Thursday, November 03, 2011

Secret Breakfast: Everyday Oatmeal

A few weeks ago at a party a woman pulled me into a corner.

"What I really want to know," she said, "is what you eat for breakfast."

She said it like I had to have some secret menu up my sleeve. I don't. My breakfast is usually healthy and often ordinary. Occasionally I eat eggs, but mostly I prefer something lighter and a little on the sweet side. I'd eat toast and jam every morning if I could, but usually find that my energy sputters out mid-morning. So toast and jam, just like scones and muffins, are a weekend thing.

So what do I eat? Lately its been oatmeal, lots and lots of oatmeal. But even oatmeal can be kind of a pain. Instant oatmeal is unacceptable, microwaved oats are too. But who has time to cook stove top oats every morning? Not even this work-from-home writer can commit to that.

Some people swear by baked oatmeal or slow-cooker oatmeal. I have a different trick. At the beginning of the week I make a batch of Ina Garten's Sunday Oats. Then, I reconstitute it every morning on the stove-top with extra milk. I know -- reheated oatmeal sounds a little bit like a bad morning at the cafeteria. But I swear this trick works. Adding extra milk and using stove-top heat makes the oatmeal milky and soft, not gummy or rubbery.

My favorite way to eat it is with dried cherries, but this week I added raisins and dried apricots. Bananas are a must, as is a big spoonful of almond butter.

Secret breakfast? Not anymore.

Everyday Oatmeal (aka Ina Garten's Sunday Morning Oatmeal)
Adapted very slightly from The Barefoot Contessa at Home

1.5 cups milk -- for every day eating I use skim or 1%. Ina likes whole.
1.5 cups quick-cooking oatmeal
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 banana, sliced*
1/2-1 cup dried fruit: cherries, raisins, apricots, apples...
Pure maple syrup and almond butter for serving

Heat the milk plus two cups water in a medium saucepan until it starts to simmer. Add the oatmeal, salt, and cinnamon and stir vigorously. Bring mix to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thickened. Off the heat, stir in the banana (if using) and dried fruit. Place the lid on the pot and allow it to sit for 2 minutes. Serve hot, drizzled with maple syrup and almond butter.

*The banana is option. Truth be told, if the oatmeal sits in the fridge for a few days the bananas turn brown and a bit unsightly. I don't mind this. I actually kind of liked the cooked banana bread flavor it brings to breakfast. You might prefer to top your oatmeal with fresh sliced banana or omit it completely. You choose.
** To reconstitute the oatmeal: Place cold cooked oatmeal in small sauce pan with 1/4-1/2 cup milk. Heat over low heat till cooked through, stirring occasionally to encourage cooked oats to warm and soak extra milk.


Megan Taylor said...

Anne! That's the recipe I use, and I love your version of it. Actually, I'm eating Ina's homemade granola right now. Here's my question: do you prefer hot or cold breakfasts? When I eat hot b-fasts, I feel French and when I eat cold b-fasts I feel like a yogi. Both work for me. Though secretly, I prefer hot!!! Gimme toast, jam, butter, eggs, give it to me!!! xoxo

Anne Zimmerman said...

Oh, good question! I go back and forth and it is never seasonal! Earlier in the fall -- while it was still warm here -- I was eating oatmeal. Now I'm obsessed with Sigi Icelandic yogurt. But I have an amazing new oatmeal recipe (tested right after this post) so I may have to share that soon.