Sunday, November 1, 2009

The House Oatmeal

When we first moved to New York, we discovered a little cafe around the corner from our townhouse that makes the best oatmeal on earth. We would go at least once a weak - Kris getting a decadent pastry or egg sandwich while I, like some exemplary role model for mankind, ordered the oatmeal. And because of how damn good it was, I never got jealous of what was on his plate.

The poo hit the fan, however, when I was describing the oatmeal to a girlfriend, particularly about how creamy it was. "Well of course," she responded. They probably use heavy cream." This had never occurred to me before. But once those words were out into the world, I knew she was right. My better than thou feelings as well as my love for the oatmeal died on the spot.

Luckily, I've come close to recreating it at home, sans the 'I could have just eaten chocolate pie instead' feeling. I believe the key to a good oatmeal involves 4 things:

1 - Texture, such as nuts or even dried fruit like cranberries to contrast the smooth creaminess.
2 - Just a touch of sweetness. I've found real maple syrup gives a more rounded flavor than sugar.
3 - A no holds barred approach to flavoring, including a heavy pour of vanilla extract and cinnamon.
4 - A little fat, sadly. Skim milk equals sad oatmeal:(

I tried using the much sworn by steel cut oatmeal before and I felt like I was eating bullets. Perhaps I screwed them up but either way, I'm sticking with the lazy man's version. After all, the beauty of oatmeal to me is that it's fast.

Alisa's Oatmeal
Serves 3.

1 cup quick cooking oatmeal (I use McCann's Irish Quick Cooking Oatmeal)
2 cups 2% milk (1% is acceptable - whole milk is delicious!)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon real maple syrup
couple of shakes nutmeg, or grates if using fresh
1/4 cup pecan pieces

fresh banana slices, or raspberries or blueberries if desired

Add the oats and milk to a small sauce pot with a lid. Stir well, then place the lid over and put on medium high heat. You just want to bring the mixture to a low boil, and once boiling, stir frequently until it's the consistency that you like being sure to not let the bottom burn/stick. This should take no longer than 5 minutes. Once to your liking, remove from the heat and stir in the rest of the ingredients through the pecan pieces. Taste for sweetness, making any adjustments necessary (or you can let people add more syrup to theirs individually if desired.) Spoon into serving bowls and top with fresh fruit if desired.

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