It’s been an early and beautiful spring in nyc, and strawberries (my ultimate favorite fruit for as long as I’ve been on this planet) have arrived at the greenmarkets about a month early. Strawberries seem to have on-years and off-years around here (after very wet springs they can end up big but full of water and virtually devoid of flavor), and so far, at least with the berries I’ve eaten, it seems to be an on-year. I’ve been buying a batch at every opportunity, eating them mostly out of hand, and doing my best to save a few for stirring into morning oatmeal, slicing into a salad, and strewing over a stack of my latest weekend brunch obsession: oatmeal griddle cakes.
The idea for these griddle cakes comes from a Nourishing Traditions’ recipe for fried mush. At first glance I wasn’t expecting much from the humble combination of leftover oatmeal porridge and a couple of eggs, fried into cakes in a skillet. I was just looking for a new way to use up leftover steel-cut oats, cooked mid-week. But that name really under-promises. And with cinnamon and orange zest stirred into the batter to dress things up a bit, I have found my weekend breakfast of choice: the perfect cheater’s pancakes for a lazy cook like me.
With hearty and fiber-rich steel-cut oats plus protein-rich eggs (choose local + pastured to get more of the healthy omega-3 fatty acids), these griddle cakes make for a morning meal that satisfies without stuffing, and prevents the ‘carb coma’ feeling I always get after eating regular flour-based pancakes. Fried up in a bit of ghee, the cakes are crisp-edged and tender-centered, with a satisfying chewiness from the oats, and make the ideal platform for maple syrup, strawberries (or any seasonal fruit), and some full-fat plain yogurt.
Though I haven’t tried it yet, I think the griddle cakes would be equally delicious taken in a savory direction, by leaving out the zest and cinnamon, maybe adding some freshly ground black pepper and a pinch of salt to the batter, and serving them with sauteed or stewed vegetables, garlicky beans, etc.
cinnamon orange oatmeal griddle cakes
Inspired by Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon
serves 2 (about six 3-inch cakes)
2 cups leftover cooked oatmeal (I used steel-cut oats; rolled oats would work fine, too)*
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon grated zest from an organic orange
pinch of sea salt (if oatmeal was cooked without salt, otherwise leave out)
ghee, butter, or olive oil, for the griddle
for serving: maple syrup or raw honey, plain yogurt, seasonal fruit, chopped nuts, etc
Mash up oatmeal with a fork to break up any lumps. Add eggs, cinnamon, zest, and a pinch of salt (if using), stirring until combined.
Heat 1 tablespoon ghee in a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat (I love my seasoned cast iron skillet for this). Transfer batter to pan in batches, using a 1/3 cup measure and smoothing out each cake with the bottom of the measuring cup. Cook until golden brown on bottom and set around edges, 3 to 5 minutes, flip with a spatula and cook to golden brown on other side. Add more ghee to the skillet between batches.
Serve warm with maple syrup or honey, yogurt, and fruit.
*Lately I’ve been pre-soaking oats in a mixture of water and whey, another Sally Fallon/NT technique, which helps make the oats more digestible and their nutrients more available for absorption. Soaking also reduces the cooking time and creates creamier oatmeal.
Soak 1 cup steel-cup oats in 1-1/2 cups filtered water with 2 tablespoons of whey. Cover tightly and leave mixture in a warm place (I do this on top of the fridge) for 12 to 24 hours. Bring 1 cup water to a boil in a medium pot, add oat mixture + 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, and cook until oats are tender (about 10 minutes).
A note on whey: I strain plain, full-fat yogurt overnight in a cheesecloth (or nut milk bag)-lined strainer to separate out the liquid (whey). I use the whey for soaking grains (mixed with water) and to make lactofermented drinks like ginger ale and kvass, and use the thickened yogurt like cream cheese.