oat and sweet potato porridge

oat sweet potato porridge

This past week was a lot of crazy things but it ended with a great surprise. I received an email informing me that I was included in the Top 10 Healthy Food Bloggers of 2014 by the wonderful and very kind folks at Better Homes and Garden. I won't lie, I was blown away and completely ecstatic to be included among these talented and inspiring bloggers. Though, I'm not in the running for the final awards, please do stop by their site and vote for some of the amazing food bloggers in this and other categories. 

sweet potato

I should have titled this post as "out with the milk". You see, I ran out of milk this week, no dairy or nut or any other type of milk at home for my morning oats. When it comes to eating my breakfast oats, I need something other than water in it. I usually add some milk, a dash of vanilla and a little fruit to my oatmeal but I was out of options. Desperation led to making a sweet potato based porridge that at first I was unsure about sharing but once I tasted it, I knew I should. Plus, I think my trainer  might be pleased with this one, since she keeps asking me to increase my sweet potato intake.

golden raisins

I flavored the sweet potato puree with freshly ground green cardamom seeds but as I've mentioned in the recipe, cinnamon works great too! So if you don't have or don't like either spice, feel free to swap or leave them out completely. If you do leave them out then I recommend increasing the vanilla extract to 1 teaspoon. I didn't make this very sweet because personally, I am not a big fan of very sugary breakfasts but do go generous with the raisins, they provide little bursts of sweet surprises with every spoonful you taste that will make you smile. 

oat and sweet potato porridge

oat and sweet potato porridge

yields: 4-6 servings

ingredients

1 lb sweet potatoes, washed, peeled and diced
4 cups water + 2 cups
3/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/4 teaspoon, green cardamom seeds, freshly ground / 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, freshly ground
1/4 teaspoon madagascar bourbon vanilla extract
a pinch of salt
3 tablespoons honey (you can increase if you like it sweeter)
1/4 cup golden raisins (you can be a little generous here)

1. Place the sweet potatoes with the 4 cups of water in a large stock pot. Bring to boil on a medium-high flame and then reduce to medium-low, cover with a lid and cook for about 20 - 25 minutes until completely tender. Remove the stockpot from the stove and using an immersion blender or blender puree the sweet potatoes with its liquid until completely smooth. Keep aside until ready to use. The puree should be thick and velvety in texture. (You can cook it a little longer if it is not thick enough.)
2. Bring the oats and remaining two cups of water in a large saucepan on a medium-high flame to a boil. Reduce the flame to a medium-low and then cook for about 20 minutes until the oats are completely soft and tender. Stir occasionally, to make sure the oats do not stick to the pan. 
3. Add the cooked oats, cardamom, vanilla, salt and honey to the sweet potatoes puree in a large saucepan. Heat the contents of the saucepan on a medium-high flame until it begins to boil with constant stirring. Taste and adjust the sweetness if desired. Fold in the raisins, remove from stove and serve warm.

buckwheat oatmeal raisin cookies

buckwheat oatmeal raisin cookie2

One of the many magical moments in an Indian household is tea or chai time. By some sort of strange ingrained habit we would drink tea somewhere around 4 or 5pm every evening. There would always be some sort of assortment of cookies, sweet buns, pastries, savory chips or crackers that you could dip into your hot chai. It was the equivalent of a short pre-dessert session before dinner, since we rarely ate desserts after dinner. These days however things are different, I occasionally indulge in a cup of tea in the evening and I really don't keep a stash of cookies or desserts stacked away. The big reason for this is my fondness for cookies to be fresh and warm, right out of the oven. This also means that when I do have a hankering for a cookie or two, I'll be scratching the walls of the pantry like a cat. Last week, I had such a craving for one of my favorite cookies, the oatmeal-raisin kind. The kind that's almost like a good granola bar without the excess doughy feeling yet with a crispy texture. 

Buckwheat flour and raisins

There is a special earthiness to oatmeal raisin cookies that needs to be complemented by an appropriate flour to bind and hold it together. What could be better than buckwheat? Buckwheat grain gives an amazing flour with a rich and deep earthy texture that fits perfectly in these cookies. Buckwheat is also gluten- and wheat-free making it an ideal flour substitute in most dishes for those with related allergies. I think the first time I can remember trying buckwheat was in a chilled Japanese soba salad and ever since then I've baked and cooked with frequently.

I had a hard time finding a recipe that used only buckwheat flour without the addition of any other varieties of flours. My recipe is loosely based on an oatmeal raisin cookie recipe from Alice Medrich's Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunch Melt-in-your-mouth Cookies cookbook. To add an extra level of nuttiness and flavor, I melted and browned the butter before incorporating it into the cookie batter. This is one cookie recipe where you can be a little liberal with the amounts of extra cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and vanilla. I really enjoy the taste of these cookies with a little bit of extra ginger, it seems to give the raisins a bit of a bang. Some people like walnuts in their oatmeal raisin cookies, I happened to have a few almonds stored away and I tossed them into the batter. Either nut works great in this cookie recipe.

cCookies and oatmeal

I'll be honest, I was a little impatient after I chilled the dough for about two hours. I quickly baked a few cookies to sample and taste but the results were simply just not crisp enough to my liking. I almost gave up but fortunately it was late in the evening and I figured I'd just wrap the dough and refrigerate it overnight. By the next day, the oatmeal had absorbed all the moisture in the dough and when I baked the next batch of cookies, they came out crisp and delicious. Needless to say these have turned out to be great that they've been accompanying my cup of tea every day!

Buckwheat oatmeal raisin cookie

buckwheat oatmeal raisin cookies

yields: approximately 30 cookies 

ingredients

2 cups rolled oats
1/4 cup water
1 1/4 cups buckwheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger powder
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1 cup almonds/walnuts, chopped
1 cup raisins

1. In a small bowl, place the oats and sprinkle the water. Keep aside.
2. In a large mixing bowl, sift the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger powder. Toss any left-over grain bits back into the flour mix. 
3. Chop the butter into cubes and melt the butter in a thick-bottomed saucepan over medium-heat. Keep heating the butter with constant stirring until the milk solids turn brownish red. Remove the browned butter from heat and stir in the sugar, vanilla extract, and salt. Briskly mix in the egg.
4. Pour the browned butter mixture into the flour mixture and combine quickly. 
5. Fold in the almonds (walnuts), raisins and the oats into the batter. Let the cookie dough rest for an hour at room temperature. Cover the bowl with cling-film and refrigerate overnight.
6. Preheat the oven to 350F. Place the racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Line two cookies sheets with parchment paper.
7. Scoop out 1 tablespoon of cookie dough and with your palms flatten and shape the cookies into circles around 2 inches in diameter. Place the cookies on the prepared cookie trays about 1 inch apart from each other. Bake in the oven for about 10 minutes or until the edges begin to brown. Halfway during baking, rotate the pans from top to bottom and from front to back to ensure even baking. Allow the cookies to cool completely on a wire rack and then transfer and store in air-tight container.