Sunday, May 17, 2020

Baked Oatmeal with Caramelized Pears and Vanilla Cream

Just like my earlier apple crisp, this breakfast is great for confinement because we still had pears and oatmeal flakes at the grocery store. I didn’t have lactose-free cream, however, so I used coconut milk instead, but lactose-free milk would work in a pinch. Also, I didn’t have any more vanilla beans, but I made it work with vanilla bean paste. I really enjoyed it, and so did the Engineer, but sadly my kids refused to even taste it – their loss! The recipe is from Smitten Kitchen Every Day.

For the vanilla sugar
½ cup + 2 Tbsp (125 g) sugar
½ vanilla bean

For the pears
2 Tbsp. lactose-free butter or margarine
3 pears (preferably d’Anjou, Forelle, or firm Bartletts)
1 lemon

For the oatmeal
1 cup lactose-free milk
1 cup water
2 Tbsp. lactose-free butter or margarine
2 large eggs
1 ½ tsp. coarse or kosher salt
2 tsp. baking powder
3 cups (240 g) rolled oats

To finish
lactose-free cream or coconut milk

For the vanilla sugar
Place the sugar in a small bowl. Split the vanilla bean, scrape the seeds into the sugar, and use your fingertips to distribute the seeds throughout; the abrasion helps release more flavor. Save the pod: there’s tons more flavor to be had, and we’re going to use it.

Heat the oven to 400 °F. While it’s heating, place butter in a 9-by-13-inch or equivalent-sized baking dish in the oven to let it melt.

For the pears
Finely grate the zest of half of your lemon and set it aside; you’ll use it later. Juice the whole lemon, you’ll use it now. Peel the pears, split them lengthwise, and remove cores and any thick-looking stems. Toss the pears with the lemon juice. Remove the baking dish with melted butter from the oven, and sprinkle ½ cup vanilla sugar into it. Arrange the pears, cut side down, over the sugar, and drizzle with any lemon juice left in bowl. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Then remove foil and bake another 10 minutes.

For the oatmeal
Meanwhile, whisk the milk, water, butter, eggs, salt, and reserved zest together in a large bowl. Sprinkle the baking powder over these and stir to combine; add oats and stir again.

Use a thin spatula to turn the pears over carefully, spooning as much sauce from the pan over the pears as they will hold. Reduce heat to 350 °F. Dollop the oat mixture around the pears in the pan. Return the dish to the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the pears are soft and the oatmeal edges are golden brown.

For the vanilla cream
Bring the cream, remaining vanilla sugar, and reserved empty vanilla bean pod to a simmer in a saucepan. Simmer 5 minutes, reducing to ¾ cup. Chill the mixture if you prefer cold cream on your hot oatmeal.

To serve, scoop one pear half and its surrounding oatmeal into a bowl, and drizzle with 1 to 2 tablespoons vanilla cream. Refrigerate leftovers until needed, up to one week, warming one portion at a time.

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