Tag Archives: oatmeal

We came to show Eskimos how to make ice…

11 May

It’s incredible… how daring we are sometimes.

My friend Tania visited Paraguay for the first time about 6-7 years ago. During that first trip she learned from our Yoga friends over there how to make Eggplant Milanese using cornstarch and oatmeal as the breading. We all loved the fried eggplants when she first made them at the Yoga Center.

Flash forward to March 2012… here you have Yazmín and I making Eggplant Milanese in Paraguay. Not helping them make them… noooo, making them ourselves to treat everyone after our short retreat near Asunción.

How dare we come and cook something for them that they actually taught us how to make??? We are daring indeed…

Something I have learned over the years I’ve known how to make these Eggplant Milaneses:

  • No need to actually use a mandolin. They actually come out better when cut not as thin. After a nasty mandolin accident making these milaneses at home recently, I now cut them with a knife and they come out even better than with a mandolin even if they’re a tad uneven.
  • No need to marinate for a long time. Soy sauce is fine, but you can only marinate for about 30 minutes and you’ll be fine. A tad of sesame oil adds a nice twist too. And when they marinate less, your end up with a juicier fried eggplant.
  • Season the milk and the oatmeal very well before breading the eggplants. When the milk and the oatmeal are well-seasoned, it compensates for the short marinating time. Add generous amounts of powdered garlic, salt, paprika, pepper… your choices are endless.

I’ve been having cravings for these eggplants since I left Asunción. Time to run to the store and make some more…

Thanks Tania and the great cooks in Paraguay for their wonderful culinary inspiration always!!!!

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Almond Milk Oatmeal

17 Oct

Oatmeal for me was an acquired taste. I was always a Cream of Wheat lover when I was a kid. I LOVED when my grandma made cream of wheat or farina for us for breakfast. We used to pour cold milk around the rim of the bowl to cool the cream enough to be eaten.

I did not like the texture of oatmeal too much… until I had to work for Quaker Oats. Oats, as I learned thru lots of consumer research, is a very polarizing food. Some people love it, some people hate it. Some people, just like me, grow to love it. I worked on the brand just when the news broke out that the soluble fiber in oatmeal helps lower bad cholesterol. It was one of my favorite accounts to work on and I got to travel to Jamaica and Guatemala because of it.

I remember talking to consumers that some people did not like preparing oatmeal in hot cereal form or “creams” as we call it locally in Puerto Rico because they believe they need to stand in front of the stove stirring the oatmeal all the time to avoid it getting lumpy. Well… allow me to get into a little secret. That’s not necessary AT ALL.

Making hot oatmeal cereal is super simple and all you need is time and something else to do… as the saying goes, “a watched pot never boils.”… The same applies to oatmeal. The least you tend to it, the better it is.

This is more a method than a recipe… you can certainly add or subtract or change any ingredient as you see fit. But this is my basic formula for making oatmeal as breakfast in the morning… although I highly encourage you to have some oatmeal for lunch or even dinner too. Just like some people eat cold cereal as a light and east to put together dinner alternative, hot oatmeal can be a great “hot something” for the soul now that the weather up north is getting nippier. I sold this idea to Quaker once… I hope you buy it from me too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ALMOND MILK OATMEAL

1 ½ cups almond milk
4 tbs of steel cut quick cooking oats
2 tbs brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla powder
A pinch of salt
powdered cinnamon (optional)

NOTE… I cook this in an electric stove, which I believe retains the heat longer than gas stoves.

