Strawberry Whirl

I told you things were going to get exciting.

I had only a few minutes to make breakfast on Saturday morning, and a vow to make something that would shock us out of a rut of meal-boredom. 

Food processor?  Check.  Strawberries?  Check.  Yes, yes, this is sounding familiar.

Leftover oatmeal?  Check. 

Leftover OATMEAL?!

Bear with me. 

I decanted the frozen strawberries into the food processor and let them sit for a minute, to soften just a tad (I didn’t want them thawed, just less than rock-hard freezer temperature), and then blitzed them until they’d been carved into myriad feathery strawberry flecks.  I poured in a small measure of mint-infused simple syrup and pulsed it again, to amalgamate.  Finally, I spooned in half a cup of leftover oatmeal–regular, old-fashioned rolled oats, previously brought to a boil in water, then steamed for 20 minutes (and, in this unexpected case, refrigerated overnight).   I pulsed the food processor again and let the soft oats break down and meld with the strawberries.  The whole mess was spooned out into two bowls, then balanced precariously in the freezer while I dashed through the shower.

This bizarre-sounding concoction did not spring entirely fully formed from my pointy skull.  A few years back I discovered the Scottish recipe for cranachan: oats mixed with whipped cream or yogurt or cream cheese, left to soften overnight and then served with fruit, usually raspberries.  To some it sounds odd, but to me it’s not so far from muesli, or even a kind of less-than-crunchy granola parfait.  Cranachan is softer than one might expect, if one is used to American breakfast cereals, but the the nutty flavor of the oats and the sweetness of the cream combine well, and the texture–thick cream thickened even more by the oats–is like that of a slightly chewy pudding.

Cream-based cranachan, alas, isn’t an everyday thing.  Not because I’m so very fat-concious, but because I don’t always have cream in the house; I love the barely-pasteurized cream that I can buy at the local store, but it goes bad too quickly to buy it on a whim, without any specific recipe in mind. 

The other week, though, I was flipping through a library copy of Darina Allen’s second to last cookbook, “Easy Entertaining,” and saw a recipe for strawberry cranachan.  In her interpretation of the recipe, one mashes fresh strawberries to a pulp, mixes in rolled oats, lets sit for a short time, and then serves.  This sounded a bit too crunchy to me, given how short a time the oats spent soaking, but I was intrigued by the idea of using mashed fruit instead of dairy products, and I squirreled the idea away in the back of my mind. 

On Saturday morning I dove into the freezer to grab the frozen strawberries, then opened the fridge to get the ginger I was planning to grate into the morning’s sorbet.  But wait!  My glance was arrested by the tupperware container of leftover oatmeal and my thoughts whirled back to that recipe for strawberry cranachan.  It was too late to thaw and mash the strawberries and leave the oats to soak therein, but the oats I had were already cooked (and thus soft), and I had been planning to make sorbet anyway, so: Frozen Strawberry Cranachan!

And, because strawberries go so well with mint (and because I cannot leave well enough alone), I used mint simple syrup to flavor the sorbet, instead of plain.  And yes, it was a success.  The toasty flavor of the oatmeal added immeasurably to the sweetness of the strawberries, and there was just enough mint in the background to make one sit up and take notice.  Notice we did; the week of boredom was officially over.

And what of the ginger?  It was forgotten entirely.  That is, it was forgotten until this morning’s breakfast, when I found myself with a bag of frozen raspberries in my hand.

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Published in: on May 6, 2007 at 2:42 pm  Leave a Comment  

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