I have issues.
No, I actually mean it: I have issues. Like, things I want to throw out here for us to discuss. Important happenings in the food world that require consideration, meditation, processing, and dissecting. Part of the reason I started this blog was to have a venue to share my thoughts on substantive food matters and garner feedback from people similarly engaged. I didn't necessarily want to court controversy, but I did want to teach and learn and share. It sounds so trite and new agey, but my best thinking comes when people tell me I'm full of crap. And I know you'd all be really good at that.
And yet, sadly or happily, depending on your perspective, I can't seem to stop taking pictures of food. It's like a disease. I'm minding my own business and all of a sudden I feel this seismic urge to photograph my oatmeal. And then my news articles and health studies and press clippings all fall by the wayside, and instead of writing about Alice Waters' op-ed in the New York Times or Scotland's improved hospital food, I write about my breakfast.
If only Marion Nestle were to write an exposé of the oatmeal industry or Michael Pollan were to spend a year on an oat farm, I might be able to connect my breakfast to the news. But this hasn't happened. At least not yet.
Today, I'm sticking with the picture/recipe format. Tomorrow? No guarantees. I may post about raspberry bars, or I may, I just MAY, make you think.
Let's keep our options open and see what happens.
Recipe for Steel-Cut Oats with Cocoa and Toasted Hazelnuts
A few weeks ago we had a healthy discussion about Nutella in the comments section of this post. Since then, I've been playing with the chocolate-hazelnut combination in new ways, without relying on a jar of sugary spread. I came up with this recipe, and wow, why don't people put cocoa on oatmeal more often?
Cocoa powder is impressively high in antioxidants, and though it does have 1 gram of fat per tablespoon, this recipe only requires 1/4 teaspoon for a tremendous boost of color and flavor. The hazelnuts seal the deal. As with all nuts, be sure to toast them first to release their oils and heighten their flavor.
2 cups skim milk, plus a touch more for drizzling, if desired
1/2 cup steel-cut oats
2 teaspoons dark brown sugar, or to taste
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder (I use Guittard Cocoa Rouge)
2 teaspoons toasted, chopped hazelnuts
In a medium saucepan (nonstick if you have one), bring 2 cups of milk just to a boil, stirring occasionally with a heatproof spatula so a skin doesn't form. Slowly stream in the oats, stirring constantly.
Lower the heat to a bare simmer and cook, stirring every now and again, until the liquid is nearly absorbed and the oats are very tender, about 18 to 22 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in brown sugar.
Divide between two bowls, unless you're very hungry. Set the cocoa powder in a little strainer and tap it over the oats so it provides a nice, even dusting. Sprinkle with hazelnuts.