I made to their recipe was to sautee some apple slices in a bit of butter and maple syrup, because, well… butter and maple syrup on apples! It’s a fancier version, and those sliced apples look so pretty on top, but feel free to leave it out if that’s not how you roll. No judgement here. The night before, bring 3 cups of water and a good pinch of salt to a boil. Remove from heat and add 1 cup steel cut oats. Cover pot and let it sit on the counter all night. In the morning , add apple cider or juice, milk, cinnamon and some diced peeled apples. Cook for 5 minutes. Let sit for a further 5 minutes. Top with sauteed maple apples and some toasted almonds or pecans.
Drizzle with extra maple syrup because you deserve it.
When I was growing up, oatmeal meant Quaker Oats Instant Oatmeal in the package. We had an instant hot water tap, (the water never really got all that hot) so there wasn’t even any cooking involved. My mom would buy the variety pack, but my sisters and I only liked the maple and brown sugar, and I think we probably added extra maple syrup and brown sugar. My poor dad got stuck eating the unwanted apple cinnamon flavour. I recall that the dried apples always got stuck in your throat.
Fast forward a whole bunch of years and, “We’ve come a long way baby.”Now I’m eating oatmeal made with steel cut oats that you actually have to cook!
So, a little oats primer here. Whole oats, that have been cleaned and hulled, are called groats. They are a little too coarse for oatmeal. Groats that have been coarsely chopped are known as steel-cut oats (bowl on the left). Groats that are steamed and pressed are called rolled oats or old-fashioned oats (bowl on the right). Instant oats are pre-cooked, dried, and then rolled and pressed slightly thinner than rolled oats.Steel-cut oats have a wonderful nutty taste and chewy texture, but they take 40 minutes to cook, and who has time for that? Enter the overnight method. I learned how to make these from those clever folks over at Cook’s Illustrated.
Bring 3 cups of water and a teaspoon of salt to boil. Please don’t omit the salt. Your oatmeal will taste flat and lifeless. Take pot off heat, stir in 1 cup of steel-cut oats , cover pot and let sit overnight while you sleep. In the morning add 1 cup of coconut milk, bring to boil, reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until oats are softened but still retain some chew and the mixture thickens slightly. This will take about 5 minutes. Cover the pot and let sit for 5 more minutes. The oatmeal will continue to thicken as it rests.
Mix in sliced bananas, shredded coconut and vanilla extract. Top with banana chips for some added crunch.
Mornings got a whole lot better around here. Stay tuned for an apple-cinnamon version with maple syrup!
With summer fruit this perfect, it’s best to not mess with it too much. Keep it simple. This has been my go-to crisp topping since scrunchies and shoulder pads were all the rage. I love it on apples in the fall, pears and cranberries in the winter and strawberry and rhubarb in the spring. I always have a bag of the topping stashed in the freezer for a quick dessert. To thicken the juices in the crisp I like to use Minit Tapioca. Depending on the sweetness of the fruit I add between 2-4 tablespoons of sugar. I have made this crisp topping so many times I could practically prepare it in my sleep. But still, you need to pay attention. Here is my cautionary tale of what can happen when you go on auto-pilot in the kitchen.
A few years ago I made the crisp with fall apples and served it after dinner. My children dug in immediately. My daughter took one bite and said, “This is disgusting!!” I looked over at my oldest son. He was diligently shoveling in the apple crisp, but not at his usual alarming speed. With his mouth full he said, in a kind voice, “Well mom, it’s ok, but it’s not as good as usual.” I reached for his spoon and took a bite for myself. I almost choked. My daughter was right, it was horrible. I had been rushing around the kitchen that afternoon, trying to do too many things at once and I guess I wasn’t paying attention. I had mistakenly mixed the apples with salt instead of sugar. And therein lies the difference between sons and daughters. You can always count on your daughter to be brutally honest with you, while your son will soften the truth to protect your feelings!Warm from the oven or room temperature, this crisp is a wonderful way to pay homage to summer fruit.
If you have been following along for the last few days you will know that I am struggling to come up with dried fruit desserts for my cooking class on Tu B’Shvat desserts. Dried fruit desserts are not something I am well versed in. I think I met the challenge quite well with Tu B’Shvat cake and Meneinas, but the well was running pretty dry and I really wanted to give my students a third dessert. Of course, there is always fruit compote, but come on now, that’s a cop-out.
I tried focusing on the glut of dried fruit I had purchased, in preparation for this project, but all I kept thinking was, “I want chocolate!”. And then I remembered one of my favourite cookies combined chocolate and dried cherries (and oatmeal and chopped up skor bars too). So I figured, as long as the cookie contained some dried fruit, we were ok on the Tu B’Shvat front.
This cookie is an old Martha Stewart recipe, that she got from her friend Torie. She originally called them “Torie’s Cherry Chocolate Chunk Cookies” and then somewhere along the line changed the name to “Oatmeal Toffee Cookies”. In our house, we just call them Torie Cookies. I did a little research and discovered that Torie is Torie Hallock, a real estate broker on Mount Desert island, Maine, where Martha has her famous “Skylands” house. I’m betting that Torie is a very successful broker as all she would have to do to sell a house is throw in a dozen of these cookies to seal the deal.
The original recipe called for toffee bits. They are usually sold here in Canada under the name Skor bits. I decided to chop up whole Skor bars instead so my cookies are a bit more chocolatey. I think in the US they are sold under the name Heath Bar. Whatever you call them, they are delicious. Just a few notes about ingredients. Use quick cooking or large flake oats, not instant oats. Instant oats are precooked and dried and are too fine in texture to make a good oatmeal cookie. Also, the original recipe calls for chocolate chips, but I substitute chocolate callets, which are bittersweet couverture chocolate, shaped into discs. Feel free to just use any good quality chocolate, chopped up.