Thursday, September 1, 2011

Tried and Tweaked Thursday-- Stoned Fruit

Peaches, that is, and plums. We haven't gotten freestone, yet, but they're coming, the gal at the FM assures me.

Maybe the West Coast had their peaches in July, but we're getting ripe local peaches now, and it's just in time to bake them into pie or peach cake with our heatwave subsiding. Mixing the seasonal offerings by sticking peaches in an oatmeal cake is always good, but then so is peach ice cream.

However you eat them, have as many as you can, while you can. I'm up to two a day, and Saturday I found not only the average fuzzy orbs but also white peaches at our village FM. Outstanding.

Speaking of West Coast, we are working on having a guest blogger from Cali soon, so be sure to check back for that... it's going to be a treat.

While we're talking treats, there's a breakfast dish we all (meaning hubby-man, I, and any small children that happen to be around that day) think of as a treat, and look forward to.

Yes, it's oatmeal. But it's better than average oatmeal, far better in taste and health profile than either those tiny organic cups you zap in the office microwave or those hideously high in sugar and sodium packets you need two of to make a decent bowlful. Compared to Peach Oats Brulee, that stuff isn't even food. And now that September is here for real, this recipe is back in rotation.

I originally took it from Moosewood Restaurant: New Classics, by The Moosewood Collective. And the method they use is wonderful: old-fashioned oats, such as you can buy at Aldi's for less than $2/very large container, cooked on the stove for a few minutes in boiling peach juice, then baked in the oven and finally topped with a little butter and brown sugar that is broiled into a slightly crunchy coating. Marvelous, but does require about 40 minutes or so of cooking and prep, which doesn't work when you have to have breakfast on the table at 3:45 am.

I tweaked it for the slowcooker for overnight cooking. Switched out broiling for microwaving the topping-laden bowl, although that's not strictly necessary. Realized that fresh peaches on top or cooked along with the oats were a welcome addition. As is, when you want spice, a touch of cinnamon or ginger thrown in.
MMMM.

Not saying we never do the baked version-- we do, when it's cold enough to welcome turning on the oven to warm the kitchen, and we have a relaxed morning to enjoy the whole deal. It's not exactly a tough dish either way. But sometimes, when you have to be up early, you need an extra reason to crawl out of bed. A precooked wholesome gourmet-flavor breakfast is one good reason.

PEACH OATS BRULEE Adapted for the slowcooker from Moosewood's New Classics


Equipment: 1 1/2-2 qt. mini slowcooker, and a wooden spoon.

Ingredients

about 2-2 1/2 C whole oats: old-fashioned oatmeal, not quick oats*

4 C peach juice**

2-3 Tbsp unsalted butter or your favorite substitute, divided

2 Tbsp brown sugar, for topping

Diced peaches for topping/cooking, optional

Turn on slowcooker to low. Add 1 Tbsp butter to bottom of cooker.

Read directions on your box of oats to determine how much you need: I use the same ratio of water/juice to oats that they specify for regular cooking, plus a smidge extra 'cause I like it less creamy. This works to about 2, 2 1/2 C oats to 4 C juice for my 1 1/2 qt cooker. So put in the juice before the oats, put in the smaller amount of oats, and just make sure that they come up about halfway-- add a little more if they don't.

Add 1/2 C peaches, or chopped dried apricots if you like, and put the cover on the cooker. Cook overnight, or for 6-8 hours.

In the morning, give a good stir to the oatmeal, and adjust the texture if needed.*** At this point, you can either throw the remaining butter and the brown sugar on top in the slowcooker, cover a moment and let it melt, or you can dole out bowls and add the toppings evenly (butter first, then sugar) and stick them each in the zapper for about 20 seconds or so. Eat happily, no milk required or desired here.

Serves 3-4, by our helpings.


Mari's Notes

*You can use quick oats in a pinch, but you'll need more-- add an extra 1/4 C after you get the oats measured up as it says above. Or you could go the other way and use Steel-cut oats, in which case you'll need somewhat more oats than the package recipe calls for. I use a hefty 1 1/2 C oats-to-4 C -juice for steel-cut.

** I use Welch's Peach Medley because it's widely available and inexpensive; any of their peach blends would be fine. Of course, After the Fall, or any other peach blend, works well too.

What also works is Dole's Peach/Pineapple/Orange blend, though it's a brighter, tangier taste. And to completely change the flavor, use apple juice or cider along with some Apple Pie Spice and chopped fresh apples or chopped walnuts on top. Same measurements as above. MMMM.

***All slowcookers have their own heat settings, and differently stored oats soak up different amounts of liquid, so the first time you make this, give yourself an extra few minutes before you need to serve, so you can adjust the texture to your liking, for your cooker.

If it's a bit too liquid as is, grab a handful of oats and rub them smaller, then add to the cooker and stir. Cook on high for five mintues, and you should be able to proceed with toppings as usual. Or you can throw in a cup of prepared granola or other whole-grained cereal to absorb the extra juice, stir and proceed as usual. Ground flax seed is also a great thickener, so you could add a few Tbsp of that and let it thicken for a few minutes before getting on with the toppings.

If the oatmeal seems too dry instead of fluffy and creamy, add a few Tbsp hot water, stir in, and let cook a few more minutes.
The next time, you'll have a better idea how your cooker works with oats.

Do feel free to send in your favorite ways to soak up September... I'd love to hear it.

Happy September 1st! Peace, Mari

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