  1. In a medium sauce pan over medium heat I add the almond milk and I season it with the sugar, vanilla powder and salt. Mix together to combine well. Immediately after, I add the oatmeal. Mix well again and partially cover allowing an opening for you to see the milk and how it’s coming to temperature.
  2. When the milk starts to boil, in about 2-3 minutes, stir everything to combine and allow all the boiling to subside a bit. Lower the temperature of the stove to low and continue to cook partially covered.
  3. After about 5-6 minutes of cooking, you’ll see the oatmeal starts to thicken a bit, but not quite done yet. I cover completely. Count to 10 and turn off the stove. Turn it off and walk away. Don’t look, don’t peek… just walk away.
  4. After about 15 minutes of letting the oatmeal stand, it’s done. I usually let it stand for about 30 minutes to allow it to be a tad cooler. I can’t eat oatmeal too hot… it makes me sweat.
  5. Sprinkle some powdered cinnamon on top before serving.

I like oatmeal on the loose side… but if you want thicker oatmeal just add a few tablespoons more of oats. Adjust the amount of oats and seasonings to your liking.

I did this almond milk version for the first time to watch Princess Kate and Prince William Wedding with my mom… the home-made almond milk gives it a nice creamier, more luxurious touch, but store-bought almond milk will do too.

Ahhh, and almond milk, just like soy or regular milk, WILL BOIL OVER if left completely unattended. I have cleaned my stove way too many times to vouch for that…

Apple Crisp

10 Nov

We’re staying with my sister to accompany her and her husband for the birth of my first nephew…  it’s a whole family gathering here – my sister’s mother-in law, my mom, my dad, my uncle are all here, just to name a few.

Sio, my nephew’s grandma is staying here too and she looooves apples.  Good thing we’re in apple season and in every farmer’s market we go to there’s apples on sale.

To be honest, I know little about apples.  I am only familiar with Granny Smiths and Golden Delicious, my favorites and Red Delicious, which I know I do not like very much.  But the rest of the names, I have heard of – Macintosh, Gala, HoneyCrisp, Fuji, etc. – but I am not familiar with their distinctive tastes.

We found these Gala apples on sale for $1 a bag at The Boys Farmer’s Market.   I found Gala’s to be not as tart as Granny Smiths but crisper than Golden Delicious.  I can really say I can add Galas to my list of apples I like.  And to please Sio and her apple cravings I decided to use these newly appreciated Galas to modify my Plum and Blueberry crisp recipe to apples. 

 

APPLE CRISP

5 Gala apples, peeled, cored and sliced
5 tbs cornstarch
Zest and juice of 1 yellow lemon
1 cup of brown sugar
Sprinkle of cinnamon
½ tsp of vanilla extract
Canola Oil Spray

 For the Crisp Topping

1 cup of spelt flour
1 ½ sticks of unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1 cup of brown sugar
Sprinkle of cinnamon
2/3 cup of sliced almonds
½ cup of quick cooking oats

 

  1. Pre-heat oven to 375F.
  2. In a large glass baking dish sprayed with canola oil, dump the cut apples and mix in the cornstarch, lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar, cinnamon and vanilla extract.  Mix well to combine.  Set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl mix together the flour, sugar, cinnamon, almonds, oats with the pieces of cold butter.  Using your fingers, combine the butter with the rest of the ingredients until it becomes like the consistency of wet sand.
  4. Pour the topping over the apples evenly.  Bake in oven for about 30 minutes…  the apples will bubble and the topping will look cooked and somewhat golden.

 

I usually turn off the oven and leave it inside until we’re ready to eat… to me, it’s best served warm with a side glass of milk or vanilla ice cream.   

Eggplant Milanese

3 Jul

I have to be in the mood to eat eggplant…  I like it, but I have to be in the mood for it.  However, I am ALWAYS in the mood for fried eggplant.  It could be the Latin in me that gravitates to anything fried.  But that’s the truth…

Ever since my friend Tania returned from her first trip to Paraguay, she and I have both been in love with her fried eggplants.  She always saves me a batch every time she makes them at home. When she makes them at the yoga center, they’re the only thing on my plate.

She learned them from a woman in our yoga center there, in Coronel Oviedo in Paraguay. And on that side of the world, they call MILANESAS anything that is breaded and fried.  Talk to any Argentinean, Chilean, Uruguayan, etc. and they’ll call milanesa what I called growing up empanadas… and the most common thing to “empanar” was a chopped steak.  Now that we’re vegetarians, we need to “empanizar” something else… and these Eggplants Milanese are truly SOMETHING ELSE!!!

