Give your oatmeal the glam treatment
This sumptuous breakfast bowl is what happens when frumpy regular oatmeal gets a modern, stylish makeover.
It doesn’t take much effort, and the before-and-after results are astounding.
First, the foundation: Using chewy, nutty steelcut oats makes the most of the cereal’s natural flavor assets; cooking them with red quinoa and stirring in a pop of chia seeds adds compelling texture, color and nutrition; and adding milk to the mix makes it luxuriously creamy.
Then the culinary bling: A topping of warm, sweet, cinnamon-scented caramelized bananas and an optional crunch of toasted walnuts immediately lure you to the table. The bananas look and feel ultra-indulgent, but it takes only a dab of butter, a small amount of brown sugar and three minutes in a skillet to make them so.
This glammed-up oatmeal is ideal for weekends when you have a little more time and want something special, but it is doable on weekdays, too, and could be just what you need to coax you out of bed in the morning.
Greetings from Paris, where I’m pondering time, friendship, early-evening drinks and cheese bread.
I’m in Paris a whole lot less than I’m in New York, yet I see my French friends a whole lot more. It’s not that I prefer the French set. It’s not even that I’m more gadabout here. Nope, I think it’s because there are so many more opportunities to see friends in Paris, and they’re all built into the rhythm of the day.
In addition to breakfast, lunch and dinner, there are other let’s-get-together moments, including “L’heure de l’apéro” — the cocktail hour.
Apéro really is just about an hour, but it needn’t be cocktails that are served. Most often, the beverage is wine and the accompaniment is something nibbly: a tasty tide-you-over tidbit that will hush tummy rumbles yet leave room for a meal (which usually doesn’t begin until 8 or later).
The go-along might be something as plain as salted nuts, a few slices of dried sausage or cherry tomatoes, or it might be a kind of cheese bread, a member of the “cake salé,” or savory cake, family. Yes, the French say “cake”; they use the word for almost anything baked in a loaf pan.
I had my first cheese bread about a decade ago in Reims, the champagne capital of France, and I’ve been a faithful fan ever since. Essentially a quick bread, meaning that it gets its rise from baking powder, not yeast, the cheese bread is hardly a light little nothing. Rather, it’s a substantial loaf that, when cut into slender fingers or snackable cubes, is just the right thing with a glass of white wine or, yes, champagne.
Although the bread comes in as many varieties as there are cheeses, the one I make most often uses those notat-all French classics, cheddar and Gouda, as well as bacon, walnuts, very nontraditional apple and, for a surprise, cumin. I like to pack as much texture into the bread as I can, so I make the batter with grated cheddar and small chunks of Gouda; the cheddar melts into the bread completely, and the Gouda half-melts and half keeps its form. As for the cumin, it’s a new addition chez me, one I adopted after having Gouda that was made with cumin seed.
The bread is the kind of thing a resourceful French cook would make with whatever cheese was left over at the end of the week. This means that although you should respect the proportions of the recipe, you can go your own way with the cheese. Pick one you can grate for the batter, then choose whatever you’d like for the chunky add-in.
When you’re combining the wet and dry ingredients, take it easy. With quick breads, undermixing beats overmixing.
When you slide the bread into the oven, pop some white wine into the refrigerator. By the time the bread bakes and cools, it’ll be “l’heure de l’apéro” and you’ll be on top of it. Cheers!
A cheesy quick bread is a perfect snack before dinner.