Thursday, May 9, 2013

Food Experiments

I'm a little late to the party on this one.  I don't have Pinterest or Twitter and I don't follow that many people on instagram, so I hadn't heard of "overnight oats" until my friend De posted about it on her blog.  Well, now I have to give a big thank you to her for introducing me to such an ingenious idea!  I have a feeling I'm not the only one who hasn't seen this before and I know I have some readers who love oatmeal but probably wouldn't mind a few extra minutes in the morning.  

Overnight Oats
Here's how they work: you put equal parts of your favorite oatmeal and your oatmeal-making liquid into an airtight container overnight.  In the morning, you have perfectly made oatmeal.  It's like little breakfast elves inside your fridge are taking your raw materials and leaving you a treat in return.  Really, it's just that the oats soak up the liquid (and flavor!) overnight.  You can add any toppings or sweeteners you like and you can eat it either hot or cold, but if you're zapping it in the microwave, don't put fresh fruit on it until the end.  When I looked at pictures online, I was afraid the oats would become mushy by sitting in liquid for so long, but they actually turned out perfectly.

Here's how I made mine:
1/2 cup McCann's Quick-Cooking Rolled Oats (but seriously, any oatmeal will work) and 1/2 cup Trader Joe's coconut milk, 1 tbsp. chia seeds, small handful of raw almonds, 1 chopped date, 1 sliced banana

1/2 cup McCann's oats, 1/2 cup canned light coconut milk (I was out of the TJ's kind), slightly less than 1/2 cup frozen wild blueberries, 1 tbsp. chia seeds, 1 serving raw almonds, small handful dried coconut flakes, 1/2 tsp. coconut sugar, 1/4-ish tsp vanilla extract (I didn't really measure, but it was less than a capful)
But you can add whatever you want... I'm not the boss of you!
Although oats themselves are gluten free, most oatmeal brands can't guarantee that the product is free from gluten contamination because it sometimes comes into contact with wheat and barley in the factory where it's milled.  For a safe, gluten-free alternative, I might try this with quinoa and see if it works.  I'll let you know tomorrow!  Quinoa is a much tougher grain to cook though, so my hypothesis is that it won't be successful.

So, I've also tried chia seeds for the first time this week.  "You mean chia like Chia Pets?"  The very same.  Along with flax seeds and hemp seeds, they're great sources of protein, fiber, and Omega-3 fatty acids in a small package.  They're also not a bad source of calcium... 2 tablespoons a day will provide 16% of your recommended daily intake.
they look like this when they're dry
As far as I can tell, they have no taste.  They do have a satisfying (to me) crispness... they almost pop between your teeth like the shell of mini M&Ms.  They thicken whatever liquid they're added to and turn it into a sort of mucilaginous goop...
like this
...which might not be for everyone, but I don't mind it.  Because of all this, they are an essential ingredient in a good cleanse.  They are supposedly great for detoxifying the liver, but I don't know how to tell if my liver feels less toxic.  I'll have to get back to you on that one.

This is a dish that I've always wanted to try, but just never got around to it for one reason or another.  Shakshuka (or shakshouka) is a Middle Eastern baked egg dish in a tomato and pepper-based sauce that is often eaten in Israel during Passover (or whenever!), or in Egypt, Tunisia, etc.  Since it was featured in the New York Times this week, I decided that now was the time.  I watched Melissa Clark make it, but didn't use an exact recipe.  I hate measuring things and usually just cook based on intuition (which is why I'm a terrible baker).  I swear I've read recipes that insist shakshuka is NOT made with garlic or onions or something like that, but I can't find it now, so I assume it's a personal preference thing.  This seems like the kind of dish that varies regionally and between families, like "Sunday gravy" for Italians.  The result was successful and delicious anyway!
First, I sauteed one onion and two chopped red bell peppers in a few glugs of olive oil.  I added a generous sprinkle of salt and pepper and let the veggies soften.  Then, I added two sliced cloves of garlic, about a teaspoon of ground cumin, a little less than a teaspoon of good-quality paprika, and a pinch of ground cayenne pepper.  After the spices toast a little bit and get fragrant, I added in 1 28oz. can of diced tomatoes.    Preheat the oven to 350 while the sauce is cooking.  Stir and let simmer until all of the ingredients come together and release their liquid, about 20 minutes or so.  Crack in as many eggs as you want to eat (free range and organic, of course) and put the pan in the oven.  Bake just until the whites are set; you want the yolk to stay runny, so only about 10 minutes.  Be very careful when handling the pan after it comes out of the oven... I made sure to use two potholders, but then accidentally brushed my arm against the edge of it while plating and burned myself Bluth-Cornballer-style.  I'm not sure what herbs (if any) are traditionally used in this dish, but I topped it with fresh cilantro and parsley because those are my favorite.  Shakshuka is typically served with feta cheese, plain yogurt, and/or pita, but since I'm not eating dairy or wheat, I served it alongside saffron-infused millet.
bon appétit / בתאבון / وجبة شهية. 
(thanks, google translate!)

I've had fun experimenting with food this week... I might have to make this a regular thing.  I've been considering making my own mayonnaise and protein/fiber bars, so maybe I'll try that next week!

1 comment:

  1. OMG those eggs. Want.

    And I love overnight oats! So glad you tried 'em!