Growing up in the country with miles between houses, trick-or-treating by foot was not really feasible (nor was biking in a costume). Instead, my Dad would drive my younger brother and I along the country roads making as many stops as he could and waiting in the car as we knocked on doors and worked our magic. We would travel around 3 different lakes before retiring back at home to spill our pillowcases full of candy (yes, pillowcases!). My brother, clever as a fox, always ended up with more loot than me. He figured out that if he left his pillowcase in the car and went to the door with a tiny Jack-o-latern pail (which he usually left empty or with one or two feeble candies) it would look pathetic next to my massive and bursting-full pillowcase and the neighbors would naturally take pity on him and give him twice the amount of candy. It worked like a charm. Back in the car, he would dump his loot into his pillowcase and start all over again with an empty bucket at the next house.
All I could do was admire the kid’s ingenuity (although I really should have been asking for a cut of the spoils since his success depended on my compliance – I was half the act).
Macadamia nut is another pull from the past. In the summers of my youth, when my Dad would generously (and possibly foolishly) lend me his car to bring a gaggle of girls from Montreal to Maine on our annual end-of-summer boondoggles, his sole request — beyond coughing up for the gas — was to bring him back ‘some of those cookies with macadamias in them’ by which he meant, Pepperidge Farm Sausalito Cookies (this was before PF was available in Canada).
Now I happen to think that pumpkin and macadamia is a wicked combination and as a dedicated morning porridge eater, I love switching things up and keeping our morning breakfasts interesting.
And there are few things quite as compelling, delicious and mystical my friends as brown butter (or beurre noisette as it is also known – poetic and descriptive).
Have you made brown butter before? It will only take you a moment to master it and you may be amazed to discover how it transforms the taste of traditional butter into a husky, nutty flavor enhancing the taste of sweet or savory dishes. Even using a small amount of butter as I’ve done here delivers beautiful flavor and works wonders in this warming autumn spiced oatmeal.
To make brown butter you simply melt butter in a sturdy pot over low-medium heat using a whisk to facilitate even cooking. Do not leave the butter unattended – the process only takes a minute and you need to watch carefully to prevent burning.
As the butter cooks, the fat and milk proteins separate and the color of the butter progresses from yellow to golden to brown in a short period of time. You will notice the butter foaming right before it develops a brown color and once that happens, you want to remove the pan from the heat to prevent scorching.
Once the brown butter has cooled, taste a little to discover what all the fuss is about…
I hope you enjoy this warming and delicious autumn oatmeal. Despite its unique ingredients, it’s very easy to assemble and worth the adventure. Happy Haunts!
- 2 cups 100% whole grain oatmeal (steel cut or rolled) certified gluten-free
- 1 cup pumpkin purée (not the sweet pumpkin pie filling)
- 2 Tbsp pure maple syrup
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
- ⅛ tsp ground ginger
- 1 ounce macadamia (about 8 nuts), chopped
- 1 pear, cubed
- 1 cup milk beverage of choice
- Cook oats on stove top according to package directions.
- Meanwhile, in a separate small and sturdy pot, melt butter and continue to heat until it begins to froth (the milk product separating from the fat) and the butter turns brown, remove from heat immediately. Be sure to stir or whisk continually as you cook the butter and watch carefully for the color change, to prevent burning. Allow the beurre noisette to cool slightly.
- Add pumpkin purée to the beurre noisette as well as: maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger, mixing to combine (I like to use a small whisk). Sample and adjust seasonings as desired.
- Once oatmeal is cooked, divide among 4 bowls and swirl in ¼ portion of the pumpkin beurre noisette into each bowl. Top with milk, pear, a sprinkle of nuts and any other toppings as desired.
Unsweetened Oats: buying the oats unsweetened allows you to decide how much and what type of sweetener you would like to add to your cereal, rather than the manufacturer. I am not a fan of instant oat cereals (powdered oats) because, even when they are 100% whole grain, these cereal packets almost always have sugar and sodium added to them.
Are Oats really Gluten Free? - pure oats do not contain gluten however many commercially sold oats do due to cross-contamination issues. If you are gluten sensitive or have celiac disease, be sure to seek out certified 'gluten-free' oatmeal.
Cinnamon: cinnamon is not only delicious it has also been shown to have a positive effect on blood glucose levels. Sprinkle cinnamon over your cereal or yogurt, adding it to smoothies, soups, stews and baked goods, as well as swirling it into tea and coffee.
Seasonings: "pumpkin spice" is always an option but if you're sulfite sensitive, you may wish to skip it (commercial brands commonly use the preservative) and simply create your own blend as I have done here. Pumpkin pie spice is generally made up of a combination of ground cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and allspice but cinnamon/nutmeg will get you mostly there.