Seasonal oatmeals are one of my newest fascinations. Why does oatmeal have to be that same thing day after day. With so many whole grains, fruits, and nuts there are tons of flavor combinations. For fall I came up with a quinoa oatmeal with persimmons and pears. Now with winter here it all of its bitter cold it’s time to think about warm and cozy winter oatmeal.
Have you ever worked with teff? This is an interesting ingredient. Kind of like chia this grain absorbs liquid and gets thick. For an oatmeal this is not a problem. The solution is just adding more steamed milk. The other great thing about teff is it has an amazing compliment to chocolate that almost seems more chocolatey and gooey. Here’s another secret. What amazing gooey chocolatey brownies. Use teff flour in your mix!
I knew I wanted to use chocolate and teff. So now the wheels start to turn. Thinking about the components to my last oatmeal there was a grain, a nut, two dried fruits, a dusting of an accent flavor or spice, and honey to add a little sweetness. The nut didn’t even require any thought other than the obvious, chestnuts! This is a wonderfully bazaar nut that is more meaty and soft than hard and crunchy but the more I work with it the more I am loving it!
When thinking of winter fruit it almost seems like an oxymoron. Fruit doesn’t grow in winter. So if I am going to be thinking seasonally than how do I justify fruit in winter. The answer then hit me. What’s more winter that dried foods, preserved foods, and canned foods. So this got me thinking about dried fruits. To make season cooking really enjoyable I wanted to pick a fruit or fruits that aren’t used any other time of year or at least not as the main star of a dish any other time of year. The first one wasn’t hard to come up with, cranberry. Like in my fall oatmeal I made a roasted fruit purée to fold into my grains. For winter I did a cranberry reduction. So adding dried cranberries seemed like an easy enough thought. Then I got to thinking about other holiday favorites and for us we have cherries in a few parts of our Chanukah meal. I kept thinking about it and I don’t really use cherries any other time of year so I have moved my dried and canned cherries into the “winter” category.
For the flavor accents that finish the oatmeal I do a light dusting of a high quality cocoa powder and maybe my newest favorite ingredient “burnt honey”. This is something our honey producer that the St. Paul Farmers Market makes. I wasn’t sure what to expect but this is an amazingly delicious ingredient and the perfect honey to use as a topping with it’s extra complexity.
The other thing thing to really make this oatmeal pop was after we cooked the teff and the steel-cut oats we folded in a little cinnamon, all spice, clove and cocoa powder. The final result was flavors of Christmas, winter, and a hint of chocolate! So good!