Saturday, April 12, 2014

Steel-Cut Cakes with Banana and Cinnamon



I mean, come on! What's not to love? Classic banana, cinnamon, and honey to top your steel-cut cakes. I confess: I half cut into one cake before realizing I wanted to take a picture. Ahh, so homey...


Sunday, April 6, 2014

Steel-Cut Cakes!


So, this is my new favorite thing. And I already blogged about it last time, but I wanted to give it a nicer photo treatment, so feast your eyes! Part of my complete breakfast. Alright, I'm coining it: these are steel-cut cakes.

And so you have the whole recipe laid out, here it is:

Steel-Cut Cakes
cooked in a rice cooker (alternatively, however you normally cook your steel-cut oats)

~110 grams steel-cut oats (about .75 cups)
~450 grams water (about 1.8 cups)
salt to taste
splash of soy milk


oil for pan-frying
honey, maple syrup, fresh fruit, cinnamon, whatever you like for toppings. If you can have dairy, then I bet butter or whipped cream are great--pretty much anything you'd have with waffles, pancakes, and the like.

  1. Add oats and water to 5-cup rice cooker (I think these measurements are scaled to Zojirushi’s 5-cup model rice cooker to avoid foaming action’s clogging the vents), set to "porridge" setting, and press cook. Note Zojirushi's warning that if yours doesn't have a "porridge" setting, you should watch it while it cooks since it my overflow while cooking (and in that case isn't so handy a method over the normal stove-top method). Alternatively, set timer to finish cooking when you wake up, if your rice cooker has the function.
  2. Once oats are finished cooking, add pinch of salt and splash of soy milk and mix well. Don't add too much extra fluid or the oatmeal won't set as thickly, which you want in order to fry your cakes; just a splash for some creaminess. Pour oatmeal into a container with high sides, pack it down using a spoon or other tool, and set in refrigerator to chill for several hours or overnight, until completely cooled and set.
  3. Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. While the oil is heating, prepare the oatmeal into cakes. Run a spreading knife around the edges of the container to loosen the cooled oatmeal and then invert container over cutting board to plop out the oats. Slice into thick "pancakes". Place the slices into the hot oil and cook until golden brown on both sides (5-7 minutes per side depending on how thick you sliced your cakes and how hot your pan is). Remove to a plate, add your preferred garnishes and enjoy.


Friday, April 4, 2014

Easiest Steel-Cut Oats and Fried Steel-Cut Cakes


You can buy oatmeal in three forms as a cereal: instant, rolled (old fashioned), and steel-cut. Instant oats cook quickly--in a minute. Rolled oats take maybe 15 minutes. Though, really, it's more of a gradient from instant to quick-cooking to rolled just varying by how thin the grains are rolled (with instant crumbling into pieces because it's been rolled so thin), as described in kitchn's breakdown of the varieties. And then there's steel-cut, which takes some 30 minutes or so.

I like all three, from the formless mush of instant oats, to the more substantial rolled, to the thick and hearty steel-cut. When it comes down to it, though, I prefer rolled oats over instant for their lower glycemic index and because I like more body in my grains, and rolled over steel-cut because steel-cut just takes so freakin' long to cook--not helpful at any time, but especially for breakfast when convenience is a bigger factor.

Enter the rice cooker. Or more specifically, the rice cooker with timed cooking feature. If yours doesn't have it, tough luck! Even better, rice cooker with timed cooking feature and porridge setting (meant for slower cooking applications like xi fan/congee and steel-cut oats). Add the oats and water to the rice cooker, set it to finish cooking when you wake up, and then press "cook". Go to sleep and wake up to perfectly cooked steel-cut oats!

If you've got a nicer one (as opposed to the basic kind that just has a glass lid with hole for a steam vent) then you may need to be more careful not to cook too much at a time to avoid foaming and clogging the vent. Zojirushi has this handy recipe for a 5-cup model. Note that they're using their rice-cooker "cups" and not standard cups (roughly 1 rice-cooker "cup" to 3/4 standard cup). I measured out the weights, though, and have included that in the "recipe" below. I mean, it's about the least involved recipe you can have.


But that's not all! Pictured above are steel-cut oat "cakes" I pan-fried with chilled, cooked steel-cut oats. Steel-cut oats are very thick once cooked, and after refrigeration can hold their shape pretty well. You still need to be gentle with them, though. Plop them out of their container and slice into flat pancake-like shapes, and then you can cook them as you would fry or brown any old pancake, filet, or steak. The result is a delicious crispy-on-the-outside, soft-on-the-inside oatcake without any flour needed to bind it (as all the recipes online seem to have). I topped it with a drizzle of honey, a squeeze of lemon, and a sprinkle of blueberries.


Rice Cooker Steel-Cut Oats

~110 grams steel-cut oats (about .75 cups)
~450 grams water (about 1.8 cups)
salt to taste
splash of soy milk

brown sugar, honey, other sweetener if desired
squeeze of lemon juice if adding sweeteners
fresh fruit
thai basil (my favorite is with pineapple)
  1. Add oats and water to 5-cup rice cooker (I think these measurements are scaled to Zojirushi’s 5-cup model rice cooker to avoid foaming action’s clogging the vents), set to "porridge" setting, and press cook. Note Zojirushi's warning that if yours doesn't have a "porridge" setting, you should watch it while it cooks since it my overflow while cooking (and in that case isn't so handy a method over the normal stove-top method). Alternatively, set timer to finish cooking when you wake up, if your rice cooker has the function.
  2. Add pinch of salt and splash of soy milk and mix well. Garnish with desired additions. Serve immediately.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Crisp Roasted Broccoli


Turns out roasting is a really great and easy way to prepare broccoli. I don't think I've had crisp broccoli before (unless you count fried breaded broccoli), but was pleasantly surprised by the crispy fringes of the florets that came out of the oven. All you have to do is cut the broccoli into bite-sized florets, toss with some oil, and roast for 15-20 minutes in a 500F oven. Toss with salt to taste.

Check out the Brussels sprouts/broccoli section of Kenji Lopez-Alt's great primer on roasting fall and winter vegetables. I've tried this with Brussels sprouts, too, but don't like the results anywhere near as much. Certainly you do manage to avoid the off-putting sulfurous aroma, but the Brussels sprouts just ended up mushy for me. After refrigerating, they regained a more pleasing texture. But I was hoping for something like the showstopping, crisp fried Brussels sprouts I've had before. Guess you have to fry them to get that.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Pho Success!


The broth was perfect this time! I think the key point was to be sure not to skimp on the rock sugar. I'm not saying to use extra, but don't use too little, either. This is hard to be precise about because of rock sugar's irregularity and its coming in hard, discrete rocks. I suppose if you have a scale you can weigh them, but if they're not right, you still have to imprecisely break the rocks. Anyway, it's cooking, not baking, so you don't need to be super precise. Just don't skimp on the rock sugar.

Also of note to discuss is that this time I used oxtail to make the stock. A friend suggested it because of its high gelatin content and its having meat on the bones for flavor. The caveat is of course that oxtail costs more per pound than other parts you could make the soup with. So now that I've gotten this great rendition out, next time I'm going to go back and see if I can get the same result using beef toe plus a cheap slow-cooking cut of beef. One thing I noticed was that the meat on the beef neckbones I used last time were very tender and packed with flavor. So toe for gelatin plus brisket or whatever cut of meat is cheap and slow-cooking (and flavor rich) seems to make sense. I wish I had beef shank readily accessible.

You can see my previous post with other thoughts here.