Monday, January 23, 2012

Heidi Swanson's Baked Oatmeal

Sometimes things don't turn out the way they are supposed to. (Like publishing this post back in mid-December when it was written.)

For example, when I set the intention of running a full practice I didn't think it would mean I would be dropping hours at the clinic I currently co-own and picking up hours at somebody's clinic across town. But that is what is happening, and to tell the truth I am pretty excited about it.

Another example: I made this Baked Oatmeal this morning (December 17, 2011) for a potluck brunch. However everybody bailed on the brunch and the oatmeal was left ignored on the counter until 10:30 pm when it became dessert. And what a delicious dessert it turned out to be.

baked oatmeal

December 17, 2011
Name of desserty breakfasty thing: Probably about the healthiest thing featured on this blog
Occasion: Failed potluck
Constituents: rolled oats, pecans, bananas, cranberries baked in a custard with muscovado, vanilla, and cinnamon

I have Heidi Swanson's book Super Natural Everyday on loan from the library, because I am a cheap bastard and refuse to buy any book without first checking it out for free. Naturally, the first recipes to catch my eye were those that involved baking, and with a potluck looming and fresh cranberries waiting to be used, the baked oatmeal was a prime candidate.

Joelf is in town for a quick weekend, so Cookie came over this morning for breakfast. Yes, I was going to a brunch potluck today but not until noon so there was plenty of time for the Stooges to enjoy a nice 10 am. After breakfast was consumed I went back to the kitchen to make the baked oatmeal, which was assembled in a matter of minutes. Heidi Swanson deserves huge props for listing her recipes in volume and gram measurements. I LOVE YOU, HEIDI SWANSON.

The recipe gives the baker the option of using white sugar or maple syrup to sweeten the dish, but since I was using fresh cranberries and their bitter/tart flavor might ruin the entire dish, I opted for light muscovado. I mean, c'mon, brown sugar oatmeal--pretty classic right? Plus the extra sweet kick did take the edge off the fruit, hooray. I also chose toasted pecans over toasted walnuts because pecans and cranberries are practically the mascots of the holiday baking season, and rightfully so.

baked oatmeal

The rolled oats, nuts, sugar, salt, and cinnamon are tossed around in a bowl and set aside. The custard base--milk, egg, vanilla, melted butter--are stirred together in another bowl. The 8x8 baking dish is heavily buttered, and couple of sliced bananas are layered on the bottom of the pan. Or, if you have a couple of frozen bananas, their defrosted mushy insides can be spread over the bottom of the pan like a hidden layer of frosting. 2/3 of your berries or other fruit are sprinkled over the bananas, the oat mixture layered over that, and the custard base poured into the pan. The remaining fruit dots the top of the oatmeal like little juicy jewels, and into the oven it goes. This needs to bake for about 35 minutes.

When you pull the oatmeal from the oven, the top is drizzled with a little more butter and, if you like, more sugar or maple syrup. I opted for a muscovado sprinkle and it was quite nice.

Then, if your potluck gets cancelled and you get a call from a past patient who woke up with back pain and wants a treatment and you're feeling like doing a little work on your day off, leave the oatmeal on the counter for about 11 hours while you go about your day, which will turn out to be full of pleasant surprises. Then feeling like a little late-night snack and curious about this baked oatmeal you abandoned, heat up a serving in your toaster oven.

It would have been great for a brunchy potluck, but it makes a really delicious dessert. The custardy oatmeal still has some tooth to it, and the brown sugar and cinnamon are the perfect accompaniments. Yes, the cranberries are puckery-tart and a tad bitter, but I wouldn't want my cranberries any other way.. I wish I had toasted the nuts a little longer, and what is extra special nice is a drizzle of hot cream. But really, this baked oatmeal is wonderfully good and deliciously wholesome. A winner, no matter what time of day you eat it.

baked oatmeal

Note: this recipe is all over the internet, but here's the epicurious link so you can make it too. the book!

And...check out Heidi's website/blog, 101 Cookbooks.