Here at the Carolina Bed & Breakfast, we think that breakfast is an important part of your stay. We enjoy using fresh ingredients which we try to source locally and seasonally. We also feel that everyone’s meal is important. James and I always ask our guests in advance if there is anything they don’t like or can’t eat. I have had guests tell me not to bother, that they would just manage around whatever I offer and I have to say “I’m sorry, I can’t do that!” When you come to our inn, you are our honored guest and our objective is to make you feel pampered and special. Sometimes this has a side benefit for me too!
Recently we had a very nice couple here, one of whom was vegan. In the past, I have served oatmeal to guests who have egg allergies or a vegan diet. I have never felt particularly happy with it. It was nice enough, but it just didn’t seem special enough. So I logged on to SeriousEats, a food blog and community and asked my friends there for suggestions. One item which kept coming up was “Steel Cut Oats”.
Steel cut oats are to oatmeal what whole grain flour is to white flour. Regular oatmeal has been sliced, rolled flat, and steamed in order to make it cook faster. In steel cut oats the oat grain is cut into small chunks. I am told there is really little difference nutritionally but there is a great difference in terms of flavour. So I decided to try making steel cut oats.
This is a picture of uncooked steel cut oats. You can easily see how different they are from rolled oats. Like many whole grains, steel cut oats call for a longer cooking time: 40 to 50 minutes (which is a whole lot longer than quick cooking oats!). However, it is possible to make them the night before and reheat them. As a matter of fact, one poster noted that she liked to make a big batch and then eat it for breakfast every morning until it was used up.
Steel cut oats is usually cooked with water and then with milk added for the last ten minutes. Remembering that my guest was vegan I used soy milk. There are a number of milk substitutes one can buy. Many of them have vanilla flavouring added but I like to stick to plain soy milk as it gives me more options with my own flavouring. So I cooked it up and you know what? It tasted delicious! I mean really good. This is my “side benefit”: I found a new food I like to eat.
I tried a couple of options to make it special: On the left is a brulee version and on the right is a version made with bananas and caramel sauce. In the end I went with the caramel and bananas (and our guest said if someone would make caramel sauce like this for her she would eat it on every breakfast!)
And for a starter? I took a piece of vegan bread, toasted it, placed a circle of vegan mozzarella on it. (I found a type which actually melts–one of the benefits of living in Asheville is a strong vegan and vegetarian population means good products are available) Then topped it with half of a yellow grape tomato. After I put it under the broiler it actually looked like a fried egg and our guest laughed!