I AM PERSONALLY NOT FOND OF BITING INTO NUTS IN ANY FORM OF FOODS… I CONSIDER THEM AN OBSTACLE, LIKE FISH BONES.
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OK, quick post today, because I’ve got a whole day of shooting-blanks on writing something else (which, if you can imagine, is very time-consuming)(but Jaime, if you’re reading, everything’s going swell). Today, I bring to you a wholesome and classy creation inspired by a great product, perhaps the most important humanitarian relief for all wo-mankind, that is… Activia. Girls, you understand. Without going further into the detailed records of accomplishment by this effective yogurt-brand, I would just like to say that the day it entered the direly needy market of China, that was a good day.
Just like any other international food brands, Activia offers different flavours depending on where it’s sold. So I don’t know if this is available elsewhere, but here, it comes in the flavour of oatmeal and walnuts. Weird? No. It is really good. So good that I must turn it into a completely overblown and yogurt-purpose defeating extravaganza. OK.. well.. maybe except that… I am personally not fond of biting into nuts in any form of foods, ice cream… breads, nothing. I consider them an obstacle, like fish bones. So the walnut has to go. However my peeve does come with the one and only exception – pine nuts. Pine nuts are not very nut-like, with its buttery and almost creamy texture, they don’t interrupt as much the pure pleasure of ice cream melting in my mouth, nor the soft and chewy progression of breads in between chews, nor in this case, the thick and creamy texture of a perfectly cooked oatmeal.
Oh no, not just any perfectly cooked oatmeal. This oatmeal has two distinctive texture between soft and chewy (thanks April Bloomfield :), and that at the end of its cooking process when it gets as good as any, it’s further creamed with loads of thick Greek yogurt which adds not just body, but great flavours and a mild tanginess. Oh wait, you thought I was just gonna throw some sad nuts over the top and call it a morning? No, my friends, we are gonna coat these pine nuts in an almost-simple syrup, and then… and then we’re gonna fry them in a little butter. You heard right. This is not Paula Deen talking. This is Brooks Headley with the James Beard thing. So everyone just zip it. And then since we already have that gloriously browned butter, it would be a complete shame if we don’t take a few tbsp of it, and make it a sticky sauce-thingy with honey, dark brown sugar and a good dose of salt.
See, it’s so good that I just couldn’t stop getting long and wordy with it. OK now I really got to go. I believe you have an oatmeal to attend to.
Candied pine nuts are adapted from Brooks's candied pecans.
- 1/4 cup (47 grams) pine nuts
- 2 tbsp (25 grams) sugar
- 2 tbsp (30 grams) water
- 1/8 tsp ground cayenne
- Small pinch (about 1/16 tsp) salt
- 1 tsp turbinado/raw sugar
- 5 tbsp (70 grams) unsalted butter
- 3 1/2 tbsp (70 grams) honey
- 2 tbsp (24 grams) dark brown sugar
- 1 tsp water
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3 cups (700 grams) water
- 1 cup (123 grams) rolled oats
- 1/4 cup (50 grams) sugar
- 1 cup (75 grams) quick oats (not instant)
- 1 scant cup (180 grams) Greek yogurt
- TO MAKE THE CANDIED PINE NUTS: Combine pine nuts, sugar, water, ground cayenne and salt in a small pot, then bring to a gentle boil over medium heat. Cook and stir occasionally for approx 2 min, until the mixture is sticky and slightly thickened. Drain through a sieve to get rid of excess syrup, set aside.
- In a stainless-steel or aluminum pot (not non-stick), bring the unsalted butter from "BROWNED BUTTER HONEY" to a boil over medium heat. Add the pine nuts and stir gently with a fork to disperse. Keep swirling the pot during frying, until the pine nuts turn golden browned (any further they will be bitter). Drain immediately through a fine sieve, and reserve the butter. During the cooking process, the mixture will be filled with alarming burnt bits, but don't freak out. They will mostly stick to the side of the pot. Toss the fried pine nuts with turbinado sugar and another pinch of salt.
- TO MAKE THE BROWNED BUTTER HONEY: Discard 1/2 of the butter and leave the rest in the pot. Add honey, dark brown sugar, water and salt, then bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Stirring constantly, and cook for 30 seconds until the ingredients have fully melted. Set aside.
- TO MAKE THE GREAK YOGURT OATMEAL: Combine water, rolled oats and sugar, then bring to a gentle boil. Cook for 5~7 min until soft, then add the quick oats, and cook for another 5~6 min. The mixture should be quite thick. Stir in the Greek yogurt, then cook only until heated through. Do not boil the yogurt. You can thin out the oatmeal with a bit of milk to your liking.
- Serve immediately with a good ladle of browned butter honey (may need to be reheated slightly to loosen), and sprinkle with candied pine nuts.