When an ingredient captivates chefs, it can change what’s on our plates at home, too. Kimchi is a good example. So many menus currently feature kimchi-spiked dishes that last December I showed how to make this Korean pickled cabbage.
Now, I’d like to expand your cooking repertoire again, this time with less help from chefs, by inspiring you to use a very familiar grain in a less expected way.
Oats are not exciting and they get little truly creative use like the lavish, strawberry-studded oatmeal brûlée served at Gravy in Portland, Oregon. Mostly chefs tweak their granola, hot porridge, comforting cookies or crisp and crumble toppings, adding twists that are delicious.
But savory oat dishes remain rare. Recently, oat crackers I bought to use on a cheese tray inspired me in that direction. Called Scottish oatcakes, they were excellent served with sharp Cheddar and a soft goat cheese, then later with soup and accompanying a spinach salad, too.
In Britain, oatcakes are mostly associated with Scotland, always made using whole grain, and they are as familiar as soda crackers are to us. Recipes to make them seem infinite, producing results that are chewy or crisp, sometimes salt-topped, or even cookie-sweet. Cooking methods include using a stovetop griddle or baking them in the oven.
My version is a rustic-looking oatcake. Though including a small amount of sugar, these crackers definitely pair with savory toppings. They are quickly assembled using just a bowl and fork. Since this stiff dough dries out easily, be prepared to work quickly while rolling it out.
Scottish Oat Crackers
1 Tbsp. sesame seeds
1¼ cups quick-cooking oats, plus 4 teaspoons
1/4 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt, preferably kosher
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup warm water
2 Tbsp. 1 percent milk
1/8 tsp. salt, for topping
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Coat baking sheet with cooking spray and set aside.
Heat small cast iron or other heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add sesame seeds and toast, lifting and shaking pan until seeds are fragrant and lightly colored, 2 minutes. Immediately transfer sesame seeds to small plate and set aside to cool.
In mixing bowl, combine 1¼ cup oats, flour, sugar and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add sesame seeds and oil. Using fork, then your fingers, blend until mixture is evenly combined with oil. Add water and milk and using fork, then your fingers, blend until mixture becomes sticky, stiff dough. Quickly divide dough into 2 parts. Wrap one part in plastic wrap, press into 3-inch disk and set aside.
On sheet of wax paper, sprinkle 1 teaspoon oats, making roughly 3-inch circle. Press dough into 3-inch disk and place on top of oats. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon oats over dough, then cover with sheet of wax paper. Roll dough out into 7-inch circle; dough will be 1/4-inch thick with ragged edges. Remove wax paper and with your fingers press to seal any cracks. Using sharp knife, cut dough into 4 wedges. Using wide spatula, transfer wedges to prepared baking sheet. Repeat with second disk of dough. Sprinkle 1/8 teaspoon salt over top of crackers.
Bake for 20 minutes, until edges of crackers are very lightly colored. Transfer crackers to wire rack to cool. Scottish Oat Crackers will keep in airtight container for 2 days.
Makes 8 crackers.
Per serving: 103 calories, 5 g total fat, ( 3 g protein, 2 g dietary fiber, 156 mg sodium.
Something Different is written by Dana Jacobi, author of 12 Best Foods Cookbook and contributor to AICR’s New American Plate Cookbook: Recipes for a Healthy Weight and a Healthy Life.
The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) is the cancer charity that fosters research on the relationship of nutrition, physical activity and weight management to cancer risk, interprets the scientific literature and educates the public about the results. It has contributed more than $100 million for innovative research conducted at universities, hospitals and research centers across the country. AICR has published two landmark reports that interpret the accumulated research in the field, and is committed to a process of continuous review. AICR also provides a wide range of educational programs to help millions of Americans learn to make dietary changes for lower cancer risk. Its award-winning New American Plate program is presented in brochures, seminars and on its website, www.aicr.org. AICR is a member of the World Cancer Research Fund International.