Monday, October 1, 2012

Apple, Cinnamon & Brown Sugar Steel Cut Oats

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I love oatmeal. As a child, I vividly remember waiting patiently for the kettle to boil, as I sat peering above a bowl of freeze-dried apple and cinnamon flavored instant oatmeal.  Most of the time, we would have Cream of Wheat, but every now and again, mom would buy packets of apple and cinnamon instant oatmeal, and I thought that was something really special!

1978 Instant Quaker Oatmeal Flavor Variety Packs A
~Pure 70s graphic goodness~
What I loved most was that each packet had a different scene of adorable little cartoon people, enjoying their oatmeal in a variety of ways!  This photo above brings back a lot of memories, because, as a child, I ate a lot of oatmeal.

Fast forward 30 or so years, to an age where pre-packaged, overly processed, convenience food is not my usual breakfast of choice.  The days of buying these sugary packets have long gone by the wayside.  But, the crisp, cool mornings of Fall are calling for something warm and comforting for breakfast.

Enter steel cut oats.

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I've always known they existed.  Steel cut oats, also know as Scotch oats, are one of the (many unique) fillings inside of haggis.  They are also one of the least processed forms of oats.  Once the oats are harvested, and their outer hull removed, you have a grout which looks something like a grain of brown rice, but has its outer coat of bran still intact.  Oats in this form take a very long time to cook, and even after a considerable amount of boiling time, they are still pretty much as chewy, like rice shaped rubber bands. Not fun.  But once these grouts are passed through the blades of steel cutters, and chopped down to a smaller, more cookable size, they can be prepared in about 40 minutes.

I've seen them on countless breakfast buffets, steaming away...  Sadly, they are usually cooked with milk, and even served with heavy cream on the side (gag).  I was determined to try these at home, and I decided to consult The Master of all simple, basic, from-scratch cooking: Alton Brown.  I've had the most incredible luck with his recipes, first reading his cooking techniques and food history, and then making the appropriate vegan substitutions.  So here we go:

Steel Cut Oatmeal - Vegan Style
Original Recipe from Alton Brown

1 tablespoon Earth Balance Coconut Spread*
1 cup steel cut oats
3 cups boiling water
1/2 cup almond milk
1/2 cup almond milk plus 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar** 
2 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
I large apple, cored and diced
splash of soy creamer, optional

*I had a coupon for this.  I find it does have a hint of coconut flavor, which I might not want to use in certain savory dishes, but I thought for toasting the oats it would be delicious!

**Vegan sub for buttermilk. Once the milk and vinegar are allowed to sit for a few minutes, it can be combined right with the almond milk.

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  • Start your water boiling in a kettle - I have a large heatproof glass measuring cup ready to measure out the 3 cups of water.
  • In a large sauce pot, melt the Earth Balance and add the oats. 
  • Stir for 2 minutes to toast. 
  • Add the boiling water and reduce heat to a simmer. 
  • Keep at a low simmer for 25 minutes, without stirring.
  • Combine the milk and half of the buttermilk with the oatmeal. 
  • It is here that I add the salt, cinnamon, brown sugar and 3/4 of the chopped apple.
  • Stir gently to combine and cook covered for an additional 10 minutes. 
  • Add a splash of soy creamer for a richer taste.
  • Scoop into bowls, and top with additional chopped apple and cinnamon
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These oats, made from scratch, cook up into the most delectably creamy, slightly chewy and toasty morning goodness!  And, they're a buck fifty-nine for organic at the bulk bins in Whole Foods.  Can't beat that.  Now, who's gonna try these from scratch at home? Your cholesterol numbers will thank you ^_^


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  2. Ohh, I used to LOVE the graphics on the instant oatmeal and cream of wheat packets. So good. It's been chilly here in NYC in the mornings, so I have been having oatmeal a lot too. Yay comfort breakfasts!

    1. Aren't they cute?! I was surprised I found a photo of the packets because they are SO 70s

  3. Looks like I'm having oatmeal for breakfast tomorrow morning! That looks SO comforting! I used to love oatmeal AND cream of wheat as a kid too. I remember my mother buying these packets that also had some jam type of stuff that you could swirl into the bowl. It was easily my favorite breakfast food!

    1. Nice, I am glad you got inspired to eat more oatmeal! :)