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The Comfort of Oats

GOOD COOKING

March 23, 1997|ABBY MANDEL | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Nothing says comfort (or good nutrition) like a bowl of steaming oatmeal topped with steamed 1% milk, one of my favorite breakfast choices.

But beyond cereal, oats add interest to any batter. Old-fashioned rolled oats are whole oat groats that have been steamed and flattened while whole. Quick-cooking rolled oats are groats that have been cut into several pieces before being steamed and rolled into thinner flakes. I prefer the taste and texture of old-fashioned rolled oats, although the two can be used interchangeably in most recipes.

Instant oats, however, have been precooked, which makes them a different ingredient that cannot be predictably substituted for the old-fashioned or quick-cooking varieties.

Many oat recipes call for soaking, but I prefer using the oats freshly mixed into the batter because they are more recognizable and chewy.

These recipes highlight the great flavor and texture of oats; they're also simple to make.

MAPLE OATMEAL PANCAKES

1/2 cup rolled oats

1 cup cake flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 egg

1 1/4 cups buttermilk

Maple syrup

Butter

Mix together oats, flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl.

Whisk together egg, 1 cup buttermilk, 1/4 cup maple syrup and 1 tablespoon melted butter in 1 1/2-quart mixing bowl until well combined. Stir in dry ingredients. (Note: Batter can be made to this point 1 day ahead and refrigerated. Stir before using.)

Add 1/4 cup buttermilk and stir to combine.

Heat griddle over medium heat and brush with butter. When hot, spoon 2 tablespoons batter onto griddle into 3-inch rounds. Cook until pancake is bubbly and browned on edges, about 3 minutes. Use metal spatula to turn and brown other side, 2 to 3 minutes more.

Keep cooked pancakes warm in 200-degree oven while cooking remaining pancakes. Serve hot. Pass warm maple syrup separately.

20 pancakes. Each pancake:

37 calories; 49 mg sodium; 11 mg cholesterol; 1 gram fat; 6 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams protein; 0.03 gram fiber.

CINNAMON OATMEAL MUFFINS WITH BLUEBERRIES

1 1/3 cups flour

1/2 cup rolled oats

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Sugar

Cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup buttermilk

1 egg

2 egg whites

1/3 cup oil

1/4 cup dark corn syrup

3/4 cup blueberries (do not thaw if frozen)

Mix together flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, 1/4 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon and salt.

In separate bowl, mix together buttermilk, egg, egg whites, oil and syrup and add to dry ingredients, mixing with wooden spoon. Fold in blueberries.

Divide batter among 10 muffin cups that have been prepared with paper liners or greased. Mix together 2 1/2 tablespoons sugar and 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon and sprinkle on top of each muffin, dividing equally.

Bake at 375 degrees until lightly browned and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. (Note: Cook slightly longer if blueberries are frozen). Let muffins cool in pan for 5 minutes. Serve warm.

10 muffins. Each muffin:

215 calories; 185 mg sodium; 22 mg cholesterol; 9 grams fat; 31 grams carbohydrates; 4 grams protein; 0.26 gram fiber.

Mandel's latest book is "Celebrating the Midwestern Table" (Doubleday & Co., 1996)

Cyclamen cup and saucer and ceramic woven trivet from Gelson's Coffee Bar in Tarzana.

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