 

EGGPLANT MILANESE

3 small eggplants, I like to pick the lightest eggplants possible = less seeds
3 tbs of tamari 
1 tbs ume plum vinegar
About 1 tbs  + 1 tsp of garlic and herbs seasoning, divided
2 cloves of garlic, minced finely
3 cups of cornstarch
¼ cup of milk
3 cups of quick-cooking oats, ground as finely as possible in a food processor
Canola Oil for frying

 

  1. Peel and slice the eggplants using a mandolin slicer.
  2. Place eggplant slices in a glass container and season with tamari sauce, vinegar, minced garlic and 1 tbs of the garlic and herbs seasoning.  I drizzle the tamari over the eggplant slices little by little using a measuring spoon and massage the slices to cover – like giving the eggplant some color.  It may seem like there’s not enough tamari to season, but the salt in it will allow the eggplants to purge and the end product will be a lot of water in the bottom of your glass container.
  3. Cover the container and marinate the eggplants in this mixture for at least 2 hours.
  4.  After the marinating time has elapsed, prepare a breading station using 3 containers, 2 larger and 1 smaller one.  In the first larger one place the cornstarch, in the second smaller hand place the milk and season with the 1tsp of remaining garlic and herbs seasoning. 
  5.  And in the third larger container, place the ground oatmeal.  Also, set a cookie sheet covered with foil or parchment paper to set the eggplants after breading.
  6. And using your right hand for the dry stuff and your left hand for the wet stuff (hey, I’m a righty, but you can switch if it works better for you), we start to bread…  take an eggplant with your right hand and place in cornstarch to coat.  With your left hand pick it up and dunk into seasoned milk.  Place it in the oatmeal dish with that same hand.  With your right hand, cover the eggplant with more oatmeal and pat the oatmeal so it sticks to the eggplant well.  After wards, press on the eggplant to make sure the oatmeal breading sticks well.  Place on the cookie sheet waiting for it to be fried.  Repeat the process until all eggplant slices have been breaded.

Here you have 3 options:

  • Store in plastic freezer bags for frying at a later time – you can store these in the fridge for about a week or in the freezer for about 3 months.  Mine never last that long there.

To Store:

Place a piece of parchment or even wax paper in the plastic freezer bag. Place as many breaded eggplant slices as you can in a single layer, without any overlaps or touching.  Place another piece of paper and keep on stacking.  I can usually make three layers of eggplant per bag.  Store in fridge or freezer flat so the eggplants retain their shape.

 

  • Fry away to eat immediately – following we’ll show you plating and serving ideas for this
  • Fry away to eat in another dish tomorrow – I’ll share this in a later post we’ll call Eggplant Gratin…

For Frying: 

  1.  
    1. Just take a small skillet with about ¼ inch of canola oil.  Bring to temperature for frying, which I usually measure by inserting the end of a wooden spoon in the oil and making sure there are bubbles around the spoon.
    2. Place a few slices of eggplant in and fry a few minutes on both sides until golden.  These eggplants are sliced so thin you don’t need to cook them for a long time.  If you fry them until they’re light brown, usually they’re be too cooked on the inside.  So err on the side of caution and not let it go too far.
    3. Take them out of the oil and place them onto a plate covered with paper towels to absorb all the excess oil.  Allow them to cool off a bit before serving.

 

I love serving these next to a nice garden salad with a few wedges of lime, or even a yellow lemon.  I learned to eat empanadas with lime or criollo lemons and to me they cut a bit some of the greasiness of the frying.  These are crispy, crunchy and kind of creamy inside.  They’re awesome…

I have also used them in sandwiches, in pastelones and shortly you’ll see my take on an Eggplant Gratin dish…  really tasty.

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